December 02, 2012

BP on the Roland HandSonic HPD-15

The Roland HandSonic HPD-15 hand drum includes some tuned percussion instruments. You can edit the pitch of each pad in cents.  The pads are grouped into 3 sets of 5, as shown:

You can edit the pitch of each pad individually, and further adjust the pitch of an entire set (A, B or C).  The pad set adjustment is very helpful when creating a patch for any HPD-15 instrument that is voiced for a higher or lower octave.

After several experiments, I finally settled on this arrangement of the Bohlen-Pierce scale notes.  It is fully chromatic from D to D'.  I didn't include a low Db as it seemed less important than the high D' for modal music. 
I tuned the notes to the C Lambda scale in just intonation with A=440 Hz (pad A2).  The first song recorded with this system was Fuse Blue.  The HPD-15 is somewhat buried in the final mix. I've created a separate MP3 file of just the HandSonic tracks so that you can hear what it sounds like: FuseBlueHandSonic.mp3.

I'm happy to answer any technical questions from other HandSonic players who are into BP or other alternate scales.  The HPD-15 isn't a real sensitive instrument, but its fine tuning capabilities make it a very useful tool for creating a variety of sounds in real time performance.

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