Digital instruments have the extraordinary potential to sound like anything – really, absolutely anything.
Delivering on that potential, though, is another matter, a complex dance between physical input and sonic output. The Soundplane from Madrona is unique in that it provides highly-precise touch input across not one but three dimensions – pressure-based input across the X and Y axes, with multiple touch points. (See also: Haken Continuum.)
Back to the dancing bit – you have to then use that input musically. Here, we see one possible application, using the insanely-powerful KYMA sound design environment. Description from creator and CDM reader bar|none:
Soundplane + KYMA playing a model of a resonating string instrument. What instrument? Something unknown but wonderful and expressive.
Imaginary instruments are the world that is KYMA.
The sound is a resonation synth that models initial attack and picking of a string + the resonations and feedback associated with a resonating instrument body. More pressure means more feedback and energy into the resonations.
Spent some time with this sound to make it respond properly with the soundplane.
Faster hits and you hear the picking. Vibrato and you hear the scraping on the strings.
I can’t tell you how this feels to play but I can say that you forget this is a controller and it feels like playing something tactile like a real instrument.
This uses the Madronalabs Soundplane to send OSC to KYMA directly via ethernet, no MIDI here. The soundplane client supports zeroconf discovery of OSC capable devices, so KYMA pacarana appears as an OSC destination and that is all required to connect the two. Symbolic Sound helped with the integration.
The result is very high resolution control of the sound that you can feel as you play the Soundplane.
Compelling stuff; I’d love to see – and hear – more. And it definitely looks like something you’d practice in the way you would a traditional, virtuoso instrument.
And, vitally, an interview with the creator:
Madrona’s Randy Jones on Aalto Soft Synth, Designing a New Instrument, Small Makers