In the last newsletter, we detailed the features of the Exquis keyboard. This time we’ll focus on the application, which we have also been working on for two years.
The main idea is simple, bring the creative workflow of the dualo du-touch into the form of a cross-platform application, i.e. which functions just as well on a PC using Windows or Linux, on a Mac, on a telephone or on an Android or iOS tablet.
The first advantage of this paradigm shift from the all-in-one instrument to a separate controller and application is that the Exquis app can be used independently, without the need for the keyboard, by tapping directly on the screen of any device that has a touchscreen such as a phone, tablet, or even a computer with a touchscreen.
A second advantge is compatability with all existing virtual synthesisers in VST and AU formats. This will allow those who already have virtual synths to load them directly into the app. Your sonic imagination will no longer have any limts, and neither will ours, because we’ll be able to create our own synthesisers!
Then, compared to the dualo du-touch, the development language used to code our application makes it possible to considerably reduce cycles of development and therefore to add functionalities more quickly.
Finally, since it’s not the Exquis keyboard that provides the processor power to run the application, it will be possible to increase the power without having to change your Exquis keyboard depending on your needs. It’s also an eco-responsible approach.
At first glance this modularity removes the all-in-one aspect, but that which can do more can do less, and on the contrary, it allows you to design different all-in-one versions, based for example on a second-hand smartphone or on a credit card sized computer like a Raspberry Pi.
Today all the intelligence of the application works: you can define a scale on the keyboard (Exquis or virtual), load and choose sounds, play with them, record loops, quantise them or not, turn loops off/on, create scenes….
At the moment we are working on the design of the graphical user interface and its integration into the app. It’s a repetitive process: as soon as we have a first functional element, we test it in situ and refine it. That’s why today we have parts that work and others that don’t, and we can’t present it all yet.
To design the graphical interface of the app, we’re working together with the NoDesign agency, which is also working on the design of the Exquis keyboard.
We have a commun obsession: that the integration between the keyboard and the application is perfect. There would be a lot to say about the whole intellectual and observational process that enabled us to choose the buttons on the keyboard and the arrangement on the application, so that will be the subject of an article on this blog.
The “Play” view
Let’s start with the main screen the “play” screen here in English but the application will also be available in French.
The idea is to have all the necessary information at a glance, and in a didactic way.
The four central “tiles”, clickable on a touch screen, provide information on:
- the current sound
- recording or not
- what track you are on, and if it is lit up
- what scene we’re in and whether it is playing or not
By scrolling to the left, a tile will allow access to the other settings, and another on the right will allow you play/stop and change songs. At the top of the interface, the four potentiometers with the name of the parameter controlled and the value of this parameter. At the bottom of the interface, the parameters controlled by the slider.
The “Choice of sounds” view
Let’s continue with the view that enables you to choose your sounds, brought up when you click on the “sounds” tile or on the “Sounds” button on the keyboard.
At the very top is the list of plugins recognised by the application. Below, depending on the choice of the plugin, appear the presets of that plugin. It will of course be possible to choose the location and order of the source plugins on the the keyboard, as was the case on the dualo du-touch.
For the most observant amongst you, you will have noticed on the interface above that one of the keys is called “Scarlett 212 USB”. This is the name of a sound card. Because, yes, we have planned to be able to record audio loops from an external source! We have proven, in the context of an internal prototype, that it works, it just remains to finish coding all the functionality and the thousand details that will simplify your life and make it a very powerful artistic tool.
It’s a big project that must be done properly and that’s why it will be one of the milestones of the Kickstarter campaign: if we reach this milestone, we will be able to strengthen the development team and start implementing this function this winter! We’re counting on you to help us get there, because it will open up incredible musical possiblities!
The “Tracks & Clips” view
Let’s continue with the view that enables you to manage your loops, like on a du-touch dualo.
Each line is a track, and the clips are added to the right of the leftmost button, which serves several purposes, including the possibility of very quickly re-selecting the same sound as that of the chosen track, or to clear all the clips in a row.
Contextual and musical help, accessible in 1 click
One of the major advantages of our application will also be to finally integrate a very powerful contextual help. Eventually, of course, we will bring all the du-games to the Exquis app. This will, by the way, be the subject of another level of the Kickstarter campaign! We can’t wait to get started as soon as possible!
And in the meantime, here is an example of what we have planned to integrate into the application: contextual help to understand both the app and its operation, and above all to make the link with musical use.