Odd and Unique MIDI Controllers

Odd and Unique MIDI Controllers

[This article contains affiliate links, As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.]

Today we see more and more people making music with VSTs and all kinds of digital tools. When working with this software, most find it best to utilize a MIDI controller, for obvious reasons. Because of their importance to workflow, having the right controller can make or break your creativity. While most musicians are happy sticking with the common keyboard and drum pad configuration, others are looking for more. After all, MIDI is really all about expression, so it makes sense that some have begun to push the boundaries of what a controller can be. If you’re trying to expand your command over your virtual instruments, the products below will likely be of interest to you. 

 

Haken Audio Continuum Fingerboard

If you are looking for pristine design and sensitivity, look no further. Thanks to some extremely fine-tuned magnets and springs, playing this controller is one of the most responsive experiences you can have in the digital realm. However, calling the Continuum Fingerboard just MIDI controller would be both misleading and simply not true. The real awesomeness of this unit is the combination of the controller platform and the built-in synthesizer. The EaganMatrix synth is a modular digital synthesizer that is embedded into the Continuum. Basically, this synth is of the utmost quality and was designed specifically to take advantage of the expressive capabilities in this controller. Don’t be mistaken however, this is still very much a MIDI controller. Other instruments are going to play nicely with the Continuum, the EganMatrix is just on another level.

The Continuum Fingerboard is truly another class of MIDI device. While not many people can afford such a pricey option, it still is an amazing design that’s worthy of recognition. Hopefully, this unit acts as a window into the future of keyboard style MIDI controllers.


Livid Instruments Guitar Wing

Here we have one for all the guitar and bass players. The Guitar Wing was made in order to give guitar players a way to utilize and control software from your guitar. This product is sort of a different take on the idea of a full-on MIDI guitar. Essentially, the Guitar Wing is a MIDI controller that is meant to mount to the bottom wing of your guitar. The controller surface is equipped with touchpads, faders, buttons, and more that can all be wirelessly mapped to your effects. Really this product, as with all MIDI, comes with pretty limitless potential. You can get as creative and weird as you choose with what it is your actually controlling. Livid also provides some proprietary effects software that works well with the Wing. This idea has a lot of capability that comes with it.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the Guitar Wing is pretty much a dead product. This controller is no longer being sold and many things surrounding the product have become dated. This situation is not all that surprising considering most MIDI guitar mashups don’t last for that long. However, the guitar wing was definitely a step in the right direction both in concept and design. It will be interesting to see where the guitar and MIDI worlds collide heading forward.

 

OWOW MIDIS 2.0

Ever wished you could get more physical with your music? Owow’s MIDIS line is a series of wireless MIDI controllers that all do their “thing” in a very unique way. What these products boil down to is a set of sonic tools that react to your motion and then translate that to MIDI. Obviously, there is really a vast amount of ways for taking advantage of these things, but perhaps the most exciting use case is for live performance. The motion to music translation that occurs with these devices looks like it is just ripe for the stage.

Currently, there are four members of the MIDIS line, the Wob, the Wiggle, the Drum, and the Scan. Each of these do different things but all work under the umbrella of motion music creation… that is other than the Scan. The Scan actually translates drawn-out dots, lines or patterns into music. So yeah, it’s even crazier than the others. All of the MIDIS series are really cool functionally and even more so conceptually. I can see these and other devices like them popping up much more frequently in years to come.   

 

Artiphon Instrument 1

This offering by Artiphon is a great example of what a successful MIDI guitar crossover can look like. The Instrument 1 is a MIDI controller that takes the form of a guitar neck, doing so in a roundabout way. The idea is that the bumps on the playing surface act like the strings and frets of the guitar, even mirroring the same notes. You strum the strings by stroking the six black buttons on the side of the playing surface. This means that for people coming over from the guitar you basically have already learned how to play this. But, the really cool thing here is that you do not need to be a guitarist to start using the Instrument 1. Anyone with some sort of MIDI experience would be able to make music on this thing. Additionally, thanks to Artiphon’s Smart Techniques, you can avoid having to learn the layout of a guitar’s fretboard if you choose.

Features like the built-in arpeggiator, fretted/fretless modes, and pressure sensitivity makes this controller a truly expressive and versatile platform. For those looking for a different way to control digital instruments, the Artiphon Instrument 1 is a great option.

 

There you have it, we have looked at some of the oddest and unique controllers out there. With only four entries on this list, you can imagine that there are plenty not mentioned here. It seems like every year we are getting to see how the world of creative tech can push MIDI instruments forward. Likewise, the more expression musicians gain over their instruments, the more we will hear the difference in their music. This is the real excitement that comes with innovative products like these. Without a doubt, technology has had a major impact on music and will continue to do so in the future.

Previous article NAMM Release Radar: Korg Wavestate