MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2010 (#44)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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52 MacDirectory INTERVIEW EIGENLABS > THIS NEW MACHINE'S GOT SOUL When was the last time that somebody created a new musical instrument? I mean, like, really new. The first thing that comes to mind is the synthesizer. Even though the technology behind creating the sound is electronic, the "user interface" dates back to the 17th century. The Theremin was patented in 1928, was unquestionably a new UI, but the instrument's limited voice didn't let it get far beyond movie soundtracks and a Beach Boys single. So, when you come right down to it, all of the world's instrumental music involves hitting something, blowing into it, plucking or bowing it. In this sense, the Eigenharp is very well qualified to possess label "new." Rather than a Silicon Valley garage, Eigenlabs was founded by Internet entrepreneur John Lambert in a barn on his farm in Devon in the bucolic countryside of England's southwest corner. (Though coincidentally, a complex of three recording studios he created in the late 1980s were known as "Joe's Garage.") There are currently two versions of the Eigenharp. The larger and aptly named Alpha looks a bit like a bassoon as imagined by George Lucas. Its most prominent features are the breath pipe used for adding expression to sounds and the 120 main keys that are sensitive to pressure and rock on two axes to modify the sound. There are 12 larger and simpler percussion keys and two slide strips. The separate Base Station has inputs for expression pedals, foot switches and a USB computer interface. The Eigenharp Pico is a smaller, simpler version of the Alpha. MacDirectory spoke to John and his associate, Xiaodan Lin, about the new instrument. INTERVIEW BY MARKIN ABRAS AND RIC GETTER

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