Sound Design Experiment with Aalto and AudioCubes

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I decided to combine the fluid tangible spatial control of Percussa AudioCubes with the some droning patches I made from INIT with Madrona Labs wonderful Aalto synth.

Aalto has an awesome gate feature which allows you to create interesting drones leaving your hands free to modulate the hell out of parameters to create expressive and unique performances. You can also modulate the gate. Two AudioCubes in Sensor mode allow you to modulate with 8 MIDI CC’s with two hands.

AudioCubes Makes Virtual Synths Tangible

Watch the video above first with annotations on, then a second time with annotations off. On the second pass through watch how fluid the control is and how many parameters I’m managing at the same time. You’ll also see I’m getting visual feedback in the form of light intensity and color. After you perform with AudioCubes for a  while your brain starts to fool you into thinking that there are pressure bubbles around the sensors. In other words, even though the throw is about three inches when using your fingers with cubes, you can become quite accurate with control – especially when you combine visual feedback and audio feedback.

Because you can configure and map cube function differently with each patch, set and instrument, you start also thinking of each combination as an instrument on to itself. Once I set something like this up, I find myself coming back to it again and again getting a little better with the “instrument” with each use. This often results in me wanting to push things further and I learn the synth better plus creating more expressive performances.

Configuration Notes

I used the configure button on the Ableton Device holding the Aalto synthesizer select a set of parameters that I then map to faces of two Percussa AudioCubes in sensor mode. I did a video on the this Ableton mapping process a few years back with different devices, but the premise is the same. These cubes were configured via Percussa’s free MIDIBridge app.  I then use spatial movement of my fingers modulate parameters in Aalto. In same cases cubes modulate each other if sensors are facing each other.


Mark Mosher
Electronic/Experimental Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer

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Free Music Friday: “Control Zone” Electronica Track and Video by Mark Mosher Performed on Theremin and AudioCube

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One Man, One Theremin, One AudioCube :^) In this video I perform the original instrumental electronic music song "Control Zone" off of my album I HEAR YOUR SIGNALS which you can download name your price (enter $0 for FREE) on You can of course also buy my songs/albums on iTunes, Amazon MP3, LastFM, ReverbNation, Zune, and as Physical CDs.

Listener/Viewer Notes
This video is in HD and I captured the audio full fidelity right from my sound card so listen with some good headphones or on a good system and select HD for full-screen viewing. The video and audio were captured in one continuous take with no content edits.

Composer Notes
To fit the back-story of my album, I set out to compose a song that sounded a bit alien in origin. To liberate myself from my typical compositional instrument of the keyboard, I decided to compose and perform the textures and melodies using only spatial controllers. I this case I used a Moog Etherwave Theremin, and a Percussa AudioCube. Once I got going with this notion I really got using 6 dimension of spatial control to go “Hendrix” with the Theremin. The title of the song has many meanings, one of which should be obvious to Theremin fans.

Producer Notes 
I'm routing the Theremin analog signal into Ableton Live and then I convert the the signal from pitch-to-MIDI in real-time. This signal is routed to various virtual instruments hosted in Live. I then use a Percussa AudioCube in Sensor mode to add 4 additional dimensions of modulate in real-time. So 6 dimensions of spatial control. I'm changing the signal routing of the Theremin to route MIDI to different virtual instruments on the fly using the Novation Launchpad.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO