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Fretless Fader
April 28, 2010 5:45 PM   Subscribe

The Fretless Fader is an incredible new XY turntable control interface being developed by John Beez
posted by mhjb (29 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Showcased with such incredible talent and dexterity! Swoon!
posted by mhjb at 5:45 PM on April 28, 2010


So this is basically turning a turntable into a midi instrument to create melody with. Not something your average DJ is going to use, for sure, though I can see some evil applications.
posted by daq at 5:55 PM on April 28, 2010


I can almost hear empath running down the hall toward this post.
posted by cashman at 6:03 PM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, that white label record that was being used is probably a single tone being played, or even just a 'source' tone much like what Traktor Scratch and Serato records do. I'd be curious to know if that was the case or if it was some other white label tone record that just has a "middle C" tone playing for the duration of the records and thus, the wobbles and other tone adjustments are all simply based on the pitch control of the turntable. If this was done with a nasty grumble bass tone, you could easily use this as a Dubstep live performance instrument, instead of a standard keyboard synth or midi controller and software synth as currently used. I guess the advantage of the Fretless Fader would be the glissando effect you get while sliding from note to note, instead of just doing whole steps as a keyboard would give you and having to do glissando with a pitch wheel. I like that it kind of combines steel guitar, scratch DJ'ing, and midi effects, but I wonder just how often it will get used by anyone other than someone who wants to be a scratch DJ that plays melody lines.
posted by daq at 6:06 PM on April 28, 2010


I'm failing to see how all that couldn't be done with a modified whammy pedal of sorts (pitch-shifting the output, that is). Controlling the record rpms via midi is way cooler, though.
posted by _dario at 6:06 PM on April 28, 2010


This is awesome.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on April 28, 2010


Also, also, the whole XY thing is a misnomer, as your crossfader is being used sort of as an attack/decay send, and your slider is being used as a note value adjustment. The same effect would normally take 2 hands, one on the pitch slider, one on the cross fader, and that would limit the speed and amount of effects you could apply by doing scribbles or other turntablism standard variations.

Again, I really want to know if the record is a simple tone throughout, or if you can use other things for it. I almost want to get one when it's released and use it for making bass lines.
posted by daq at 6:09 PM on April 28, 2010


Yeah, so the Controller One turntable already supports a pitch pedal, so he's just using the fretless fader instead to do the same thing.

But I'm sure that you'll get a different sound and have a totally different experience using the fretless fader thing. For one thing, your foot is free to use a looping pedal.
posted by aubilenon at 6:15 PM on April 28, 2010


The records seem to be a constant note, not a timecode or the like- check out this video, the record's labeled "Hot Synth Sounds".
posted by dunkadunc at 6:31 PM on April 28, 2010


Cool toy. Also, this post reminds me that I should never, ever visit Myspace again.
posted by nosila at 6:57 PM on April 28, 2010


If you gave up watching the video, try again starting at 2 minutes in, where he gives a demo.
posted by w0mbat at 7:25 PM on April 28, 2010


Be cool to see that switch betwwen Maj & Min become a dial for more scale types-wholetone. diminished, pentatonic & so on. The DJ/Inventor is fresh!
posted by vurnt22 at 7:51 PM on April 28, 2010


Speaking of the Maj/Min switch: why's it there anyways? I mean, isn't the idea that moving the whole fader unit up and down changes the pitch smoothly? Shouldn't you be able to hit any note in any scale you want?
posted by chrominance at 8:03 PM on April 28, 2010


As I understand it, daq, the Fretless Fader is a generic XY control, used in this case to manipulate the pitch shift and envelope abilities of the Controller One, but potentially applicable to any process. Some of the other videos on his myspace show more detail of what the turntable is doing, as opposed to the fader.
posted by mhjb at 8:07 PM on April 28, 2010


I can almost hear empath running down the hall toward this post.

He should patent it and try to sell it to a mixer manufacturer. I'd never use it, though, since I don't scratch, but i can see other djs using it.
posted by empath at 8:11 PM on April 28, 2010


Speaking of the Maj/Min switch: why's it there anyways? I mean, isn't the idea that moving the whole fader unit up and down changes the pitch smoothly? Shouldn't you be able to hit any note in any scale you want?

