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24 hours left and a special thank you if you go for the GiG Pass

What a month!  From drawings to playable software/hardware (kinda)! 3 design revisions, a performance at CeBit and a full article in MAKE magazine!  Hahahaha!!! This has been great! And this isn’t even the official beginning!!  The "official" beginning is after the campaign ends, which is in 24 hours!  At that point, it's all nitty gritty for the next 30-45 days.

After rediscovering Paper Mache' the other day, and building the first mockups of the hand units, I realized that the design needed more refinement than my drawing suggested, so I created the most ergonomic design yet.  You can see from my illustration that its gourd-like shape will fit comfortably in the hand while providing ample space for the battery necessary to power the BlinkM MaxM RGB LED (the three capsules in the square in the middle of the unit).  A regular high output LED emits approximately 1000-8000mcd or millicandela (for reference, a 100watt incandescent bulb puts out 135,000mcd).  The MaxM? 445,000mcd!  Why? Because this is supposed to be the MOST amazing live music performance system EVER, and to do that, you need all the mcd's you can get! 

The headset will be much much simpler.  Primarily the processor/wireless module, a small battery, a pressure sensor and Hall Effect sensor to measure lip pressure.  Hall Effect sensors vary their voltage in the presence of a magnetic field(ie tiny magnet).  I wish I could say I just thought that up, but I opened up my existing wind controller to source these parts, so I know for a fact that they work and work well.  A tube will route underneath the right ear from the small box housing the components, to the "mouthpiece" which the player bites onto with a tiny "rim" that locks behind the teeth when they bite down, like a mini-snorkel or a balloon.  The headset will hang from the ears like reverse glasses, and the box will rest on the neck, positioning the mouthpiece directly in front of the mouth. 

The primary goal this week is to refine the midi system to be as good or preferably better than my existing wind midi controller, which is a tall but achievable goal. I hope to have it close to this goal by the time I perform at CeBit next tuesday. 

In honor of the end of this campaign and the beginning of the project to build the TRON Beatjazz controller, the next 4 persons contributing $800 or more to the campaign will receive the TRON Beatjazz controller with the headset (not the helmet), in CARBON FIBER!  I figure that once we mold three sets (two for me [one backup] and one for the contributor that ordered the 1st one yesterday) we can mold a few more, but only a few.  So if you have been contemplating it, now is the time.  Check out my post on perk fulfillment for more information.

We’re getting close to the goal!  24 hours left to fund building this monster.   When you see this in action (either myself or you if you order one) you're gonna say, "I'll be damned...he wasn't playing". Believe! 

Back to work for me...


Paper Mache'...Who knew?!

I had a bright spark yesterday.  I have been updating my drawings of the controller, in light of it new wireless manifestation.  Up till the last couple of days, it was still kinda based on the wired concept from the first video.  It wasn't until I decided to a ridiculously bright RGB LED system, which will need a ridiculously powerful battery, relative to the power requirements without it, that the design started taking shape; something where the majority of the weight is low and angled in toward the palm, using a "back-of-hand" cantilever design similar to the pipe design.  The fingers would need to fall naturally on the keys from many angles with an easily accessible thumb mounted joystick for each hand, which would serve multiple functions.  And, as I mentioned before, the LED array would need to be right up front, palm-side, providing synesthetic narrative.

Then it hit me this morning; I could do a simple paper mache' mockup to get a feel for the approximate placement of all of the components!  I had forgotten how easy paper mache’ is to work with.  Flour water and newspaper...that's it!  Allegedly, I found during my research on all thing paper mache’, that this combination, done properly, is actually strong enough to build a house out of.  I'll have to take their word on that one.  But I figured that it would be at least strong enough for my controllers.

After a days’ work of cutting, designing, painting and drilling, I have produced some surprisingly decent and strong first attempt mockups.  Interestingly, I discovered design issues with the first (left) hand that I subsequently corrected in the second.  I have a feeling that I will be repeating this process a number of times over the next few weeks as to have not only a decent giggable version for my CeBit performance, but to also provide a mold for the carbon fiber version, that is refined in every way.

