The instrument looks a bit like an “electronic bassoon”, but beyond the mouthpiece, long thin shape and wood finish, it is quite different. It has 128 discrete keys that are also sensitive to pressure and motion in two directions, several large heavier keys and continuous controller ribbons. As such, it has the potential to be a very expressive instrument.
There is also a small version, the Eigenharp Pico:
And a new intermediate version, the Tau:
I particularly like the sleeker, modernist design on the Tau.
I did hear some demonstrations, which showed the features of the instrument, but focused on very conventional sounds and performance techniques. There were standard software synthesizers with keyboard and wind control, percussion sounds and beats and patterns controlled by the keys. With so many degrees of freedom and the ability to map different axes of expression to different musical parameters, I would like to see such an instrument used to push musical expression in novel directions. To this end, it is great to see that they are making their SDK open source. The first extension I would recommend is an OSC (OpenSound Control) protocol interface.
Jeff Snyder of Snyderphonics poses with the new Snyderphonics Manta, a “a touch-sensitive interface for controlling music or video.”
The Manta has a series of hexagonal sensors with LEDs that can be used as independent controls or together as a large X-Y control surface. I’m always interested in new control surfaces, and wouldn’t mind trying one of these out.
C-Thru Music has lent me this keyboard, called the AXIS, for a few months, and I am rearranging the keys for the Bohlen-Pierce Scale, a macrotuning based on a 3/1 frequency ratio, divided by 13 equal steps. See http://www.ziaspace.com/elaine/BP for research on the BP Scale. This particular AXIS toured with the Lionel Richie Band on loan, went to me, and in two weeks I will be flying to Boston to give this AXIS to the Berklee College of Music, Synthesis Department – namely to Dr. Boulanger who will use it for his classes and for the new microtonal club. I teach Electronic Music at Scottsdale Community College. Come join the fun!