Hey there,
I'm an Engineering Physics student at the colorado school of mines (although I'm not quite sure how or why), and I'm playing around with the Idea of making some kind of ultra-tactile MIDI controller for my senior design project. I know that most synths out there have WAY more parameters than are easily controllable with the majority of devices. So I was thinking about a digital instrument that combines dynamic pinching, pulling, bending (possibly in all 3 dimensions), stretching, etc of a sensor to create a midi signal with more parameters.

My question is whether or not such a device would be at all useful in recording or live performance. While tactile control of many parameters would be really neat, would it be too much to deal with when trying to play it live? Would there even be any advantage to having something like that over just setting up automations beforehand?

Any thoughts you might have on the subject would be very much appreciated!

Ott responded on 01/06/2015

Something fun to use and visually striking would be great but the world of design is littered with poorly-realised midi controllers which tried to do too much and failed to excite.

The thing to remember is that you don't need access to that many parameters in order to create quite a complex shifting of timbre.

The exemplar of this is the Roland TB303, which is one of the most exciting synths to 'play' from the knobs, and one of the simplest. With essentially four parameters [cutoff, resonance, env amount and decay] you can create a sound which shifts and squidges and changes shape seemingly infinitely: add in accent, waveform select and transpose and you can multiply those options into something which never seems to run out of steam.

Another classic is the Korg Kaoss Pad 3 which gives you just X and Y axes on a small square touch pad, controlling two, maybe three parameters at most. Despite its simplicity it always delivers.

Simple + assignable + tactile = winner.

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Master Ott... and you truly are a master...
I vividly remember a voyage that I embarked on with the help of Matt, Nick, Chris, and yourself on the streets outside of Cervantes in Denver. With you all at the helm of my psychedelic spacecraft, I was launched into a timeless instant of eternity in which each pixel of my vision was a jewel that contained the entire universe.
In addition to my most sincere gratitude for this (and quite a few other) transformative experience(s), I want to offer a question, if it is appropriate...

Is the psychedelic experience part of your creative process, or is it more of just a tool to transform the listening experience?

Thanks again for your enriching sonic masterpieces!

P.S. My excitement for your Red Rocks visit with Tipper and others this summer simply cannot be contained. May the dub gods smile upon this historic gathering :)

Ott responded on 01/06/2015
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In an early answer you mentioned you like to play drums and percussion, do you set a tempo your feeling at the time, groove away on an electric kit for abit, keep the good bits chuck the resk and copy the groove to build a track over? or program the grooves in on the computer at the start?

The reason I ask this is as a drummer I Never used to listen to electronic music ever based on my (Then) closeminded view that it had "soules, repetitive beats" but then a friend played Blumenkraft at a party and offered me my first smoke about five years ago... and everything changed!! so thankyou for that life changing moment at that party! and how do you aproch your loose and groovy beats? Thanks again Ott.

Ott responded on 01/08/2015
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