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ChucKPad is an experimental project that aims to explore the possibilities of the ChucK programming language using the Novation Launchpad, a MIDI controller originally designed for integration with Ableton Live. The end goal is to create a device that allows the musician to create computer music without any overt interaction with the computer itself. Although the sound is ultimately created entirely by the computer, all feedback and display information that would normally appear on a computer screen is instead displayed on the Launchpad, thus allowing the musician to hide the computer entirely. I am of the opinion that the worst part of computer music is the computer, and that a laptop has no business being on stage. This project is also a learning experience; it serves as an introduction to concurrency and audio programming.
The ChucKPad reverses the order of invention for software instruments. The dominant paradigm in controllerism is to connect general purpose control surfaces to software designed to accomodate a mouse and computer keyboard. Ensuring compatibility with a mouse and keyboard make practical business sense, since it allows the software to be a standalone product that can be used by anyone with a computer, but it also creates a lot of unnecessary baggage.
Neither the mouse nor the computer keyboard is an adequate musical instrument. Few would argue against that. What we're left with is a series of software instruments purpose-built to accomodate an input paradigm that is, in practice, never used for performance. Such is not the case with ChucKPad. ChucKPad takes no keyboard or mouse input, and displays nothing noteworthy on the computer screen.
The Monome and the Tenori-On strongly influenced my desire to work on the ChucKPad, despite never having played either one. One notable difference with the Launchpad is the usage of multicolored instead of monochromatic LEDs, which affords the developer greater flexibility in the design of visual feedback mechanisms. Admittedly, the Launchpad's keys are rather uncomfortable, and playing the ChucKPad can be painful on the hands.
People that I talk to about this project ask me how I'll make money. The short answer is "I don't know". Because my goal isn't to make money; it's to make an instrument that will eventually be used to create sounds that have never been made before.
The project is licensed under the GPL to ensure that any money made from this project, by me or by others, is a byproduct of its role as a musical device, and not the other way around.
And at some point I'll change the name, because ChucKPad sounds awful.
I encourage any and all feedback, and warmly welcome forks and contributions.