Would it make sense to have a "WARBL" fingering?

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danjcla
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Would it make sense to have a "WARBL" fingering?

Post by danjcla » Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:57 am

I'm looking through the fingering charts, and they all seem to be based on other instruments, which are limited by the physics of air, and also which all evolved before scientific research into user interface design was a thing.

I'm wondering if anyone has thought about a fingering chart that would be optimized for the WARBL as its own thing, rather than as an emulation of something else.

Am I correct in thinking that, of the currently available options, the "Extended Gaita" fingering provides for the widest range of musical expression with the instrument? Or is it not that simple - e.g. in allowing for more notes (as in available octaves), does the possibility of doing some set of things to those notes diminish?

Is the "fingering_charts.ino" file directly edited, or is it automatically generated somehow? Much of it is easy to understand, what I'm not sure about is where numbers in the curly brackets {} come from and what they mean, and why only a few of the fingerings say what octave each note is in (C4, C5, etc.) - https://github.com/amowry/warbl/blob/ma ... charts.ino UPDATE: this is answered over at viewtopic.php?f=5&t=115&p=537&hilit=arduino#p542

Are the notes hard-coded for speed, or because there just isn't an algorithm that could be used to generate them? An advantage of a 'WARBL" fingering is that I'd think you could come up with something reasonable that follows a simple, consistent algorithm instead of hard-coding each note. I'm sure there are issues, but based on viewtopic.php?f=5&t=115&p=537&hilit=arduino#p537 there are 256 possible chords, which would mean it should be possible to simultaneously have access to a full piano keyboard plus several other more limited instruments from the WARBL. Or keep a lower octave range, but make it possible to play a vast array of chords.

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Re: Would it make sense to have a "WARBL" fingering?

Post by admin » Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:27 pm

I could certainly look into a WARBL-specific fingering chart. Yes, I think the extended Gaita chart currently offers the widest range. I think the only real limitation of charts like that that maximize the number of notes is that it increases the possibility for error and "crossing noise", where the device picks up intermediate notes because there are so many that it detects. I guess there's also the challenge of learning new fingerings...

The fingering charts are edited manually-- as you probably saw, there are a few different types of charts in there, optimized for different instruments, though they mostly follow a similar pattern. Because different people made some of the charts and I made some at different times, the commenting procedure varies ;)

Yes, the hard-coding is primarily for speed: Because the charts are simple lookup tables, it can find any entry in the array using its index, which is the current fingering pattern expressed in binary, so it's extremely fast. That's correct, there are 2^8 possible combinations for 8 holes, so you could in theory have a lot of notes, I think it's mainly the limitations above that might make it a bit challenging to play ;) It's an interesting idea, though!
Andrew Mowry
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Re: Would it make sense to have a "WARBL" fingering?

Post by 2Dog » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:12 pm

In my case, the fingering system was not a major factor when I purchased, as I was not familiar with any of the initial fingerings. There was no system that I knew so I was expecting a large learning curve, as is the case with all instruments. What attracted me is the ability to play in bag mode, no internal sounds or battery, and small form factor for a midi wind controller. I had played other wind controllers for years and I had the hardware and software already. Andrew was able to help me with a fingering system that was somewhat familiar with (Extended Saxophone) to cut down my learning curve substantially. I don't see any attraction for a fingering system that no one is familiar with and is not close to an acoustic instrument's fingering.

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danjcla
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Re: Would it make sense to have a "WARBL" fingering?

Post by danjcla » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:08 pm

The attraction would be for two classes of people, who may overlap:

(a) People like me, a person who is looking for a new instrument, and has no deep previous experience with this class of instruments. It would seem to me it'd be possible to come up with a fingering system based on an easy-to-remember short set of rules instead of based on what is needed to make wind physics work.

(b) People who have no problems picking up new systems, and want to be able to use all 256 notes the WARBL is capable of, to for example create a pennywhistle capable of chords. At the moment, you can't even do this computer-side, as their is no fingering system where the WARBL sends out a different MIDI signal for each fingering.

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Re: Would it make sense to have a "WARBL" fingering?

Post by 2Dog » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:59 pm

I guess I would have to see the fingering system you want to see if it is any "easier" than others. I agree that some fingering systems lack full chromatic scales due to the acoustic instrument's physical limitations. Not sure I agree that the WARBL is capable of 256 notes. Not sure why you would want to play really high or really low notes on a monophonic instrument. Some midi apps will let you transpose and play chords. Most people only have two hands and 10 fingers so any system you can think of will not get you twelve notes using, in reality, 8 fingers. Remember you have to use your thumbs to hold the instrument while you play. I guess you could add more holes or switchs on the back to make that possible but then you are redesigning this wonderful instrument. I have seen many midi wind controller projects on youtube aiming for what I think you want but none have any commercial value given that the market requires a system that people are familiar with. Having played midi instruments for years, I feel that these instruments don't aim to replace acoustic instruments but allow you to leverage some skills that you have with hopefully more expression but most of the time the midi instruments comes up short. Another major factor is the price of the WARBL. If it was close to other wind controllers I wouldn't have been interested. For me, it lacked lip vibrato but the ability to use it in bag mode trumped that. Bottom line is that Andrew put it all together and offers world class support. I doubt China could do any better.

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