Percussa has announced on their blog that they are working on a new app called Improvisor.
The idea of IMPROVISOR is that each cube is linked with a groove and a relative note pattern, which is played back in a loop.
You can add and remove loops by adding and removing cubes. By placing the cubes next to each other, their note patterns are added to each other, creating completely new melodies, all in key and in rhythm. These can be sent via MIDI to your favourite software or hardware synth.
You can enter your own grooves and relative note patterns (in semitones) in the software, using the built in editor and you can choose which cubes should be linked to which patterns…
you can let the cubes each play back their sequences of semitone steps, and you can add them to each other when the cubes are placed next to each other, creating completely new melodies. This is called “following”.
Each cube can follow the semitones of the other cubes, which basically means they are added together…
To use IMPROVISOR you just have to have one cube connected to your computer. The other cubes are autodetected as they are added. You can set cubes to have a specific colour using the colour picker.
As an AudioCube user, I appreciate that Percussa continues to explore unique ways to add value through apps that take advantage of the unique features provided by the AudioCubes.
Swing by and read the post on Percussa’s site for even more details using the link below. Percussa has also invited you to leave comments on that post if “you think of any features you would like to have that would make IMPROVISOR the ultimate generative music making application for AudioCubes?”
Percussa just posted an update to MIDIBridge (r31) to their website.
MIDIBridge is a FREE app from Percussa that allows you “to generate MIDI notes and control changes, which can be sent to any software or hardware supporting MIDI including external synths, effect boxes, etc.”
This is THE app that I use when I perform.
There are now “Solo” buttons on "sensor" cube faces. Soloing allows you to “send the distance info as a MIDI control change only for the selected cube face. This is handy if you want to quickly MIDI-map a cube face to an effect parameter in Ableton Live for example.”
Fixes which improve cube "state" recognition after patch loads - again speeding up configuration work.
Cube color is now saved with the preset for relevant modes.
Results While these are not radical changes, these changes do significantly speed up workflow when it comes to patch changes and MIDI mapping.
As you can hear, “Alone” is the emotional bottom of the story in REBOOT and is the only track on the album without a drum groove. This being the case I wanted to come up with some sort performance that would provide contrast to the other songs in the set. Back in September I came up with the idea of attempting to play all the lead melody and ambient noises solely from Percussa AudioCubes. I’ve decided to push-on with this idea and perform the song this way. Here are the behind-the-scenes notes and a rehearsal video.
Goal I normally configure my AudioCubes so there is 1 “Sensor” cube for controlling effects, 2 “Receiver” cubes for sending MIDI notes to Ableton Live to trigger clips, scenes, parameter settings…, and 1 cube as a “Sender” to trigger to the Receiver cubes.
For “Alone” I wanted to use each cube face to play a different note according to a predefined user scale that matched the notes in the song. AudioCubes can detect objects in one of two ways –Wirelessly (“Sender”/”Receiver” pairs), or through infrared (cube set to Sensor mode). In sensor mode, an object’s (hand, other cube, cat…) proximity to cube face is detected with infrared. Since I want to use my hand to trigger the note Sensor mode is the way to go.
Solution: Using Sensor Mode to Play Notes While the Sensor mode is normally used to send MIDI Continuous Controller (CC) values from 0-127 to control parameters on synths and your DAW, there are also options to send MIDI Notes based on minimum sensor thresholds.
Implementation: Configuring AudioCube Function in MIDIBridge Modes and settings for each cube are configured in the free app Percussa MIDIBridge. Click the image below to see a large version of the screenshot which illustrates how I configured individuals notes for Cube 1.
You can also see that even though I’ve set note triggering via the threshold, proximity to each cube face will case the LED intensity to respond according to the normal response curve and with a different color for each face. I continue this method with Cubes 2 & 3 to program the rest of the notes.
Calibration Like a Theremin, AudioCubes running in Sensor mode need to be calibrated. It’s not because they are analog, but instead to take into account the amount of ambient and infrared signal in the “control zone”. The screen shot above also shows how you can tweak gain to adjust for room – and of course you could experiment with “Threshold” as well. The darker the room the better fro the this particular method.
Virtual Ports, Ableton Live and Novaton Launchpad In my rig, MIDIBridge talks through virtual MIDI ports (Midi Yoke) to Ableton Live. Live is playing some minimal original background tracks from the original album offering me a frame of reference for my performance. The signals from the AudioCubes are routed to various virtual instruments such as Camel Audio Alchemy, Absynth 5, and Sonic Charge Synplant. I assigned buttons on the Novation Launchpad to select and arm tracks (sometimes multiple tracks) so I can swap instruments out from under the cubes without having to load another MIDIBridge Patch.
