Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eigenharp Alpha: What the Hell Is It?

I found this YouTube Video with three cats playing controllers (MIDI) that have wind, and keyed interfaces. Kind of cool. The two instruments traditionally most poorly represented by MIDI are brass and guitars; brass because there's a certain technique of expression via embouchure, and guitars because they have tactile expression. The wind mouthpiece seems more like a woodwind, which means you can control attack and velocity, but not yet pitch, like a trumpet. The keyed interface is limited in the same way as electric guitars, meaning attack and velocity are limited, compared to the tonal characteristics of a classical instrument, which are much more subtle. Still, this is an interesting display of controllers. The instruments pictured allow more intuitive playing for certain types of musicians.


  1. You've missed several things about the instrument. Firstly, it isn't natively midi. Midi was too restrictive a protocol. It's also keyed and not stringed and each single key is sensitive to 3 dimensional movement, it's also completely polyphonic. You've also missed the strip controllers that are used to control filters or even simulate bowing on a cello. It's also designed to be played live and everything can be controlled from the instrument itself.
    Finally, the fingering can be shifted in key and scale to suit what you're playing. With the alpha you can even have multiple instruments on different keys simultaneously.
    I have the smaller and significantly cheaper pico which reduces the playing keys from 132 to 18 and the price by 90%.

  2. Yes, I haven't actually researched these, it was the first time I'd seen one. Interesting concept. You can see there are multiple instruments on each. If its not MIDI, how is the data transmitted? I see now that they are keyed: the guitar posture threw me off. The playing style is very guitarish too.

  3. I updated the article after I looked at the instruments more closely. Thanks Faye. I'll probably be looking at these more in the future.