Tom Simmert’s custom hardware controller for the Model 15 App reminds me of Robert Henke’s specially built Monodeck from a time before Ableton developed their Push controllers.
With many external controllers there’s often a mental overhead in relating the controller to what’s being controlled. There’s a joy in being able to open up AUM on the iPad and adjust the faders. Direct manipulation: the faders are the faders.
David Zicarelli in conversation with Gerhard Behles on the anouncement of Ableton buying Cycling 74:
…the landscape of the computing devices people use for music and media is changing radically. And we can’t just count on the entire world having a laptop… because of the computing devices getting easier to acquire, easier to use, easier to embed into new contexts.
For Max and Ableton there’s a glimpse of the new broswer based control possibilities in the Max for Cats Pallas semi-modular synth. You still have to navigate to what it is you want to control though. Even with Lemur fanciness I never managed to get comfortable trying to work with synths in Ableton via a controller.
The great thing about modular hardware is that there’s a direct correlation between the physical controls and their functions. Funnily enough, Rob Hordijk has a nice take on how control voltage, one of the central aspects of modular systems, basically grew out of a need for some kind of remote control, given the large size of the equipment and spread out nature of the electronic music studios in the fifties.