The Sonic Banana is a MIDI controller and alternative musical instrument in the form of a 2 foot long flexible rubber tube. Four bend sensors, each 5” long, are mounted in a row along the inside of the tube on a flexible metal bar running the length of the tube. A single pushbutton switch is mounted at the top end of the tube.
The pushbutton and sensors connect to a BX24 microcontroller which converts data from these inputs into MIDI messages. The four bend sensors send MIDI continuous control messages 1-4, respectively. Bending the tube in different locations changes the control value corresponding to the sensor in that location.
The pushbutton switch sends a MIDI note-on with pitch 60 and velocity 127 when depressed and 0 when released. Data from the Sonic Banana can be sent into Cycling 74 Max and processed to create a variety of algorithmic improvisational instruments. Examples of performance algorithms are described below.
The Sonic Banana may also be used to generate MIDI data for directly controlling another MIDI instrument. This can be done by mapping the pushbutton and controllers as presented, inside a synthesizer, or by reprogramming the firmware on the BX24 to generate different controller values more appropriate to the particular application. Alternatively, of course, control data may be remapped in Max before being sent to a synthesizer
Eric Singer. 2003. Sonic banana: a novel bend-sensor-based MIDI controller. In Proceedings of the 2003 conference on New interfaces for musical expression (NIME ’03). National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, 220-221. [pdf]