Christensen Controllers, in Hayward California, is working to improve the way people interact musically with machines.
In 2002, while working on an M.A. at California State E.B. in Multimedia, Ed Christensen presented a thesis proposal on a MIDI instrument for music and media playback. That thesis was never worked on. Instead, Ed participated with Joe McNeilly on a PDA based, location aware, role playing game, called Gaialogic.
After graduating, Ed went back to thinking about the musical instrument idea. In 2003, he met Jack Buffington in San Francisco. Jack is a talented robotics and animatronics designer and builder. He had the engineering skills to make the controller happen.
The first controller was completed in September of 2004. It was a lot of fun to play, and had both velocity and aftertouch that worked well. Encouraged, Ed saw the potential for something really nice, so refinements were made, and a few more were put together. The shape of the body was adjusted to improve the balance and look, and the size and surface material of the keys changed to improve the feel. Controls were added for pitch bend, volume, modulation and sustain.
2005, Ed's father, Al Christensen, got involved, and with his CNC
router they began to improve the industrial design to make a more solid
and professional instrument. Ed and Al currently do all the
woodworking and finishing.
Mike Christensen, Ed's brother, also became involved with maintaining and customizing the embedded code.
The SP06 was first offered as a product in February 2006.
In late 2007 they began to re-develop the instrument to improve speed, add ROM memory, add a joystick, some sliders, and bring down production costs. Also new to this model, is a variety of note layouts. Currently, the SP09 is available to the adventurous electronic musician. To read about current work please visit the blog.
Christensen Controllers are interested in collaborations to help continue the evolution of the design.