The karlax resembles a clarinet or soprano saxophone in size and geometry, although its control structures do no involve blowing air through the instrument. Instead, the karlax wirelessly transmits data to a sound engine (e.g., computer software instrument) by manipulating 10 keys (with continuous range output), 8 velocity-sensitive pistons, 17 buttons and a combination mini-joystick and LCD character display, operated with the thumb of the left hand. The interior of the karlax contains both a 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis accelerometer. In addition, the upper and lower half of the karlax can be twisted in opposite directions; that is to say, the upper and lower half can be rotated in opposite directions because the joint between the two halves of the instrument acts as a type of rotary potentiometer with a maximum rotation angle of 65°. Furthermore, at each angle boundary (i.e., 0° and 65°), the karlax offers an additional 12.5° of resistive twist space, providing a resistive force for the performer, who may have a sensation similar to bending or pulling a spring – albeit the movement is still a twisting/turning motion.
Development on the karlax began in 2001. This digital musical instrument has been commercially available since approximately the mid-2000s and is manufactured by DA FACT, in Paris, France.
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The sensor-based t-stick digital musical instrument, which was invented in 2006, offers great potential for virtuosic control over a diverse range of sounds and musical materials, as well as promising new forms of musical and gestural expression. The t-stick has been designed and constructed to permit a unique variety interaction techniques such as: touching, gripping, brushing, tapping, shaking, squeezing, jabbing, swinging, tilting, rolling, and twisting. As a result, a significant emphasis is placed on the gestural vocabulary required to manipulate and manoeuvre the instrument. The musical experience for both the performer and audience is characterised by a notable engagement between performer body and instrument.
The t-stick project grew out of a collaborative undertaking by music technologist Joseph Malloch and composer/digital instrumentalist D. Andrew Stewart at the Input Devices and Music Interaction Laboratory and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media and Technology (McGill University), in cooperation with performers as part of the interdisciplinary McGill Digital Orchestra project.
The ongoing development of the t-stick family is a result of continuing institutional and public support. To date, the t-stick has been presented in Canada, Mexico, Norway, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal and Korea Republic.
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The SonicJumper, which is a gestural controller of my own design, can be classified as a symbolic immersive controller. It was first developed in 2003.
A performer is immersed – so to speak – in his or her own bodily movement. Moreover, he or she does not make contact with any physical device while performing. The impression is that the performer ‘performs’ his or her own body – the human body becomes the instrument.
Various types of movement sensors are attached to the body and measure: bending action of joints such as fingers and knees; acceleration of body parts such as the hands, feet and hips; lifting of the foot; reaching of the arms; directional glances of the head; among other movements. All sensors send out a tiny voltage reading between zero and five volts. A separate unit then converts these voltage readings into MIDI(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) values.
The sensors are held in place using various types of sport braces – stretchable bands of fabric that comfortably fit around the body and do not limit movement. The convertor rests in a belt pouch along with its portable battery supply. One long MIDI cable connects the convertor to a computer.
The sounds of the SonicJumper are entirely synthesised by a computer, thus the performer is able to access the wide-open sound world – anything that can be synthesised or sampled. In this way, the rich timbral possibilities of this digital instrument reveal the potential for an increased level of musical expression. For instance, the potential for musical expression on the SonicJumper is as follows. First, the physical gestures of playing the SonicJumper serve as expressive visual cues to the audience. Second, the performer’s movement instantaneously changes the sound of the instrument-controller. Furthermore, the complexity of the sound reflects the intricacy or vigorousness of the physical gesture.