A bit more about the Black Box …

So hopefully you’ll have seen this video and might be wondering what the little black box is and what it does. If you have seen it then skip down and take you can find out a little more about what the thing is. If not, then have a quick look at the video first.

Various people have suggested what it could be. All good guesses too. But here’s a little more to go on.

In the first part of the video you can see the box being used by Mr Concreted0g alongside a Yamaha MU15. The MU15 is a nice little sound module that runs on batteries so it’s very portable, but it has no sequencing capability, and that’s where the box comes into its own.

The little black box is actually a MIDI looper. It listens on all 16 channels and records and plays back whatever it hears. So it’s very good for layering up tracks over lots of channels. Of course in the first part of the video it’s only controlling the MU15, but as the MU is a multi-timbral unit it is actually working over quite a few channels simultaneously.

In the second part of the video you can see that the looper is controlling the MU15, a Waldorf Rocket, and a Meeblip SE. It’s running all of them at the same time and getting its MIDI data from the CZ101 which is just being used as a controller for the purposes of the video.

But you may be wondering how the box knows when to record and on what channel etc? Well, that’s the clever bit. The box only has 2 buttons on it. One button is just the on/off. The other button is a control button. When you hold it down it stops accepting MIDI in and takes any key pressed on the controller keyboard as a command. Each musical key on the controller keyboard corresponds to a different command, i.e. start/stop recording, quantise, delete MIDI data etc. More about that another time though.

So, now you know a bit more about the box, what do you think? Would it be useful? Would it be fun? Would you buy one?

I plan to have another video out soon, so expect more details next week.

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