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Alternative Controller

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Alternative Midi Controllers are a number of non-standard OSC or MIDI Controllers that can control any parameter in a Synthesizer or Sequencer. Here is a List.

INNOVATIVE AND OTHER CONTROLLERs here's a new place (we/I will fill it up over the next days) with some interesting non-keyboard and standard controllerbox kind of controlling parameters with all your senses..

Tech: MIDI, Ethernet (via OSC)

Hier ist eine Liste von alternativen Controllern

Controllers and MIDI/USB-Treatment

  • Manta Sensor Touch & Sliders with LED feedback lights, a little buchla'ish

also with Sensors (Modules)

  • Bugbrand
  • Makenoise
  • Synthwerks

offer Modules with FSR or sensors of any kind with or without pressure or position recognition.

  • The Sound of Touch manipulates digital samples by touching natural material by sticks or jazz sticks..

btw: there is also a software by STEIM to turn ANY USB DEVICE into a controller..

  • MCE8 MorphEUS - morphing interpolating multiple controllers..

a morphing controller (in german only) that offers to control any controller set by onle one knob like the nord lead and nord modular / g2 series as an external box Link: [1]

  • D-Beam and Alesis Beam Control called AXXIS (AirFX,Airsynth, X25/X49 etc.)

the Dimension Control "d-beam" is available on some Roland products such as the Roland VSynth (keyboard only), MC909 and others. It reacts to the distance of any body part (or something else) to the controller and can be played quite exactly. since the vsynth has 2 of them it is nice to have 2 parameters under control that can be controlled and modulated by one hand or just 2 or 3 fingers.. the d-beam is 1 dimensional but you can narrow the "beam" from any direction.. the alesis version measures 3 dimensions of your moves and so the position of your hand controlls the output of 3 controllers. the Air FX and Synth series do not have midi ,so they only use it for internal functions. but the newer remote keyboards can do. there are some other boxes (all in the us), one if it being the inventor of the d-beam himself "Eyris" from and another machine, that works quite similar. it's a shame that Roland never had a twin (!) d-beam box for sale.. not even a single d-beam.. see my live performance on Dada-Inn (30.4.2005) or/and Moogulator (2005), if you like a video .. (check video sections..)

more controllers and sensors

  • Ribbon Controllers by Kurzweil has a not so cheap one and Doepfer R2M has a flexible one which is MIDI based. ribbon controllers like the R2m by doepfer..
  • - simples movement sensors or pressure sensores like FSR (force sensors like in old Moog Multimoog or DIY).
  • (D) einfache Bewegungssensoren (druckempfindlich, Infrarot, Ultraschall)
  • - 3d controller - ball pen like - The Bat (stiftähnlicher Controller - mißt Stellung im 3-D-Raum)
  • - Lightning (Donald Buchla)
  • - Touchram, 32 LED rows able to send SysEx, quite classic, no longer available classic (most control their DX7 with this)
  • - measurement of skin or muscle tension - I-Cube-System (Haut-,Muskelspannungmessung)
  • - hands (Michel Waisvisz)
  • - a body suit - body synth (Daten-Anzug - Laurie Anderson)
  • - for dancers - Diem Digital Dance System (für Tänzer)
  • - video based things - BigEye (auf Basis von Videos)
  • Theremin lets not forget the (hard to play) theremin, it works as a controller as well, .. most thremins are no midi instruments, but if so check if the pitch and volume antenna can also send controllers.. it's the oldes one of the controllers listed here..

the 20ies made THEREMIN aus den 20ern:


and bio feedback, measurement of alpha waves in your brain.. hard to control, especially on a stage or with a lot of people in the place..

simple things like the wacom tablet or the cinqtiq screen that can be used with a pen - directly write on the screen (virtually) etc.. for music?? well.. the pen is pressure sensitive and both ends have different functions.. high price.. 2500€ for a 1600 pixel wide screen with sort of ribbon on the left upper corner (zoom).. made for painters.. but..

..imo the mouse is one of the most overrated controller.. there should be more contact to the diaplay / the picture itself.. and why it is still 2D only? ...

New Keyboards for Note Input/Play

  • C-Thru Axis, playing 6 octave range with velocity honeycomb like keys
  • Thummer / Jammer - another alternative idea to keyboards and drum pads is the "Thummer" and "jammer"..

it has poly pressure and is a pad of sensitive pads/keys.

  • Continuum by Haken - has analogue CV output as well for 4 voices and 3 dimensions (sliding the finger up/down, the velocity/pressure and the notes - seamlessly playable)

Haken continuum.jpg this is a biiig ribbon like controller, it is a flat lengthy band on which you can play like on a ribbon controll, but it also reacts to pressure and velocity, if also has a second direction, so one could be for pitch , the other one for any other parameter plus danmics.. Carla Scaletti (she did Kyma! long life Carla!) shows it fine on Haken Audios site. Links: -Carla playing the Continuum with Kyma Video: -More Videos feat. Continuum: -Link:

  • a very strange accordeon-like collection of keys in "diamond" form.. it's pythagorean tuning and it's creator Barbara Hero seems a bit esotheric-like. let's read this one.

