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Blur your vision and Misha seems to smile while she eyes you from her Cyclops LCD. Look cool? You bet. Misha (this one mounted in a powered 4ms Pod32 skiff) is another eye-catcher for your Eurorack collage or tabletop music system. Contained within is musical magic that can engage and inspire you.


Eventide Misha: https://www.eventideaudio.com/rackmount/misha/

interval-based MIDI/CV note transposer, sequencer, and VCO module for Eurorack or tabletop skiff


current OS (as 9/30/23): 1.1.2


MSRP: $599; 4ms Pod32 powered skiff, $129.99; 18V/36W wall-wart power supply, $19.99





For 50-some years, Eventide has manufactured some of the best and most beloved signal processors in music, on the floor in stompbox form, mounted in a rack and bearing the name Harmonizer, the EuroDDL Eurorack module, and as plug-ins for music apps. Misha comes from a different realm. Instead of processing sound, it processes MIDI data, control voltages, triggers, and gates.

   Eventide has dubbed Misha as “a new way to make music.” They don’t lie. Misha tucks innovative, unique, and exciting new tools into your bag of performance, improvisation, and composition tricks. It’s almost like having an interactive co-conspirator on-hand to coax fresh music from your gear.

   Physically speaking, Misha is an interval-based MIDI, gate/trigger, and CV controller, together with a novel sequencer, the ability to trigger three-note chords, and a multi-wave monophonic oscillator, all packed in a 28hp Eurorack module.

   How is it different? Instead of each of its nine backlit, colorized buttons transmitting a specific MIDI note, it sends a transposed note a specific interval away from the previous note, in the currently active key signature and scale. While eight of the buttons move the next note away by a specific distance up or down within the scale, the ninth — in the middle — will repeat the last note. Push different buttons and you can get drawn into creating a melody without much, if any, certainty of knowing where it’s going.

   Why would you want such a thing? Because as you play with Misha, melodies and note or chord progressions emerge like you’ve never played them before. Misha is inspiring, challenging, deep, and fulfilling to make music with. I have so much fun working with it and getting absorbed in jamming with it.

   So far, I’ve exclusively used Misha with a variety of MIDI synths and accessory desktop gear. Someday when I really want to explore deep sonic space, I’ll patch it into my Eurorack system. Here’s how the relationship has gone.


What it is

Misha is less than an inch deep, so it fortunately — for those who aren’t into Eurorack or, like me, don’t have room in the case for a new module — fits inside a skiff for desktop use. Eventide sent mine mounted in a powered 4ms Pod32 case with 2hp blank panels to fill in the gaps on either side. A wall-wart power supply handles that chore, and alternatively I ran Misha on a USB battery via a myVolts 15V Ripcord USB-to-DC-power cable (https://myvolts.com/product/45943/myVolts_15V_Ripcord_USB_to_DC_power_cable,_centre_positive,_model_AA901MS).

   Misha’s front panel provides 18 buttons and two push-button rotary encoders for manual interaction. The Key and Scale encoders allow you to navigate through keys and scales, as well as selecting and adjusting parameters in different menus and modes.

   The nine color-backlit interval buttons are labeled individually from –4 on the left, to 0 in the middle, to +4 on the right. These are the number of steps the next note you would hear would be from the previous note if you push that button. There’s a defined range of notes that Misha will output, bouncing to a note at the opposite end of the scale when it transcends the top or bottom limit.

   The name of the last note Misha sent out appears in its LCD, along with other significant information. It’s a small, color LCD — not an OLED, but with good definition. Around the note name is a solfege wheel that reveals all of the notes in the current scale, within the octave indicated by a highlighted block in a row across the bottom of the display. The number of blocks indicates the total range of notes that Misha will transmit. At the top of the display, you see the current key signature and the name of the scale.

   Misha provides memory for 18 presets, which you can access using front-panel buttons or by sending MIDI program changes from an external controller. You can load and store Misha presets, scales, and MIDI Note Maps on a micro SD card inserted in the front-panel slot.

   Across the top of Misha’s front panel are two rows of eight 1/8” jacks. Two of these are for MIDI I/O (see below). Three pairs of the jacks are for control voltage and trigger/gate input and output, grouped as inputs X, Y, and Z, and outputs 1, 2, and 3. The outputs could feed oscillator and envelope-generator modules to play notes, and the inputs can control destinations you choose via Misha’s deep menu system. For example, you could assign a trigger input to vary the key signature according to an incoming voltage level.

   Misha’s eighth-inch stereo output carries signal from its built-in oscillator, which as of firmware v1.1.0 is considerably more flexible and sounds much better than what it did with v1.0.4. Previously, the oscillator strictly generated a sine wave and often popped between notes. With the upgrade, it’s a four-waveform voice — sine, square, sawtooth, and triangle — that allows you to manually set the volume and pan position of each waveform and save the settings in a preset. You can also vary the volume of each waveform via CV input, but not pan or using MIDI controllers. Misha’s voice sounds very good, and it responds to MIDI velocity for its output level.