THERE ARE 2 DAYS LEFT! If you are have been considering contributing to this campaign, jump on in!  The water is warm! There is so much left to do and the funds are necessary to make it happen.  For more information, drop by


Playable-ish Prototype,and a note on Contribution

Wow! It's really starting to come together!  I underestimated the refinement of these xbee wireless modules.  In my experience, when configuring a new component, in a chain of components, get ready to want to stab yourself with a soldering iron.  Usually the process is so convoluted and horribly documented, that you just give up.  Not so with these xbee modules. Although I did have to download some firmware updates, the majority of the process has been to determine which is the base station and which is the "radio”, and assign each an ID. A bit more config later and viola! A wireless serial link!!  Yaaaaay!!!

 The base station consists of an xbee on a breadboard and a little usb interface I wired up.  The "radio" is attached to an arduino with a built in xbee port.  I wired up an old 3.7v battery (so glad I didn't throw that old ipaq away) so I could test the distance and so far, it is flawless.  And addictive.  I thought I’d prototype on the wired "UNO" board, but screw that! This is so much cooler and lets me get used to dealing with whatever idiosyncrasies born of this type of wireless networking.

 Although not even slightly perfect or "gig-able"(meaning that I would feel comfortable playing it in a performance), the fingering system is working.  I have, thus far, purchased 3 sets of (cheap) switches to prototype with and none of them have done what I wanted, so I decided to make my own by using gummy gamepad controller buttons(seen here pinned to the breadboard, "bug-collection" style) to complete a circuit made up of two pieces of wire.  Not perfect, but much more accurate than the switches I’ve used so far.  My original idea was to make little thimble-like fingertip sleeves that would be conductive. This would negate any mechanical button/switch latency.  It would be as fast as my fingers could move and would allow me to position my fingers in various ways. I may re-investigate that trajectory.

The joystick is still acting as my breath control variable until I can purchase another one. The one I have needed too much air to make it work...and then I blew it up (now with the new multimeter, that's less of a problem).  So the joystick is working out well at this stage.  There is still much to do in any case.

·         make the wind controller software work as well or better than my existing wind controller
·         start building the new performance system that the wind controller patch will be a part of
·         create the color synthesis system which will provide feedback and narrative potential
·         source the remaining components for JUST 1 PROTOTYPE which include;
o    2 more xbees (one for each hand and one for the helmet)
o    2 more arduinos (one for the hand unit and one for the helmet/headset)
o    2 accelerometers
o    6 regular rgb led's
o    8 3watt LEDs
o    the pressure sensor for breath
o    the hall effect sensor for lip
o    2 high capacity batteries (one for each hand)
o    And a ridiculous amount if switches, buttons, and joysticks to assess what is usable in a performance environment and what's not.
·         Clay, plaster, fiberglass, epoxy and carbon fiber for sculpting the hand unit and the next "few" helmet prototypes.
·         And space to build this monster.  I hope to move it to BetaHaus next week, if I receive the amount of funds necessary.
The above list is primarily for the PROTOTYPE.  This is why I made the project for the amount that I made it for.  I want to have a playable...oops, I mean to say gig-able, prototype before my performance and discussion panel appearance at CeBit on March 1st.  This is a perfect place to show the TRON Beatjazz Controller for the first time, although it won’t be anywhere near as epic as the debut party in May;-)

I really hope that you have seen enough progress so far that you can see that this isn’t some vaporware project.  I was lucky that indiegogo released the PayPal donated funds to me instantly, otherwise it would have been a month of pure data patches and drawings.  Because I had access to some of the funds, I have been able to start on the project and it has been AMAZING.  The support, the interest...I mean, MAN! I’m WRITING AN ARTICLE FOR MAKE MAGAZINE!! This, to me, is a major honor!! BUT, it is only just “before” the actual beginning.  I have generated less than 1/10th of what I need to make this project great.

Every contribution generated penny so far, has been put into this project. Every penny of my own funds I have made for the last 2 months, that wasn't necessary for staying alive, has gone into this project.  I want to believe that whole "independent artist" thing is realistic.  I have stated this in previous posts; YOU are my patron.  Yes YOU...stop looking around...YOU, the one reading this right now.  There is no big deal or movie or concert tour coming.  There is me, doing the most artistically interesting projects I can dream up (of which there are many)...and you.  If you support me, I can tell you; this shit will be better than anything on TV and last for as long as I have breath.

Support is contributions but it’s also, sharing and interaction.  If you read how much I post online, you'll see that I really love this new world that is emerging there.  I love interacting online.  It’s a big part of my life.  If you find what I am doing interesting, share it!  I’ve got a million widgets. Reverbnation, Facebook, Bandcamp, etc.  This is how it works these days.  Sharing and interacting. 

