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Brad Petersen
Director of
Communications
2052 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-6376
bradp@illinois.edu

Contact Info

Meg Dickinson
Communications Specialist
2016 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 300-6664
megd@illinois.edu

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New ECE class gives students an in-depth look at the engineering process

New ECE class gives students an in-depth look at the engineering process

Starting this semester, ECE ILLINOIS will offer students an opportunity to study the engineering design process and possibly get a head start on their Senior Design projects with a new class called ECE 398, Special Topics in ECE.

ECE Professorís instrument featured on world-renowned musicianís tour

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By Lauren Eichmann, ECE Illinois
June 13, 2007

  • Prof. Lippold Haken's Continuum Fingerboard will be featured on amous Indian film composer and musician A.R. Rahman's Third Dimension North American Tour.
  • Rahman is best known for composing more than 70 film scores and soundtracks and has sold close to 200 million albums worldwide.
  • The Continuum Fingerboard is made of thick metal with a soft red nylon over neoprene surface. It is a non-traditional keyboard, as it has no keys and only visual markings to indicate finger placement, and has been described as a cross between a keyboard and the fingerboard of a fretless string instrument like a violin.

ECE Professor Lippold Haken’s invention, a musical instrument called the Continuum Fingerboard, is being featured on famous Indian film composer and musician A.R. Rahman’s Third Dimension North American Tour this summer. Rahman, who is best known for composing more than 70 film scores and soundtracks and has sold close to 200 million albums worldwide, made his Midwest debut at the sold-out Sears Centre in suburban Chicago on June 9.

A.R. Rahman demonstrating the Continuum Fingerboard
A.R. Rahman demonstrating the Continuum Fingerboard

Haken attended the concert and met beforehand with Rahman, who plans to give a verbal introduction of the Continuum prior to each of his shows. “He was so gracious about introducing the Continuum Fingerboard,” said Haken. “It will be great exposure for the University and the instrument. Since the instrument is different from a keyboard or from a wind controller or other traditional instruments, it is great to have a well-known artist take it seriously and perform with it."

Rahman said Illinois has "the magic" because the Continuum was created by a University professor and the Kyma sound engine, which the instrument uses, was created by Computer Science and Music alumna Carla Scaletti and ECE alumnus Kurt Hebel.

“I fell in love with keyboard playing as a young boy, but I was frustrated because I could not play [Indian] classical music on keyboards because of the limitations of the keys which never let micro-intonation of notes,” he said at the Chicago area concert. “So recently I discovered something that was quite a revelation for me—the Continuum Fingerboard, invented right here in Illinois by University of Illinois Professor Mr. Lippold Haken!”

The Continuum Fingerboard is made of thick metal with a soft red nylon over neoprene surface. It is a non-traditional keyboard, as it has no keys and only visual markings to indicate finger placement, and has been described as a cross between a keyboard and the fingerboard of a fretless string instrument like a violin.

“It is not easy to play, so it was quite a commitment on A.R.'s part to learn it,” said Haken of the Continuum. “It means he believes this instrument has new expressive possibilities different from all the other instruments out there.”

Although this is the first large-scale concert with the Continuum in Illinois, Rahman is not the first famous artist to have purchased one of the ninety Haken has built by hand. Jordan Rudess, of the progressive metal band Dream Theatre; John Paul Jones, former bass guitarist and keyboardist with Led Zeppelin; and keyboardist Terry Lawless, who has toured with U2 for the last four years, have purchased the instrument, Haken said.

Rahman’s tour includes stops in Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, Toronto, and New York. Information is available at www.arrahmanworld.net/concert.html.

Haken teaches ECE 110: Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering, ECE 395: Advanced Digital Projects Laboratory and ECE 402: Electronic Music Synthesis and often incorporates the Continuum Fingerboard into his classroom activities.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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