Yeah, but what if you don't want to? It sounds better in key.
posted by empath at 8:13 PM on April 28, 2010


You know, I originally read that name as Joan Baez, and I was like, "Huh?"
posted by The Confessor at 9:06 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Color me unimpressed. I really don't understand Vestax's unending crusade to make sub par instruments aimed at the "Mother's Basement DJ" set. Can it really be all that lucrative?

Here's some other really awesome, DJ friendly, paradigm shifting instruments they've come up with. I give you "A keyboard, but with faders!", and "A guitar, but with knobs!". Yikes.
posted by Horizontally a Champion at 10:29 PM on April 28, 2010


Color me unimpressed

What? Do you have like, more genetic material in common with clams than you do with warm-blooded humans? That faderboard video you linked was frigging awesome.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:38 PM on April 28, 2010


This video of dual touchscreen decks has the ten-years-ago version of me swooning. Why did I have to grow up?
posted by Average Mario at 5:31 AM on April 29, 2010


You know, I originally read that name as Joan Baez, and I was like, "Huh?"

She has a lot of hobbies these days.

posted by Dr-Baa at 6:02 AM on April 29, 2010


Yeah, but what if you don't want to? It sounds better in key.

But that's what I mean—couldn't you play in key by just knowing where the hitspots for the notes in a major scale are, for example? Or is the point of the switch to a) lock you into the major scale notes or b) to "expand" the hitspots of the scale notes so you can hit other notes, but would have to try very hard? I'm just trying to figure out why the switch exists at all.
posted by chrominance at 6:21 AM on April 29, 2010


So....he built a Kaoss Pad?

Add me to the list of the unimpressed.
posted by schmod at 6:28 AM on April 29, 2010


> I really don't understand Vestax's unending crusade to make sub par instruments aimed at the "Mother's Basement DJ" set.

There are probably a few hundred DJs in their bedrooms/basements/moms' basements for every DJ who gets gigs. It's a much more lucrative market.
posted by ardgedee at 8:34 AM on April 29, 2010


By the way, the beat he's using as a background is Thes One's "Target" on the album Lifestyle Marketing, which is completely sampled from ad jingles by the composer Herb Pilhofer.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:53 AM on April 29, 2010


So....he built a Kaoss Pad?

He built an analog Kaoss Pad. Color me impressed.

The main distinction here is the user interface. As duncadunc's link demonstrates, the turntable already has a footpedal for controlling the speed/pitch of the playback. The video demonstration on CDM also demonstrates that it's pretty sloppy. That video's not going to be selling any units. Mr. Beez has taken the pitch/speed control and made it more accessible and, by extension, more musical. Whereas the unmodified Vestax turntable requires both hands and a foot, the Beez controller uses two hands.
posted by lekvar at 12:31 PM on April 29, 2010


I used to have this midi control that had all the keys laid out in a line. You could press any one of them to make a note. I think it was called... oh, yeah... a keyboard.
posted by eperker at 1:37 PM on April 29, 2010


But that's what I mean—couldn't you play in key by just knowing where the hitspots for the notes in a major scale are, for example? Or is the point of the switch to a) lock you into the major scale notes

A.
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on April 29, 2010


What up. I enjoyed reading your comments on this. To give everyone a clear understanding of what you're seeing the Fretless Fader is a professional crossfader in a single channel analog mixer that slides on a Y axis outputting MIDI notes. It is NOT an effects unit. All the note changes you hear are formed by the C1 turntable changing RPM, according to the MIDI notes sent from the Fretless Fader.

The record I'm using does have tones on it, in this case strings... but you can easily cut up a single strike of a piano or any other sound on vinyl and be melodic at the same time. That is the motivation for this device. You can scratch any sound on vinyl and make a melody with it at the same time, all while keeping your hands in place on the vinyl and fader. As mentioned Vestax planned a footpedal for this purpose, but it was dropped from development... which helped motivate me to create this.

The problem with trying to pitch the audio signal of the turntable itself is that then any scratching would also be pitched, so that's not really an viable alternative to this setup.

As far as the scales go, yes the travel is divided into set notes within a scale. Continuous pitch would not be a good idea, it would much like playing a violin that has a neck only 10cm long.

The next prototype is in the works, stay tuned.
posted by JohnBeez at 9:28 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


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