My name is Onyx Ashanti. I am what can only be described as a cyborg musician. in other words, the music i create live, can not be replicated without technology. My music is called "Beatjazz". it is a mix of sound design, live looping, and jazz improvisation. My instrument of choice over the years has been a yamaha wind midi controller but now the limitations have started to stunt the growth of this new form,so i designed an instrument that can take it into future.
I have designed what i call the TRON beatjazz controller system. I say "TRON" because instead of holding it like a horn, you hold one of two "units" in each hand. each unit has keys that facilitate common woodwind fingerings, but each unit also responds to hand position and has integrated LEDs that change color accordingly. so when making sweeping hand gestures while playing, it brings to mind the lightcycles from the movie tron.
I say "controller SYSTEM" because this is not merely a midi controller. it is a performance controller. because the brains of the system are based on the open source, Pure Data language, its capablities are designed to be unlimited, so it acts,also,as a system wide gestural control system, meaning that it can control anything that can be linked to a computer in any way.
the "afro" helmet, not only looks amazing, but will house all head oriented electronics. a custom breath and lip sensor combo, allows the ability to play it like a sax. the integrated ipod touch/TouchOSC based heads up display means that there will be no need to reference any computer screen while onstage,which also means that this system should be unmatched in immersive playability.
i have spent 20 years working towards the goal of building this system and only now do i have the skills and knowledge to not only build it, but play it to the level that i have envisioned over so many years. the goal with the creation of this system is to have the most expressive music performance system ever devised.
my entire life and every strange thing I've ever learned about programming, electronics, performance, etc, has brought me to this exact moment. a simple search on Google will show in much more detail than i can express here, how i got to this point...this place. This is the exact right time to make this project a reality.
One of the things i mixed into the concept was that of spreading the gospel of open source. the entire system, not including my software synthesizers, is based on an open source programming language called Pure Data. one of my goals with this project, as you can tell from my pitch video, is to teach beatjazz as an introduction to PD,which i believe is the future of live music performance. i have one open source design,that i want to be able to refine so that anyone with $200 can build one,and one high end performance design that is based on the necessities of my music only. although they share many commonalities, the less expensive "teaching tool" version is more of an instrument,whereas the other,is an entire new class of music/performance concept.
if this project doesn't get funding, the consequences are that i will attempt to find funding or sponsorship through some other means, but this project is too important to me and, i feel, to the history of electronic music, to simply be abandoned. This project is what i was born to do and it will get done somehow.
What We Need & What You Get
I will need materials, components and time for this project to happen. that's the simple answer. the detailed answer is;
- workshop time, to work with materials i cant work with at home such as the carbon fiber and power tools.
- carbon fiber and pvc pipe. the carbon fiber being for the primary Tron control system and the PVC being for the open source teaching version (of which i will build 16).
- in the primary version of the system, there are 3 main components; the helmet,the hand units and the chest mount processor.
- the helmet will be carbon fiber and will house a Head up display in the form of goggles and an ipod touch. it will have a slot for the touch so that its orientation can be utilized for control of parameters. it will also house customized wireless monitoring, wireless mic and a hand built lip/breath sensor system to allow horn-like playability. carbon fiber cuts the weight, adds durability and is aesthetically powerful.
- the wireless hand units will also be carbon fiber and will house an array of tri-color LEDs, touch switches, a joystick and an accelerometer for each hand. I have already designed the software system that will make use of these components.
- the last bit will be a performance costume that will be necessarily aware of these devices and also optimize their psychological effect on people. in other words...you can't go onstage with a carbon fiber afro...and jeans...
this is why i say the project needs $5000. if i don't get all of the funding, i can complete any perk fulfillment and still develop something that gets me closer to this ultimate goal. either way, some form of this project will continue.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you are someone who knows me, then you know how long I have been preparing myself for this project. This, for me, is THE project of my life and if you really REALLY want to see something manifest that you have never seen before, i urge you to push this to some of your influential friends...
anyone that you think would be seriously interested in seeing this project happen because i promise- and i never promise unless i know i can follow up- this will be the most amazing thing you or they have ever seen and heard in the realm of electronic music performance. just as an example, this is one piece that was created improvisationally and with the assistance of my iphone accelerometer HERE
if you are thinking of some electronic music performance thing from the past that was exceptionally cool, theres a good chance that it inspired me as well and i incorporated it somehow. just know that your money will go toward something mindblowing. and if you dont have any money, possibly passing a mention of this project on to someone who does and, maybe a cool comment, would mean wonders