The End Result: “Alone” Rehearsal Video I shot this video back in September when I first figured all this out. I’m now actively rehearsing it and hope to add it to the show soon. The key to playing this song is to play just behind the pocket to give the notes more emotional tension. The AudioCubes are plenty sensitive enough to achieve this and the visual feedback not only helps the audience connect with the performance, but actually helps me with timing. As a musician, I really like the flow and feeling of the movement as well.
I shot this in 720p so if you have the bandwidth watch full screen at that resolution. I also captured audio right from my sound card so listen with good headphones or on a good sound system :^ ).
If you’ve seen pictures or videos of my live rig in use you’ll know that I when I use Percussa AudioCubes, I tend to not only use them on a table surface, but I also place them on top of other instruments like the Theremin or other keyboards.
When I first started doing this I had a few inadvertent cube drops. This was more true with cubes that were connected to USB as this added a directional pull on to the cube. So for the way I perform I wanted to increase the friction coefficient of the bottom face of the cube.
My simple solution after a little experimentation was to get some rubberized shelf liner, then cut it to be a bit smaller than the dimensions of the cube face and then use double-sided tape to secure the material to the cube.
This simple solution keeps the cubes where I want them, but also allows me to slide them around on a table – they are just a little more “sticky” than designed.
Experiments with Green Oak’s desktop version of Crystal continue. It’s been a while since I’ve used this synth as I’ve been focusing most of my energy on using commercial synths. It’s a pretty amazing synth and competes feature wise against many commercial synths.
Here is a cool feature. The MIDI Modulate matrix supports direct mapping of MIDI CC’s. This means you can map controllers directly without having to do it through your DAW. Click the image below to see a close-up of the screen shot which illustrates how I’ve used Percussa’sfree MIDI Bridge app to configure AudioCubes to send CCs, and then I configure Crystal to listen for spatial control from cube faces.
Listener/Viewer Notes This video is in HD and I captured the audio full fidelity right from my sound card so listen with some good headphones or on a good system and select HD for full-screen viewing. The video and audio were captured in one continuous take with no content edits.
Composer Notes To fit the back-story of my album, I set out to compose a song that sounded a bit alien in origin. To liberate myself from my typical compositional instrument of the keyboard, I decided to compose and perform the textures and melodies using only spatial controllers. I this case I used a Moog Etherwave Theremin, and a Percussa AudioCube. Once I got going with this notion I really got using 6 dimension of spatial control to go “Hendrix” with the Theremin. The title of the song has many meanings, one of which should be obvious to Theremin fans.
Producer Notes I'm routing the Theremin analog signal into Ableton Live and then I convert the the signal from pitch-to-MIDI in real-time. This signal is routed to various virtual instruments hosted in Live. I then use a Percussa AudioCube in Sensor mode to add 4 additional dimensions of modulate in real-time. So 6 dimensions of spatial control. I'm changing the signal routing of the Theremin to route MIDI to different virtual instruments on the fly using the Novation Launchpad.
10% OFF AUDIOCUBES FOR MONTH OF OCTOBER In response to my “Modulate This Turns 5…” post, Bert from Percussa just sent along a nice birthday gift. Throughout the month of October, anyone who enters coupon code MODULATE5 (must all be uppercase!) at checkout will get a 10% discount on a set of AudioCubes. Thanks Bert!
USE CASE FOR 1 AUDIOCUBE I’m using 4 cubes currently and I wanted to mention that if you can’t swing 4 cubes financial, there are use cases for starting with a single cube which I’ll outline below. Think of it as a way to get an spatial controller that you can throw into your backpack. A controller with visual feedback for use in sound design or performance.
If you have one cube, you’d want to use the free MIDIBridge app to configure a cube “Sensor” mode and could use it in the following ways:
1) Configure each cube face to send a different MIDI Continuous Controller to your DAW thereby allowing you* to modulate 4 parameters at the same time. The video below illustrates this idea. I’m mostly using one cube in the video. The second cube just adds 4 more parameters.
2) Configure each cube to send a different MIDI note. I’m using 3 cubes here but the concept would work with one cube. Of course, you could also map the note to do other things in programs like Ableton Live to launch next scene and such.
3) Map a cube face to send both a MIDI note and continuous controller information. Here is a rough video of this concept in action to modulate parameters of Camel Audio Alchemy running in Ableton Live.