The Sbass is a gestural interface I designed
for a 5 string electric upright string bass built for me by
Bill Merchant. To the basic instrument an array of pickups
has been added, including a contact microphone mounted under
the hair of the tip of the bow. A small mouse touch-pad is
mounted under the fingerboard offering two axes of continuous
control in performance, and several extra buttons.
Since much of my playing is pizzicato, rather
then focusing on the bow as the primary dynamic interface
as in Dan Trueman's "Rbow,"
sensors are mounted to the body of the instrument itself.
These include several slide sensors, force sensitive resistors,
turn "pots," and, a biaxial accelerometer. The tactile sensors
are placed in such a way that they can be easily manipulated
while playing, the accelerometer allows slight movement and
tilt of the bass to control dynamic aspects of the sound.
Using a micro-controller mounted on the side of the bass,
the signals from these sensors are scaled into MIDI continuous
control data affecting performance parameters of the MAX/MSP
performance patch running on the
main performance computer.
My MAX/MSP "patch" makes extensive use of
toolkit emlpoying numerous delay and granulation routines,
physical modeling instruments, several different kinds of
filtering, many palettes of sampled sounds, a mixing/routing
console, and an algorithmic mixing routine drawing upon a
large collection of composed sounds grouped in textural categories.
The interactive computer environment is designed to maximize
flexibility in performance to generate, layer and route musical
material with the same improvisational freedom as he has developed
with his string bass. An aim in creating this interface is
to enable me to take my electro-acoustic music out of the
studio and into a wide range of performance contexts.
The configuration of the sensors and the computer
performance interface is constantly changing and developing
in a way analogous to the musical development of an improviser
from performance to performance. I play the Sbass in "interface,"
with Dan Trueman and in many other situations. I've just release
a new CD named "r!g," which is
a set of live solo "Sbass" improvisations.