A five note digital instrument that allows the player to slide through pitch frequencies, tuning each note before or while it is being played. This limitation gives the musician freedom to experiment pitch combinations until they reach something that sound like what they want, not having to worry about anything other than what they are hearing at the moment.
The instrument is a cylinder with four sliders at the top (yellow), five pushbuttons at the bottom (green), and five rollers on the sides (blue) — the illustration below is upside down to better see the buttons. Each note corresponds to a button and a roller, being the roller the pitch control, and the button the on/off switch. The sliders are ADSR (attack / decay / sustain / release) controls for all notes.
The main interaction here is tuning the notes by rotating the roller. If possible to map, the rollers will having markings on their sides indicating the position of each note, so that if the player wants to get to a specific note before playing it, they can rotate the roller to the position, and then press the switch. Each note pitch should slide with the movement of its respective roller, creating five possibilities of simultaneous note slides.
To hold everything in place, there will be a frame across the sides, and ribs in between all rollers to mount the encoders. The structure (light brown) would ideally be made out of wood, but for pandemic reasons, I will build it out of cardboard. Here, the buttons are on the left, the sliders are on the right, and the middle pieces are the rollers, being held by encoders.
The rollers are round pieces of material that are attached to encoders, like big knobs that will be turned on their sides.
I haven’t yet found a way to do simultaneous independent note slides with MIDI, so I may have to adapt to sliding from note to note at a specific pace. That would change the interaction completely, so I still want to try to find a workaround.
Portamento and pitch bend are good ideas on what to do, but they apply to all notes, so it wouldn’t help this project. I may also just use the MIDI protocol, but program my own synth in Max to do what I want it to do.