Between Instrument 1 and Orba, Artiphon has established itself as the maker of innovative — and delightful — music instruments. Today the Nashville-based hardware startup returns to the crowdfunding platform that started it all, with the launch of Chorda, a device that splits the difference between the aforementioned products.
The instrument effectively integrates Orba’s pads into a guitar neck/keyboard style interface akin to the Instrument 1. As ever, the pitch is a diverse set of sounds that can be manipulated in a variety of ways. You can strum it like a guitar, tap it like a drum pad or play it like a piano.
The interface is comprised of a dozen musical pads that can be pressed, tapped, tilted and otherwise manipulated to create a different variations on the sound. The “Smart Strum” feature, meanwhile, mimics guitar chords, keeping the song in tune without the need for any real musical skill.
One of the things I most admire about Artiphon’s approach is that lowered barrier of entry. I’ve long appreciated clever alternative instruments like Roli’s Seaboard, but using such devices requires the same level of skill as a standard keyboard. Chorda isn’t a “serious” musical instrument, so much as a clever and fun one, helped along by the $199 price point.
“We believe musical instruments should adapt to the way you play, to invite creativity every day,” says founder/CEO Mike Butera. “We’ve dreamed of allowing anyone to play any sound they can imagine, anywhere they go, without worrying about historical instrument skills or abstract music theory.”
That’s not to say that the system can’t be used in a more serious manner, if you do have that skillset. Like its predecessor, Chorda can be used as a MIDI controller. It’s also compatible with GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Cubase and FL Studio, among others — so it will be fun to see what pros are able to come up with using the system.
Chorda is up for preorder on Kickstarter now for customers in the U.S. and Canada.