Below is an example of some basic functionality of my looper. I hacked the stop point out of a potentiometer so it rotates fully and used it to send an absolute value to an Arduino. Pure Data patch compliments of this guy.

Initial attempts to maintain this research blog have been hindered by…well, research. However, after some initial concepts and developments I finally have some solid work to post!

My initial design intent was to make electronic music performance more tangible and expressive. The result of my research is a portable device which allows the recording, layering and manipulation of audio loops on the fly. Audio can be recorded in (internal mic or line in), pitched up or down, stretched or shortened, chopped and re-arranged, and manipulated with various effects.

At the moment I have a fairly refined sketch model that demonstrates approximate sizing and basic interaction. The main point of interaction between user and device is a rotating platter.  Buttons in the centre of the platter will perform various operations while determining the platter’s function. A ring of 64 LEDs around the perimeter of the platter give feedback on what the device is currently doing. Some test results to follow!

Recent college pressure has meant that my expendable time is…well…not expendable. This has resulted in an abandonment of certain aspects of my regular daily life, such as making music and perusing the internet for the newest of news. The former has been difficult to leave alone but the absence of the latter  has had some welcome results.

I realised how much of my time was being used up leafing through recent articles on design and music technology. While I don’t discount the benefit of these in the furthering of my knowledge, I found that  I was regularly crossing the line between inspiration and that overwhelming feeling one gets after overexposure to this inspirational material. Seeing too much of your heroes can make you feel somewhat inadequate.

The constant stream of new information flowing through my head had allowed little room for my own thoughts to develop (an effect also induced by our favourite social networking sites). To combat this I have ignored my feed reader and Facespace and only drop in on favourite blogs every so often. All this headspace has led me to develop my own ideas instead of looking at everyone elses in envy. It has also led me to begin writing this blog which, ironically, is what I was avoiding in the first place…

Stop reading my thoughts and go have your own.

Otherwise, read this for further inspiration.

For some time I have been following the phenomenon that is the monome. If you don’t know the story, it’s here in its entirety. In short, the monome is a configurable grid of backlit buttons that communicates with a computer via USB. On its own the monome is charming but can’t really do much…like Robin without Batman. However, when teamed with a laptop and accompanying software, the power of the monome can be overwhelming.

By retaining no secrets about the hardware or software details of the device, monome creator, Brian Crabtree has facilitated a growing community of monome users, from software developers to live performers. The list of software applications that define the monome’s function is always growing, meaning that its grid of buttons is never tied down to a single function. While music control is its main purpose, the device can also be used to control video, display text, play games, type……the list goes on.

In my intrigue I went ahead and purchased a 40h kit which is the guts of a monome without its shell. Impatience led me to house my assembled kit in a cardboard box for protection and immediate playability. Two years later and my kit finally has a cosy wooden enclosure that takes its inspiration from the limited walnut versions offered on the monome site. A CNC router took the pain out of cutting and finishing 64 holes and a manual flatbed router allowed me to cut the cherry wood to precision.


Sixty Works  make MIDI based controllers for music production and performance. Rather than compete with large manufacturers who make standard control layouts for as many users as possible, Sixty Works work directly with professional musicians to create individual control devices that are highly adapted to their specific needs. They have two examples of work but only to demonstrate what is possible and show the build quality and attention to detailing.

I highly recommend checking out their website and reading some of the articles, especially this one on showmanship in the ever-changing world of music controllers. If ordering a custom controller is too pricey for you Sixty Works also offer extensive resources that will help you on your way to building your own MIDI device.

Welcome to my blog!

I am a student of Industrial Design in NCAD, Ireland. I’m currently doing research into designing and building a prototype control device for live music performance.

Aside from this research I have a huge interest in music creation and performance so this blog is an outlet for any design or music related topics I find interesting. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do sharing.

Cian

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