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Re: Guitar synth..take it (or leave it ) for what it is

At 11:38 PM 2/14/00 +0100, Mark Kunzmann wrote:
>Technology obviously also forces us to take that different approach, but
>from this point of view, should it not seem logical that the instruments 
>unique not only mentally but physically i.e. the MIDI controller and the
>guitar be two separate instruments? The question is not only, *can* a 
>also be made into a (satisfactory) MIDI guitar, but *should* it be?

I suspect these are questions that only you can answer for yourself. :)
I've been off and on this list for a couple of years and virtually
everybody here has his/her own goals and interests that somehow have
something to do with looping. :)

>I was wondering if anybody has tried Harvey Starr's instruments or has
>anything to say about his approach to the guitar/MIDI guitar problem? I've

I have.  I grew up in San Diego, CA and Starrlabs is in downtown SD.
Harvey is a nice guy - last time I visited him at his shop he was working
on a "honeycomb" MIDI controller special-ordered by a microtonal composer
in, I think, Chicago - the keys were hexagonal and arranged in such a way
that the playing surface looked like a bent honeycomb.  I haven't met too
many guitar players who can get past the fact that the six strings of the
"neck" are replaced by a 6x24 array of keys.  But once you overcome that
obstacle (if it ever was one for you personally), the Ztars and Zboards
offer a lot of possibilities.  

In a way, the Ztar is the exact opposite of the Roland VG8 and any kind of
guitar synth/MIDI guitar setup in which the behavior and sound of real
strings are translated into signals for synths and MIDI modules.  The
latter attempts (with reasonable success) to superimpose the physical
behavior of the guitar (or bass guitar or tapping instrument such as Stick)
onto synthesizers.  The former gives you a guitar-like interface but
encourages you to try things that totally outside that physical behavior of
real guitars.  A simple example would be playing chords on one "string".
Ztars have evolved to the point that they have begun offering programming
and realtime control options that surpass the capability of most "normal"
(as in organ-like) keyboard controllers.  For example, the current
generation supports true polyphonic aftertouch, which I understand is all
but impossible to find in the current generation of "normal" keyboards.  

Not surprisingly, Ztars are very flexible instruments if you want to try
different "tunings" (I have an acquaintance who configured the lower half
of the neck to be reversed 5ths like a Stick and the upper half to be
straight 4ths) and microtunings.  You can play around with different
microtonal temperaments and switch tonal centers, temperaments, etc. by
hitting control pads.

I guess the short take is that Ztars are not guitars - they are a new class
of instruments that are familiar enough for guitarists to learn to play in
a short amount of time but they can't really be expected to "play" exactly
like guitars anymore than a clarinet "plays" exactly like a saxophone.
Nothing will stop, you of course, from playing "Stairway" on it using
acoustic guitar samples, but... hey I'd think it would be a waste of money
but then again I'm not you... :)