On January 26th, Camac's MIDI harp will be travelling to London again for a day at the Royal Academy of Music. At 2PM, Jakez François and Dominic Murcott will present the MIDI harp. They will explain the instrument and explore it from the perspectives of both composers and harpists, take questions from the floor, and finish with a performance-improvisation for MIDI harp and laptop.
photo: Yvonne White
You can read about the creation of Camac's MIDI concert harp in the following interview with Jakez François. This interview originally appeared in the Spring-Summer 2009 edition of our quarterly magazine, Harpseasons.
Florence Ledi: When and how did you hit upon the idea of making a MIDI harp?
Jakez François: It was when I was a teenager, and my parents gave me my first electric Camac harp. This was a lever harp, one of Joël Garnier's famous electroharps. At the time, I was playing synthesizers a lot, and I was always going to music shops to try new instruments. It was also around then that Yamaha brought out their famous DX7, one of the first synthesizers with a "dynamic touch" (meaning at last dynamics could be played on it, pp and ff, like on a piano). Above all, it was a MIDI instrument! Thanks to MIDI technology, we could control synthesizers from other synthesizers. This meant we could play ten or more synthesizers simultaneously from one master keyboard, extending the range of available sounds still further. But the biggest revelation was the of the first Roland guitar synthesizer. What a shock I had, when I realised that you could convert the audio signal from a string into a MIDI signal - thereby controlling all the sounds from the synthesizers which fascinated me. So I began to dream of a MIDI harp. It was exactly twenty-five years ago...