Harnessing the power of a thousand suns (and one wii remote)

So. Wii Remotes. They're tricky little buggers. Yes, they're an interesting tool, but only if they're used in an interesting way. This is the story of two rubbish ideas and, hopefully, one alright one.

Rubbish Idea 1

  • this idea is entirely based on programming abilities that I don't have.
  • I'd rather come up with something more musical.
So. Think musical, Edward. What musical things can we approximate with a swoosh, a flick and a click?

Rubbish Idea 2: the wiiharp

...was a wiimote harp. As can be seen in the screenshot below (click to embiggen).
  • Strumming across the strings produces 'plucked' notes, via midi messages being sent to Logic. 
  • The wiimote's trigger buttons add various effects, delays and filters to the sound.

  • it's fun and intuitive.
  • the wiimote isn't fast enough to play complex melodies.
  • you can only play one note at a time (unless you have more than one wiimote and many hands)
  • it gets old quite quickly.
Basically, the wiiharp is quite a fun little toy. However, it's not very satisfying musically, especially once the initial fun has worn off. I would quite like to make one of these, though.

Hopefully, Quite Good Idea 3: the monowii

So, I don't want to replicate a 'real' instrument anymore. Instead, I want to replicate a monome. Or, at least, take inspiration from it. This is what my GUI looks like now:

The four large buttons at the top of the GUI represent the 4 main 'play modes' I'll be working on:
  • The top picture represents mode 1: setting off quick samples by swooshing the wiimote over the 9x8 grid, in a style very similar to the wii harp.
  • The bottom pictures shows mode 2: a step sequencer visualised on the 8x8 purple grid. It'll be firing off samples in Ableton, and doing all kind of wikkid stuff. 
  • WHO KNOWS what modes 3 and 4 will be.
The design is still in its infancy, but the monowii already has some advantages over the wiiharp:
  • it's fun and musical.
  • the wiimote adds to, rather than subtracts from, the core experience:
    • unlike the example of the harp, the core functionality of the monome should be easily implementable (even if, by recital-time, my demo version is still quite simple)
    • the wiimote's accelerometer can add aftertouch and other effects in a streamlined and intuitive way, improving on this core functionality.
This isn't just a tech demo anymore, but something that could actually evolve into quite a neat performance tool...

More news as it happens, folks! Or, more probably, a while after it happens. Also, more words in bold!

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