Recycled and Repurposed Sensor-based Instruments

Guitar Hero Hack

I can’t play Guitar Hero, not really. But, when a friend had a controller going spare, it seemed like it might be fun to turn it into a synthesiser.

Synthesisers and electronic instruments in general are quite rigid in their ‘performance’ value. They’re not seen by the audience, and so liveness and authenticity can suffer, when compared to, well a guitar.

I have made an effort to repurpose as many of the original components as possible – the ‘strum’ paddle and many of the body buttons are now being used to control effects and other parameters. The neck buttons and touch-slider are used to trigger notes and pitchbending.

It’s not quite there yet, but it is loads of fun. For an alternative to building your own, take a look at Osculator software and Wii Guitar Hero controllers. They’re really easy to set up with a DAW or virtual instrument and awesome fun to play with.

Piezo Box:

An early experiment using Piezo microphones as drum triggers. Four Piezo’s are mounted on a Hammond enclosure using foam (to provide isolation) and driven with an Arduino Nano.

Primarily for use with virtual instruments, data is transferred via Serial to a custom MaxMSP patch which filters the raw analogue data and outputs in MIDI CC.