Expressive Solutions for Foot Control

Hi everyone! This is my first post in the forum!

I’m currently tooling around with MG3, Divisimate Micro, and Soundpaint to provide live, interactive accompaniment for fingerstyle folk guitar. It works a charm, apart from a few interesting squeaks here and there (but that’s all part of the fun!). What I’m really curious about is how people are integrating midi control while both hands are busy playing the guitar. I’ve read a few posts about breath controllers, but (while they’re neat) I also sing… Perhaps some day they’ll make a harmonica-shaped breath controller and I can do a Bobby-Dylan-goes-digital sort of thing. For now this is really not a good solution for me.

So I had a look into foot controllers, a topic I’ve been following closely for many years, and found that there isn’t really that much innovation going on. Expression pedals have remained more or less the same, though there are now rollers and sliders and all sorts; footswitches are still only latching or momentary (no continuous controller data there); and light sensors and D-Beams have remained as kitschy as ever.

The situation seems much the same in terms of hand controllers, with the exception of companies at the bleeding edge of MPE technology (Joué, Roli, Expressive E), but their tech is not particularly amenable to foot control. I was reading a forum post about the Expressive E Touché and found an exchange between a poster and the folks at Expressive E. Apparently using the Touché as a foot controller will void the warranty! (Not especially surprising, given how much abuse we give our foot pedals.) This certainly wouldn’t be enough to deter me on its own, but they also gave the following reasons for not using the Touché this way:

  • the touch-plate is only held magnetically and might be displaced when stepping on it
  • the mechanism is meant to already move when only slight pressure is applied. This is true for lateral movements as well. Even though you can adjust the stiffness of the lateral movement, it will easily give way to the weight that is expected when you step on it.
  • the Touché’s sensors are very reactive, so that you probably won’t be able to get the most out of it, unless you are foot painter

They did also add the caveat: “That doesn’t mean that you theoretically couldn’t get great results if you take care, perhaps sitting and using it without your shoes on…”

So I just wanted to ask what experiences people have had with this particular quandary. Is it worth investing in a Touché when it seems that the actual utility would be quite narrow? How do you achieve quality, gestural, interactive results from MG3 with foot control?

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I’ve thought about the Touche as well so it’s useful to hear the feedback from Expressive E. How you thought about the Keith McMillan Softstep?

Another option might be the Genki Wave Ring, not a foot controller but something that might work playing finger style?

Ii have to confess that I have both but yet to try them with MG3!


I have given the Softstep a lot of thought, but it kind of feels like too much control for me… All I want is a single way to interface with the virtual ensemble I’m using on a particular track. It might be the Softstep is the only solution, although I did have a look at the McMillen BopPad (it has four zones, pressure and radius sensitivity), but the thing would look a bit hilarious on stage…

With regard to the Wave, I’ve definitely considered it! But my playing style is quite involved and I can’t image how I would integrate it unless I strap it to my big toe. I’ve done it with a little tambourine before so it might be worth a shot, but also I can imagine the audience watching my foot contort in the air would look a bit ridiculous.

I know it’s awfully silly to think about the visual impact of these devices… But how can I not!

I have an Expressive E Touche, I’ll give it a whirl with MG3 when its on Windows Beta. YMMV though of course.


I have the Touche SE as well, and it kind of works as you would expect. It sends four different continue controllers on CC:s 16-19. So a pretty straightforward way to try it out was to just connect it to the Lié software.

And I hooked my Touché up to a WIDI Uhost with a power bank to see that it also worked over bluetooth. Which it does.

So, from technical point of view, it is really easy way to add 4 controllers. But the question is precision and perhaps more than that sturdiness. It is made for light touch gestures and although I could get some interesting results out off it (barefoot), I am not sure I would use this exact controller setup for live purposes. But if you are careful enough, it will work fine.


I definitely wouldn’t dream of going at it with shoes, but i can see it being useful seated, especially with some kind of bar over the button to rest ones’ heel on. Envisioning it now, it kind of reminds me of those dinky classical guitar footrests. Thanks so much for giving it a go! Always scary to blow a bunch of money on something without knowing for sure…


Bought one only a few weeks ago just for this purpose, as a foot controller, so thanks for posting this :+1: - I haven it tried it yet though (my little ”studio” is still a complete mess ) :wink:

But as soon as MG3 Win drops, I will. :slight_smile:

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that day is today! only $1k!

on the touch-e, foot-wise it seems like it might be too easy to trigger up when you only want left, or right when you want down, etc.

How do you achieve quality, gestural, interactive results

in terms of ‘gestures’ i will probably use momentary triggers to start pre-defined curves which vary over time.

in terms of ‘interactive’ i bought a sewing machine pedal, which uses spring resistance. i haven’t figured out how to make it work yet. i think it will offer more nuance than the typical expression pedal, and it returns to zero which is nice.

perhaps this is not what you meant, if so kindly elaborate on what these words mean to you.


Hah, I had to laugh. Perhaps if they don’t want you to use it as a foot controller they could have designed it to NOT look like a foot controller! :joy:

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Oh. My. God. That harmonica controller is fantastic! I can see me walking down a highway with it in my coat pocket!

This seems like an elegant (and cost effective!) solution. I wonder if there might be some interesting ways to explore the interaction between different curves and LFOs triggered by a bank of triggers. I run MG3 into Bespoke Synth for flexibility, so I can see the musicality in that approach.

This is another solution I was exploring, but by a different route. It’s the continuity of the controller and the tactility of the device which interests me, that’s what drew me to the Touché.

Just for interest’s sake, there are some digital sustain pedals which have continuous control. It looks like the Yamaha FC3A is one of those, and as a sustain pedal it should also be spring loaded. I’m not sure whether the impedance would be correct, but surely that could be mapped by another program. The main issue that makes the Touché stand out is that it has four axes of control, rather than one.

You hit the nail on the head! Gesturality, interactivity, and tactility are key to the kind of uses I’m looking for because I am basically using MG3 for note data, and need some way of sending alternative strike, pressure, and harmonic (by which I mean harmonised midi pitch shifting) information to the actual accompaniment instruments that is musical enough to convey the sense of real-time musicians playing alongside me. Spring-loaded feedback, triggering pre-defined curves–this is the kind of thing I was curious about.

I looked into building something with a Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Bela makes some nice touch sensors that could be useful. But if there is some rough and ready controller it would save me learning a lot of nerdy business that I am frankly not very good at…

herold has posted some extremely useful images of control curve variants here:

i’ve used a smaller version of this mounted onto the guitar which worked well for pitchbend and aftertouch/channel pressure. i’m going to try a couple on a bass i’m putting together.

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If you can write a simple software program, a micro board has interesting movement options for midi control.

Watch this:

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even if mjrvickery is coding-averse, odds are he’s got a stem nephew or niece in his circle.

feed one of those kids enough pizza and he’ll soon have the custom controller of his dreams. wearable? pedal oriented? b-bender? all of the above?

ps: if this thread were called ‘excessive solutions for foot control’:


Here’s another idea based on the BBC MicroBit controller. First of all if you’re not into coding there’s a piece of software called Glover, originally designed for the MiMu Gloves, which lets you connect hardware controllers, like the MicoBit, to MIDI or OSC. It can also be used with the Leap Motion and Genki Wave as well as MiMu Gloves, all at the same time.

So how about strapping one to your foot?! 3D movement plus foot tapping are all possible!

I’m definitely going to try this so look out for the MIDI Shoe controller!

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