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As endorsed by Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes
October 8, 2009 8:24 AM   Subscribe

132 keys, two strip controllers and a breath pipe. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Eigenharp, instrument of the future.
posted by permafrost (26 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
But will it ever become as popular as the Varitone electric saxophone?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:28 AM on October 8, 2009


I know I've seen these things somewhere else...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:28 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


For some reason, I remembered the Holophonor looking like that. In reality, I am quite wrong.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2009


Prior art.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:43 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Keytar!

I kid actually. These look like really expressive instruments. I'd love to see more electronic music performed live instead of layered track after track in the studio. I hope these help make that happen.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:45 AM on October 8, 2009


I know I've seen these things somewhere else...

That would be Mr D'an and his boys. Or maybe Mrs D'an and her ladies. I'm not sure really. All I know is that they rock the Cantina all night long.
posted by permafrost at 8:52 AM on October 8, 2009


Goodness. And I thought I bit off too much trying to learn Ukulele.
posted by JBennett at 9:00 AM on October 8, 2009


... can we bring back the keytar now? Please?
posted by adipocere at 9:01 AM on October 8, 2009


Thanks for posting, I heard about it on BBC last night (when I couldn't sleep) and couldn't commit the name to memory.
posted by hellojed at 9:08 AM on October 8, 2009


More footage of it in action:

Bond theme song on Eigenharp

(It looks a lot like playing the Chapman Stick, only with more flashing lights, a pipette, and built-in drum sequencer)
posted by ardgedee at 9:13 AM on October 8, 2009


instrument of the future

It's not an instrument. It's an $8000 bassoon-looking MIDI controller that only works with a Mac computer, requires mastery of an alien fingering system, and makes the player look like a complete wanker.

Yeah, no.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 AM on October 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


Aren't we trying to map old experiences of music to new forms? Personally I've never really cared about live dance music TBH and it doesn't bother me about it being a studio based form. The way to perform electronic music live is with a DJ and the audience then, not the performer are the stars.

At the same time I must admit that I think that electronic instruments with new control surfaces present some interesting possibilities in the perfomance space. (see also, the Tenori-on). I just worry that they'll be things that live instruments will never be able to recreate and don't think it's desirable they should be aiming at it.
posted by treblekicker at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2009


The biggest failing of existing MIDI controllers, as they point out here, is that tweaking knobs and tapping buttons just isn't sexy. It's nice to see someone rethinking the interface. But this still looks kinda dorky.
posted by echo target at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2009


It's definitely an interesting new interface, but if anything's the instrument of the future it's the computer.
posted by lucidium at 10:09 AM on October 8, 2009


The way to perform electronic music live is with a DJ and the audience then, not the performer are the stars.

That's assuming that all electronic music is dance music, which simply isn't true.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:34 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


He says there is one high-profile musician who is about to take delivery of an Eigenharp, but won't give any names.

Adrian Belew?
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:36 AM on October 8, 2009


I'd rather have one of these- comes with a pirate hat.
posted by MtDewd at 12:28 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not an instrument. It's an $8000 bassoon-looking MIDI controller that only works with a Mac computer, requires mastery of an alien fingering system, and makes the player look like a complete wanker.

Fair enough, but doesn't playing the guitar look far more similar to that particular pastime?
posted by Talanvor at 12:38 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is like the fifth thing in the last few years that was going to change music forever.

Apparently, music in the future sounds like the soundrack to Logan's Run with a dance beat.

Oh yay.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:17 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but kudos for making something of a physical interface. Messing with the whole digital filter world is fun, but it gets too cerebral. I like that 12-bit dynamic range mouth controller. You might do nice things with that. Making the interface richer allows the body to bleed out more into the music, which is what you get for free with a cut reed.
posted by fcummins at 1:25 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


askmeaboutLOOM: "That's assuming that all electronic music is dance music, which simply isn't true."

Furthermore, whether you like it or not, once things like amplifiers or microphones are involved you are doing electronic music.
posted by idiopath at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2009



askmeaboutLOOM: "That's assuming that all electronic music is dance music, which simply isn't true."

Furthermore, whether you like it or not, once things like amplifiers or microphones are involved you are doing electronic music.


Having listened to electronic music of both the dancing and non-dancing varieties for over twenty years I'm well aware of that. However when it comes to performing it live, the only thing that rescues live in most cases is when it's not played live - it's DJed.

OK, we can all point to the case artist X or Y that's amazing but that, IMHO is the exception rather than the rule... and I've been to a lot of very boring laptop sets. When they're not boring it's mostly down to the fact that you're dancing - which again gets to my point about the spectacle being away from the artist.

The point about it all being electronic music is spot on - it's all about control surfaces. I just wonder why we see things like the new instrument as a step forward? Why do some people (strawman I know) feel that it's an automatic step forward to move towards the physical rather than music created in a studio to be listened to at home or manipulated by others? Does electronic music have to be live? It's not rock music. Should it therefore move to emulate its preferred form of consumption? Open questions...
posted by treblekicker at 2:25 PM on October 8, 2009


Holy crap I need one of these
posted by Scotty_D at 4:30 PM on October 8, 2009


These guys were advertising in the UK for demonstrator jobs last year.

Nice gig, well paid, and you got a free instrument though they were very cagey about what the instrument actually was. They wanted formal qualifications - minimum a Grade 8 in something plus blah blah. I didn't have that but applied anyway, and obviously didn't get the gig.

And now... it turns out to be a chapman stick / wind synth / button accordion based Midi controller thing with a Mac based software synth attached. (Windows version Out Soon. Linux port not mentioned that I saw.) Still trying to work out if I'm jealous of the guys that got it or not.

Currently shooting for not.

I'd fucking love a Chapman stick. When I'm more experienced on sax I'll eventually want a wind synth too, maybe, though there's a lot of saxes to try out first, and I'll take another twenty years to sound good on the alto I've already got so that's moot. Dead curious about button accordion, though life is probably too short this time around. And though I can't afford any of them, I can't afford this in the same way that I can't afford any of the others all put together, with a double bass thrown in.

At which point, hrm.
posted by motty at 7:57 PM on October 8, 2009


Oi, I do live electronic music and I don't need no stinkin' DJs to be exciting! (I also play an exotic controller, a Yamaha WX-7 electronic wind instrument... here's a bit from a live show.)

I'm impressed with this unit. The WX-7 claims 7-bit breath control, but it's basically 6, I measured it (the least-significant bit is nearly always 0). 12 bits, and bidirectional, is a serious step forward - plus the high sample rate. Similar for the other controllers. And I love the Blinkenlights.

I'm going to try to get them to send a pico here to the US and see what goes from there.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:50 PM on October 8, 2009


This looks intriguing, albiet a bit silly - I think it's the awkward dangling crook of the breath controller that really pushes it into silliness for me.

Seeing someone who had learnt to wrangle one of these decently working with someone else handling the percussion could definitely be interesting. Because, wow, the machine-generated drum track in that demo really killed things for me and turned it into something with about as much soul as hitting the "demo" button on an SK-1 back in the eighties. Maybe they just need better drum samples, I dunno, I'm not a musician, I just thought those were some really lame drum sequences.

Also I find myself wondering: how many colors can the LEDs on the keys shift through, and are the patterns on it reprogrammable? Having your instrument function as a (low-res) visualizer would be pretty cool, and I'm sure that modern laptops have more than enough CPU to be the sound-generating end of things and to barf back some light-control streams…
posted by egypturnash at 7:51 PM on October 9, 2009


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