The Wiitles make Mix

The Wiitles are my performance art group that uses Nintendo Wiimotes as instruments.  This month the ubiquitous audio nerd magazine Mix writes about us. The Wiitles use Wiimotes to control the software Max/MSP, another name ubiquitous among my audio nerd brethren.

The Wiitles have been making music, videos, mocumentaries, and other conceptual mayhem for about six months now, and we have enjoyed a fair amount of recognition.  Despite this, there is an unfair amount of people who either a) think the entire thing is a joke, or b) think that the entire thing is a sham (a.k.a. we actually make all of our music not with Nintendo Wiimotes controlling Max, but with ‘real instruments’ and then randomly wave Wiimotes around for show… shame them).  I am here to say that, while a large portion of The Wiitles is, of course, a joke (e.g. the outfits, the acts, the drummer), the Wiimotes really are used as the instruments and we do take our music (mostly) very seriously.  However, in order to shush the unbelievers, The Wiitles will soon be creating a video that shows the group’s entire creative process, from building the simplest of Max patches all the way through to slipping on our lab coats.  I will, of course, be writing about that when the time comes.  In the mean time, if you have not been initiated into Wiitlemania you can visit our Myspace page (www.myspace.com/thewiitles) or check out the videos that I have included here.

And for those of you interested in the nitty-gritty technical aspects of how the Wiitles create songs…when we play live, we have one instance of Max/MSP running on one single MacBook. The four different Wiimotes each has its own subpatch, one for each instrument, each working in its own unique way.   For the drum patch, each button on both the Wiimote and it’s corresponding nunchuck trigger different drum samples (wav files).  The bass patch works the same, only the individual samples are made by synthesis from scratch.  The guitar patch triggers wav files, but is unique in that movement by the accelerometer allows the triggered sample to play, so the player must actually “strum” the nunchuck in order for the sample to be triggered.  The vocal patch is essentially an effects processor. The buttons on the Wiimote activate different effects (e.g., delay, octave, harmonizer, and for the song ‘Robot Love’, a vocoder) in the vocal patch.  Each of these patches only receives information from an individual Wiimote.  The only other equipment we use is a Firewire interface that takes the sound from the MacBook to the PA via a single mono out (we could do stereo if we wanted, but none of the PAs we have used so far have been stereo).  All of the mixing is done in Max/MSP.

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