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electronic practice concertina


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10 hours ago, David Colpitts said:

I have used the Striso (singular) for a couple of weeks, and the extra dimensions of control offered by the silicone buttons make a huge difference to me in terms of creative potential/sound variety/bent notes/and all.

 

A very smart and very musical person, who 50+ years ago was a pioneer in the field of electronic music, once said: “Everything you can control you must control.” I’m not sure I’d want to have to worry about so many degrees of freedom for every button I push.

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46 minutes ago, David Barnert said:

 

A very smart and very musical person, who 50+ years ago was a pioneer in the field of electronic music, once said: “Everything you can control you must control.” I’m not sure I’d want to have to worry about so many degrees of freedom for every button I push.

Good point, David, but in the absence of bellows, we must have a volume control somewhere.  Either on each button like the Striso, or with some sort of fake bellows using a load cell or some other sensor between the ends.  The Striso is designed as a single board instrument so, like a piano, volume has to be controlled at the button.  A duet version of the Striso, or an Anglo or EC version, can use a sensor between the ends for volume control.

 

The idea of being able to control pitch like a string player is attractive but not essential in a 'practice concertina' and I do not see a need for timbre control which, on midi, I think changes the instrument being sounded.

 

I am impressed with how much functionality Piers has in his Striso but I notice that Didie does not use pitch or timbre control in his videos.

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5 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Good point, David, but in the absence of bellows, we must have a volume control somewhere.  Either on each button like the Striso, or with some sort of fake bellows using a load cell or some other sensor between the ends.

 

Random thought: what about breath control with a flexible mouth tube?

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I agree that Didie's postings are in the "elegant simplicity"  category, and without taking exception to David's quoted person from the past, I'd say he is controlling the instrument.  In this instance, the choice is to not push harder or sideways, so as to get the simplest, most traditional sound.  But, IMHO, very much his control.  And, of course, the Haydenism of the Striso is a huge factor for me; it would be worth the asking price, I think, even with one fewer "dimension" of expressivity.  But the MIDI part is very important, since it lets me "be" a cello, or a guitar, or an oboe.....I know many will cringe at the thought, but the sounds are so good, in such small packages, as to astound old folkies like me.  Practice quietly, for sure, but also be  Walter Mitty in his own orchestra!

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1 hour ago, David Colpitts said:

But the MIDI part is very important, since it lets me "be" a cello, or a guitar, or an oboe....

I agree that it is good to be able to change the instrument being sounded, I was just trying to say that I would not need to change the instrument as readily as the Striso allows.  I would be happy with a separate button rather than allowing every button to dynamically change the instrument - if that is what Piers means by timbre control.

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6 hours ago, alex_holden said:

Random thought: what about breath control with a flexible mouth tube?

I have been wondering about this too.

 

This guy is a serious musician who has taught himself to build micro-electronic midi instruments, mostly wind instruments but also keyboards and drum pads.  He has a refreshingly cheap way of creating things.  Here he uses common household things like children's balloons and bits of cardboard with a couple of cheap sensors to make breath controllers:

 

 

He uses capacitance sensors (as used in touch screens) to make switches - cheap and non-mechanical.  His approach is really quite inspiring.  I think that we could make midi concertina button switches out of some nails topped with some dialectric paint!

 

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Yes, Don, to this guy's penchant for cheap and functional stuff.  Reminds me of Dennis Havlena and Linsey Pollack.

 

And, the general notion of wind control appeals to me, though more to my brother, the childhood sax player and current recorder/Casio horn player.  I still hope to sing along with whatever my fingers are playing, but that's another story....

 

And I am not sure what-all the Striso can do, but it sure sounds good through some very inexpensive apps, or even by itself.  And the cost is little more than my CC Elise Hayden Duet, by way of comparison to "real" instruments.

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12 hours ago, alex_holden said:

 

Random thought: what about breath control with a flexible mouth tube?

That sounds like the concertina button Vibrandoneon.

 

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10 hours ago, JimR said:

That sounds like the concertina button Vibrandoneon.

 

There is also the (very rare) Hohner Electra melodica. It has an analogue synth inside. I'm sure I've seen Hainbach on YouTube playing one but I can't seem to find the video now.

https://www.matrixsynth.com/2010/01/electra-melodica-von-hohner-aus-dem.html

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I've made a few modifications.

 

The load cell is a beam, as in the attached picture.  It was attached directly to the two ends of the concertina and so the push/pull was not centred.  I've now modified the attachment to make an "s" beam.  You can see it in the video https://youtu.be/t2LwOGqYavQ  This arrangement has also made the two ends a bit further apart which feels better.

