British innovation company “Eigenlab” introduces the world’s most expressive electronic musical instrument in their view, the “Eigenharp Alpha“. In fact, on first sight it looks like a realy versatile and complex Midi-Controller which can produce its own sounds and also can play the whole palette of digital sounds via Apples Audio Units plugIn format. But after watching this presentation in Air Studios London, I wonder who would be interested in spending £3,950 on an instrument that basically looks like a cross between a bassoon (I assume probably one of the most uncool instruments of orchestral gadgets…) and a chapman stick with flickering lights. If Eigenlab intends to address a younger crowd of technic-savvy electronic musicians (as the beat programming feature suggests), does it look sexy to perform live with that instrument hanging around your shoulders? And does it make sense to play e-guitar sounds with that instrument, or a clarinet sound with finger vibrato? And would a classically trained musician be interested to play electronic sounds that mimic a grand piano or a classical instrument? No doubt, there is a great deal of expressive potential in this new instrument, but I think music history has shown that instruments with some technical limitations were often more successful in the long run because they offered the possibility for a unique and personal sound. The same is true for the electronic instruments that defined genres and certain periods of electronic music’s history: the limitations made their special character. The limitless expressive possibilties of this instrument then appear to be a lack of character.
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