   While Misha’s oscillator doesn’t qualify as a full-fledged synth voice, it’ll serve as a flexible VCO in a modular system. It's also a good tuning reference for external synth voices.

   What you won’t get with Misha’s buttons are dynamics in the amplitudes of the notes you hear, because the buttons don’t respond to velocity. Connecting a MIDI keyboard seriously extends Misha’s capabilities. Now you can play notes that are louder or quieter than others, if there are enough keys you can access intervals of up to +/–9, and you can initiate a variety of other functions with extra keys on the keyboard.


Eighth-Inch MIDI Jacks

Like a lot of electronic music gear these days, Misha supports MIDI without having traditional MIDI connectors. Instead, there are two eighth-inch MIDI jacks for in and out.

   I’m on the fence when it comes to 1/8” (3.5mm) MIDI jacks. On the good side, they’re way smaller than traditional MIDI jacks and can fit into surprisingly small spaces. For example, during this review, I relied on a Retrokits RK-006 USB/MIDI/gate hub to feed Misha magic to other gear. (https://retrokits.com) The RK-006 runs on USB power, it’s very small — measuring 2.5” x 2” x .55” — and in one of its modes, it merges two MIDI ins to ten MIDI outs — all on eighth-inch jacks. An equivalent patchbay with MIDI connectors typically comes in a 19” wide, 1U rackmount unit, so it’s very impressive how tiny the RK-006 is. In addition, you can program its outputs to send control voltages or clock signals.

   On the bad side, unlike most of the specs that keep things tidy in MIDIland, multiple versions of the eighth-inch MIDI connector exist, which can result in confusion and downright frustration, confound it! There are at least three different ways a MIDI jack gets wired to an eighth-inch plug, two of them TRS and one TS. (For the record, that’s tip-ring-sleeve vs. tip-sleeve.) The TRS versions, identified as Type A or Type B, have opposing connections from the eighth-inch plug to MIDI. The TS one is Type C, and I’ve only seen it on the Arturia BeatStep. Misha sports the Type A jacks.

   Unlike some manufacturers of products with 1/8” MIDI jacks, Eventide doesn’t provide 1/8”-to-MIDI adapters for MIDI connections. If you’re confident in your schematic reading and soldering skills, you can make your own cable adapters. Otherwise, they’re commercially available.

   Back on the good side: When you’re dealing with eighth-inch MIDI connectors of the same type, you’re free to use standard 1/8” stereo audio cables, which has proven really convenient for me. You can configure your own Type-A-to-Type-B adapter using an eighth-inch TRS-plug-to-dual-RCA-plug cable and another that has RCA jacks. Simply plug them together with left to right and right to left.

   You’ll find 2.5mm MIDI connectors on gear from IK Multimedia, and maybe some other manufacturers. There are also eighth-inch TRRS connectors. The Arturia MicroFreak has one, its headphone jack. The tip serves as a mic input.

   I wish Misha had a built-in MIDI and CV level monitor to show on its display. It would help when you program Misha to respond to specific MIDI messages or control voltages and triggers or gates.


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In Use

To control Misha from a synth that you also want to play the MIDI notes that Misha outputs, you’ll have to set up a MIDI loop. Feed the synth’s MIDI out to Misha’s MIDI in, Misha’s MIDI out to the synth’s MIDI in, and switch the synth’s Local MIDI Control to Off. Otherwise, provided it’s polyphonic, the synth will sound both the note normally associated with the key you play, as well as Misha’s transposed note.

   Speaking of Arturia’s MicroFreak, it exhibits a strange behavior in this arrangement. When I adjust something like its Digital Oscillator Type knob, the MF’s LCD often indicates “Local Off.” There might be a noticeable delay in the LCD’s response to changes in a parameter value, but parameters themselves seem to respond as they should, and the display quickly catches up with further knob adjustments. I don’t believe this has anything to do with Misha’s operations.

   Misha defaults to responding to three octaves of incoming MIDI notes from G#3 to G#6 — the MIDI Note Map zone. The three keys above G#6 will send an all-notes-off message to silence stuck notes. Here's a MIDI Note Map of Misha’s default key assignments:


   Keys outside of this zone play the typical notes you’d expect to hear. As I said, the more keys you have, the more tricks you can play with Misha. While writing much of this review, though, I used the MicroFreak’s two-octave touch-plate keyboard and still thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As revealed below, however, sometimes I put two keyboards in charge, and I also added a small programable gadget on which I can push buttons to change what Misha is doing.

