steeplechase mode / integrated presentation

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The most important new development in this build is the ability to switch between presentation modes. All of the sketches that I have developed to this point can now be performed in the same session.

It has been a long time since I have posted anything here. I was working pretty hard through the end of the year and didn’t have a lot of time for this project. I did manage to get some time in January to seriously clean up my code. This more formal approach will make it possible to become a lot more prolific. It will also makes it possible to switch between presentation modes (formerly known as sketches).

I am calling the new presentation mode steeplechase because the behavior of the notes reminds me of a steeplechase event. This is basically a spacialized step sequencer. When the notes come in to the foreground and strike the line in the center of the screen a sound is triggered. As the various characteristics of the sound of these notes changes so does the appearance of the note entities as they fly through space. For instance, when the FM pulse width is modified the edges of the note become wider and rougher.

steeplechase – subcycle labs from christian bannister on Vimeo.

I should say that this new mode is utilizing Reaktor Spark as a sound source. I have been using Spark for plucked sounds in a lot of my compositions and I wanted to dedicate this visualization to that instrument. I built the step sequencer in Max and went from there. I am still not using Live but I have the feeling that embedding multiple VST instruments would be a whole lot easier with a Max/Live combination. I bought a license for Live, but I am still not ready to dedicate the months of time that it will take to port everything over.

The basic functionality of steeplechase mode:

  • Single touch y-axis controls pulse amount, x-axis controls sine amount
  • Dual touch adjusts the 8-pole center frequency and left-right offset
  • The Clear option allows the performer to remove rows of notes by swiping their available hand over the note diagram on the left of the screen
  • The Draw option allows the performer to add notes by using their available hand to select a location and release the note directly into the visualization
  • The pause option Pauses the steeplechase visualiztion and resulting sound
  • Three touch points controls the cabinet or distortion effect in Spark
  • Four touch points controls the reverb size

touch interface

touch interface

touch interface

I am working on a project documentation page that will include walkthrough videos and better descriptions of what I am doing. Hopefully I can get this wrapped up this week.

9 comments so far Add Your Comment
  1. This is completely and utterly awesome. The touch-sensitive film stuff you’re using is like from another world. I’ve played a bit with processing and have been using Max/MSP for a long time, but this is just something from the future.

  2. This new build is brilliant, been following the project for some time and the ability to switch between your sketches adds a whole new level to the instrument, truly inspiring. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but your work has inspired me to create my own touch based instrument, the more I understand what’s going on underneath your presentation the more I appreciate it. Thank you for blowing our minds.

  3. Wow that’s incredible! Will you be posting diagrams/details about your build? I want to begin experimenting with multitouch and have been browsing through the NUI groups getting started section. I haven’t seen much decent information on specifics for doing a build though. Just descriptions of the techniques used.

    Any information on good sources to acquire materials for the actual frame and surface would be much appreciated!

  4. You’ve inspired me to learn processing (or at lest try).

    Keep it coming!

  5. hey Chris,
    this is just amazing, im so behind the work that your doing – its exactly what i hope modern performance of electronic music develops on towards !

    id tryed developing my first own multitouch instrument in max after just after building my multi-touch setup – sadly i didnt have the skill or the time to properly scale down the tuio data comming into max…

    interested as to whether u use osculator to ease with these sort of issues?
    anyways nice1 keep up the awesome work

  6. Awesome. Did u build the multi-touch screen yourself? Apparently rear projector drafting screens can be used,?. I have considered the Acer T203H 23inch 16:9 Touch as a possible cheaper alternative. Really amazed by your stuff and we are hoping to do similar type stuff (that we come up with) live in Australiia with ableton, max/msp and jitter and a virtual analog synths. I have a little experience in C++ , but am pretty over awed. What do you recommend as the first most important steps or things I should learn to at least get started, which I’m sure lots of ppl in here are wondering. Cheers and again, fucking awesome work! Please check low quality mp3 demo (

  7. How much?

  8. Sir I have seen many attempts to try new, interface focused music creation terminals. This is by far the most intuitive looking, not to mention stylish as hell, that I have yet seen. Your a master. I hope to have this someday.

  9. Any new developments here? Been following this blog a long time and haven’t seen anything new this year…