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The Haken Continuum

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Published on Mar 8, 2011

This is what I call a "SHOW & TELL" video. It's the kind of video people make when they get a new musical instrument they haven't the slightest idea how to play and they're dying to show it off to the world even though it's only been out of the box for five minutes!

This instrument is called the HAKEN CONTINUUM FINGERBOARD and it's wonderful. In this video I am playing only one sound (a very "breathy" timbre that is somewhere between a clarinet and a Persian flute), and I am using only one voice (although it is a polyphonic instrument).

What distinguishes this instrument from other interfaces is that it is played in three dimensions: from left to right, forward & backward, and up & down. The hand of the player slides and dances on a smooth neoprene cushion constantly changing and "sculpting" the sound as it goes. Parameters can be altered to suit the musician, but in this video pitch is controlled by moving to the left and to the right like a standard keyboard, volume is controlled by pressure up and down on the neoprene surface, and timbre is controlled by movement of the hand forward and backward. A single hand can perform any or all of these movements at any given moment. This frees the other hand to play another keyboard (which is what I do in this video), or control some other device.

The continuum is limited only by your own musical imagination. What you see me do in this video is just one sound and one voice. It is infinitely more versatile than anything that could be shown in just a couple of minutes. Although the continuum is essentially a MIDI/CV controller interface, it has a large menu of its own sounds built into it. These sounds were prototyped by continuum virtuoso Edmund Eagan in Kyma, Symbolic Sound and the prototypes were then hand coded by Lippold Haken (the inventor of the instrument) for the fingerboard's digital signal processor.

Yeah, I know, it all sounds terribly complicated, but it's not. The instrument is very "friendly", easy to understand and a lot of fun!

Stay tuned for "The Haken Continuum MIDI Fingerboard Meets the Moog MIDI Etherwave Theremin" - two of the most exotic and unusual electronic music interfaces ever conceived.

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