Continuum Fingerboard

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Continuum Fingerboard
The full-size Continuum Fingerboard

The full-size Continuum Fingerboard
Manufactured by Lippold Haken
Dates c. 2002–present
Price Full size: $5290[1]
Half size: $3390
Technical specifications
Polyphony 16 voices
Input/output
External control MIDI, AES3

The Continuum Fingerboard or Haken Continuum is a music performance controller and synthesizer developed by Lippold Haken, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois, and sold by Haken Audio, located in Champaign, Illinois.[2]

The Continuum Fingerboard was initially developed from 1983 to 1998[3] at the CERL Sound Group at the University of Illinois, to control sound-producing algorithms on the Platypus audio signal processor[4] and the Kyma/Capybara workstation.[5]

In 1999, the first Continuum Fingerboard was commercially sold. Until 2008, the Continuum Fingerboard provided IEEE-1394 (FireWire) connections to control a Kyma sound design workstation, as well as MIDI connections to control a MIDI synthesizer module. More recently, the Continuum Fingerboard generates audio directly in addition to providing MIDI connections for MIDI modules, software synthesizers, and Kyma (the IEEE-1394 connection that was present on earlier models has been removed). An external control voltage generator permits control of analog modular synthesizers.

Specifications[edit]

The Continuum features a touch-sensitive neoprene playing surface measuring approximately 19 centimetres (7.5 in) high by either 137 centimetres (54 in) long for a full-size instrument, or 72 centimetres (28 in) long for a half-size instrument. The surface allows a pitch range of 9350 cents (about 7.79 octaves) for the full-size instrument, and 4610 cents (about 3.84 octaves) for the half-size instrument. The instrument has a response time of 0.33 ms.[6]

An illustration of the Continuum Fingerboard's axes.

Sensors under the playing surface respond to finger position and pressure in three dimensions and provide pitch resolution of one-tenth cent along the length of the scale (the X dimension), allowing essentially continuous pitch control for portamento effects and notes that are not in the chromatic scale, and allowing for the application of vibrato or pitch bend to a note. A software "rounding" feature enables pitch to be quantized to the notes of a traditional equal-tempered scale, just scale or other scale to facilitate in-tune performance, with the amount and duration of the "rounding" controllable in real time.[7]

The Continuum also provides two additional parameters for the sound: it is able to transmit the finger pressure on the board as a MIDI value, as well as the finger's vertical position on the key. These parameters are independently programmable; a standard configuration is where position on the X-Axis (lengthwise) on the instrument corresponds to pitch, position on the Y-Axis (widthwise) corresponds to a timbre shift, and position on the Z-Axis (vertically) corresponds to a change in amplitude. The Continuum is capable of polyphonic performance, with up to 16 simultaneous voices.

Each recent revision has brought more features and sound diversity to the internal synthesizer in the Continuum Fingerboard. As such, the instrument is starting to be both a controller and a stand alone instrument.

Built-in synthesizer[edit]

As of 2008, the Continuum Fingerboard has a new modular digital synthesizer built-in, specifically designed for the Continuum Fingerboard, called The EaganMatrix. The EaganMatrix uses a patching matrix to design synthesis algorithms. The patching matrix interconnects a variety of modules: oscillator, filter, delay, spectral manipulation, modal physical modeling, granulation, and shape generator. Each three-dimensional performance direction of the Continuum playing surface can influence each patch point in the matrix. By defining formulas and placing them at points in the patching matrix, the user creates relationships between the finger touching the Continuum playing surface and the flow of sound from patch sources to patch destinations.[8] The EaganMatrix is named after the Canadian composer Edmund Eagan.

Continuum players[edit]

A major proponent of the Continuum in contemporary music is Dream Theater's keyboardist, Jordan Rudess. He has used the instrument extensively; every Dream Theater album from Octavarium to A Dramatic Turn of Events has at least one song in which the Continuum is used, and it is also part of his live setup (it is featured prominently in the live album/DVDs Score and Chaos in Motion 2007-2008). It is also used in his 2007 solo album The Road Home.

Another advocate is Sarth Calhoun, who uses it in his work with Lucibel Crater and whilst he was working with Lou Reed. In the Metal Machine Trio both Calhoun and Reed used Continuum Fingerboards on stage.[9]

Indian composer A.R. Rahman's 2007 Third Dimension tour of North America featured the Continuum.[10] He used the Continuum in a piece he composed for the Changing Notes Concert held in Chennai, and in the song "Rehna Tu" in the 2009 movie Delhi-6 and the new version of "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara". He also used it in his score of the film Kadal and in the track "Acid Darbari" from the Academy Award nominated soundtrack of 127 Hours.[11] Rahman was particularly impressed with the fact that the Continuum fingerboard could produce Carnatic/Hindustani classical music notes, which is a significant improvement over the piano.[12] In August 2013, Rahman was seen using the Continuum in his song "Soz O Salam" in Coke Studio @ MTV (India) Season 3.

The Continuum was used by John Williams for his score to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[13]

Other musicians using the Continuum include John Paul Jones, Randy Kerber[14] and Amon Tobin.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NAMM: Continuum Fingerboard MIDI Controller". Harmony Central. 2004-01-26. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  2. ^ "Dr. Lippold Haken". Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  3. ^ Lippold Haken; Ed Tellman and Patrick Wolfe (1998). "An Indiscrete Music Keyboard". Computer Music Journal (MIT Press) 22 (1): 30–48. JSTOR 3681043. 
  4. ^ Scaletti, Carla (1989). "The Kyma/Platypus Computer Music Workstation". Computer Music Journal (MIT Press) 13 (2): 23–38. JSTOR 3680038. 
  5. ^ Lippold Haken; Radi Abdullah and Mark Smart (Oct 1992). "The Continuum: A Continuous Music Keyboard". Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference. San Jose: International Computer Music Association. pp. 81–84. 
  6. ^ "Haken Audio". Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  7. ^ Lumma, Carl. "Haken Audio Continuum". KeyboardMag. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  8. ^ "A demonstration of the VlnVlaCelBass sound on the Continuum Fingerboard". Haken Audio. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Ratliff, Ben (2009-04-25). "All Those Sounds From the Stage: Processed, and Not Always Pretty". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  10. ^ Eichmann, Lauren (2007-06-13). "ECE Professor’s instrument featured on world-renowned musician’s tour". ECE Illinois. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  11. ^ Music Aloud. "127 Hours – Music Review". Music Aloud. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  12. ^ http://blog.sudeepaudio.com/?p=192
  13. ^ Eichmann, Lauren (2008-05-21). "Indiana Jones and the incredible Continuum Fingerboard". ECE Illinois. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  14. ^ Kim, Peter (2008-03-05). "'Indiana Jones' movie to use professor's musical invention". DailyIllini.com. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  15. ^ Murphy, Bill (2011-07-21). "Amon Tobin". Electronic Musician (NewBay Media). Retrieved 2013-11-28. 

External links[edit]