Easy MIDI Chord Controller

French musician and composer Emmanuelle Presselin developed a sound controller which generates MIDI chords on touch.

Presselin, who doesn’t play keyboard but often begins his compositions by layering chords together, was looking for an easy solution to generate complete chords. Presselin explains in his post to our forum where he also kindly shares his source code, that each note on the controller is capable of producing twenty chord structures with four basses per note. Additional knobs can be used to adjust volume, invert chords, change velocity, control octaves, and add arpeggios. Combining these along with additional features like style banks and custom chords, the controller offers numerous avenues for musical experimentation with just a few simple presses of the keys.

Presselin used pressure sensitive conductive sheets (a material known as Velostat or Linqstat) to create force sensitive resistors (FSRs) that act as triggers for MIDI chords based on measuring applied pressure. Velostat is often used as a packaging material to protect electronics which are susceptible to damage from electrostatic charge but can also be used in wearables or to make custom sensors as seen in this project. Presselin’s controller uses the material to make 168 discreet FSRs, allowing the user to create a wide range of sounds and even generate complete compositions by combining tools like Ableton Live as demonstrated in the video below.