It may look like a strange version of Reversi, but the Striso MIDI controller from Piers Titus van der Torren out of the Netherlands is designed to offer players the same kind of musical expression that you might find with acoustic instruments.
Currently at the working prototype stage and seeking production funds on Kickstarter, the Striso board essentially captures subtle finger movements to open the door to expressive music creation. It features 61 black or light gray soft silicone buttons that raise to a ridge and are arranged for intuitive play on a roughly square wooden platform.
Each of these keys is pressure sensitive and registers touch direction too, so essentially players can tap a button, push or squish it down, move it from side to side, or up and down or any which way they want. That movement is then translated into a sound, pitch variation, volume control, timbre adjustment or some kind of expressive action, such as vibrato.
Positioning notes in the same key close together and giving every musical interval, chord or scale the same shape is said to help users get to grips with music theory, though you can play the Striso without tackling such things. Players raise or lower pitch over the y axis, and progress in fifths on the x axis. The layout can also accommodate one-handed play, but the instrument is capable of 15-note polyphony.
Extra buttons down one side allow for glissando, octave change and settings tweaking, and more sonic wizardry is available when the whole thing is tilted, rotated or taken in hand and given a good ol’ shake.
The device is powered over USB. An internal synth engine is still to be added in at the moment, but the 192 x 174 x 26-mm (7.5 x 6.8 x 1-in) device can be used with an MPE synthesizer over USB MIDI. A 3.5-mm audio output jack is also planned for inclusion.
Kickstarter pledges start at €420 (about US$455) and if all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December. The video below has more.
Striso board: Musical expression taken to the next dimension
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