Eric Lindemann strongly doubts there were computers in the Garden of Eden. "Computer music is a post bite-of-the-apple development," he writes in his mission statement. "It represents the human compulsion to deconstruct nature, understand it, and dominate it. It is technology par excellence. Does technology bring happiness? No. As we all know, it brings aggravation. Yet we are compelled to take the next step. I believe this is the destiny of our species."
Through his company, Synful, Lindemann is working hard to shape that destiny. The name derives from "synthesis" rather than sin, but hints at his novel approach. Lindemann's goal is to help musicians play more expressively, and this inventor, composer, and former session keyboardist has developed some groundbreaking technology to do it.
Lindemann has a 30-year resume in the electronic music field. He designed signal processors for sampling pioneers Linn Electronics and Waveframe, DSP for Cirrus Logic, computer music systems for IRCAM, and speech-enhancement algorithms for digital hearing aids. He's earned 12 patents—including three for Synful—with names like "Encoding and Synthesis of Tonal Audio Signals Using Dominant Sinusoids and a Vector-Quantized Residual Tonal Signal."
In addition to designing music hardware and software, Synful CEO Eric Lindemann has played keyboards on numerous film and television scores.
His latest achievement, Synful Orchestra, is not a sampler or a sample library; it's not exactly an additive synthesis module and it's not a physical modeling plugin. It's a new concept in virtual instruments that got audiences buzzing when Lindemann debuted it at this year's enormous NAMM show after seven years of development.
Randy Alberts (RA): You helped create the world's first truly programmable DSP hearing aid. How did your experience in digital signal processing influence the development of Synful?
Eric Lindemann (EL): I've always worked with signal processing, but until the hearing aid project it usually had to do with designing hardware. I specifically took that job because I could do full-time development of new signal processing algorithms—original ones as opposed to implementing an MP3 encoder, for instance, where you're simply implementing someone else's ideas. But it was also a chance for me to really understand hearing better. A lot of engineers in the audio industry have a need to better understand psychoacoustics, which is the science of what in the soundfield one is actually aware of and how our brains put it all together.
The psychoacoustics aspect of that work was important for this synthesizer project. I also use some of that knowledge in optimizing the additive synthesis engine that I use. Just having had a full-time signal-processing research job for a number of years helped me a lot with my work and designs in synthesis at Synful.