But if you contribute (if this sounds too spammy for you, it's probably best if you not follow me anymore because these campaigns and projects aren’t going away.) you get a number of things;
·         To be part of the making of a new instrument to coincide with a new form of music. If you think that's "bombastic", peep my videos and my music.  This will be something you will be proud you contributed to and...
·         You can buy one of the controllers!! So you're not just helping in the creation, but you can get one of the artifacts!  The wired version($400) will be sick but the wireless version($800) will welcome you into a new world inspired by afro-futurism and sci-fi.  And with both, I will spend quality face time online helping you do amazing stuff with it.
·         My forthcoming Book, The 21st century Musicians Guide to Busking, ($50)isn’t just a how to; it also makes a case for expanding your concepts of what is possible with live performance in the 21st century.  Like I said, this is the world now and we all must reorient.  20 years of experience crammed into one book!
·         The DVD($25) has a printable version of the book! As well as loads of music, notes on all kinds of stuff, a loops collection (I did one loop collection for Marshall Jefferson and Loopmasters already), pure data patches, editorials...if I could download onto a disc, this is what it would be!
·         5 hours of studio time($200) is a lot of studio time!  Quite a few sessions can be done in that amount of time and I usually charge more than that PER TRACK.  If you have wanted to do some work with me, this is as good as it’s gonna get.  There’s enough time in there for multi-part arrangement too!
·         and for that special person who goes for the ultimate package($5000), we're talking basically getting a copy of my personal, afro-futuristic super instrument and 2 full access days of me helping you not just learn it, but learn how and why and when the whole concept first evolved! 

3 more days!  This is where it all comes together!  Its either the sickest live performance system ever, or I start selling all my stuff to make it happen, because this thing is getting built-and in the next 30-60 days-on schedule (as are the fulfillment of all Perks associated with this campaign).  If you were waiting for a good time to jump in, now it that time.  Ok, sales pitch over.  I’ve got programming to do. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


It just got real; multipoint wireless!

OK, here we go! now, its getting real!

First off, the boehm fingering system i've been working on has started to show signs of becoming playable!  once i figured out a (short lived on account of not being particularly elegant) means of turning notes off, it seems that the other aspects should be reasonably easy to implement.  pure data allows you to figure your own solution, which is nice actually.  with the help of some of the cats on the Pure data forum, i was able to get the note on/off and duration issues sorted after i got back from france this wekend. ( great show by the way!)

But the big news for me is taking receipt of the first of the wireless modules and the boards that they fit onto.  i was quite emotional when Anton of here in Berlin, handed the components to me.  I have dreamed of a day when i could implement wireless into my system as easily as searching online and finding components for which there are GB's of data on all aspects of how implement them!  to finally not only have the wireless and the Arduino together finally, but to have an Arduino (Fio) that has an x-bee socket on the bottom!  It's as if they made this specifically for my project! 2 or more of these things together form a multi-point, bi-directional wireless network.  And each node has a 100m range!  I just got one and two Xbees so i can get started with getting accustomed to progamming the boards wirelessly.  next week i will get two more xbees and two more Arduino Fio's which will make up my one-to-many wireless network (one base station tranciever and the three "nodes"-two hand units and the helmet mounted oral interface.)

The Arduino is a new type of DIY,open source, microprocessor board for artists and hobbyist to create just about anything digital.  it has revolutionized the DIY scene over the last few years by making the tools open and free with abundant reference and tutorial services. There are many types by many manufacturers and one of the things it is compatible with is...

The MAXSTREAM Xbee wireless tranciever system. two or more of these little high speed radios creates a wireless "mesh" network.  Each can speak to either a base station or to each other.  They are very popular and also have an amazing number of tutorials and reference materials online.  It's like getting a college course for free.

These devices integrate very well with pure data and, i anticipate that the transmission speeds will be more than adequate for the the wind controller, and the lighting system I've designed.

I am really excited about the next few a few larger buttons that suck much less than the previous buttons i was using. (finding buttons with that right "feel" is going to be difficult, i am finding) just acquired a multimeter that actually works, as opposed to my last one which cost 4euro's new.  That as well as header pins and a larger breadboard because i grossly underestimated how much breadboard space would be neccessary.  I am using an Arduino UNO which replaces my old semi destroyed NG model.  Once everything is wired properly again, i will shift it over to the wireless modules, then its time to fight crime! so, i wont be sleeping all that much, but i should have something that is playable-ish by Friday. which would time it perfectly for the beginnning of the project build phase that begins on the day the campaign ends on Monday. it probably wont be very "sweet" but it will demonstrate the fingering system and breath control.

