We're no strangers to electronic music creation innovations here at Gizmag. Over the years we've seen giant synths, expressive boards and keyboards, guitar-like hybrids, intriguing futuristic multi-instruments and, frankly, oddball tone generators. A team of Israeli producers and musicians has now entered the arena with Kadabra, a wireless wooden instrument that's said to bring a new approach to music creation and performing.
"I've always been using the most advanced musical tools for live electronic performance since the 90s, but I kept trying to understand why there isn't a proper jump in innovation, like the synthesizer in the 60s/70s," Kadabra's inventor and CEO of Tribal Tools, Tul Ben Ari, told Gizmag. "In search of an instrument that will enable us to express our inspiration, to be intuitive enough to become a part of our body, and that can play the most complex live music, I created and patented the Kadabra."
In development for 5 years and the first of a number of tools designed for producers, performers and musicians, the 120 cm (47 in) long, 5 kg (11 lb) instrument is made of hardwood and combines high-end electronics, smart algorithms and an eye-catching, ergonomic design that wouldn't be out of place in a Klingon armory. There are 24 capacitive copper pipe keys carved into the lower part of the body, flanked by smart multicolored LED lighting. The upper section is home to 12 control buttons, three thumb buttons and three pressure sensors, six utility buttons and a wheel encoder.
All of the buttons have been designed for durability and the lights correspond to scales, tones and functions to give the player a visual performance or learning reference. Up to 16 different sounds can play simultaneously and motion sensors allow the player to control different parameters or produce specific sounds/effects with sharp or flowing movements.
"Kadabra is wireless and has motion sensors therefore it gives musicians the option to get up from their studio desk and start moving, playing music while controlling a wide range of features, using all parts of their body, and play live on stage like never before, this is a new concept of musicality," said Tribal Tools' creative manager Nir Shraiber.
Tribal Tools promises players zero latency thanks to long range wireless technology, but hasn't yet revealed precisely which flavor is being used (though we do know that it's not Wi-Fi or Bluetooth). Dedicated software needs to be running on a laptop or computer for Kadabra to work, which can sync with stand-alone VST instruments, MIDI devices or digital audio workstations over MIDI. It also sports a USB port for physical connectivity and updates, and to charge Kadabra's built-in battery (which is reported to last up to 8 hours between top-ups).
Performers can use the Scaler to produce scales and harmonies, fire up the onboard MIDI-based Sequencer for complex rhythms creation, dial in the Arpeggiator to turn played notes into a looped pattern or launch the MIDI Looper, which allows the player to alter the tone, change the tempo, lengthen or shorten the loop and jump scales on the fly.
The Viber feature is described as "an expanding and contracting time-based short loop player" and allows for manipulation of loops and sequences using vibration changes in their timeframes. The head unit can also be swapped out for a microphone mount to control vocal sounds or add effects.
Tribal Tools aims to release the Kadabra in the second half of 2016. A natural wood version is priced at US$1,650, a black model comes in at $1,840 and a red flavor will set you back $1,890. Visitors to NAMM in California this week will be treated to live demos of the electronic instrument.
Tribal Tools placed the Kadabra in the hands of working musicians recently, you can see and hear their reactions in the video below (which does include some colorful language).
Source: Tribal Tools
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