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.

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

User Project Roundup, Part 7

Forum member GoatBoy used the MSA-R to provide MIDI control for an array of solenoid-activated bells.  (Note: The MSA-T and MSA-P may be better choices for solenoid-based projects.)

Spunky Toofers used an Akai EWI 3000 to trigger a MIDISpeak and effects.

Siempre La Luna documented the MIDISpeak assembly process and installation process.

Thomas S. photographed his MIDI Xbox controller for use with music games.

User Project Roundup, Part 6

MIDI-modified Stylophone controlled with a bent TR-505 and MSA-R (Diabolical Devices):

Diabolical Devices MIDI Stylophone

MIDI2600-Internal installation video (Siempre La Luna):

DIY MIDI drum machine incorporating an MSA kit and a Farfisa organ percussion module (Quiet Channel):

MIDISpeak dual-mode installation (Erik Tinberg):

This Is The Sound, the new release from Burnkit2600 which features MSA-R controlled bent percussion:

Custom MSA-R based MIDI control box with video (The Umbrella Company):