If you would like to help this project happen, go over to  I will have a small number of these controllers available for those that contribute $400 and up.  Iwill be posting updated artist renditions of the resulting controllers tommorrow or friday to coincide with the (hopeful) progress towards something playable by friday. stay tuned...

A note about the TRON Beatjazz Controller Campaign "Perks"

I figured that this is a good time to go over the specifics of what the "perks" are and when they will be delivered.  That way you'll have a much clearer idea of which perk you will want to go for (hint, hint...)

The perks are things that I give you in return for contributing to the TRON Beatjazz controller campaign.  These are my way of saying thank you.  I have created the perks list in a manner that will ensure I can fulfill the orders no matter how few or how many contributions I get.  

The campaign itself ends on Feb. 21st.  At which point, the project officially begins.  This is the point where all funds associated with the campaign are released to me.  at this point I will move the project to a project space, like BetaHaus here in Berlin, and continue the work that I have already begun, but with better tools and resources.  With the number of talented people that I have working with me on this project, it should be "finished"-meaning, functional enough to use at a show- by mid April.  It is at this point that I will start compiling my notes and putting together the content for the DVD and the EP.  I will be recording the EP starting the last week of April and it will take no longer than a 2 weeks to complete ( I work fast).  So fulfillment of deliverables is set to begin on the second week of May.

If you contributed $5 toward the EP, as well as all other contributors, you will get a download code at this time.  The EP will not be available to the public...only to contributors.  For those that went for the party pass ($15) you will get the download code and an e-ticket for the Tron Controller Debut event which will happen the last weekend in May.  I already have a venue here in Berlin but I do not want to say which one, until I have a written confirmation from them, but rest assured, it will be hot and well worth the amount contributed.

If you have ever received one of my CD projects, you will know that I am into hand painting them, and this will be no exception.  The DVD ($25) will be a maze of various forms of digital content, stitched together in a way that I hope you find entertaining.  it will contain the EP as well as a documentary of the making of this system, PDF notes and a Pdf copy of my soon to be completed  book, “the 21st century Musicians Guide to Busking" which is part “how to” and part philosophy and theory about the now and the future of playing sans a venue.  Even if you aren’t interested in busking, I hope you find it to be an interesting read along with the other content on this disc.  knowing myself as I do, I’m sure  that there will be quite a bit of interesting content on this DVD and as with the other items, this is a campaign exclusive; no more of these will be produced after I have fulfilled orders to contributors.

The book ($50) will be hand bound, meaning that I want it to have a classic look and feel although I will be creating them one by one, here at home.  They will all be signed by me and serial numbered, for whatever that is worth.  I just think it looks cool to have a serial number on the front, but that's just me. I also found some really cool paper at the local art's shop, MODULOR, that looks like scroll paper from some old biblical movie.  I can get loads of it in bulk which will keep the cost down, while creating an object that is waaaay cool.  

The studio sessions are different.  I will start scheduling them from mid April starting with the first contributor to purchase this perk. You do get the DVD, but not the book.  I can do multiple sessions during the same period but there are a couple of stipulations. You must have Skype and a webcam.  You "should" have an account but if you don't we can use a number of other methods to work together.  You can use your 5 hours all at once or in multiple session totaling no more than 5. I’m not trying to do 20 15 minute sessions.  Work with me here...but during those sessions, you will access to my full arsenal of sounds and skills and we will work together to make sure that we make your track sound dope. Side note; I usually charge quite a bit more for session work but I want to say thank you for contributing, so…

You may have noticed that I threw my old iphone 3G ($250) into the mix.  I thought it might be nice to load it up with goodies and offer it to anyone interested.  The things on offer here are exclusive to contributors.  This phone, which is jailbroken, works on any network, although the wifi has crapped out.  It will be loaded with loads of music, and exclusive videos that I have never released before as well as all the content from the DVD. And you still get the EP, the party pass, the DVD and the book!  The installed apps will be cydia sourced so you don't have to worry about losing the content in you sync with another computer.  You even get the original sim that came with the phone, just in case you’re not down with jailbreaking.  Win, win!!

