KS-3ii0.6KS-3ii is a software instrument that you play using the remote control from a Nintendo Wii. Once you’ve set it up it is very easy and expressive to use.

To use KS-3ii you need a Macintosh computer running Mac Os 10.4 (Tiger) and with some kind of Bluetooth capabilities. If you’re not sure whether your computer has Bluetooth there’s a list at the Apple Site.



Download the most recent version of KS-3ii. The file is quite small, just under 5 MB. It is a .zip archive which should be automatically unzipped by Safari after the download has finished. If not, just double-click on it and it should get unzipped. You should end up with a folder containing the program and a file called KS3iiPresets which (unsurprisingly) contains preset settings for the program.


  1. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on by going to System Preferences and choosing the Bluetooth option in the Hardware section.
  2. While you’re in the Bluetooth control panel make sure that the option called Show Bluetooth status in the menu bar is ticked. This will make it easier to connect and re-connect the Wii remote later.
  3. Close System Preferences.
  4. Choose “Set up Bluetooth Device…” from the Bluetooth menu that should now be showing somewhere at the right hand end of your menu bar.
  5. At the “Introduction” screen press Continue.
  6. At the “Select Device Type” screen press the button next to Any Device.
  7. At the “Bluetooth Device Set Up” screen click on Passkey Options…
  8. In the screen that drops down, press the button next to Do not use a passkey with this device.
  9. Now simultaneously press the 1 and 2 buttons on your Wii remote. The blue lights will flash and if all is well a device called “Nintendo RVL-CNT-01” or something similar will appear in the Devices list.
  10. Double-click on the “Nintendo….” line in the Devices list.
  11. At the next screen press Continue.
  12. At the next screen press Quit and then wait for the blue lights on the wiimote to stop flashing.
  13. You can now launch KS-3ii. When the application window appears, press the 1 and 2 buttons on your Wii remote again. The blue lights will start flashing.
  14. Press the button marked Connect wiimote in the input section to the left of the window.
  15. The text of the button should change briefly to Connecting… and then to Connected and the blue lights will stop flashing. Wave the remote about and you’ll soon be making music.


Hold your Wiimote in your hand like a drum stick, with the buttons on top. KS-3ii plays a note when you make the gesture of hitting a drum in the air with the Wiimote. If you check the Use Velocity box then the volume of the note will depend on how hard you hit your air drum. If you tilt or sweep the Wiimote to the right as you hit the air drum, then you’ll get a longer note. If you sweep to the left then you’ll get a shorter note.

The A, B, – and + keys can all be programmed to change the pitch of the note that you play. Choose notes for each button in the section labelled Pitch. The instrument will play the note that you’ve chosen for as long as the button is held down then return to playing the Default note when you release the button.

If you want to save the settings of the KS-3ii hold down Shift and click on one of the preset buttons. To recall the saved settings just click on that button again. The instrument saves the preset settings in the file called KS3iiPresets which should be in the same folder as the application.


If the Connecting… message stay lit for more than about fifteen seconds then the process hasn’t worked. You could try restarting KS-3ii but you’re probably better off starting the whole process again at step 4.

Sometimes you’ll get the Connected message but the blue lights on the Wii remote will carry on flashing. This means something else has gone wrong and you’ll probably have to take the batteries out of the remote and start again.

To Do

  • Better connection method.
  • Light for indicating a note is being played.
  • Small display of delay time in ms. maybe a pop-up when it’s being adjusted.
  • Add glissando pitches.
  • Control for variable velocity sensitivity.
  • Pretty display of all 3 axis data.
  • Adjustments for trigger detection point and sensitivity.
  • Make output stereo.
  • Quick way to have two remotes simultaneously.
  • Control a sample player with nanchuck.
  • Midi out and in???
  • Make as a VST plugin.
  • More filter options in feedback loop to modify tone.
  • Simple ADSR envelope.
  • Some filters on the output – variable comb, all pass, low pass.


The program is written in Max/MSP by Cycling 75. If you’re a Max user you can download the source files and make your own version. This program is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License which means you can release your own non-commercial version or re-use parts of the program as long as you give me credit and release your program under a similar licence.

The plug-in which allows Max/MSP to communicate with the Wii Remote is called aka.wiiremote and it was written by Masayuki Akamatsu.

The sound is produced by a simple virtual acoustic model of a string using an algorithm that was first described by Kevin Karplus and Alex Strong in 1983. The algorithm is very efficient and yet you can use it to produce a wide range of timbres by adjusting only a few parameters.

KS-3ii was written and is being developed by Jon Ward. My other projects are at www.ditdotdat.org

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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