Thursday, February 06, 2014

New Year. New Music. New Photos.

I'm a bit saddened by the closure of one of my favorite places to play and eat, The Vine & Fig Bistro. But sometimes change is a good muse, and in this case I've taken the winter to focus on family, photos, and some funny music.  Well, not really funny, but different for me.  I hope to have some of it up on SoundCloud in a bit - generative mixed with smooth grooves.

I have new photos up on Flickr; hoping to get some of them (and some abstracts) into a multimedia show for the live set.  They make a good compliment to mellow tunes.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Back to the Arcade

Because arcade buttons are awesome, that's why.   This project started out as something that might be fun for the kids.  It has big tough buttons and lights.  What else do you need?  Oh, Ableton Live might help too.   So what we have here is a USB button controller - somewhat in the tradition of the Midi Fighter, but simpler.  I didn't want anything that could get accidentally toggled, nor did I want to  worry about finding 16 sounds that went well together.   Five seems like a good number.

I have it mapped to an Ableton set for some fun finger drumming, but I think the uses for my live set are there as well.  It makes a nice trigger for drones, and would compliment the Zendrum nicely.  The Zen is amazing, but you can't sustain a note with it (without a pedal).  Arcade buttons solve this dilemma nicely.

As a side, with a little creative mapping of keyboard shortcuts on the Mac, I can use this to manage my email too.  It's very satisfying to go all Space Invaders on the inbox.  The buttons are for Send, Reply All, Forward, Archive, and Delete.   This lets you either deal with it, delegate it, or trash it.

Taking a look under the hood, we've got a MakeyMakey, 30mm arcade buttons, and some really cool Adafruit NeoPixels.   I modified the default MakeyMakey sketch to trigger the LEDs, and then lay out a nice wash when there's no activity.

For email, I skipped the resting lights; it just gets blinky when the action heats up.   USB hooks it all up, and since the MakeyMakey sends keyboard characters, mapping is easy.   Ableton handles whatever you throw at it, just assign to clips.  The much neglected function keys handle the Mail duties nicely.