From here, it’s all about the controller variations.  let me say now...I love building stuff and I look forward to building these controllers, but I am not yearning to be the next M-Audio, meaning, after this campaign, I probably will not be building anymore controllers except for my own use.  Who knows? Maybe I will change my mind, but I love playing music too much and I don't see me spending a big chunk of my life building controllers for people, so these will probably be the most exclusive thing on the list!  

The first model is the wired version based on my original design ($400).  It will have two wired hand units leading to a central processing unit and a wired headset.  It will have the integrated color synthesis system and it brains will be based on Pure Data. I will start fulfilling these the second week of May, starting with the first contributor to buy any of the 3 controller packages on offer.  I will go down the list.  please allow 3 days in between each order (i.e., of you are 20th on the list, you will receive yours a few weeks after the first one ships. maybe sooner, depending  on how fast I can assemble them.)  Upon receipt of the controller, I offer an hour of Skype to help you set it up.

The wireless controller ($800) is two wireless hand units and a headset that houses the lip and breath sensor, wireless transceiver and rechargeable battery.  It follows the same stipulations as above with the addition of 5 hours of instruction and setup help.  5 hours is a really long time so by the end of our (no more than 5) sessions, you should be a Beatjazz god.  

The difference between the "Gig" package and the VIP package, beside the contribution ($2500) is that you get one of only 5 of the carbon fiber controllers systems that will ever be made, by me anyways.  2 systems are mine- a primary and a backup, 1 is for the ultimate package and 2 are for the VIPs package.  The only difference between this and my personal system is the carbon fiber headset that will house the lip/breath interface. There is also no mic or in ear monitoring.   Besides that, it is identical and will definitely be a show stopper.  Let me tell you what’s gonna happen.  many people are going to pass on this package except for the 2 persons that actually buy it and when other people see it in action they are going to ask where they can get one, at which point you can tell them that its one of only 5 that will ever be made.  Believe!  That’s exactly what’s going to go down...don't pass on the opportunity.  Get it while the carbon fiber is hot!

And last but the exact opposite of least, we come to THE ULTIMATE PACKAGE!!, PACKAge, PACkage, Package,package, packa...I have been told that this is wildly underpriced but it’s my first campaign so I’ll charge more next time;-)  with this baby you get it all.  The EP, the book, the sessions, the DVD but the big difference is that you get a preconfigured netbook to house the brains of the system and you get all of the original notes, sketches and schematics (I usually scan the stuff for my own records).  All you have to do is connect the computer to your musical system and you are Lawnmower man!  Need help with that?! Well, I will personally deliver this baby to your HOUSE, and sit with you, at your place! for 2 days! And show you everything I know about this system, about Beatjazz, how to play it, the concepts behind it...everything!  Hell, I’ll show you how to make perfect pancakes while I’m there too!  And after this 2 day crash course, you and I will put on a concert together for your friends and family!  And with this package...YOU GET A HELMET!!  YAAAAAY!!! But, as with the rest, there are a few stipulations;
·         Upon purchase, I will need your hat size so we can make your helmet.  It will be a slightly different design than mine, but it will still look very cool and house all of the electronics.  The hand units will be a more general ergonomic configuration, so you won’t have to get a mold poured as I did.
Delivery to your home is contingent upon a few stipulations as well;
·         The cost of round trip travel including ground transportation and hotel cannot total more than $1200. We can put more towards travel to places that are waaaay out of the way, if I stay at your home, but that is not a stipulation.
·         NO WAR ZONES! I will Google your town/city/village...if the kids are armed and people carry machetes, I’m not coming!  We can meet in a city or country that is less violent. 
That’s it.  My goal is that you are happy with your acquisition. 

So I hope that makes the whole "perks" thing more accessible.  I really want you to dig whatever perk you decide on because I really want you to know how much I appreciate that you would assist me in creating such a project.  I know that you don't have to do it, which makes it that much more special to me.  You complete me (Ed; no, a little less...) Thank you. Have a safe weekend. (Ed; Better)


Big things and little Things...

WOW! This week has been relatively eventful.  I am now into the guts of the project.  these days its all programming,programming, programming.  Specifically, I am on an aspect that i find very exciting. 

 As i stated in the last post,i have decided against burning up anymore physical components (oh yeah...i forgot to tell you...that little pressure sensor? fried.  thus is prototyping) so i am using a joystick as a stand in for the pressure sensor that will become the breath sensor, and using the virtual switches in touchOSC in place of their physical counterparts.  this is allowing me to focus on the all important software aspect of the system because i made the decision to make this project more software than hardware,meaning that the controller will not work with out a computer running pure data.  the goal is to provide a basis for future conceptual exploration,without limitation.  the keys and swtiches that make up this controller can become anything i want or need in the future, hence the desire to keep the brains malleable.  

