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Alpha: Scales

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written by: 0beron

I think the way round you describe it is the way round I meant - so the right hand is playing bass and melody on the lower keygroup, which is split vertically. So I'd play the Alpha in what seems to be the conventional orientation.

Will be interesting to play since on a conventional keyboard you acheive large octave gaps only with the two hands - a vertical keygroup split essentially gives one hand a multi-octave reach.

I play the yamaha WX5 wind controller mainly, but also self taught keyboard to a not-very-high level of ability...

So once a keygroup is made and plumbed in, does part of the plumbing set up the locations and presence or otherwise of the various sub menus? Pressing the keygroup mode key in the factory setups gets you a consistent set of options (instruments, drummer, scheduler, recorder, scales, MIDI etc..), but with a vertical split the keygroup can't accommodate them in the normal locations since it's only 2 or 3 keys wide. I suppose certain sub modes like the drummer controls are configured to rely on a keygroup of 5 columns, (although I suppose they could be rewired if you wanted to). Other things like scales are probably better left out of the narrow keygroups, and scales can then be changed from a wide keygroup by using the scale mode key to point at the new narrow groups?

If keygroups are contained within other keygroups, does this mean that the parent keygroup retains its own mode key, and that some of the keys in the parent are in fact mode keys for the child keygroups? Can the recorder arming and octave controls be placed individually? Or indeed left out for a particular keygroup?

Ooops, bit of a brain dump there.

How time consuming would it be to make:
A split with three keygroups, The first one being the top half of the keyboard, the second keygroup being the 1st and second columns of the remaining half, and the third keygroup being the 3rd, 4th and 5th columns, with keygroup 1 behaving like the factory keygroups, and keygroup 2 and 3 having the ability to change instruments (AUs only if you're in a hurry), and to change the scale even if indirectly through the scale mode on keygroup 1.

If that could be put into a setup alongside the equivalent of split 1 (so the mixer etc. is still accessible), that would be great.

If it looks like it'll take hours then I'll wait for the workbench.


written by: prstorms

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 19:02:15 +0000 GMT

The quick reference took me through how to set up scales, but I'd like to configure my keygroup for a chromatic scale. Selecting "C" and "chromatic" does not give me the "black keys". Any suggestions on how to get a plain old chromatic scale loaded?


PS: very needy on the first few days, I know. I'm enjoying plinking around, but I'd like to get some structure under my belt!

written by: geert

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:54:53 +0000 GMT

The fourth scale in the scale browser should be a regular chromatic scale with all 12 keys of an octave. Doesn't it?

written by: sam

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 16:47:04 +0000 GMT

Hi prstorms,

Would you mind telling me which Alpha Setup you were running? The Scale and Tonic controls are different depending on whether you were running Factory Alpha Setup 1, 2 or 3.

If you are running Alpha Setup 1, if you refer to 'Diagram C - Scale and Tonic Controls' on page 12 of the Alpha Factory Setup Guide and press 'Key 4 - Chromatic', it should set the scale of all the instruments to chromatic (and therefore give you the "black keys").

Please give this a try, and let me know if you have more problems and I will have to investigate further.

Also let me know if you have any trouble with changing scale on Alpha Setup 2 & 3 and I will post further instructions.

Eigenlabs Software Department

written by: prstorms

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 20:47:23 +0000 GMT


I discovered this truth myself this evening. I'm on setup 2, but when I configure it for a single split, the scale selection process works like a charm... black keys and all. I would appreciate you describing the process for setup 2 (I'm not brave enough for setup 3 just yet) split 2.

I greatly appreciate your responsiveness. I can't always tell at this point if I'm doing something wrong, or if the issue relates to a bug or malfunction.


written by: filulilu

Wed, 3 Feb 2010 18:11:52 +0000 GMT

Is there a way to make a scale where the fifth key is not mirrored at the beginning of the next row? I have to use a 35-tone chromatic octave for the kind of music I play and it does not fit in the Alpha the way it is organized now.


written by: geert

Wed, 3 Feb 2010 18:39:12 +0000 GMT

You should just be able to continue the scale with more notes and define each and every note. I've done this on the Pico and you can exactly say which note each key has to play.

written by: filulilu

Wed, 3 Feb 2010 20:03:01 +0000 GMT

I even entered a 140 note scale. The next course always starts with the pitch of the fifth key of the previous

written by: geert

Wed, 3 Feb 2010 20:59:29 +0000 GMT

Hmm, might be something different in the setups of the Alpha and the Pico, worth filing a bug report over. I've been able to define a different note for all 16 playing keys on the Pico.

written by: prstorms

Thu, 4 Feb 2010 23:41:55 +0000 GMT


How about posting the "further instructions" to change scales on setup 2 (or 3) with two or more splits.


written by: sam

Mon, 8 Feb 2010 16:53:18 +0000 GMT

Hi Pat,

In Alpha Setup 2 and 3, there is a secondary mode key (referred to a 'Scale mode key' in the "A note about Scale and Tonic controls" diagram on p12 of your Alpha Quick Reference guide) which gives you access to the different controls which change the scale of individual keygroups.

In Alpha Setup 2, if you navigate to the Scale and Tonic control mode, then press and hold the 'Scale mode key', you will see three LEDs light up, adjacent to the keys marked '1, 2 and 3' on the diagram. Selecting these modes will then give you the option to configure the scale of the keygroup which corresponds to the number labelling the key on the diagram.

You will then see the generic 'Scale and Tonic controls' view as shown in Diagram C on p12 of you Quick Reference Guide. If you were to press the key labelled '5' on the diagram, you will change the scale of the keygroup number you have previously selected.