   Although creating your own key maps means you won’t speak the same language as other Misha users, it could be worth the effort if you find ways to make the process work better for you. For example, Steve DeFuria — a member of Misha’s development team — programmed the following MIDI Note Map specifically for playing chromatic lines. I found it equally inspiring and useful for other scales, too.



   For the alternative-tuning adventurous, Misha comes with lots of microtonal scales. Among the equal-tempered versions are scales with ten, 13, 19, 20, 31, 39, and 48 notes per octave. Also available among the 100 onboard scales are those for Just Intonation and other microtonal selections, including Wendy Carlos’ exotic Alpha, Beta, and Gamma scales. As noted in Eventide’s Misha documentation, “When a xenharmonic (microtonal) scale is selected, Misha sends a pitch bend command before every note. Therefore, when using such a scale and triggering a MIDI device, typically one should set the receiving device’s pitch-bend range to the standard of 2 semitones. Other numbers may also produce interesting results, but '2' is the one that Misha is expecting in order to be accurate.”

   The manual also provides a link to “The Exciting Universe of Music Theory Presents a Study of Scales” (https://ianring.com/musictheory/scales). Studying all of the tuning possibilities can be addictive and Misha serves them ready to go. It's been a few years since I explored Just Intonation and microtonal tunings, and it often sounds mournful in comparison to equal-tempered notes of 12 or fewer per octave.

   Misha’s USB Micro-B jack is for updating firmware and, if you connect a USB-compatible QWERTY keyboard, there’s a MIDI Note Map that recreates to a degree the Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee instrument that Leon Gruenbaum developed in the 1990s and is a forerunner in concept to Misha (see Key History, below). What your QWERTY keyboard won’t have, though, is polyphonic aftertouch and the extra controllers that Leon has in the Samchillian.

With an in-the-works firmware update, Misha’s USB jack should also handle MIDI I/O activity. Wouldn’t it be cool if it could function as a video output of the LCD screen, so you could project it for others to see what key and scale you’re in?

   You can assign Misha’s four User buttons to a wealth of functions. While the assigned functions for User buttons 1 and 2 are stored with each preset, buttons 3 and 4 are in the global menu. Unfortunately, you can’t assign a User button to toggle Misha between Active and PassThru modes, so that you could easily choose whether or not notes you play get processed and transposed or sound the original pitches. To toggle between the modes via MIDI, Misha defaults to responding to MIDI CC#88. As explained below, I added an external device that allows me to toggle Active on and off using a single button. I wish Misha indicated the current PassThru mode in its display.

   Globally, you can set Misha to ignore incoming MIDI program changes. It doesn’t allow you to map presets to specific incoming MIDI program change numbers, but you can save a preset with a program change number to be transmitted when you load the preset. Misha’s default presets all send a program change, so if you’re controlling several synths loaded with sounds you’d like to keep playing when you change presets, if you can’t disable your synths’ response to MIDI program changes, you’ll have to dial up the sounds again. On the other hand, given Misha’s proclivity for acts of randomness, unexpectedly stumbling onto brilliant sound combinations might be considered a bonus.

   Thanks to Misha, your keyboard will become a different instrument. Not in the way that it plays physically, but because of how the notes come out based on what you play, you most likely won’t hear a D when you play a D key, and it takes practice to get used to what interval is attached to each key in Misha’s MIDI Note Map. It’s a whole new experience with a familiar instrument.

   For the record, the MicroFreak also offers a variety of scales, eight in all. Along with major and minor, it offers harmonic minor, Dorian, Mixolydian, blues, and pentatonic. But Misha lets you select a different scale in real-time using MIDI notes or continuous controllers (CCs), or control voltages.

   As an admitted arpeggiator fanatic, I was anxious to see how Misha would play with a couple of my favorite arpeggiating synths: a Clavia Nord Lead (the original, of course) and the MicroFreak. This combination gave me access to the Nord’s pitch stick and pumice-rock mod wheel, and the MicroFreak keyboard’s aftertouch, for extensive continuous control of things like filter cutoff, resonance, and envelope sustain. Misha faithfully passes all controller data through, no problem.

   To use both the Nord Lead and MicroFreak as master keyboards, I merged their MIDI outs using a vintage Voice Crystal Merger Plus (later, after the VCMP expired, a MIDI Solutions 2x1 Merger), which fed Misha’s MIDI in. I routed Misha’s MIDI out to one of the RK-006’s two MIDI ins and its outs to different combinations of synth modules. So that I could hear both the Nord Lead and MicroFreak, I routed RK-006 outputs to their MIDI ins and put each in Local OFF mode. Also involved at different times were a Dave Smith Instruments Mopho, a 1010 Music Blackbox, and a Yamaha Reface CP.

   The results of playing this system were often inspirational and surprising, but not as I expected. What I anticipated would happen was Misha transposing each incoming arpeggiated note and generating an ever-shifting melody. For a visual illustration of what I’m talking about, check out a video Steve DeFuria shared: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/oqjxzedtl0m2niin93m61/_Quick-Dirty-Int-Arp-demo.mov?rlkey=0fnmlrpawtnceeaobvv17yzn0&dl=0.

