Music Technology

Technology could be seen as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It could also be seen as machinery or equipment that makes our lives easier in some way. Technology has always changed the way we do things, especially in music. From flutes to valved instruments, from transcribing music on stone then paper then to the printing press, technology redefines how we create and share as storytellers. We believe that to innovate in music, we must leverage new emerging technologies to both preserve our music cultural heritage and to expand and explore the possibilities of music to come. Within music technologies, we leverage both hardware and software tech that involves MIDI. Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI, connects devices that make and control sound. Synthesizers, samplers, and computers all use MIDI to connect with one another. It connects the physical world of instruments with the virtual world. Whether we are controlling Digital Audio Workstations or capturing MIDI data from live acoustic instruments or sending data to Unity, MIDI is one of the main music technologies we employ in Portraits of Change.

MIDI Instruments

All of our instruments will have some form of MIDI output. Whether or not we use the MIDI signal for actual sound, the signal will run through Unity where we can transition our sound signal into a visual one.

Wind Controllers

The Electronic Valve Instrument, or EVI, is a MIDI wind controller developed by Nyle Steiner. It is the lesser-known wind instrument, related to the EWI which was also developed by Steiner. This instrument has the same fingerings as the trumpet, along with the ability to change dynamics with an amazing range. We can use any virtual sound to come out of the stylings of a trumpet player!

While a rare instrument to find, the instrument manufacturer Berglund Instruments has been recently innovating the EVI and selling them as custom orders. There are currently no other EVI manufacturers. We would love to experiment with these instruments in the future!

Michael Brecker performing on an EWI

We can also use other electronic instruments that have MIDI output directly built in to the device. This includes digital pianos and synthesizers. This also includes drumpads, and even electronic drum sets!

Audio to MIDI

While digital instruments are awesome, we would like to use traditional and analog instruments as well! It is a little tricky to get audio signals converted into MIDI, but it is possible with software but also with hardware!

Guitar/Bass to MIDI Converter

We are able to utilize all the wonderful sounds a live guitar, bass guitar and upright can produce, but also route the sound through our Unity scene with a Guitar/Bass to MIDI converter such as the Sonuus G2M. This nifty device actually allows us to use any monophonic instrument including the voice! The only downside is with polyphonic instruments, such as guitars and bass. There are other options out there to get polyphonic MIDI conversion but they are very expensive.


Ableton Live is a software music sequencer and digital audio workstation for macOS and Windows. In contrast to many other software sequencers, Live is designed to be an instrument for live performances as well as a tool for composing, recording, arranging, mixing, and mastering, as shown by Ableton's companion hardware product, Ableton Push. It is also used by DJs, as it offers a suite of controls for beatmatching, crossfading, and other effects used by turntablists, and was one of the first music applications to automatically beatmatch songs. We plan to use Ableton Live to add dynamic sound effects to live instruments such as the trumpet. We will also use it to manage our electronic drum kit, and open up our sonic palette.