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date: 16 November 2019


  • Anne Beetem Acker


Portable MIDI performance system, introduced in 2009 by Eigenlabs, an English electronic instrument and software firm based in Devon, founded by John Lambert in 2001. The system has three components: the Eigenharp controller, a hardware power and networking base station, and the software environment, which includes capabilities for synthesis, sampling, and sequencing. The Alpha-model controller is a long, slender device (7.3 by 2.5 by 120 cm including gooseneck breath controller pipe) held somewhat like a guitar. It has matrices of 120 keys (in five rows of 24) along the upper part and 12 keys toward the lower, plus one key at the very bottom that disables the rest of the instrument, allowing it to be moved without triggering anything. At the top is a microphone input socket and the breath pipe. Partway up the back is a headphone output. At the bottom are an adjustable stand spike and a connector for the base station cable. Flexible (e.g. leather) side panels cover pressure-sensitive strips running the length of the upper keyboard; the strips generate position data based relative to where the strips are first touched. The Eigenharp is held with two hands, the thumbs supporting it at the back while the hands and fingers move up and down the instrument to depress the keys, which are all velocity-sensitive and have aftertouch sensing (i.e. MIDI data can be sent about the amount of pressure being applied to a key while it is depressed). Each key controls four independent data streams. The lower, ‘percussion’ keyboard has wider keys but the same control capabilities as the upper keyboard, and can be mapped to non-percussion uses as well. Various pre-set performance modes can be accessed by pressing key combinations while playing....

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