With the joystick and the virtual keys, i am currently designing the small piece of code (called a patch in pure data speak) that will take these two streams of numbers, and convert it to smooth note data. (this patch does not work yet but is a step in that direction) there are pre existing objects in pure data that make this possible, but the results arent what i want for my personal system.  most of my synths in my exisitng performance rig, are capable of receiving high resolution data from a controller and my wx5 does not send this data.  essentially, it will be an order of magnitude higher quality that will be noticible immediately, so this aspect will probably take a few days at least.

I will try and crack this nut as much as is possible tonight,but then i must set it to the side until Monday so i can prepare properly for my first show in France! I play the "Blueday Stereo" party at the Boreal Casino in Lille this Saturday.  I am really looking forward to this gig.  from the music and videos i've seen of the party, it seems that it is exactly my vibe.  

on the topic of exciting developments, 3 have come my way this week that have me on a cloud!  the first is being asked to not only perform at CeBit, one of the largest digital industry tradeshows in the world,but also being asked to be on a discussion panel with representatives from some major music industry companies, like Roland and Ableton.  I will be the voice of the modern artist representing what we want and need from them.  hahaha!  no problem there.  i can talk about this stuff non-stop!  i will let you know more once i know more.

Also, in addition to the incomparable Uli Maier whose contribution to this project has enabled it to grow exponentially, I will be recieving guidance and technical assistance from a wind synthesis guru/ genius by the name of Tomas Henriques.  years before i even knew what pure data was, he had already created the "Meta-EWI" a wind controller on steroids. and when you thought that he couldn't top that, he built the award winning double-slide controller!  this thing is so amazing and blows my mind everytime i watch the video. His unique and deep knowledge and insight will assure that the TRON Beatjazz controller system is a very capable beast of an instrument!

The other great news is that MAKE magazine wants me to write a full D.I.Y.article on not just the TRON Beatjazz controller, but on Beatjazz itself,  as well as a full side panel about my book!  its like all my birthdays at once!  As i stated at the beginning of the year, This year i want to push the concept of beatjazz, open source and new forms of expression and this allows all three in one!   This also means that, because of contractual obligations,  the only people that will have access to my patches and build design notes before the article, are contributors to my campaign that contributed at least $25 for the DVD perk which also includes a PDF of the book.  Everyone else will have to either wait for the MAKE Magazine article, which is tentatively slated to come out in September, or til November. so if you want all the notes on how to build this project once i have completed it, you know what to do.

Don't let all this activity fool you into thinking that i've got resources.  I am currently putting everything i have into either this project...or food.  this is more important than anything i can remember doing.  The TRON Beatjazz Controller system will LIVE, and within the next 60 days, or you'll find my cold, skinny corpse, still grasping a soldering iron in my flat.  

Everything that has been done up to this point has been preliminary work.  the Tron Beatjazz controller campaign is the "funding" portion of the project that kicks off the building and creation aspects which  officially start the day the campaign ends on Monday Feb 21...less than 1 1/2weeks!!  And it has taken on a whole other importance now that i am being asked to show it and talk about it in such big forums as Cebit and MAKE magazine.  

To that end, i am contemplating one more perk in my list of perks (of which i have been told i have too many already).  I only decided to make the system completely wireless after the beginning of the campaign, so although i am still offering the $250 wired verison based on the concept sketch, i am thinking about offering a wireless version as well.  it will be the three-way wireless design that my personal system is based on, except that the head unit will be only for breath and lip control-no monitoring, headsup display or microphone.  currently i am thinking that 10 of these at $800 is possible from a project/time POV.  what do you think?  would anyone be interested in this?

Spread the word!  There are 13 days left and it would be nice to present the prototype to the world at CeBit on March 1st.  It wont be the full carbon fiber concept, but it will be cool.  Tell people.  share the widgets and the links.  Let's build the most amazing live music performance system ever!

