Hey Mr Tambourine Man …


I’m passionate about enhanced musical expression – especially when using electronic / digital devices. As a result, I am a great fan of products such as the Linnstrument, Eigenharp and Seaboard Rise which all facilitate huge amounts of musical expression and have opened up whole new worlds of possibilities for composers, producers and performers. However, there is still a gap that I believe needs to be filled.

For me, it’s essential that during a performance the audience understand what the musician is doing. There has to be an obvious visual link between what is done and what is heard.

ZOOM may well have just taken the first practical ‘mass-market’ step.


The ZOOM ARQ, launched at this year’s NAMM show is a drum machine, sequencer, synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller. Looking like something out of Close Encounters, the central control unit sits on the desk, surrounded by a ring of flashing lights. The surprise comes when you realise that the ring can be detached and played as a kind of futuristic tambourine. Built-in accelerometers provide plenty of scope for musical expression by allowing you to control different functions and parameters such as resonance etc.Zoom_04a
I’m hoping that I will get a hands-on with it soon (Zoom UK distributor please take note!). From what I have seen so far, it looks as though it could offer a great mix of studio functionality and live improvisation, together with that all important visual element that goes beyond the heads down, button twiddling behaviour often associated with electronic rhythm and bass performances.

It’s a difficult call to get the balance right – too many coloured flashing lights and it could become toy-like; too few and you compromise feedback and usability. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts.

Personally, I think it’s a great start.

Reciprocal Inspiration

The beauty of my job is that I meet lots of interesting people and get immersed in their business culture, products and brand, and then I start the process all over again on a different project, with a different client, with different ideas – I never get bored.

As you can imagine, no two jobs are the same; the possibilities are endless (although the solutions can sometimes be annoyingly illusive) and so I take my inspiration from a very eclectic range of sources, from fashion to science, popular culture to the natural world.

By having a broad viewpoint, interacting and working across a wide range of industries
and disciplines, I absorb knowledge and culture that has the potential to cross-pollinate, leading to new ideas, concepts and products.

Innovative companies need to have a similar broad perspective. Inspiration doesn’t come from looking internally, but is stimulated by looking outwards, beyond the normal boundaries. The role played by diverse, multi-disciplined creatives who can bridge or fill the gaps should therefore be celebrated.

For years, writers have researched what is possible and have predicted what is then later achieved in reality. Similarly, movie makers are now turning to developers for a steer on current technology, and fictional designs originally created for the movies are being turned back into reality by the technologists (think of the interface designs in Minority Report and Iron Man).
At Emanuel Leggo, we call this “Reciprocal Inspiration”.

It happens in other fields too. Architects such as Zaha Hadid and Thomas Heatherwick are being asked to bring their perspective to fashion accessories and transport.

This is more than simply ‘Big Name’ endorsement; this is actively seeking out those with a different viewpoint and a different set of design skills and disciplines. It’s not a new idea, but with the growth of the Internet of Things and wearable technology, the traditional boundaries between disciplines will become increasingly blurred.

It’s easy to think that one could put a whole load of talented people in the same room, mix them up a bit and with luck, some new (really new) ideas might emerge. But it’s more difficult than that.

The trick is in the ‘marriage making’ – spotting where excellence in one field can unlock another, putting games makers with architects and visual FX artists with astrophysicists or molecular scientists. The results are sometimes spectacular, sometimes weird, but always interesting and therefore valuable.

Much of what I do is about translation, being able to talk to different specialists and stakeholders in their own languages to convey core ideas and objectives. Hopefully in this way, I break down the barriers and ensure that everyone understands and moves forward.

#Reciprocalinspiration opens the door to innovation.

For more thoughts like this see http://www.emanuel-leggo.com/#!thoughts/cqay

#throwbackthursday – Looping circa1989

#throwbackthursday, c.1989 Space Logic presented a ‘new’ concept for loop-based music creation and grid control to Mr. Ikutaro Kakehashi of Roland Corp.


Musician John Walters helped develop the ideas, and created songs and phrases to demonstrate what we were talking about. We cobbled together a whole bunch of kit and made a working prototype. It was this and subsequent work that later led to the creation of the Groovebox and Arranger range of equipment.