Highly Liquid user profile: Pastel Fractal

Chicago-based artist Alexander DeGraaf employs several UMR2 and MSA-T boards for his ongoing project Pastel Fractal. Alex uses MIDI control for robotics and live audience participation in addition to more traditional sequencing and synthesis functions.

Pastel-Fractal-Robots

Alex writes:

I have three sampling keyboards into which I have installed UMRs: two Yamaha VSS-30s and one Casio SK-8.  I use different samples on the keyboards for different compositions such as: my singing voice, a dog bark (sampled from SK-5), a TR-808 clap, a Doc Watson banjo riff, a Chet Atkins guitar riff, and some scatting sounds.

In my installation sculptures, I’ve used as many as two MSA-T MIDI Decoders to turn my MIDI note messages into voltage pulses for as many as fourteen small 24V solenoid motors. I’ve engineered these motors to reset immediately after being triggered, and I’ve connected them in various ways to percussive elements within the sculptures. In this way, I am able to MIDI-sequence robotic percussion strikes and sounds in sync with my compositions that are otherwise played by more conventional MIDI sound engines such as synthesizers, keyboards, and drum machines. The robotic percussive elements within the sculpture each provide a unique source from which sounds stimulate the inhabitant of the sculpture. I provide additional sound sources – besides robotic percussions and the main P.A. – by attaching small speakers to individual keyboards and drum machines so they may be hung around the sculpture or handed out to the inhabitants to pass and move about. Thus, inhabitants of the sculpture – also known as members of the audience – can contribute to the composition during a performance with these floating pieces of hardware by engaging buttons or keys within their reach.

More from Pastel Fractal can be found at Vimeo, Soundcloud, and Facebook.

Sqwerl MSA Configuration Utility Updated

Sqwerl, the Mac/Windows configuration utility for the MSA-P, MSA-R, and MSA-T, has been updated.  Sqwerl 2.2 supports the new features in MSA firmware version 3.2.  Use Sqwerl to upgrade and configure your MSA using an intuitive graphical interface.

The latest MSA firmware is a great fit for MIDI guitar amp and loop control projects.  Many examples, including the iPatch guitar pedal switcher, can be found at the MSA support forum.

The original Sqwerl announcement can be found here.

Sqwerl-2-2-Preset-ConfigSqwerl-2-2-Individual-Output-Config

Disappearing Cowboy’s Automated M.O.T. Stage Rig

John Erik King, the sole instrumentalist of Disappearing Cowboy, has created the “Minimalist Organic Tech” stage rig, an integrated system that includes guitar effects and amplification, bass, synthesis, vocal processing, and robot drums. Scripted MIDI messaging provides “scene” control, freeing King to simultaneously perform live guitar, bass, and synth.

M.O.T. Minimalist Organic Tech from Disappearing Cowboy on Vimeo.

King’s description of the system:

Drums
  • kick, one actuator.
  • snare, one actuator.
  • ride cymbal, two actuators to account for the high volume of repetitive patterns typically played on cymbals.
  • toms, two actuators, again to account for quarter/sixteenth note repetition.
  • crash, one actuator with a very long throw to really smack the crash cymbal so it stands out.
 M.O.T. Rig
  • bass, mute, and distortion control. (big muff)
  • guitar, Moog LP ladder filter into an eventide stereo digital delay. The stereo output then goes to two different amps with independent mutes.
  • synth, only one string goes to a Roland GR-30, which has its own mute as well.
M.O.T. Batar
  • has three outputs. Bass, guitar, and synth.
  • tuning E (bass string), E,B,E,B,E. (five other strings)
  • top three strings are attached to a modified Bigsby tremolo which creates a relative detune effect.
Because everything is controlled by MIDI, we can shift scenes and tempos for each song, or even in between songs. The vocal delays and guitar delays are in perfect sync with the tempo which the drums precisely adhere to. If the tempo is at 135, everything is locked at 135.
 
I originally controlled everything with a laptop, but found a karaoke device that plays back MIDI files to use instead.
 
All the different scenes and transitions are triggered automatically. And the entire set is set up like a playlist. We hit one button and the entire show plays without any foot controllers or input like that of any kind. It’s all automated, with the exception of playing the instrument, of course.

 

The rig employs two Highly Liquid MSA-P MIDI decoders to trigger drums, route audio signals, switch amplification channels and control effects.  An MPA MIDI decoder is used to automate control of the Moog ladder filter.

The new Disappearing Cowboy album, Revolute, is available from every major online music distribution platform including Amazon, iTunes, Soundcloud, and several others.

MOT

MSA Firmware 3.2 Available with New Features for Guitar Applications

Based on feedback from users who have used the MSA-P, MSA-R, and MSA-T to build MIDI-controlled guitar amp & effects switchers, new firmware has been released that allows the user to:

  • Store and recall compound MSA output states (presets) using MIDI commands from any footswitch (program change, CC, or note).
  • Change individual MSA output states independently using specific CC or note commands.
  • Specify that certain MSA outputs respond to both preset recall and individual control, while other MSA outputs respond only to individual control.

The MSA (“MIDI Switch Array”) is a MIDI decoder with 8 on/off outputs that respond to almost type of MIDI input message.  It operates from a 9V battery or other 9VDC power supply.  The MSA-P and MSA-R offer SPST relay output.  The MSA-T offers NPN transistor output for relay or solenoid control.