Friday, October 9, 2009

Eigenharp's Big Ambitions Involve Open Source

More details are emerging on the Eigenharp everyday. I must say that this controller has me pretty excited. It seems to align well with ideas that I have been playing with recently around how to design a better performance keyboard device in general. Certain concepts using the Monome grid to play scales in SevenUpLive are reflected in the design of the Eigenharp's grid as well. After having played with such a grid arrangement of buttons tied to scales, I can say that it is a highly productive and exciting way to play music that does away with the physical limitations and quirks of traditional fingering arrangements, for example on the guitar or piano keyboard. Moreover you can use software to move and transpose fingerings by keys or degrees in the scale on the fly.

The Eigenharp goes much further than just a nice controller layout. It also has super sensitive controls with x,y,z data, for velocity, tremelo, and whatever else you decide to tie to them. Combined with very high sampling rates and data throughput, the instruments biggest problem will be the fact that virtually no existing software can deal with the possible volume and expressiveness of the data produced. This is why it's important that there is also software packaged with it to provide support for this data internally and to transform the data into packages that existing plugins and even Midi instruments can handle.

The biggest fear in all of this is to have a totally proprietary system where integrations to the instrument and it's software cannot be made by external parties. Luckily recent interviews and information coming out of the company point to open sourcing of the protocols and APIs, allowing external developers to build the bridges to other systems. I'm encouraged by what I am hearing.

The Create Digital Music blog has a great article detailing the plans for the protocol and APIs here: Eigenharp on Create Digital Music

An informative series of interviews with the founder on Sonic State.

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