Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Behold! Neat-o Keyboard from the Future!

Have a look at this new British MIDI controller interface called the Axis Natural Keyboard.

A traditional piano keyboard looks like this:

Whereas, this instrument looks like this:

I had thought this layout was a completely original, from-the-future concept. But like all ideas, it has some connection to the past. Here's a musical reed instrument produced in the 1950s with a similar interface, the Harmonetta.

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posted by Brian at 12:10 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 22, 2007

Computers -- Bad for Music Creativity?

I really have to agree with this article from the Chip Collection Blog. When I first began composing with a computer, I had an 8Mhz 2 Mb RAM Atari ST running a very simple sequencer called Hybrid Arts EZ Track, with a total of maybe 16 total MIDI-only tracks. I had one keyboard (a Korg M1) that could play up to 8 instruments at a time. I had one drum machine for better drum sounds. With it, I was quite productive. It never crashed. Once I figured out the basics of my equipment, I was ready to go.

Since I moved to the PC, I've barely finished a piece. First, getting all the drivers for the audio & MIDI interfaces to co-exist on a single version of Windows has been gnarly. Then, whenever I chose a platform to learn, the company making it would either die or get bought out and abandoned, rendering my tool extinct. Finally, the sequencers out now are ridiculously complicated. Sure, they're powerful, but sometimes you don't need an F-16 fighter plane to get to store to buy some milk. And they crash, put glitches in your music during playback, and make my brain work really hard to the point where I lose interest and go watch another episode of The Office.

Granted, the short bits I do end up making can sound amazing. With dozens of software instruments and thousands of sounds and samples, I could sound like Vangelis, or Vince Clark, any Hip-Hop / Rap piece or The Orb if I wanted to.

But ultimately, the PC has taken a decade to where it is remotely useful to me for making music in an inspired, relaxed way. Interface design and stability are the culprits, in my opinion.

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posted by Brian at 3:45 PM 0 comments links to this post