PROBABLE TRAIN
PROBABLE TRAIN

Nord-Keytar Gigging Setup

How to look like a prat live on stage

The Rockband 3 Wireless Keytar has no reason to have a midi-out port, or a mod wheel and pitch bend $

Why?

Because I was so preoccupied with whether or not I could, I didn’t stop to think if I should.

How?

The USB receiver on the keytar allows it to be plugged into a computer, and some sort of driver/midi$

Keytar -> Wireless Receiver -> Pi -> USB Midi cable -> Nord

A kind soul has made a driver that converts the raw output of the keytar into midi messages. After installing this on the pi with a fair amount of difficulty and swearing, and getting the script to start at boot without the need for any user input, the pi becomes a plug 'n' play device for Nord-keytar communication. Finally, I can take my funk solos with style, as long as I remember to keep an eye on the keytar battery life. At least if the batteries run out I can preserve some dignity.

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My New MicroKorg

I picked up a MicroKorg for a very reasonable price and haven't been able to stop playing with it since. As a classically trained pianist I always used to (internally) turn my nose up at these sorts of machines - how could you ever make something interesting with so few keys. The MicroKorg has 32 small keys, and it was initially quite difficult to get used to their size and hit notes accurately, but after spending time with it I'm loving it.

I play in a funk band and use a Wii Rockband controller as a wireless keytar (don't laugh), it's actually a great Midi controller and the wireless feature is a plus because I can wander around the stage. Anyway the first time I used it in a performance, I did my solo on the 32 key keytar instead of my usual 88 key keyboard, and the restriction, instead of limiting my options, opened up a world of opportunity. Normally with these solos I fumble about the blues scale using vague, fast runs to compensate for lack of imagination, but when confined to a small set of keys I came up with something new and interesting.

I think something similar happens when I play the MicroKorg, its limitation is not actually a limitation, but an opportunity. Plus is has a huge range of sounds, being a digital synthesizer. You can combine various oscillators, filters, envelopes, LFOs, and much more to create a massive variety of noises, from classic synth sounds to Hammond Organ-esque tones. The vocoder has huge potential.

This inspires me to try and make an analogue synth (the MicroKorg is digital).

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