ContinuuCon 2019 – Lippold Haken On The Evolution Of The Continuum Fingerboard

In the first of the session videos shared from ContinuuCon 2019, inventor Lippold Hakken discusses the evolution of the Continuum Fingerboard instrument.

ContinuuCon 2019, held May 30 to June 1 in Asheville, North Carolina, is annual event that focuses on the Haken Continuum Conference and expressive electronic music performance.

Here’s Hakken summary of the session:

“62 years before I started working on the Continuum Fingerboard, Leon Theremin built his instrument with pitch and dynamics determined by the performer in an electromagnetic control loop. This is the 37th year that I have been working to create the best electromagnetic instrument I can, with the performer in a timbre control loop that is fast, sensitive, and organic.

This is the 18th year, without sales price increases, for the Half-size and Full-size Continuum Fingerboards.

In this presentation I will show recent and ongoing improvements to the mechanical, electrical, and magnetic design of the Continuum Fingerboard. In addition, I will discuss my efforts to avoid sales price increases in the face of increasing component costs.

Finally, I will take apart a ContinuuMini, and show how its hardware design retains important core aspects of its big brothers, but at a much lower price point.”

15 thoughts on “ContinuuCon 2019 – Lippold Haken On The Evolution Of The Continuum Fingerboard

    1. In response to those wanting cheap stuff, the actual inventor of the instrument personally builds the product himself, calibrates it, play tests it, and then ships it to you.

      If that is not what you are looking for, then that is not what you are looking for.

      Looking for a budget device? He now has one of those available as well, and it comes with the full software suite, although the hardware is more constrained than that which takes hundreds of hours to build and tune each model.

      Everything sold is sold close to the cost of making it.

      This is not a factory utilizing slave labor. If that’s what you wish, no problem, there are many choices.

      1. I was a backer of the Contiuumini. I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately due to a bad couple of months over the holidays I had to withdraw my backing. I was sad but I figured it was definitely something I would pick once I got back on track. Fast forward to May 2019 and I was at Superbooth. I got a chance to play the Continuumini and I’m glad I withdrew my backing. Now it’s a nice instrument in its own right but anyone who buys one thinking they are getting a scaled down version of the Continuum will probably be disappointed too. The surface is in no way comparable to the Continuum. There is no soft responsive neoprene surface. Just a kind of flat hard wobbly panel. The vertical axis of expression is not included. I really struggled to see how it justified the high price tag. I mean when you play a Contiuum Fingerboard or full size you can feel the quality. The mini just doesn’t have it. I had a Roli Seaboard 49 for a coulple of years there and sold it recently. Relying on Roli apps and getting zero meaningful updates for Equator for five years while they bombarded me with emails for their shittier Blocks line was too much for me. That said the Seaboard is a far superior instrument to the Continuumini

        1. At full price I might agree but at early bird i think it was a good deal. I don’t agree the seaboard is superior as a feeling, it’s construction is definitely superior. Equator blows, the only reason I have kept the seaboard is because it is kind of fun with Kyma.

          1. Yes the surface resolution of the Seaboard is certainly less. I think I read somewhere the pitch slide across the surface is in quarters of a semitone. The Haaken instruments are much finer than this. Equator does blow. No significant updates for years. User sample support is a real pain in the arse too. If they’d built a drag and drop sample/granular module into Equator it would have been pretty awesome.

        2. I asked him to make a 6 note version (original size, just chopped down to 6 notes) to target guitarists, other string instrument players, and also the aspiring musician who wants the full size device, but can’t afford it….but instead he made the mini, which strays away from the original concept and is just a mediocre alternative.

      2. It sounds like he is leaving money on the table by not a having a product that is cost-effective to manufacture. You see this a lot with inventors, who refuse to get assistance from others.

        1. I’ve watched all his presentation videos from Contiuucon. He goes pretty in depth into his background, expertise the build processes. I genuinely believe that building each Contiuum is a labour of love and costs a lot to get right. If I had the money I would own a Fingerboard. But the mini feels like too many compromises have been made and overall doesn’t give the same level of satisfaction for the price.

        2. That’s really not uncommon for musical instrument builders — sticklers about quality and keeping their own personal participation in the process. You see it with Monome, Rabid Elephant, etc.

          If you love your work and are doing well enough financially, there’s no point in sacrificing other ideals just for more money.

          1. “If you love your work and are doing well enough financially, there’s no point in sacrificing other ideals just for more money.”

            A false dilemma, by the way. One of the reasons why many inventors never accomplish anything — constrained by self-limiting, false beliefs. Ironic, given their otherwise forward-thinking nature.

  1. Yea, no price increase because it is already outrageous.

    I would love to have one though, but realistically I know it will forever be out of my budget.

  2. I’m always amazed at how many synthesists are luddites, and ones that just value cheap novelty over real synthesis power.

    There are a lot of synths that you can now get that are much cheaper than a Continuum or even a ContinuuMini, but there are really only a few synths that can come anywhere close to their power.

    If you don’t know why, or don’t believe this, you really owe it to yourself to learn about these instruments. Too many synthesist limit themselves to being happy making funny noises on copies of gear from 40 years ago.

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