I wish my inbox were more like Tom's at Music Thing. The latest news from France via MT:
a super-digital-modular synth control surface virtual instrument. As if
that weren't weird enough, the thing looks like Don Buchla teamed with Playskool Toys, and this may be the only device on the planet that claims to be suitable for toddlers, schoolchildren, teenagers, schoolteachers, and professionals.
That's right: this modern digital device has a heritage going back to
the early 1970s (when it was analog, naturally), and it was originally
geared for using as a way of teaching about synthesis, music, and
memory. [PDF with full specs, history, and description]

30 years of development by the International Institute of Electroacoustic Music of Bourges (IMEB)
has turned it into a hybrid monster. Sure, it may look like an analog
synth, but the two consoles, combined with a Mac G5 running Max/MSP,

  • Sound sources: line/mic input, analog oscillators, scratch in, and multiple samplers
  • Multiple effects processors (filter, envelope, pitch shift, delay, EQ, reverb)
  • Mixer
  • Recording, live audio editing and looping
  • Motion capture devices and graphic pad input — no screen required

A software version is supposed to be available now, though I
couldn't find it on the site. But what makes this so unusual (aside
from its use with preschoolers!) is the creation of a hardware
interface with faders that mimics traditional modular synthesis
interface layout, but using digital techniques. It seems the instrument
just naturally evolved from analog to digital, something rare in
instrument evolution. Something to chew on if you're a would-be
interface designer.

And if you don't already wish you went to school in France, watch these kids learning about electronic music. Now that's what I call "no child left behind."