MIDI Innovation Awards 2023: 15 finalists include a strummable chord generator, an abacus-activated synth and more | MusicRadar

MIDI Innovation Awards 2023: 15 finalists include a strummable chord generator, an abacus-activated synth and more | MusicRadar

MIDI might have been around for 40 years, but creators are still finding new and interesting ways to use it. That’s certainly the thinking behind the MIDI Association’s MIDI Innovation Awards, which has just confirmed its 2023 finalists.

So, what’s made the cut? In the commercial hardware category, Roland’s AE-30 Aerophone Pro sits alongside the InstaChord, the quirky strummable chord generator that we encountered at the 2023 NAMM Show. The Exquis MPE controller also makes the shortlist.

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Turning to the hardware prototypes and non-commerical category, the Abacusynth hopes to do more than make up the numbers (sorry), while the Hitar is an augmented guitar that uses AI to transform the instrument’s body into an expressive MIDI controller that can provide multi-dimensional control of drum synths.

The MusiMoto, meanwhile, puts a new spin on the concept of mobile music making by enabling anyone to make music while walking, jogging, riding, skating or dancing. Quite literally a ‘step’ sequencer, then.

In the commercial software category we have Beat Scholar, the ‘rhythmic pizza plugin’ that offers a unique slice-based programming interface, as well as the Ivory 3 piano instrument. Camelot Pro, meanwhile, is a live performance environment that can serve as a setlist manager, digital mixer, software instrument and effects host, PDF music score reader, multitrack audio player, and MIDI patchbay/router. Phew.

Things get a little more experimental in the non-commercial software and prototypes category, which includes Hot Licks (a plugin for those who want to incorporate multiple audiovisual devices into a musical performance), Music Tapestry (a new musical analysis technology that visualizes musical performances in real-time and produces a piece of art) and Discover Netz (a mixed reality musical instrument and controller featuring a keyboard-like interface with expressive MPE MIDI that learns your gestures using AI).

Finally, there are three artistic/visual installations finalists. Synonyms is based on the Jazz Cerkno archives and local objects from Cerkno Museum; Sound Sculpture features 25 location-aware cubes; and the Drankorgel project enables you to generates sounds by hitting bottles with spoons and blowing air over bottles.

The winners of the MIDI Innovation Awards will be announced during a livestream on 16 September that will be hosted by composer/UX designer Martin Keary (Tantacrul) and Sam Battle (Look Mum No Computer). This will profile all 15 finalists, and the winners will be selected by a judging panel that includes Roger Linn, Nina Richards, Bian Liunian, Pedro Eustache, Jean-Michel Jarre and Michele Darling.

Find out more and sign up for the livestream via the MIDI Association website.