Another week and another revolutionary way to make music drops onto Kickstarter. This time it’s called Orba, it’s based on the shape of a grapefruit and is the latest way to look
silly cool while making music.
I am a sucker for these sorts of things. I love the joy and enthusiasm that these Kickstarters bring to the creation of little music-making devices. It’s one of these devices that asks “what if making music wasn’t just for musicians”? With the Orba you can create songs in seconds without any thought, process or talent. Just bash it about, shake it, tap it, move it and musical awesomeness emerges – or you could turn on the radio.
Once you dig into the details the Orba is actually quite a groovy device. Considering how many people tap out tunes in apps on their phone then something that offers a better and more engaging interface has got to be a good thing.
Orba is a synthesizer, it’s a looper and it’s a MIDI controller. You have a number of layers that you can record into using the onboard sounds and loop it into a song. Tap out a drum beat, add a bassline, add some one-finger chords and then shake it about for some effects and get everyone on the bus to join in. With the in-built speaker they are going to love you on the commute. There are 8 touch-sensitive pads or segments with which you can play notes or trigger drums. It has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope for changing parameters and it responds to a range of gestures.
The MIDI side offers connection over Bluetooth or USB and you can use it to control your MIDI software and includes MPE compatibility. They suggest you could see it as a musical mouse.
There’s a companion app that gives you access to more sounds, configuration settings and the sharing of your music.
It looks like a pretty cool thing and they have a few videos showing cool people making cool music with it. Although I find them a little misleading. Take this video by the remarkably named Johnny B Good. He creates a fabulous bit of music in under a minute but what you don’t see is how he changed sounds, how he selected the next layer or kept it all in time. It gives a false impression that you just fiddle with it and awesome stuff comes out. Where’re the 5 minutes of browsing through sounds? Where’s the metronome? Where’s take 27 where you finally get that lead bit right? The marketing videos need a serious dose of reality.
Anyway, Artiphon has a good track record of making interesting and successful instruments and they’ve already taken more than double their goal in preorders. It looks solid and capable, the MIDI connection will give it some extra life and all the demos look great (a little too great). Pledges start at $89 for your very own Orba.
- Orba Kickstarter page.