New ‘Vibe Bar’ Lets You Add Expressive Pitch Bend & Vibrato To Your Playing

Claude Woodward, who for years has been creating custom expressive MIDI instruments, like the Marvelous MIDI Music Machine and the Claudeatron, is now making one you can buy, the Vibe Bar.

The Vibe Bar is sort of a ‘whammy bar for keyboards’. It sits in front of your keyboard and provides a natural way to add pitch bend and vibrato to your performance.

Woodward has shared several demos, embedded above and below, that demonstrate the Vibe Bar in action:

The Vibe Bar lets you do accurate pitch bends, using a 4-axis bar:

  • semitone up or down = roll full forward or back
  • Tone up or down = full right or full left
  • Tone and a half (minor 3rd) up or down = full right & forward or full left & back
  • Vibrato is imparted by gentle rocking the bar from side to side

The Vibe Bar is USB-powered. It also has DIN MIDI Out and pedal and breath control inputs, for additional expressive possibilities.

The Vibe Bar is part of Woodward’s broader interest in making synths more immediate and more expressive. In the following video, Woodward demos the Vibe Bar, in conjunction with an expression pedal to control filter cutoff and his custom ‘Claude Controller, which lets him control all the parameters of a synth patch in real time:

Pricing and Availability

The Vibe Bar is available now for $350 AUD + postage. See the Sonic Manipulations site for more information.

17 thoughts on “New ‘Vibe Bar’ Lets You Add Expressive Pitch Bend & Vibrato To Your Playing

  1. That is seriously clever and awesome.

    It also looks quite “playable”– I mean, as I watch it being played, I can easily imagine myself getting used to that motion pretty quickly.

    1. the standard midi port makes it easy to use with lots of older stuff but yeah the price, compared to a qnexus with the midi kit it’s a little ridiculous heh. Great performance ultimately tho it seems.

  2. That looks like after an hour it would kill my wrist.
    Also, the price isn’t very attractive. Much rather spend twice that and get the Roli as it’s way more intuitive and easy on the hands.

    1. That raises an important point. We have to kind of guess what these things would be like based on what we’ve experienced before.

      When I see this thing being used, it looks pretty comfortable, and if I just take a cardboard tube and pretend I have this, it seems like a very nice way to use my favorite keyboard and add a dimension of control that is pretty seamless with playing single lines.

      I think the Roli is more powerful, flexible, etc, but I hate the idea of playing it. And when I see someone play it, it just seems miserable to me.

      Different strokes.

    2. Always somebody complaining about prices!

      This is in line with things like the Expressive-e Touche controller.

      This stuff is made in small quantities by real people, and people who want to PLAY their instruments have not problem paying for good gear.

      1. This is not a game changer. It does’t change the music, it does’t change the expressiveness. In the end, if I do not want use the left hand, I can use velocity and aftertouch to get the same results.

  3. The multi-dimention aspect of the physical mechanics remind me of the Korg – Prophecy.

    1. There should be a choice of length ie. short (for 25 keys) medium (for 37~49 keys)……
    2. There shoukd be 2 or 3 pots to control the maximum amount of X/Y/Z axis variation.

    1. Those are really good ideas. An option for a longer one seems pretty reasonable. And calibration pots is an excellent idea.

      I’m glad it has a BC in. That’s a nice touch.

  4. First, Claude did a great job, because the proof-of-concept aspect is clear in its musicality. Second, it takes a boutique player to make the best use of a boutique left-field item of any kind. My general playing style and my HANDS aren’t coming from the “right” direction for this one. For every person who woodsheds seriously, a hundred just want to have some fun. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a good soloist makes this really burn, but it isn’t going to appear under many Volcas. That’s both Art and The Market for ya.

  5. Hi everyone……..thanks for all the comments.

    Just to address some – the idea of the Vibe Bar is add the dimension of fluid pitch bending & vibrato which is inherent in all acoustic instruments except percussion which includes piano. The ability to do it with your playing hand then leaves your other hand to either comp on another keyboard or the same one with a split. But more interesting for me is being able to manipulating the sound in real time with all your spare appendages including breath pressure. This is how acoustic instruments work – you have a set of ‘parameters’ that are constantly being altered to create a moving sound.
    I’ve used these for many years and have had no wrist issues. Like all good playing, there’s no need to strain – it’s a relaxed natural movement.
    The Roli’s a great device but for complex articulation I believe it’s better to let one hand do the notes & PB and the other for harmonic control – like a violin.
    So ‘The new way to play’ is about doing it all in real time.

    I’m doing 37 note & 61 note versions at the moment but could do other sizes in the future.
    The input for the pedal/breath control is via the two extra pins on the DIN plug. You can chain out to your DIN in on your keyboard or just through the USB. It’s powered by the USB port so if your using it with a DIN MIDI controller, you need to run a USB lead to a charger plug or computer.
    If anyone wants to get in touch, email me: [email protected]

    Cheers, Claude

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