Here‘s an interesting alternate controller I’ve not yet seen: a step sequencer where one composes a pattern by placing ball bearings onto a grid.
Though I don’t exactly have one in front of me, I would imagine the sensation of manipulating the device would be similar to patching a modular synth. There must be something entirely satisfying interfacing with music in this manner, akin to eating with a well-balanced set of weighted flatware.
A tangible rhythm sequencer. Ball bearings are used to trigger drum sounds. Visual feedback is displayed from underneath to indicate the current time and the state of each ball bearing.
The brainchild behind the Beat-Bearing Sequencer is Peter Bennett.
First presented at the 1958 Brussels Worlds Fair with 425 speakers placed throughout the famous Philips pavilion, the placement of the speakers and design of the building gave the spectators a feeling of being housed within a concrete, silver seashell. A giant model of the atom hung from the ceiling and the sound & imagery premiered to standing room only crowds and I can only imagine was a complete mind-blower to all who witnessed the spectacle. Varese is considered to be the “father of electronic music”, Henry Miller described him as the “stratospheric colossus of sound.” When Philips (Philips electronic company) approached Le Corbusier to design a building for the fair, Le Corbusier said, “I will not make a pavilion for you (Philips) but an Electronic Poem and a vessel containing the poem; light, color, image, rhythm and sound joined together in an organic synthesis.”
I’ve enjoyed Poême électronique for years. Yet, I never knew this film existed until my friend Jean-Luc played it for me while visiting NYC this past week.