The Eowave Ribbon is a 50cm length of electrical ribbon encased in plexiglas that responds to finger position and pressure. The length covers 4 octaves with a touch plate at one end for modulation. It can send out MIDI over USB or CV/gate signals to control analogue gear – but that’s not all: they’ve also built in a little 12bit monophonic lo-fi synth with 16 sounds so you can start making wobbly noises without any other gear.
Because of its fretless nature it plays a bit like a Theremin, violin or swanny whistle. There’s a demo video on their (truly awful) website of the Ribbon playing the theme to the film Delicatessen which was originally played on the musical saw, which is a pretty perfect analogy. It can be held and played like an instrument or it can be laid flat on a table like a synth. The ribbon is essentially a linear potentiometer, like an unrolled rotary knob, that generates different control voltages depending on where it’s touched.
Ribbon controllers have appeared on a number of synths over the years and was perhaps first popularised by Keith Emerson back in the bad old 1970’s. However it was also the ribbon controller of an Electro-Theremin that produced the wobbly sound of the 1966 Beach Boys song Good Vibrations and not the traditional Theremin as most people assume. So there is certainly some fun to be had with this sort of controller. MPE gear such as the ROLI Seaboard already contain the sort of performance data generated by a ribbon controller like this one. I wonder whether a ribbon controller seems a bit lacking in comparison.
The Eowave Ribbon Mk2 is available now from ModularSquare.com priced at EUR €269
There are a few more details on the website but it’s a bit of a mess: http://www.eowave.com/