Techtar log#01

Today I want to start the documentation of my favourite project.
I’m on it for quite a while now and probably will be, as there
are still plenty of things to do.
I’m going to start with this short blog post and the video below,
to show you some sound examples and pictures of the Techtar.

 

I imagine the Techtar like some kind of guitar-spaceship with
the continuing mission to explore strange new sounds, to seek out
new ways of instrumental interaction and instant music production,
to boldly make audible what no one has ever heard before …:)

The Techtar is a guitar synthesizer but it doesn’t use midi. I think six independent audio signals from the polyphonic pickup are much too precious to just pick out the transients, derive note on and -off commands and throw the rest away. The six discrete channels from the Techtar go straight via an audio interface (the zoom h6 works great for that!) to a host software I’ve written in pure data. All digital communication between Techtar and the host software happens via bluetooth. The approach here is to consider the strings as oscillators in a modular synth environment. The single audio channels are analysed to derive pitch and amplide information, but the data is not (yet) used to trigger samples, but to modulate parameters of the sound.
To make the strings behave more like oscillators in a synthesizer (especially in a way that they are constantly swinging), I have integrated two custom built actuators to the Techtar (where normally the magnetic pickups are). The one in the neck position is called “McMac” and the one in the bridge position “KickUp”. The McMac simply integrates six solenoids (derived from small relais) and can act like an ebow to keep the strings swinging. The KickUp (almost entirely 3d-printed) does what the McMac can’t: hitting the strings from underneath to make them swing in the first place. Together they build up a good team to manage the job of keeping the strings busy, while I have the right hand free to modulate e.g. a filter with a controller or doing some stuff to the strings like partly muting them or to apply vibrato with the whammy bar…

The Techtar is an open source hard- and software project.
I never could have made this without things like Arduino, RepRap,
Pure Data, Blender and other great open tools.

The project is hosted here: https://github.com/Piesi/Techtar
and is licensed under the creative commons cc-by-nc-sa license.

There is much more to show and tell, so stay tuned!

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