NAMM: SpaceHarp

There is usually at least one completely out-there “what exactly is that” instrument at NAMM, and this year that was the SpaceHarp.

It is visually unique, looking a bit like something off the original Star Trek or other early science fiction. Each of the circles contains multiple optical and sonic sensors which respond when the performer moves and blocks the light from above. The input from the sensor arrays is converted to MIDI for controlling an external synthesizer. I’m not exactly sure what the large illuminated crystal does, but it adds the classic science-fiction quality of the instrument.

SpaceHarp at NAMM

I did make an attempt to play the SpaceHarp.

It was fun, though not quite as easy to control as the description suggests. Given all the degrees of freedom, it was quite different from a theremin (even an optical theremin) in the way one interacts with it.

At a technical and visual level, the SpaceHarp was interesting. While it didn’t come across as a “must have” for me, I can see others finding this a useful and creative tool for live performance. The tendency towards New-Age hyperbole in their product literature was a bit of a turn-off, suggesting a different target audience. But perhaps it just needs another chance with some harsher and more abstract sounds, like from one of the many analog modules at this year’s show.

2 thoughts on “NAMM: SpaceHarp

  1. Hey guys,

    thanks for all the great comments and the video post!

    I am curious, however, as to what exactly was the “New-Age hyperbole” in our information that you’re referring to?
    I’d love to understand the genesis of your comment better!

    Note – the crystal is a simple incarnation and just fun, in fact, underneath are 37 RGB LEDs that we plan future functions for, such as height-controller rotary encoder type patterns to even further assist the player. The crystal is just a gag, (but it sure looks nice) however even now that part of the SpaceHarp – what we call the “Stage” – the colors do show the skilled player what % of the currently set sonar height range is being currently detected.

    Thanks again 😉
    David Clark
    CEO and Inventor

    1. Note: The reference to “Multi-Dimensional Controller” in our product literature is in the strictest technical sense, “dimensions” here meaning in the feature-space human ergonomic sense, or control-feedback loops. With 3-dimensions of optical polyphonic note triggering, sonar height sensing for velocity and continuous controller assignment, and also through our MAX MSP patches additional seamless DAW and effects integration of up to 2 more dimensions of iOS accelerometers into CCs and yet 2 more dimensions using Hot Hand USB ring into CCs, so in the ergonomic terms its capable of up to 8 control dimensions or 8 independent parametric variables; (3D for polyphonic notes with velocity plus up to 5 in-space continuous controllers 😉

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