Argentinian instrument designers Martin Grieco and Rocio Gal have developed Nopia, a remarkable semi-modular MIDI chord generator. This innovative instrument revolves around the concept of tonal harmony, focusing on the relationship between chords, particularly the connection between the tonal centre (the home tone of the key) and the dominant (the fifth note in the key).
Nopia features a Chord Builder section consisting of a compact keyboard and a series of buttons. By selecting a key with the buttons, the keyboard generates chords within the chosen key. These chords can range from simple to complex variations, including extensions like C, Cmaj7, or Cmaj9. Adjusting the knob above the keyboard allows the addition of available extensions for each chord degree.
The chords created in the Chord Builder inform the bass section of Nopia. The bass section is minimalistic, comprising a single button that produces a bass sound within the selected key and a second button that provides an alternative related note. MIDI synchronisation enables the bassline to play in conjunction with other input sounds, such as a drum pattern. It is also possible to enable simultaneous playback of keys and bass by flipping a switch.
Nopia includes an arpeggiator that creates arpeggiations based on the selected key. Additionally, there is a Synth section with a slider for blending the sounds of two banks. For example, Martin Grieco demonstrated blending a choir and an 80’s-sounding pad using MIDI to play the keys.
The Nopia prototype is complemented by an Ableton rack, which allows for sound customisation. Notably, each section of the hardware emits separate MIDI information, enabling individual tracking of bass, synth, arpeggiator, and keys.
Nopia is currently in its prototype stage and there are more details to come, the designers say.
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