The adoption of the keyboard as the primary input and control device for commercial electronic and computer music systems has had a material influence on the processes of composition and performance within the electronic medium. In the acoustic domain, the conventional music keyboard is associated with a well-defined repertory of musical instruments, notably the piano, harpsichord, and organ. In terms of generating multiple control functions from a physical gesture, the hand offers the greatest range of possibilities to be concentrated in a single limb. The Buchlas Thunder MIDI controller (1990) is an example of a device that extends the drum pad principle to create a performance surface populated with thirty-six independent plate sensor areas, each of which can respond to individual finger movements. Optical sensing techniques also have proved a productive line of research in the development of gesture-driven controllers. The true potential of optics became apparent with the development of digital transducers. This technology was used to construct the Videoharp, developed by Dean Rubine and Paul McAvinney at Carnegie Mellon in 1988. The device is a MIDI controller that optically tracks the movement of individual fingers on a sheet of glass, illuminated at one end by a neon striplight source.
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