Not on the I1 itself, but it is simple – just simple in a different kind of way, and the issue is more one of whether you’ll be satisfied with the results. But it’s worth giving it a shot if you’re on iOS, where you can do it all with one piece of free third-party software; I’ve just had a go and it does work very straightforwardly.
- Download the free StreamByter, load a Default file from the list (third button from the right at the bottom of the screen), and paste in the following text:
# Block open strings
N1 28 = XX +B
N2 2D = XX +B
N3 32 = XX +B
N4 37 = XX +B
N5 3B = XX +B
N6 40 = XX +B
- Then save it under a new name (e.g. “block open strings”) in Local.
- Load the file you’ve just created and select StreamByter rather than Instrument1 as your MIDI input in whatever app you’re using for sound.
The same code can also be used in modules in MidiFire (from the same Dev) or MIDI Designer Pro (needs StreamByter IAP); in MidiFire you’d just create a StreamByter module between your MIDI input and output, and paste the code into the window you get under the gearwheel:
If you ever do find you want to get your Sandy Denny on, just switch your MIDI input back to Instrument1 (or disable the StreamByter module in MidiFire with the green button that turns it off and on) and your open strings will sound normally.
On the larger issue of whether the I1 is for you, my own feeling is that trying to play the I1 as a guitar is a bit like using a phone as a flashlight: it’ll do enough of the job for some purposes, but it’s not what it’s really for and it’s not going to replace the dedicated tool. If what you want is a MIDI controller that you can use your existing guitar technique to play, MIDI Guitar 2 (about $40 for the two IAPs needed) is pretty much as good as any hardware MIDI guitar, and will get you closer than the I1, if still not really close enough for my liking. What the I1 offers guitarists is something rather different: a way to weaponise their existing left-hand skills on a next-generation MPE controller which functions as a tap instrument of incredible responsiveness that allows guitarists to leapfrog keyboard players in MIDI sensitivity and nuance.
If you’re on iOS, try this. Download Noise and in GarageBand select Noise Melody as an audio unit (under External) for your sound source, and make sure MPE Controllers is turned on (under GarageBand in the Settings app). In the Artiphon app, select Tap Guitar with multichannel and tilt on, and Pitch Bend set to 48. Select the Mellow Duduk preset in Fundamentals and play the fingerboard with the left hand only at various pressures, particularly with the I1 near-horizontal or near-vertical. Don’t worry about the fact that your right hand is idle (though it’s worth trying out drones hurdy-gurdy style on the bridge triggers). This will give you a pretty good sense of what the I1 can do as an expressive controller for guitarists, and whether it’s something that’s likely to find a long-term place in your musical life.