c. chris erway: portfolio: etrombone project

    photo credit: Tactex Controls
    (not my hand)
    An Electronic Musical Controller Based on the Trombone
    Spring 2002 - Ann Warde, advisor

      The project aimed to create a hand-controlled musical controller based on the trombone, bringing a piano-like finger-tapping action to the trombone's slide positions and harmonics. I used the Tactex MTC Express multi-touch controller as the development platform. Slide positions were plotted along the x axis, with harmonics along the y axis.

      The "e-trombone" that resulted is a continuous controller operated by touch, emulating the slide of the trombone and allowing for glisses, tempering, and microtonal variation. It roughly implements the way I've always "tapped out" melodies with my fingers when visualizing the trombone, an instrument I learned after the piano (I'm sure pianists can identify with playing silently on tabletops). The most exciting part was finally being able to play an instrument that until then had been completely imaginary; that is, getting a computer to recognize and play the notes which I used to have to hum along with in my head as I tapped my scales, arpeggios and ii-V-I drills on my desk in junior high.

      The project mostly involved software development and instrument design, since the Tactex controller was purchased off-the-shelf. All code was written in C/C++.

    • Demonstration video shows me playing bugle calls, glisses, and I Got Rhythm:
    • An Electronic Musical Controller Based on the Trombone short paper summarizing my work for the Music 302 independent study course.