MIDI Mouse Makes Marvelous Music

It’s an old misconception that digital musicians just use a mouse and keyboard for their art. This is often far from the truth, as many computer music artists have a wide variety of keyboards/synths, MIDI controllers, and “analog” instruments that all get used in their creative process. But what if one of those instruments was just a mouse?

Well, that must have been what was going through [kzra]’s mind when he turned an old ps/2 roller ball mouse into an electronic instrument. Born out of a love for music and a hate for waste, the mouse is a fully functional MIDI controller. Note pitch is mapped to the x-coordinate of the pointer, and volume (known as velocity, in MIDI-speak) is mapped to the y-coordinate. The scroll wheel can be used as a mod wheel, user-configurable but most often used to vary the note’s pitch. The mouse buttons are used to play notes, and can behave slightly differently depending on the mode the instrument is set to.

Not satisfied with simply outputting MIDI notes, [kzra] also designed an intuitive user interface to go along with the mouse. A nice little OLED displays the mode, volume, note, and mouse coordinates, and an 8×8 LED matrix also indicates the note and volume. It’s a fantastic and versatile little instrument, and you’ve gotta check out the video after the break to see it for yourself. We’ve seen some awesome retro-tech MIDI controllers before, and this fits right in.

Thanks to [midierror] for the tip!

5 thoughts on “MIDI Mouse Makes Marvelous Music

  1. Nice – however, not “new” except for the more modern build. Amiga mouses/mice have been turned into midi controllers in the 1980s/1990s, just as (analogue!) joysticks were used to control midi parameters before that on the C64.
    That’s not to diss the achievement, just to say there’s not that much new under the sun …

    BTW. Velocity != Volume, even in MIDI speak. Now, really.

  2. Something I love about this idea is that it could be used a modulation source by either hand. Most synth keyboards have pitch bend/mod wheel/XY on the left side, but sometimes it feels more natural to play a riff on the left hand, leaving the right hand to cross over to controls. I can see some uses for this!

  3. All of the sounds at the start were minus 25dB. towards the end -6dB. The end was audible, but not the start. If I couldn’t have much more expansion of motion, say a hands length for top to bottom pitch range I’d consider it unplayable. Divide the counts per inch of the wheel.

    Would it work with a PS2 optical mouse? I don’t see why not. A ribbon or slide arrangement in front of the mouse camera might work quite well.

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