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Continuum Fingerboard
The full-size Continuum Fingerboard

The full-size Continuum Fingerboard
Manufactured by Lippold Haken
Dates c. 2004-present
Price Full size: $5290[1]
Half size: $3390
Technical specifications
Polyphony 16 voices
External control MIDI, AES3

The Continuum Fingerboard or Haken Continuum is a music performance controller 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 is a MIDI controller; it does not generate audio. Rather, it must be connected to a sound-producing source that will receive MIDI input, such as a synthesizer module.

The most recent model has begun to incorporate built in sounds, and can generate audio, but it is still primarily designed to be a controller.



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 1.33 ms.[3]

Sensors under the playing surface respond to finger position and pressure in three dimensions and provide pitch resolution of one 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.[4]

An illustration of the Continuum Fingerboard's axes.

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.

Continuum players

A major proponent of the Continuum in contemporary music is Dream Theater's keyboardist, Jordan Rudess. He has used the instrument in the songs "Octavarium" and "Sacrificed Sons" from the album Octavarium, "The Dark Eternal Night" and "Constant Motion" from 2007's Systematic Chaos, and "A Nightmare to Remember", "The Count of Tuscany", and "The Shattered Fortress", from the album Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Rudess also used the Continuum on Dream Theater's live releases Score and Chaos in Motion, and his 2007 solo album The Road Home.

Another high profile advocate of the Continuum Fingerboard is Sarth Calhoun, who uses it in his work with Lucibel Crater and Lou Reed. In the Metal Machine Trio both Calhoun and Reed use Continuum Fingerboards on stage.[5]

The Continuum was used by John Williams for his score to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[6]A.R. Rahman used the Continuum in the song "Rehna Tu" in the 2009 movie Delhi 6.[7]

Other musicians using the Continuum include John Paul Jones and Randy Kerber.[8]


External links



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