This convention is also followed in Alpha Setup 3 - you just have more keygroups that you are able to configure, so more LEDs light up when you press and hold the 'Scale mode key'.

However in Alpha Setup 3, there is also a 'Global Scale and Tonic controls' mode. If you select this, the scale/tonic that you select (you will get the same generic Scale and Tonic control mode' as referred to in Diagram C p12) will be apply across ALL the keygroups (i.e. wherever you play on your Alpha, that scale/tonic will apply).

I hope this is helpful - if you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Eigenlabs Software Department

written by: 0beron

Tue, 16 Feb 2010 17:46:49 +0000 GMT

Thanks Sam, I figured out the Scale Mode Key from the quick reference guide (it's briefly mentioned), and I can get the top keygroup on Split 2 to change the scale for the bottom keygroup (I think they are keygroups 2 and 3 respectively, kg1 is on split 1). Trouble is that while the scale does change, the status lights don't update, ie the new scale doesn't go green. The tonic notes work fine, and the tonic and scale work fine in Alpha setup 1, but not 2 or 3. I've filed a bug report for this as of yesterday (EigenD .1.0.14).

written by: bbcello

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 01:49:13 +0000 GMT

Has anyone developed a chromatic cello scale for the alpha? I'd like to try playing the instrument in chromatic mode but keep the top key in each course mapped like cello strings CGDAE from low to high. This way I can finger the alpha more or less like a cello.

This is only my second day with the instrument and I can see a lot of potential and for me less of a learning curve than traditional keyboards. I've been running through right, left, and two handed scales, instrument position, shifting and hand crosses. Since I haven't seen any videos where these techniques are used to any extent on the Eigenharp I've been watching the techniques people are using with Chapman Sticks as the closest parallel. RIght now it seems like fast shifts may be a little tricky. Going back to the beginning cello trick of placing masking tape on the neck will help with tactical queues for shifts. Time and practice will tell.

It would be useful for string and guitar players if it would be possible to reduce the key sensitivity so you could slide up and down the keyboard with a very light touch without activating a key.

written by: aaronw

Mon, 1 Mar 2010 18:32:43 +0000 GMT

Dear All,

Sam is going to produce some scripts for the next unstable release that will allow you to define the offset between the Alpha's courses. I hope you will find this useful.

Kind Regards

Customer Services

written by: filulilu

Mon, 1 Mar 2010 18:44:01 +0000 GMT

Does this mean that, if the offset is set to 22 rows, the courses can be entirely independent?

written by: barnone

Tue, 2 Mar 2010 02:46:18 +0000 GMT

>Sam is going to produce some scripts for the next unstable release that will allow you to define the offset between the Alpha's courses. I hope you will find this useful.

This would be hugely useful. I actually want the octaves to always line up on the courses, which is the way 7up on the monome lays out the scales, since I am very familiar with this and it also lets you use both hands better in my opinion to run a scale. At least I'd like to try it that way.

written by: 0beron

Tue, 2 Mar 2010 10:34:58 +0000 GMT

This would be very handy. I quite fancy trying out the chromatic mode but with some different offsets - I think a 3 or 5 key offset (as opposed to 4) will make scales trickier (bigger gaps between duplicate keys) but make the major/minor triads easier to reach with three fingers of one hand. At the moment they are stacked more or less horizontally across the keyboard, so your fingers get in each others way or you have to contort your wrist and point your fingers up/down the keyboard instead of across it.

written by: bbcello

Wed, 3 Mar 2010 02:44:57 +0000 GMT


It would be great if someone at Eigenlabs could post a scale configuration file for the alpha as an example so we can try experimenting while we wait for the next unstable release.

Is defining your own scales in EigenD currently possible with the Alpha as it is with the Pico?

written by: aaronw

Wed, 3 Mar 2010 15:43:36 +0000 GMT

Hi bbcello,

Defining scales on the Alpha is the same as on the Pico. Please see this FAQ on how to do this :-

Any problems do let me know.


Customer Support

written by: prstorms

Sun, 7 Mar 2010 18:17:55 +0000 GMT

When do you think Sam's next release will be coming around? I'd also like to be able to configure the keyboard into cello-style rows... on one hand it's a blessing to have such a diversity of fingering options. The downside is having to learn the keyboard anew for each of the various options.

Oh... and why is it called an "unstable release"... not very confidence inspiring!


written by: john

Sun, 7 Mar 2010 20:43:49 +0000 GMT

Hi Pat

The unstable release of EigenD is exactly that, unstable. It is quite likely (due to new features being introduced) to have new bugs, and you should not run it unless you are happy that you might experience such things. It might crash. The name is in fact meant to do the very opposite of inspire confidence, it is meant to put you off!

There are three flavours of release for EigenD, Stable, Testing and Unstable. Stable is currently available on the website, and the latest version of that was shipped with your instrument when you bought it. This is currently the 1.0 version. Once we have made a Stable release we only apply bug fixes to it and make a new version for serious bugs that might make the software crash.

The unstable release has features added to it for a while, then when we are done adding features becomes a testing release. Once we have no significant reported bugs in the testing release, it becomes the new stable release. We always advise the use of the stable release when playing live - you can have multiple versions of EigenD installed on your computer at once so you can play with the newest versions whilst keeping the most recent stable release for gigging.

The current unstable is nearly done - we have a few new features to go in the next week or so then it will move into testing as a candidate for the 1.1 stable release. In parallel with this there will then be a new unstable release, 1.2.

I think that the keyboard layout that you want is quite simple to define (it's not a matter of software that stuff - you can script such configuration yourself). What exactly did you want to do?


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