 

This also altered the gain of the sensing system so I've changed that in the code so that a good hard push gives a midi channel pressure of 127.  Additionally I've adjusted the response curve (like a compressor) to give higher gain at lower pressures and lower gain at higher pressure.

 

The video is using Logic Audio as a sampler and a concertina SoundFont.

 

Still lots more to do, but making progress.

IMG_0949.jpg

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32 minutes ago, Howard Mitchell said:

The load cell is a beam, as in the attached picture.  It was attached directly to the two ends of the concertina and so the push/pull was not centred.  I've now modified the attachment to make an "s" beam.

 

I was also wondering about the orientation of the load cell. You have it arranged vertically (when holding the concertina normally), but I'm wondering if it makes more sense to turn it 90 degrees so it lays parallel to the ground. It looks like things are flexing a bit in that direction in your video.

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Howard, thanks again for sharing your work - it made it a cinch to slap together my own version. My source code and other design files are shared in kind at https://github.com/schult/anglo-midi.

 

I opted for USB-MIDI, since it provides a convenient power source and I don't have anything with the old DIN connector anyway.

 

I realized I had enough I/O pins to drop the demuxer chip. I've only included thirty buttons, but there's room for more, especially if I drop one or both of my toggle switches.

 

I also dropped the OLED display, which I may yet regret. I figured I could do things like transposing and such on the receiving side, but a lot of software lacks those features and setting up a chain of apps to process the data stream is an extra hassle. We'll see how much of a stumbling block that is.

 

Now I'm thinking about how to do a slightly nicer version while keeping it budget-friendly...

 

 

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Nicely done Steve. 
I’m using an Arduino nano which hasn’t got native USB capabilities hence the 5pin midi.  Future versions will use Arduino Micro. 
 

I have the decoder there not only to address 40 buttons but also to release pins for the display. 
 

interesting to see your use of the square root to provide a compression algorithm. I found that mounting the load cell with offset blocks so that they attached to each end centrally made a significant difference to the sensitivity and speed of response. 
 

I’m now testing fluidsynth on a Raspberry Pi loaded with a real concertina soundfont and also a one row melodeon version with different channel numbers for treble, bass and chords. 
 

I’ll then look at a “prettier” construction. 
 

Mitch

 

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51 minutes ago, Howard Mitchell said:

Nicely done Steve. 
I’m using an Arduino nano which hasn’t got native USB capabilities hence the 5pin midi.  Future versions will use Arduino Micro. 
 

I have the decoder there not only to address 40 buttons but also to release pins for the display. 

 

 

Reading the caution note here , I believe a Micro is not the best choice fot your purpose as the USB can be used to either program the Arduino or use the port, making development sort of cumbersome. For that reason, I chose a Due for my MIDI concertina which has two USB ports - one dedicated to progamming and the other with full USB capabilities.

 

The Due also has 102 usable I/O pins which should be enough to satisfy your requirements.

 

Edited by RAc
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4 hours ago, Howard Mitchell said:

I have the decoder there not only to address 40 buttons but also to release pins for the display. 

 

I'm pretty sure the board I'm using has enough I/O to support up to 42 buttons, even with the display and setup button taking three pins. The RX and TX pins can be configured as regular digital I/O, since the serial device for debugging is over USB. Using USB for midi frees up another pin as well.

 

4 hours ago, Howard Mitchell said:

interesting to see your use of the square root to provide a compression algorithm.

 

What have you arrived at for your compression curve? Mine is ok, but it could probably be better.

 

4 hours ago, Howard Mitchell said:

I found that mounting the load cell with offset blocks so that they attached to each end centrally made a significant difference to the sensitivity and speed of response. 

 

Thanks, I'll mess with my offset blocks and see if I can improve the feel.

 

3 hours ago, RAc said:

Reading the caution note here , I believe a Micro is not the best choice fot your purpose as the USB can be used to either program the Arduino or use the port, making development sort of cumbersome.

 

The Pro Micro that I'm using does everything over the same USB port, and I haven't found it to be a problem. To the contrary, it's actually quite convenient. I can keep Garage Band open in the background while reprogramming the device, and I only need the one cable.

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25 minutes ago, Steve Schulteis said:

The Pro Micro that I'm using does everything over the same USB port,

Just to be clear, does that mean that you can output midi over both a 5-pin midi connector and the USB port?

Edited by Don Taylor
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