Alec Harris, Associate Writer
Keith Groover is a professor in the School of Fine Arts at North Greenville University. He is also the creator of the new instrument called “the Glide.”
Groover started the project in 2016 with the idea to use accelerometers, little electric components used to detect changes in speed, to create an instrument. The basic principle of the instrument is to use the two handles and the buttons on each to create sound.
There are three buttons on the left handle that dictate by combination what note is being played. Two buttons on the right handle choose the octave. The instrument got its name from the ability to use the accelerometers to “glide” between notes using simple hand motions. There is also a joystick which allows half steps to be played along with a few other tricks.
He has posted a full tutorial of the instrument on the Youtube channel “The Glide.”
The instrument takes advantage of six accelerometers, three in each hand. These accelerometers allow the user to use hand motions to create vibrato, pitch changes, volume, and play notes. The coding was done by Groover with some collaboration from a friend. The goal is to produce the Glide in a marketable form. They are available for pre-order on the Glide’s website.
He entered his new instrument into the Margaret Guthman New Instrument Competition. The Glide was placed into the group of 15 finalists accepted to present their instrument at the 2019 competition. This prestigious event is taking place on March 9 at Georgia Technical College.
Groover heard about the competition about a year ago after he had already created the instrument. The competition had more entries than ever before this year making the finalist qualification even more impressive.
The design of the Glide is a 3-D printed shell containing a programmable arduino board which handles the communication between the accelerometers. The buttons are LED back-lit with the joystick on top.
The instrument is a midi controller which is basically a device that can be hooked up to a computer or tablet or phone and used to play music through a sound filter. This allows the Glide to sound like any instrument the user likes, but created a unique playing experience that can be used to create music easily like never before.
The goal of the instrument was to create a free-form controller that uses as few algorithms as possible. The only algorithm is to create a note. Besides that, the entire instrument works off of direct relation. What that means is that the vibrato created by shaking the controller parallels the action done.
A quick shake creates quick vibrato whereas a slow shake makes a slower vibrato. The means that the skill with the instrument is not limited to memorizing actions. People can figure out new things to do since they aren’t limited by the software.
What sets this electrical instrument apart from similar ideas is that this is an electric instrument made by a musician instead of an electric instrument made by an electric engineer. Because of this, the use of the Glide is much more manageable and practical and can actually be used as a fun and useful instrument.
In general the Glide is a wonderfully crafted piece of engineering that has a chance to become a regular staple in the music world.