Surfaces and Objects based Sequencers

  • Lego Blocks Segment Sequencer?

Solution one: Sonys Block Jam, which is some sort of LEGO™ that communicates.. means: one segment of it is a "chase light" or a direction that can be connected to any of the 4 sides to other segments. there a switches and coloured lights that show you what each of it currently does.. so the whole thing is a sequencer Sony Block Jam Video:

Data Glove

  • Sold out: Doepfer Mogli based on Nintendo Gloves

here was one by doepfer (mogli data glove) which is discontinued and another new one still for sale: the midiglove from noDNA some videos from my visit. the glove can have each finger bend as a controller, each finger has a touch sensor and a thing that checks if you shake your hands or nod it some way, so it is 12 controllers. additional to that you can controll program changes or any other things by a gestur like a nice "fuck you" for reset it all or send the loudest note you have. they can be trained in, atm it is pc only. they also sell robots of all kinds. videos: and

Midi glove.jpg


Multitouch - guess what? of course the

  • Apple iPad (beside the too-small to really use it iPhones & iPod Touches)

& Apps like Reactable, Rebirth, TouchOSC and others..

  • Jazzmutant Lemur - Multitouch Surface, also as DAW Controller called Dexter

discontinued 11/2010.


the "enterprise controller": touch screen TFT lemur from jazzmutant this one is a 800x600 Pixel Screen you can touch with all your fingers (and more) and control many more than just one parameter with 2 fingers (knobs): there are rubberbands, balls with fricton and refelction at the wall (real physical bounce) and they can have a "lifetime". there are of course sliders and buttons like on enterprise NCC-1701D and E =/\=. it communicates via ethernet / IP and uses the OSC "standard" (well ,that can be read by reaktor, Max/msp, PD etc, but it can not send controllers but via a very simple helper in reaktor, max etc.. it can change it all to midi or even higher resolution) it is in fact a tft with a computer and net connection aboard. 2k€ is not cheap but it is really a cool control toy.. all controll "fields" can be set up by yourself (of course..)

Jazzmutant lemur.jpg

-video - play with vlc:

The Jazz Editor for Lemur:

Lemur Jazz Editor Software

  • Mono Touch - uses a normal Touchscreen (so it is just one touch at a time instead of multitouch on the lemur, but cheaper..) but Windows only
  • New Euphonix Controllers MC Mix + MC Control where just one is a touchscreen controller, the other one has sliders and displays quite close to the IBK 10Control, communicates via Ethernet but with a new Protocol called EuCon

Light Tables

  • Reactable a Light Table from Barcelona. Eine interaktive Lichttisch-Entwicklung aus Barcelona (kein kommerzielles Produkt). --> gibt es als App für Apples iGeräte seit Herbst 2010.

domino tagging / Surface Computing technology.

James Patten has a thing I call Light Table Controller: He calls it "Audio Pad". It has a Projector Beamer above a Table on which you push round little "cursors" around (don't know if they are inductive and scanned by the table or recognized by a camera and detection software) if has menus that are beamed on the table which control the sound and music, so it is in fact an intaeractive sequencer where no mouse is needed but "ice hockey"-kind of "push around"-plastic.. ehmm.. objects ;) it is more a complete arranging and improvisation performance controller than just a "midi controller". Video: Video:

Sequencer Systems / Chase Light

  • Genoqs Octopus 10x16 Step view Deluxe Sequencer


Howdy! Keyboard- Reloaded: hey, why don't you manufacturers do not make keyboards where the keys themselves are 2D fields: means: the higher my finger slides, the higher is the first controller, same with left to right, so he first Third of a key is a 2-way controller plus note on/off plus velocity.. since you can pres the key down you have to "borders" of the neightbour keys, when you touch them, you might be able to use these as 2 special controllers for things like FX etc.. so they keyboards is something for electronic musicians and not only pianists.. and don't forget: they are 3 octaves!!

Über Keyboards

Tach auch.. also mal ne kleine Idee: Wieso müssen eigentlich immer Tasten normal sein? Wieso kann eine Keyboardtaste nicht ein 2D-Controller-Feld sein? Sprich: Drücke ich eine Taste, dann wird der Ton gespielt, aber ich sende pro Taste 2 weitere Parameter, die ich durch die Fingerposition einstellen kann.. Die weißen Tasten haben damit bis zu den schwarzen Tasten ein gutes Feld, die schwarzen Tasten sind zu gut 1-2 Dritteln sensitiv, der Rest kann ein weiterer Controller sein, der auf Position reagiert. Wenn das "runterdrück"-Prinzip bleiben soll ,kšnnten auch die Seitenkanten der anderen Tasten Druckfelder sein, die sich für div. Ereignisse wie Hall und Co heranziehen lassen würden.. Dann muss man nicht mehr so oft die Händchen von den Tasten nehmen und kann einen Sound besser spielen.. und 3oktavig bitte! alles andere ist zu groß oder zu klein für die meisten zwecke (wir reden ja über Synthesizer)


  • Alternative Controllers Link [2]