Hi, I’m Hagai Davidoff. I specialize in music for theater, film, media and MIDI mockups. Recently, I performed a full orchestra using just a keyboard, orchestral VSTIs, and GeoMIDI with the Leap Motion Controller. Check out the full video above, or skip to 6:00 to hear the music.
My main passions are orchestral music and music technology, and I love to create acoustic simulations. Over the course of my daily work, I always try to find the most natural way to input MIDI data into my digital audio workstation (DAW). That’s why my studio is filled with different kinds of MIDI gadgetry and controllers – pad controllers, MIDI keyboards, breath controllers, various iPhone apps, etc.
I’ve always felt a huge gap between hardware and software, the latter being far superior in terms of possibilities and details. My MIDI keyboard couldn’t reach all the velocity layers present in the sample libraries I use. I couldn’t naturally glide between different musical articulations intuitively (I hate keyswitches).
I could go on, but you get the idea. What good is a 20-velocity-layers sample library, if your keyboard always roughly transmits the same 10 velocity layers?
So I tried to re-organize my hardware life by buying an electric piano. These are usually much more responsive, yet costly. Since most digital pianos don’t come with knobs and faders, I’ve hacked my old Maudio Keystation Pro 88 into a MIDI control box and fused it with my breath controller.
Thus, I’ve built my perfect MIDI freak controlling extravaganza, which you can see in my full photoblog. Here’s my spaceship:
But there was still something missing. Tactile control has a price – resistance. Sometimes this resistance is a musical must, sometimes it just kills your natural (MIDI) curves.
When I first saw a video demo of the Leap Motion Controller, the obvious wow factor hit me. I immediately thought in musical terms and tried to figure out how I could implement Leap Motion into my workflow.
Then came GecoMIDI – the answer was there. The possibilities overwhelmed me, and I started experimenting. The result you see in the video at the top of this post is one of the first ideas I came up with, and already it feels very rewarding.
Suddenly, you can control XYZ with one open hand, and another set of XYZ with the same hand, closed. Now double that for two hands, and by the time I finish writing this, the tech boffins out there will probably make gestures of individual fingers a MIDI reality (go Geert go), taking things to a whole new level.
Hand gestures is an intuitive and much more natural way to create music. When I play my current setup, I feel like I’m dynamically conducting an orchestra. It helps me forget the techy stuff and get down to the musical Ideas and the joy of composing.
When you combine good hardware technology with excellent software (like GecoMIDI and the Spitfire Audio “Albion I” sample library, which I’ve used in the video), the results can be stunning.
There are still apps and features I would love to see from the developers out there in Leap Motion land:
- A hand glide gesture that sends actual MIDI notes. This would enable me to create natural glisses for virtual harps (I know, I know, but AirHarp doesn’t send MIDI out).
- An app that translates conducting into actual tempo tracking in my DAW (like a real conductor).
- General better and more stable tracking.
I’ve never seen anyone use the Leap Motion Controller like this before, and I feel honored to be an early adopter of this creative technique.