“It comes from tomorrow …but it’s here today.”
Well, now it is tomorrow. And yesterday’s tomorrow still looks futuristic. Try this test: show someone the video above for the Millioniser 2000, a MIDI harmonica designed by Ronald Schlimmer. Tell them this is a 2009 video designed to go viral, a fakery of 80s cheese. After all, the instrument itself looks impossibly futuristic. Surely this wasn’t really designed in 1979. Surely the close up thigh shots of the backup singer girls in the back are tongue-in-cheek parody.
Your friends will believe you. Of course, you’ll be lying.
It did indeed come from tomorrow – and speaking from tomorrow, I’d like my instrument back. The MIDI harmonica has sophisticated breath control, a compact form factor, clever controls for adjusting pitch, and — well, you know, all the goodness of the harmonica but with an easier pitch layout to figure out. From comments, we see that it does go well with our futuristic instruments, meaning you don’t have to get retro-sounding synths – you could get something more 2009-appropriate.
Rock Erickson -The first American called to Europe to play and record with Walter Mueller’s Millioniser 2000. Harmonica like in principal giving the end user complete control over synthesizer and midi functions with the sensitivity of your own breath. This instrument is a one of a kind powerhouse. The video starts off by showing the functions of Millioniser 2000 and then merges into the on stage video which was shot in London. Rick Fenn of “Lie For A Lie” Sony Music was the music director and lead guitarist along with Charlie Barret from The FIXX on bass. The Millioniser Breath Controller units that I’m currently using in the studio are breathing new life (literally) thru their capability to dynamically control some of the most popular software and rack synths ( Garritan Personal Orchestra, Roland Sound Canvas, Yamaha VL70 ect ) and samplers like SampleTank & Tascam Giga Studio ) in both the mono and polyphonic arena. If you have comments or questions please post here or email email@example.com
Oh yeah – and this all looks strikingly similar to the (less sophisticated) iPhone apps from Smule, featured in today’s interview.
All I know is, I desperately want one. And you might even be able to build one — the microcontroller inside, a Moto 68705, is the equivalent of what you can get very cheaply now.
Who were these forward-looking folk? According to Wim Dijkgraaf’s history of the instrument, you can thank Swiss harmonica player Walter Muller (“Walt Miller”), Ronald Schlimmer of SM Elektronik (that name should be familiar – think a lot of the sensors used in music projects now), and the good folks of Acorn Computers for assembly, who in turn had their own ahead-of-its-time products like the BBC Micro and the self-named Acorn. (The Acorn drove the original version of the Sibelius notation product now owned by Digidesign/Avid. Sibelius engineers swore they never got the performance out of Windows and Mac OS that they once had on the Acorn.)
Anyone out there who knows how to get this, yes, I want one. I’ll start working out and seeing if I can make my physique transparent, as that’ll help.
Lesson learned: tomorrow is yesterday.
Via comments: RA has more links, plus promising news that there may be indeed be a modern update of this instrument.