Musical Magic Using 3D Printed Beatjazz Controller [Video]
We are all pretty use to seeing DJ spinning their great beats while stuck behind some sort of console that contains all their equipment, but what if they didn’t have to be, what if they could literally wear their equipment.
This is the idea that digital music artist and inventor Onyx Ashanti has been working on over the last few years. In the early days much of his contraptions were nothing more than cardboard and sensors. Then he discovered the world of 3D printing and his Beatjazz controller has improved dramatically.
Ashanti calls his music Beatjazz which is inspired by the flow of the music in DJ sets and is the creation of a continuous live, improvised music.
He told us that the music results from interaction with an array of software synthesizers, each played one at a time, recorded into a buffer and then looped. The process is repeated until an on-the-fly sonic orchestra is created. The player can add effects, add or remove existing loops, or throw in some new ones when the mood dictates. Beatjazz also caters for gestural control over synths, effects and loops.
Ashanti says that the whole idea behind his Beatjazz controller came about because he was constantly reaching the limits of the music he could create using a midi wind controller.
So he went to work to create his own interface and it consists of a three-way wireless network made up of a head-mounted pressure sensor and two hand units, each of which are sporting four pressure-sensitive pads, as well as two joysticks and an accelerometer.
The instrument is “played” by using modified saxophone fingerings and his exhaled breath registering on a sensor. As for the cool LED lighting – that’s not just for effect but they also indicate a different sound as it is being played.
All the information gathered by the sensors is then sent wirelessly to a computer where the Beatjazz software translates it all into digital music.
Ashanti had originally planned on making the prototype out of carbon fiber but this idea was dropped once he realized that 3D printing could give his prototyping efforts a much more professional look.
Ashanti says that around 80 percent of the new controller is 3D printed, making it both durable and lightweight – the headset is said to weigh about the same as an iPhone.
“The freedom of 3D printing is that when I want to evolve some aspect of the interface, I have only to redesign the part and print it,” he said. “The ability to create something at home that is cooler than what you get from a big company is going to change the world. On top of that, I use a plastic called PLA (Polylactic Acid), which is plant-derived and bio-degradable, so it’s non-toxic (which is great since the printer is right next to my computer).”
Personally I really like this but of course musical preference will dictate whether you like it but there is no getting around the fact that 3D printing is already having a much wider impact that we can imagine and we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg here.
Here is the video that Ashanti put together to show off his prototype.