It’s an iPhone app called AC Sabre where the touch screen, gyro and accelerometer are mapped to MIDI control. Sounds a bit naff to be honest but if you combine that with a flippin’ cool demonstration video you might just pull off something very interesting indeed.
Air Craft AC Sabre
Well, maybe. Air Craft, the makers of the AC Sabre were showing this off about a year ago. Back then they had a couple of short video improvisation of some jazz and a synth track. They are slightly weird – unsettling almost. They show Air Craft founder Hari Karam Singh sort of standing around fiddling with his phone a touch self-consciously. Fast forward to today and the full version of AC Sabre is released and they drop a whole new video that’s a lot more engaging.
This time Hari seems to be at a party and he’s moving and grooving away with two phones, one in each hand. The crowd are largely ignoring him but he’s certainly in his element and the music seems to follow. It’s definitely cool (I think), once your brain has decided it’s not naff, but it’s also far from normal behaviour. It’s difficult to grasp the connection between what he’s doing and the music that’s being generated. He could simply be writing a very animated text or trying to catch some pesky slippery Pokemon.
So what’s it all about?
Well, Air Craft declare that “Your MIDI controllers are boring” and they’re probably right. We’re largely stuck with knobs, pads and buttons that haven’t changed for decades. Air Craft wants to find the mojo of the posing, performing guitarist in MIDI controller form. So, the AC Sabre is a MIDI controller. It connects by Wi-fi or Bluetooth to your DAW and sends in MIDI note and continuous control data.
The main interface is very flower like and is in fact called The Bloom. Running through The Bloom is a series of coloured beams. These are fixed on your position so as you physically turn around (assuming the phone stays right in front of you) the beams change. These represent notes so as you put a finger down on a beam and then move you will play different notes. It works monophonically in this situation where each new note ends the previous one. The Bloom petals act as articulations. Then there’s all sorts of control over legato, portamento, octaves, ribbons for pitch bend and modulation and all sorts.
Then of course there’s motion where all the aspects – pitch, roll, yaw, shake and shuffle can be mapped to a MIDI parameter. There’s one further control which is governed by the intensity of your performance. So the harder you wave your phone the bigger the distortion or reverb or whatever you’ve mapped it to.
A wave too far?
To be honest it all sounds pretty intense and the Hari’s performance in the video is a complete riot. I can’t imagine myself ever looking that cool or being invited to that kind of party. It all comes down to the performance and the belief that you are not doing some kind of weird iPhone worship dance, but you are an artist and a musician and this is your jam.
More information can be found on the Air Craft website or via the iTunes store.
The super cool video is below: