Touchscreens? Good, old-fashioned faders, knobs, and pads? Why not just use what suits the job – especially when you can choose both on the cheap?

Nay-Seven shares some of his latest work with Usine, the brilliant, modular and touch-centric tool for Windows. It’s a futuristic rig that’s also down-to-earth. Touchscreen monitors can be had for around US$300 street, and the Akai LPD8 and Korg nanoKONTROL controllers each figure under a hundred bucks. Usine, the software, is a bargain for its depth at EUR120, and free and educational versions are available.

Cost aside, though, this also puts sound making directly under your fingertips. Even aside from live performance, that means making sound kinetic — essential in the studio, too.

I asked Nay-Seven to comment on how he’d thought through this particular set of controllers – coming just as we cover the work done on grid-based sample control with mlrv2 and fader-based control in Max for Live:

Yeah, was funny to see your article at the same time I was working on this video..

My actual reflection is about the best place of a touchscreen in a set. And I join you in the idea that software has added a layer to the hardware.

Here, I use the LPD8 and the nanoKONTROL as an instrument, because we all prefer to use real pads and push-buttons to play, but it’s so fantastic to customize those tools to our own needs. And it’s more and more easy and quick. I’m using here the next version of Usine (it will be public soon), which adds polyphony in sub-patches. You create a sampler with the switch, add the buttons you need, change the polyphony of this patch to 5 and it’s done — you have a 5-voice polyphonic sampler !

I suppose the future will be a balance of all this, some customizable tools for users, more and more easy-to-use, real pads, keys, and faders so we can feel our musical expression, and a touchscreen to provide new tools like graphics and physical models.

Heaven, in fact. 😉

More from the video description:

Here’s a work where I use the sequencer of Usine not to sequence audio or midi but patches: patches appear only when I need them, an easy way to have only the controls you need on the screen. I also associate here works with faders and pads via personal patches for [Akai’s] LPD8 and [Korg’s] nanoKONTROL and the use of a touchscreen . Made with Usine ( ) thanks also to Michael Ourednik for his great vst Argotlunar

Note: Argotluner is free and open source (GPL) and has both a Windows and Linux (32-bit + 64-bit) build. Someone could build it for Mac, too.

nay-seven also uploads some patch images, so I’ve included those here. The granular patch, top, controls Argotluner. LPD8 and nanoKONTROL patches, bottom, connect to hardware (see callouts on the Korg image).

All images courtesy Nay-Seven – be sure to check out his excellent Flickr account.

Bonus: here’s a nice video demonstrating the touch side of things, posted in September.