A saw a prototype of this a couple of years ago and promptly forgot all about it. Then last week I was watching the new Dream Theater live DVD Score, where their world-class keyboard player Jordan Rudess was rocking one of these. A very cool instrument that’s somewhere between a theremin and a lap steel guitar, called the Haken Continuum.
What’s unique about it is that you play in X, Y, and Z space (left to right, top to bottom, and up to down – ie. pressure) just by moving your finger(s) over the surface. Each of these movements can be mapped to any paramenter such as pitch, velocity, sustain, etc. for maximum expression possibilities including natural-sounding vibrato, swells, and morphing, with plenty of resolution for continuous slides. This is all registered as MIDI data, which can control any virtual instrument patch, from a Roland Sound Canvas to a Kyma to your stage synthesizer. It sounds like whatever you plug it into. All of these controls can be done simultaneously with one hand, freeing up your other for another keyboard, Chapman Stick, or throwing up the metal horns.
Here are a few samples of it in action:
Jordan Rudess (very Floydian slide guitar)