The Marimba Lumina is a MIDI mallet controller designed by Don Buchla, developed and produced by Nearfield Multimedia, and now built and sold by Absolute Deviation.
Marimba Lumina's playing surface includes a traditionally arrayed set of electronic bars and some (not so traditional) trigger pads and strips (reminiscent of those early ribbon controllers). The instrument is played with special foam covered mallets. Although primarily a controller able to connect to hardware and software synthesizers through the MIDI protocol, Marimba Lumina also has a built in synthesizer, and can thus function as a complete instrument, ready to plug in and play.
Marimba Lumina adds a few tricks to the usual capabilities of a keyboard mallet instrument. User definable "Zones" allow portions of the instrument to respond to gesture in different ways. Augmenting the potential for expressive control, Marimba Lumina responds to several new performance variables, including position along the length of the bars, mallet prescence, dampening, and note density.
And for those looking for more possibilities, Marimba Lumina can identify which of four color-coded mallets has struck a bar. This allows one to program different instrumental responses for each mallet, or to implement musical structures in which one mallet selects a course of action while others modify or implement it.
Marimba Lumina contains a particularly friendly user interface, with an extended 80-character display, and a mallet activated editing facility. Advanced software allows complex relationships between performance gestures and musical responses to be readily defined. Virtual pitch wheels, pan pots, level sliders and modulation wheels are easily implemented. User definable keymaps and tuning tables provide for alternate tunings and ancillary drumkits. Abundant permanent programs are provided or can be spiced up a bit to suit individual tastes. Memory cards facilitate storage, backup, and exchange of programs.
Living up to its namesake, the Marimba Lumina has LED illumination built into every bar, strip, and pad. These LED's can show key status, edit configuration, controller status or pad selection. Key status usually means it shows when a MIDI note is being sustained with it's programmed duration or by the sustain pedal. Using the LEDs pedagogically, they can help a player follow a MIDI sequence or the actions of another player. Or the LEDs can simply all be turned on.
The Marimba Lumina was designed by synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla with a lot of help from percussionist / programmer Mark Goldstein and marimbist / sound designer Joel Davel. Joel Davel designed a speed upgrade to the operation of the Marimba Lumina when he started Absolute Deviation.