As touchscreens grow in popularity, let’s pause to reflect on the joy of the tangible, the physical. Juda ( writes to share his rig coupling the Sega Arcade Controller for the Dreamcast game system with a computer. The ingredients: one terrific Sega game controller, one USB adapter, one Max/MSP app called MultiControl (runs via runtime if you don’t have Max), and then MIDI into whatever app you desire. This is an easy formula to follow if you happen to have any similar controllers around – or if you get lucky in summer garage sale season. (Other sticks for consoles like the Xbox 360 would work, as well.) Alternatively, because of the popularity of DIY arcade cabinets, buttons and joysticks like this are really easy to come by, so you could build your own hardware, too.

There are other HID solutions, too: Pd has an object that’s included if you download pd-extended, and GlovePIE is a free and immensely powerful way of connecting inputs on Windows.

And yes, this is partly for our readers over at Harmonix Music HQ. I’d like to see another controller turn around and play PowerStone.

Here’s a second example with the monome.

  • Thomas Cermak

    I absolutely will never drop my physical-tactile hardware for a touchscreen when performing live although the touchscreen interfaces (on ipads/iphones/lemurs) are quite attractive and serve great purposes.

    I went back to using an mpc a few years back, and even though I've moved on to using a monome ripoff (launchpad) I feel totally at home with tangible buttons. Plus, here are some other negatives of screen interfaces:

    – they strain your eyes.
    – they strain your neck: always having to look at and physically manipulate the same space forces your body into an uncomfortable shape.
    – they lack tactile feedback: which adds to the described discomfort but also reinforces a sense of intangibleness.
    – they are usually restrained to certain dimensions (there are only so many form-factors right now). when you can have a monome or custom device in a myriad of form-factors.
    – the most popular/cool ones (ipad/lemur) require proprietary formats of one form or another.

    And, of course, Juda shows us all just what physical-tactile interfacing with digital music is at. Great stuff Peter.

  • mr ecklie

    Bidule is another great HID solution, really easy to use.

  • Sweet! I did the same thing for controlling Traktor with one of these – – but I had problems figuring out MultiControl so I went with JunXion instead – cost me some $ but I had it working in minutes. The problem is the controller is way too heavy and bulky, and the action on the arcade buttons is pretty weak — way less fun to use than my MIDIFighter. I grabbed one of these –… – and now I have that working to control several of the effects (and I turned the six buttons on the base into frequency kill switches) but I am still working on the mapping to get the ideal effect combinations that complement the effects I already have programmed into other controllers. I totally agree with Thomas Cermak above, tactile controllers are the way to go. Touchscreens are cool and if I ever get an ipad I will probably add that to my repertoire, but I really like being able to touch controller and change its movement in physical space, I'm just not sure it would be much fun if everything was a touchscreen control.

  • Jeffrey

    Great way to get more out of having fun making music. And making music should be fun.

  • poopoo

    NI FM8 with a joystick and four patches in the XY pad is fun. The Korg Wavestation VSTi is another good canditate.

    I use a MaxForLive patch I wrote that spits out Midi CC's for the joystick. I set it up so it only outputs a CC pair for X and Y when a button is down. This way I can release the button and the X-Y CC's wont change when the joystick returns to the centre. I have different CC's for each button so with my eight button joystick I have 8 X-Y pairs.

    I place the joystick over my crotch and waggle like crazy while pulling guitar faces. It's a close as a nerd laptop musician can get to spandex cock rock.

  • I love this feeling and gear 😀 receive my unspoead PCB today to finish my arduinome yiiiiaaahhhh

  • Doc Country

    MultiControl works great… perfect with a fighting stick:

  • Haha spun me out to see this! I helped this guy out getting this working and he made me these couple of vids to show him rocking out with the end 🙂

    Its a small internet :p

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