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MIDI Innovation Awards Livestream Sept, 16, 2023

The 2023 MIDI Innovation Awards live stream event took place on 16 September 2023 at 10 am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern and 5 pm GMT.

The live stream was hosted by composer/UX designer Martin Keary (aka Tantacrul) and British musician, synth maker, and author of the YouTube channel Look Mum No Computer, Sam Battle.

Now in their third year, the awards are a joint initiative created by Music Hackspace, The MIDI Association, and NAMM, created to showcase both products and projects using MIDI .0 and2.0 in fresh and original ways, and to highlight the role of MIDI technology in empowering musical creativity.

The show highlighted the innovative use of MIDI by all 15 finalists and featured interviews with an all-star panel of judges that included:


Commercial Hardware Product Intuitive Instruments – Exquis

Exquis MIDI Controller

Exquis combines a hardware surface equipped with a hexagonal matrix of keys with a companion mobile app, aiming to provide musicians of all levels with a fun and intuitive way to create new melodies and progressions. By default, thirds are placed next to each other, with backlit keys able to display any musical scale or custom mapping, and chords all placed in ergonomic shapes that make them easy to play, learn and understand.

The keys are firm enough to play short notes with precision or trigger percussion sounds, but have enough play to modulate long notes with physical movement — Exquis also boasts MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) support, meaning that modulation can be applied on a per-note basis within chords. MIDI, CV and USB connectivity is provided, and the included app makes it possible to choose sounds, record loops and quickly try out different parts and arrangements.


Commercial Software ProductAudio Modeling – Camelot Pro

Camelot Pro Software

Camelot Pro is a cross-platform (macOS, Windows and iPad OS) app that is capable of acting as a MIDI patchbay/router, setlist manager, digital mixer, software instrument and effects host, PDF music score display and multitrack audio player! Designed to remove the complications of combining MIDI-enabled hardware and software from different manufacturers, the app allows users to control their entire setup from a single location with minimal knowledge of MIDI.

It can be used to switch modes or manage multi-part patches on connected devices without the need to touch the hardware itself, as well as switching between different routing configurations without having to disconnect and reconnect cables. It is also capable of hosting software instruments and effects, and it’s not just MIDI that’s catered for: the device can also be used to manage audio sources, as well as playing backing tracks, displaying scores or sticky notes and much more.


Prototypes & Non-Commercial Hardware Product Andrea Martelloni – HITar


Aimed at percussive fingerstyle guitarists, the HITar is a device that can be fitted to a regular acoustic guitar and is said to reinvent the way in which a player can interact with the instrument’s body. The unit employs five piezo sensors placed underneath the areas most commonly struck by players, and uses an AI engine to determine which part of the hard is used for each percussive hit.

The resulting MIDI output can then be used to integrate hardware or software instruments or samples into a performance, allowing guitarists to trigger drum and percussion samples or blend sample libraries and virtual instruments with their playing.


Prototypes & Non-Commercial Software Products Max Graf And Mathieu Barthet – Netz


Netz is a mixed reality (MR) software instrument that blends the real and virtual worlds by displaying 3D virtual objects within a real environment. It is a self-contained instrument that features an embedded sound engine, allowing users to produce sounds directly from the head-mounted display using hardware such as a Meta Quest 2. Additionally, it can also be used as an MPE MIDI controller to interface with external virtual instruments over WiFi or USB.

The software’s interface appears as a network where nodes represent notes, which can be mapped to a tangible surface for tactile feedback or be positioned in the air. Performers’ hand poses and gestures are tracked in in real time, allowing Netz to translate subtle hand movements to expressive musical controls; gestures such as the opening and closing of fingers — or movements such as wrist rotation — are recognised and interpreted by the system and can be assigned to specific instrument parameters and MIDI controls.


Artistic/Visual Project Or Installation Ryan Edwards And Masary Studios – Sound Sculpture

Sound Sculpture is a large-scale interactive music sequencer designed for installation at venues such as museums, schools, community centres and public art festivals. Comprising 25 cubes kitted out with positioning tags, batteries, processors, a WiFi antenna and an LED array, the installation allows participants to generate musical patterns by physically moving and rearranging the blocks.

A software application continually scans the locations of the blocks, and uses their physical placement to generate a musical composition, typically with the x-axis representing rhythm and the y-axis representing pitch.



MIDI Innovation Award finalists were also featured at SynthFest UK 2023 that took place in Sheffield, England on Saturday October 7th 2023 (10:30am – 6:30pm) and at Music China in Shanghai on October 11-14, 2023.