The Madrona Soundplane A is a force-sensitive surface for “intimate control” of electronic music.
What is intimate control?
Instruments like the violin and hand drums give the player a very responsive connection to sound through their physical construction. In a state of creative flow, we stop thinking about these instruments as separate devices and speak directly through them. In a very real sense they become part of us.
On a typical MIDI keyboard, most of the information from each finger gesture is thrown away, and the rest is boiled down into a single 7-bit velocity value.
The Soundplane A transmits x, y and pressure data at about 1000 samples per second, letting the synthesist move beyond the ADSR model for control and articulate each note individually, as on an acoustic instrument. An array of very responsive capacitive sensors detects a range of forces from an extremely light touch to a hard slap. A DSP calibrates the sensors dynamically and sends the data via USB.
The playing surface is a flexible sheet of hardwood veneer, bonded to a plastic backing for strength. The case is milled out of alder, a sustainably harvested Northwest hardwood. The entire instrument is about 28 inches wide by 8 inches deep by 1 inch thick.
The Soundplane is currently in development. See Madronalabs.com site for updates. According to Madrona, it will be available “when it’s done.”