FLUX has a uniquely expressive touchless keyboard that uses magnetism to elicit seamless control over multiple parameters with a Theremin-like experience.
The demo video begins with a pure homage to the mighty expression of the Theremin through Giacomo Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro. Vlad Kreimer’s hand movements are similar to a Theremin player’s as they glide and tremble above the instrument’s main body. But there’s also something different at play. Between the fingers of each hand, there appears to be a white peg of some sort. And the instrument itself is a long slab rather than a ring and an aerial attached to a box. In any case, the output is completely enchanting.
FLUX is a synthesizer that works through magnetic principles. The pegs in the fingers are magnetic bows; the slab is a multipolar magnetic sensor which registers the position of the bows. The right-hand moves in two dimensions to give pitch and volume. The left-hand moves in three dimensions to control whatever synth parameters you have mapped them to. As magnets have two poles, one on either end, FLUX can also detect the magnetic bow’s angle for further parameter meddling.
Much thought and creative energy is baked into the instrument, as with all SOMA Labs instruments. I find Vlad’s words very inspiring.
FLUX is the musicality and expression of classical instruments such as violin or vocals, enriched by new timbres and the flexibility of post-modern instruments, harnessing the power of current technology. FLUX is movement towards freedom through discipline. FLUX is an image of future arts where power goes hand in hand with consciousness and beauty.
I find with a Theremin, it’s easy to become lost and self-conscious. With FLUX, the markings on the main body of the instrument act as a very welcome guide to pitch. In total, you can control 16 parameters without touching the instrument. The video shows only one synthesizer engine or algorithm at play; SOMA Labs intends to craft several more specifically tailored to the performance elements of FLUX.
The Theremin is still a hugely popular device. I don’t believe any other electronic instrument has ever come close to that weird machine’s mystical, expressive and emotional power until now. FLUX is quite an achievement. It’s currently under development, and SOMA LAbs hopes that it could be available by the end of next year.
- SOMA Labs FLUX: SOMA Labs