It is surprising how MIDI – a technology invented in the early 70s and introduced to the wide public in 1980 still is so alive, kicking, and universally supported. In this blog, you will see both “old fashioned” and “future proof” devices relying on this universal standard.
One super clever example of MIDI-based new breed of instruments is the Artiphon Instrument One.
The concept behind this portable piece of gear is allowing any kind of musician (be it guitarists, violin players, drummers or keyboard players or any other) to be able to play the full spectrum of possible sounds from a single device, using different techniques that belong to “traditional” instruments or entirely new ones.
The Instrument One is a portable battery powered device that looks like this:
As you can read, it has a bit of it all: a headphone & mic jack (would have been great to have an embedded mic!) a bridge for strumming or bowing (appealing to guitarists and strings players), pressure and velocity fingerboard (appealing to keyboardists) , 6 digital strings, “optional frets”, and stereo speakers.
The “Optional frets” feature is a great one – it allows you to simulate bot a fretted (i.e. bass guitar) or fretless (i.e. violin) instrument.
You can dial through different “playing” settings by using the preset knob, which allows you to choose your preferred way of playing the Instrument One – simulating a guitar, a keyboard, drum pads and so on.
The Artiphon connects to any MIDI capable Virtual Instrument (find some of them for FREE here) or iOS app.
The Instrument One does NOT contain any sounds: all the sounds are generated by the apps/instruments you connect the device to, meaning that you always have to have at least your iPhone with you to be able to create some actual music.
Due to its versatility the Artiphon is engineered to be “embraced” in various ways: like a violin, like pads, like a keyboard or like a guitar.
Here are some ideas on how to use it!
To me, the idea looks very clever and well thought out. I can imagine to use the thing in various creative ways. The only thing i wouldn’t use it for is to mimic real sounds of real instruments .. it is too of an awkward playing experience for a “traditional” guitarist like me, but I can easily see how I can employ it for creating drums, synth pads or even string-like sounds.
Also, I see it as an inspiring tool for “out of the box” songwriting: something that can spark some new ideas if you want to get out of your comfort zone.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below.