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A description of Polychromatic Music as a new genre and musical language by Dolores Catherino. My TEDx talk on Polychromatic Music is posted at …
An introductory comparison of 21st century electronic instruments (multidimensional polyphonic controllers) including the Tonal Plexus, Roli Seaboard, Continuum Fingerboard, and Microzone U-648, from a microtonal perspective.
The Tonal Plexus and Microzone are multidimensional, polyphonically, at the level of the musical pitch language itself, expanding the chromatic language, exponentially, into a greater pitch-resolution (alphabet) dimension of polychromatic languages. Pitches can be played polyphonically in both the left/right chromatic dimension and the front/back polychromatic (color) dimension. The Microzone has polyphonic touch sensitivity and the Tonal Plexus does not, yet the Tonal Plexus layout allows a pitch programming of up to 211 pitches per octave while the Microzone U648 enables up to 72 pitches per octave.
The Seaboard and Continuum (and LinnStrument, Eigenharp Alpha) are multidimensional, polyphonically, at the level of tactile expression – touch sensitivity in up/down, left/right, and, except the Seaboard, front/back dimensions.
The LinnStrument is an amazing first-generation hybrid. Each pad-switch has multidimensional expressivity, and the instrument can be programmed polychromatically. However, one limitation of the design, from a polychromatic perspective, is that the pad-switch layout is isomorphic (same fingering ‘shape’/pattern for every key scale/chord type). While this design feature makes the instrument easier to learn, it becomes limiting with advancing levels of proficiency and pitch resolution. Other leading edge features of the LinnStrument include a rudimentary lighting display and the use of open-source software/firmware!
Hopefully, future musical instruments will be able to bring together these polyphonic pitch-resolution and expressive tactile-resolution dimensions, as well as visual ‘feedback’ (light/color) dimensions into integrated designs. And, an option for multiple pitch regions per key-switch (i.e. hexagonal key option of 1; 3 – center, top, bottom; or 5 – center, top, bottom, right, left pitch regions). This would allow for more complex pitch layouts with fewer physical key-switches.
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