Back in 2019, Artiphon launched a Kickstarter for a battery-powered handheld music-creation tool called the Orba. Now the company has returned to the platform with the Chorda, a portable synth, looper and MIDI controller shaped like a short guitar neck.
The Chorda seems to combine aspects of Artiphon’s Instrument 1 and the Orba, and like those digital instruments, it can be played without needing to learn music theory or develop a particular skill.
It’s an expressive platform for music creativity on the go, comes with numerous sounds cooked in – “from traditional instruments to synths” – and is designed so users can easily find their groove, wherever they may be.
Up top are 12 touch-enabled sensor pads that respond to velocity and pressure for volume swells and vibrato at your fingertips, each sporting a multi-color LED and haptic feedback. To one side is a six-trigger bridge that’s used to sound the played note or chord using gestures like strumming and tapping.
On the other side of the pad array is a built-in speaker, though there’s also a 3.5-mm headphone jack for private listening or connection to a powered speaker. The device can be placed flat across a lap and played like a mini keyboard or picked up like a uke, and it has an accelerometer and gyroscope to adjust parameters with movement. The integrated battery is reckoned good for four hours of per-charge portable creativity.
The Chorda comes with four basic playing modes for drum sounds, bass, chords and lead – with the integrated audio engine providing a bunch of synthesized sounds associated with each mode, including electric guitars, pianos, strings and horns, and even vocals.
Multiple parts can be recorded and layered together for up to five minutes per loop, to generate instant grooves, full songs or drum/bass combos to jam over top. The included arpeggiator can also generate rhythms and melodies that are responsive to user finger movements.
Artiphon has been working with recording artists to allow users to interact with their music, tweaking and remixing songs from the likes of Kimbra, Venjent, and Dom McLennon using Chorda.
It can be used to control MIDI hardware or music production software over Bluetooth or USB-C, and is reported compatible with GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase as well as MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) mobile apps.
The portable creativity powerhouse works with its own companion mobile app that’s packed with more than 100 sound presets, and can be used to capture samples to add to the instrument’s library. And if you sample a car horn, bird song or sample any other sound, the app will automatically crop the clip and retune it to match the key of your creation.
Kickstarter pledges for the Artiphon Chorda currently start at US$199, which translates to around 20% off the expected retail price. Black, blue or white are your color options and, if all goes to plan with the already funded campaign, shipping is estimated to start from November. The video below has more.
Introducing Chorda: A Musical Instrument for Everyday Life
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