Continuum Fingerboard playing

I play a rare and unusual synthesizer called the Haken Continuum Fingerboard. Let go of all negative asociations you may have with the idea of “synthesizers” because the Continuum is the world’s most expressive and evocative electronic musical instrument. I can add Continuum to your project (whether I mix it or not). You can hear Continuum in sound examples in the Audio Recording section of this site.

Continuums (or Continua) are built one-at-a-time by the inventor, Lippold Haken, with his father-in-law. There are only 900 or so in existence. Lippold has developed the technology over more than 30 years as a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Illinois.

Photo by Tim Wolf

The Continuum is not a keyboard (though it has the form-factor of an 88-key electric piano). Instead, you push your fingers into a continuous fabric-covered neoprene rubber surface (like a wetsuit) and move them around in 3 dimensions. Each finger articulates each note as pressure is added and released. For those familiar with synthesizers, your finger is the “envelope generator.” Think of the instrument as a polyphonic 3-dimensional ribbon controller or, perhaps, a polyphonic “touch Theremin.” Portamento (glide) notes individually by sliding fingers left and right. Create vibrato like a violinist by wiggling your finger. Adjust timbre and add more expression with foot pedals or by sliding fingers fore and aft.

The Continuum can be used as a controller of other synths so-equipped with a new standard called MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) but it also has a very sophisticated built-in sound engine called the Eagan Matrix that uses a variety of synthesis techniques, some capable of creating remarkably rich and acoustic-like timbres, all under the intimate and immediate control of your fingers and pedals. The Eagan Matrix, developed by Edmund Eagan in concert with Professor Haken and Christophe Duquesne, is now available in a Eurorack module and has been licensed by Expressive-E for use in their highly expressive Osmose keyboard which I also have.

The fingerboard is the primary instrument I played with the New London Drone Orchestra and now play with my own band.

The New London Drone Orchestra after the ensemble’s Spring 2019 concert at Harkness Chapel, Connecticut College. From left: Jack Beal, David Arnold, Jeff Day, John Schwenk, Craig Douglas, Amy Hannum (front), Lola Pierson, Tim Wolf, Ed Cleveland, director Kip Wilson, Troy Zaushny, and Anthony Bearse. Photo by Jack Beal.

My older full-size Continuum was recently rebuilt and upgraded by Dr. Haken himself. Thank you, Lippold!

I also have some skill as a hand-drummer and keyboardist. I have a large collection of musical instruments and I like to attempt musical sounds on any instrument I can get my hands on!