Live Sound

Strum It Like It's Hot

Read Mix Profile on Band Wiitles Who Use Nintendo Wii for Instruments 9/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern

The Wiitles (pictured from left: Ryan Peoples, vocals; Nick Kneece, guitar; Steven Legrande, bass; and Ian Vargo, drums)

Okay, we can see the attraction of the Video Games Live! Concert — where else can you hear an orchestra play sounds from Pong through a full-on P.A.? Taking the live game music concept to a whole new level, The Wiitles (pictured from left: Ryan Peoples, vocals; Nick Kneece, guitar; Steven Legrande, bass; and Ian Vargo, drums) play their instruments onstage using Nintendo Wii-motes, working exclusively in Max/MSP (one instance of Max/MSP running on a single Macbook). According to Peoples, the four Wii-motes each have their own subpatch. “The different subpatches work in different ways,” he explains. “For the drum patch, each button on both the Wii-mote and its corresponding nunchuck triggers different drum samples (WAV files). The bass patch works the same way, except that the individual samples are made by synthesis from scratch. The guitar patch triggers WAV files, but is unique in that movement by the accelerometer allows the triggered sample to play, so the player must actually ‘strum’ the nunchuck for the sample to be triggered. The vocal patch is essentially an effects processor.”

The buttons on the Wii-mote activate different effects (e.g., delay, octave, harmonizer and, for the song “Robot Love,” a vocoder) in the vocal patch. “Each of these patches only receives information from an individual Wii-mote,” he continues. “The only other equipment we use is a FireWire interface that takes the sound from the Macbook to the P.A. via a single mono out; we could do stereo if we wanted, but none of the P.A.s we have used so far have been stereo. All of the mixing is done in Max/MSP.”

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