Velocipede, our friend and inside man in Takarazuka, Japan, has been writing up a storm on the CDM forums, from providing hands-on impressions of Roland’s hand percussion pad to reporting back from Tokyo’s Music Instrument Festival.

Not just for digital bongos: Roland’s hand controller could be just what you need for expressively playing software instruments.

The HPD-10 hand percussion controller by Roland could be a terrific controller for synths and clips, from its traditional purpose (drums) to lots of other applications:

My main interest in getting the unit, though, is as a midi control over softsynths. Its 10 pads can be freely assigned to any note numbers on a per kit basis (64 kits can be saved in the unit). So far, I’ve set up different kits for Live’s Impulse, Reason’s Redrum and an Alesis Micron Setup that I have dedicated for drum sounds.

Check out velocipede’s full review:
Handsonic 10 (HPD-10) [Create Digital Noise]

The news from Tokyo’s Music Instrument Festival is mostly what’s going away as what’s new: Alesis selling off the last stock of Ions in Japan, and Roland discontinuing their cult favorite AX-7 strap-on keyboard controller. Fortunately, velocipede dug up two gems. Vestax’s Guber line has some far-out hardware like this crazy-looking turntable:

Strange and wonderful audio hardware design from Vestax’s Guber line, apparently only available in Japan.

And from the non-electronic end of the spectrum, the Xaphoon is an original hybrid instrument that packs sax-like sounds in a recorder body; velocipede assures us that it sounds far better than its toy-like looks suggest:

Xaphoon’s pocket sax, for when you want instruments without electricity, MIDI, or USB.

Music Instrument Festival in Tokyo [Create Digital Noise]
Vestax Guber players [Japanese only]
Xaphoon instruments product page

  • you can buy the vestax in France but it is expensive :
    http://dj.playback.fr/produits.php?prodid=8704&am
    and this shop delivrery in US đŸ˜‰

  • Damon

    Those turn tables are amazing. I love that there is still room in the architecture of ye old turntable, for exciting designs like that. To me, those are as exciting as the UAD interface.

  • kokorozashi

    Xaphoon web site says it was invented 20 years ago and the guy has hand-made 15000 of them since then.

  • Yes, the bamboo instruments are really quite beautiful. I remember now a reed player who must have been playing one of these — about the right size and sound. It's nice to think that acoustic instrumental innovations continue alongside the digital ones.

  • kokorozashi

    Sort of. Wikipedia says the xaphoon is similar to something called the chalumeau, which was the predecessor to the clarinet. If the xaphoon guy's story is true, and Wikipedia can be trusted, he essentially re-invented this beast.

    Please don't imagine I have any idea what I'm talking about, and especially please don't imagine I'm trying to be an authority on music history.

    I've merely been enchanted by this thing and I'm finding out as much as I can about it at a time of day when I can't trundle off to my local music shop and have a listen in person. (Yes, one of the few which carries the thing is down the street from me.)

    My chief concern at this point is that it sounds a bit drifty. I'm spolied by digital perfection. Maybe I should just get a keytar … not.

  • Does that mean alesis is maybe stopping the production of the ION? There were some rumors earlier this year that they were going to.

  • richardn

    am I the only one that thinks these turntables are "backwards"?

  • Andy

    My opinion of the Xaphoon is just spend the money and time learning to play a real instrument that can sounds like something you'd want to listen to rather than a sax mouthpiece tied to an exhaust pipe (with vibrato of course). Still I guess there's no law about parting fools and their money in retail so it's a great marketing strategy if you can get away with it.

    Andy