Air scratch project – 01

So I’ve always wanted to build a device to air-scratch invisible records on an inexistant turntable and still produce sounds.

3 years ago, I had a fun afternoon messing around with a Live macro, a Leap Motion, an MPD, Geco Midi and a DJ Krush instrumental :

Although it is way too fun to play with, I still feel a few things could be improved :

  • My air-scratch skills
  • There is no real back and forth movement, so no way to play with reverse sounds
  • There is no way to emulate hand pressure on a vinyl record, or at least the sound of it
  • Sounds are triggered, so the second hand can’t really perform cuts on the sounds
  • I now own a Mixfader, an incredibly potent wireless crossfader that would help me create my dream lightweight scratch setup
  • A whole world of new and sexier sounds / gestures that can later emerge from this air-scratch combination

So three years later, after buying a bunch of inefficient tools, I’ve decided to restart this project from scratch and to document each step here.

First step tonight was to let Ableton Live aside, dig into Max MSP’s factory elements and find a way to isolate the controls I need. As you’ll see there, I choose a groove~ object over a sfplay~, as it allows me to control forwards / backwards sample playing, but also to refine timestretch. This is something I’ll dive into in another post.

The two parameters I wanted to isolate were :

  • a « back / forth » command (basically, a playback speed between -1 and 1 applied to the groove~ object)
  • a pressure parameter that when applied would slow down the playback from a factor relative to the vertical position of my hand.

The result is still far from accurate in terms of feedback, as both parameters have a linear impact on the sample being played, as if your hand had no weight whatsoever.

That’s all for today, CMD+S, don’t forget to backup your data later today.

Come on. For those in Montreal who don’t want to deal with all this wireless nonsense, those who prefer smashing their good ol’ Superseal on a solid 1200, come cut with us on the next Sunday Scratch Session on June 18th, at Artgang Montréal. French turntablist and member of the Scratch Science crew R-Ash will join us for this one.

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