Prototyping the Fingering system with TouchOSC

Ok, there is no need to fry my already abused Arduino just yet.  after my power surge scare yesterday, i feel that maybe i should refine the software aspect a bit more before plugging random arrays of switches into my usb port via my exposed microprocessor board(?!?!) i don't have to mess with the physical switches just yet.

currently, the project is to get pure data to interpret the various switch on/off signals, as midi, or rather, as musically relevant data.  so far, my system consists of taking each of 8 switches,and assigning it to an 8-bit multiple of itself, i.e. 1=0, 2=2, 3=4, 4=8, 5=16, 6=32, 7=64, 8=128.  when combinations of these numbers are added together, they create a unique sequence of 8-bit numbers between 0-255 which can be associated with a unique midi note number.  the sequence of key presses i have chosen relate directly to what is known as a "Boehm" fingering method.

(information sourced from wikipedia
The Boehm System is a system of keywork for the flute, created by inventor and Flautist Theobald Boehm between 1831 and 1847.  he had been inspired, in 1831, by a concert in london given by Charles Nicholson, who had constructed a flute with larger tone holes and these larger tone holes could produce a larger volume of sound.  Boehms design was full vented meaning that all keys were normally open and required a system that would allow a key press to close and/or open a second tone hole,depending on the note and register.  the system was adapted to other woodwinds including saxophones, clarinets and bassoons.  this created a sort of standardization that carried on to electronic "woodwinds" such as the analog Lyricon wind synthesizer of the 70's, the E.W.I. (Electronic Wind Instrument) from akai, and the wx series wind midi controllers from Yamaha, both introduced in the 80's.  I have personally played many of these instruments, acoustic, analog and digital, and find that the fingering system translates very well amongst all of them (i.e. a flutist can adapt to playing sax or clarinet more easily than to, say, a trumpet).  the Boehm fingering system is alive and well and soon will live on in my design.

The boehm system will predominate the midi-instrument control aspect of the TRON Beatjazz Controller system, but that aspect, as important as it is,will be a small part of a larger musical concept.  these same keys will do double duty as a gestural system that interacts with the accelerometers to control various systems such as instrument sound selection, fx control, looping systems, color synthesis,and eventually live performance sound design itself.

Today though, the goal is to get the system to send clean midi data.  then to integrate the pressure sensor to control the duration and volume of that data.  once that has been massaged properly, I can then focus on replacing the virtual TouchOSC generated switches with switches that are interfaced thru the Arduino system, which is the open source microprocessor platform i have chosen for this project because of the amazing amount of information on how to incorporate them into your projects,and the increasing diversity of form factors.

 The TRON beatjazz controller system will make use of 3 Arduino boards all made by a company called Seeeduino. 2 for the hand units which are wireless networking nodes (seeeduino stalker combined with an xbee wireless module each) and the helmet unit will be a tiny flat wearable version (the seeeduino film) that will be essentially "taped" to the inside of the helmet!  all three are based on the same opn platform specs and are programmable in the exact same way.  and luckily, pure data already has an "object" for interfacing with them, creatively called "arduino", so once the data protocols are stable, integrating them with the hardware "should" be a piece of cake! #famouslastwords

If you would like to see the project, REALLY happen, go over to and check out the some of the unique things on offer in exchange for a contribution that will make this system a reality.  no joke...the goal is to create the most amazing live performance system ever, but it needs you to make it happen.

stay tuned...


Back in the Matrix

What a week!  Sorry for the dearth of posts, especially in the middle of such an important campaign, but some things cant be avoided or postponed.  such is the case with dealing with immigration and visa issues.  I spent the week preparing paperwork for the Auslanderbehorde (Auslander=foriegner, behorde=office or authority) so that i can stick around Berlin for a bit longer.  its not hard, but it is rather involved.  They do love paperwork here.  luckily, although i don't have everything perfect, its good enough that they want me to visit them again in a few months. yaaaaay! because theres nothing better than filing a dozen forms and sitting all day in a lobby waiting for your number to be called so you can be told to come back again in another 3 months.  but its worth it.  I love it here, so if i have to do the paper dance every few months for a while, so be it.

With all the stuff i've been uploading and downloading, associated with the TRON beatjazz controller campaign, i have caned my bandwidth limit for my wireless internet on my iphone so i've been throttled down to prehistoric speeds.  i imagine that this is the same sort of internet speed that our ancestors had to deal with, poor them.  but, until my wifi is operational again, i have found an unintended benefit from the situation.  As you may know, I use a mind mapping application called "Mindmanager" to basically run my life and keep all these plates spinning and it has a built in browser that i rarely used, until yesterday.  its basically a builtin version of internet explorer 6 or something.  it, also is ancient; no tabs, limited support for javascript, etc, so its basic but pretty fast and no history, so i go straight to a page, get what i need and close the browser, and conveniently my mind map is right there ready to be referenced or altered, in the same window.  i may continue to work like this.  very efficient especially right now.

