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In concert video footage of Muse, I've seen both the guitarist and bassist use touch-pad devices integrated with their instruments.

What are these devices, and what are they designed to do?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Those are x-y MIDI controllers more commonly referred to as Kaoss Pads.

If you are familiar with a modulation wheel on a MIDI keyboard, you know you can assign that wheel to control any number of aspects of the instrument, from pitch bend, to volume, to vibrato, an LFO, or perhaps a filter. The x-y pad gives you two of those on a plane, with which you can control anything that's MIDI controllable (even lights if you've got the right setup).

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Matt's guitars are made by Hugh Manson- mansonguitars.co.uk and quite a few have two- or one-dimensional midi controllers. –  Dr Mayhem Nov 6 '12 at 8:42
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