Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Playing the Matrix

I recently purchased an M-Audio TriggerFinger. At first most music tech savvy will recognise it as a midi drum pad and indeed that was the original reason I purchased. Not because I wanted to program drum parts but rather because I wanted to embellish sample based loops i.e. such as BFD with “live” albeit triggered patterns and single hits. In other words for the purposes of recording live playing of the TriggerFinger against a BFD track backdrop.

However, I soon realized that the TriggerFinger doesn’t care what it triggers. Now that makes total sense of course , its afterall a midi controller, but what I had not thought about was to use it to trigger something other than a drum sampler. Indeed, the TriggerFinger becomes an instrument. Using the accompanying Enigma software one can map any scale on to the sixteen pads. A transpose controller allows one to transpose the registered scale to any other base note. One of the reasons that this is appealing to me is because there are certain patches , percussive in nature but yet melodic that play better using a percussive approach i.e. instead of playing it as a keyboard. Another interesting aspect of playing on TriggerFinger and for that matter any similar grid based midi controller, is that there are no rules. Guitarist, piano players and others develop an almost subconscious memory of underlying finger patterns and its these patterns that tend to come out in one’s playing. A good thing for sure, but it can lead to a “confined” expression. The TriggerFinger has no rules and if you just “jam” with it you may be surprised what note sequences you get and what you learn.