LIGHTNING II is a specialized MIDI controller that senses the position and movement of handheld wands and transforms this information to MIDI signals for expressive control of electronic musical instrumentation. In addition to functioning as a powerful MIDI controller, LIGHTNING II, with its self contained 32 voice synthesizer, comprises a complete, ready to play instrument.
The bulk of LIGHTNING II's electronics is housed
in a half rack cabinet.
A remote head, designed to be mounted on a standard mike stand in front of a performer, contains optics and numeric displays.
Basically, LIGHTNING II senses the horizontal and vertical position of each hand, for a total of four independent coordinates. From this information, LIGHTNING's digital signal processor computes instantaneous velocity and acceleration, and performs detailed analysis of gesture. An easily mastered, musically oriented interface language allows the user to define relationships between various gestures and potential musical responses.
In one sort of implementation, LIGHTNING's coordinates might be mapped to various MIDI controllers on multiple channels. Spatial pitch wheels, pan pots, level sliders and modulation wheels are easily defined and great fun to play. Performance gestures can be analyzed for direction and velocity and can be used to generate a variety of notes as well as other musical events. Multi-dimensional zoning capability can be used to create different musical responses in different regions. Everything you need to create the conceptual ensemble (an invisible, acoustic virtual reality).
User definable scale and tuning tables allow one to determine the range and selection of notes occurring along a horizontal or vertical axis. Pitches can be in any order, and the boundaries can be set where ever desired, facilitating the creation of spatial instruments and imaginary orchestras.
LIGHTNING II features a conducting facility that can analyze a conductor's gestures, display deviations from a preset tempo, and signal errors such as missed beats. Simultaneously, LIGHTNING can transmit a synchronous MIDI clock for controlling external sequencers and output programmed note data to accompany specific beats within a measure.
Those tiny, postage stamp size boxes hanging
out with Marilyn are memory cards for storing presets. As many as thirty
presets can be stored on one card. An additional thirty presets can be stored
in RAM, and yet another thirty ROM based presets are provided as tutorial
examples (good places to begin the LIGHTNING experience).
To facilitate its use in conjunction with other controllers,
LIGHTNING possesses intelligent MIDI merging capability. A complete system
exclusive implementation enables LIGHTNING presets to be stored and edited
via external computers and sequencers.