Now we move towards a playable prototype.  and by playable i don't mean "gig-able".  i mean literally just able to produce note sounds.  this is a first attempt at mounting the keys so i can test whether the the patch i created is making and sending the right note data.  it will be a weekend of refinement because this version isnt safe.  i almost blew up my laptop last night,literally.  i never saw a message before stating that the system is receiving a power surge from the USB port...yikes!!  so i will work on a version that doesn't involve nuking my lappy.

In those moments when i'm not frying my cpu with oddly wired pseudo-controllers, i am adding content to my book "the 21st century musicians guide to busking".  i just started on the chapter, "don't be a dick, but don't be a wuss either" concerning the political landscape of playing music on the street and how to deal with all manner of character development and plot twist that occur  in the ongoing drama that is street music.  if you have contributed to the campaign, and are on facebook, you will find that you have been added to a group for the book, where i upload chapters as soon as i write them and you can check them out and give feedback.  my way of saying thank you for helping me create the most amazing live music  performance system ever!  if you are not on facebook, let me know if you are interested in checking the book out and i will create some way of making it happen.

The other big news for the coming week is my debut performance in France!  I will be in Lille next Saturday feb 12th, for the Blueday Stereo Live party at Boreal.  The line up will be me, DJ Sumic, Timothee Milton and Dagui Rodann.  it looks like i get to dust off some of the soulful stuff and get a little tribal with it as well.  I am REALLY looking forward to this show and getting groovy.. These cats seem to be on the same tip as me so i should be able to "let go".

Now that the legal stuff is out of the way, i will be able to get back to the job of documenting the progress of building the TRON beatjazz controller system.  if you would like to see this project realized, throw a little money at it.  I have a varied array of perks that you may find very cool, including my old jail broken iphone 3g, loaded with notes, videos, pure data patches, and a copy of my book!  there are many others as well.  you can check  them all out here


The first prototype TRON "afro" helmet

This Last Saturday, Uli and I met at his workshop and within 3 hours, the first Tron beatjazz "Afro" helmet had been birthed from metal, plaster and plastic!  or rather i should say "Prototype" helmet.  this helmet is made of thermoplastic and its purpose is two-fold. to provide a general idea of "a" shape that the final helmet may have but also, more importantly, to provide a means of testing component placement inside the helmet.  This helmet will be completely self contained and wireless so that means it will have the lip and breath sensors permanently mounted,as well as the mic and monitoring system and an accelerometer.

the realization of this first solid step towards the creation of this performance system, is not taken lightly. seeing something that you only dreamed about, taking shape right in front of you is a profound experience.  it gives you the courage to keep taking the chances that are necessary to make anything happen. 

this weeks schedule is extremely varied, but the primary goals are to keep doing as much as is possible with the limited funds that have been raised so far.  much of the more component involved work such as incorporating the accelerometers and the wireless mesh network will proceed once funding is at a level where the components can be purchased.

 until that time there is much to do, such as making a playable first version prototype by the end of the week.  to do that, i will spend most of my time, working on the sensitivity issues with the components i have already.  as well as trying to determine whether certain issues are with my programming, my ancient-ass arduino board, my wiring...or all three! 

the other project projects this week will be to create a head harness for the inside of the helmet and to start working on the next couple of chapters of my book, "a 21st century musicains guide to street busking".  i'm 80 pages in, and counting.  and finally, going to see the wonderful people at the auslanderberhorde (immigration) to do the beaureacratic tango, but that's just what ya gotta do, so its all good.

this week should prove to be very interesting.

Creating the Mold for the first TRON Beatjazz Helmet

Today,as I was preparing for my show at TRANSIT tommorrow night, I got a call from Uli Maier, the prosthetist that is graciously lending his immense skills and talent to helping me create my TRON beatjazz controller system, informing me that he had a bit of time and wanted to start the process of building the first plaster mold of the TRON "Afro" helmet.  YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!! needless to say, it didnt take me long to teleport to Uli's workshop.

I would love to say that my contribution consisted of more than just saying, "yeah,a little more here...ooohh...can this be rounder?", but i'd be lying.  Uli is a true expert in his field and that expertise was definitely on display today. 

If you'dlike to see this project keep progressing, consider  making a contribution at

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