   I had thought I would get similar results with my setup, but I didn’t, and I also didn’t know why. It turns out Misha wasn’t getting arpeggiated notes from either the Nord Lead or MicroFreak.

   Why is that? In the MicroFreak’s case, it has a global MIDI parameter called Arp/Seq MIDI Out, but it only works if the MF’s Local Control is set to ON. When the MF is in Local OFF mode, turning it on doesn’t result in arpeggiated notes getting transmitted. Instead, the MF only transmits the notes that you physically play, not arpeggiated notes, and only the MF plays the arpeggiated notes with its internal voice.

   As for the Nord Lead, its manual specifically explains that you need to disable Arpeggio MIDI Out when it’s in Local OFF mode, or else the Nord will not make a sound.

For the arpeggiator in the MicroFreak or Nord Lead to control Misha’s interval selections via MIDI, the synth would have to be in Local ON mode and used only as a controller, not playing so that you could hear it. Otherwise, it would play different notes than any voice controlled by Misha’s MIDI out. Maybe you could use the cacophony of pitches and it might sound interesting, but probably not very musical.

   In action, Misha transposes the synth to a note in the current scale or Tone Row sequence, chosen by the specified interval from the previous note, and the arpeggiated notes will play from the new position, sounding from the synth voice, but not transmitted over MIDI.

   If you really want the arpeggiator in one of these synths to steer interval selection by Misha, you could silence the synth’s voice and simply use it as a controller. Or you could use a dedicated keyboard controller that has a built-in arpeggiator, such as an Arturia KeyStep or a Keith McMillen Instruments QuNexus.

   As for the Local MIDI OFF and non-transmitted arpeggiated notes issue, it seems this is an industry standard. A knowledgeable friend thought some Korg synthesizers might be able to send arpeggiated notes via MIDI when the synth was set to Local OFF, so I contacted another friend, Jack Hotop, who is the Senior Voicing Manager at Korg. While we were on the phone, Jack tested four Korg synths: a KARMA, a Kronos, a Nautilus, and an OASIS. Each one worked like the Nord Lead and MicroFreak: When Local Control is OFF, the instrument will not send arpeggiated notes via MIDI; it will only send notes that are played. That means you won’t be able to use a MIDI synth to function as a controller that sends arpeggiated notes via MIDI when Local is OFF, and also voice Misha’s MIDI output. And it isn’t Misha’s fault that you can’t do it.

   In any case, all I can say is, whenever I use Misha with the Nord Lead and/or MicroFreak, musical magic that I didn’t necessarily anticipate happens. I get spicy and probably more musical patterns than I would have by Misha-ing fast and complex arpeggios.

   My Misha voyages sometimes resulted in stuck notes after things got busy with two keyboards, a sustain pedal, and controller activity. A three-button combination on Misha’s front panel transmits and All Notes Off command via MIDI, and it almost always silenced the offender.


For plenty of video tips on using and improvising with Misha, see what Steve DeFuria demonstrates here:



Can you imagine using two Mishas at the same time? Steve shows you how it can work. 


   Did I mention Misha has a sequencer? To check it out, I assigned the Blackbox as master clock and connected its clock out to Misha’s clock in, allowing me to synchronize Misha’s sequencer with drum patterns in the Blackbox.

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Sequencing & the Tone Row

Each of Misha’s presets includes a sequence, which you control using the     Stop/Record and Play/Pause buttons. As Misha plays a sequence, you’ll see the Auto Play Menu, and single button-strokes allow you to restart from the first step and vary the duration of all of the notes in the sequence from short, to medium, to long. With dual-button combinations, you can insert a silent step or a random note at the end of the sequence, convert each note in the sequence to a triplet, and undo any of these processes.

   Using the Key knob in Auto Play mode, while a sequence is running, you can select among eight play options, including the familiar forward, backward, and random, plus these that aren’t common: Transpose up or down, in which case the sequence gets transposed on each repetition chromatically or by fifths; and Translate up or down, which moves the sequence either way while maintaining the current key signature.

   At the same time, the Scale knob lets you use the interval buttons to change sequence playback while you navigate through these options: Interval, which temporarily inserts one or more intervals into the sequence before it returns to the original playback pattern; Clock Division, which allows you to change playback tempo in relation to the master clock, from 192 pulses per step, or one step every two measures, to three pulses per step, or 1/32nd notes; Transpose and Translate; Octave; and Chord (see below).  If you aren’t careful with your timing, changing the clock division mid-measure can offset Misha’s count, and hopefully hitting the restart button will put things back in sync again.

   If you pause a sequence, it will start from the paused point when you hit play again. While a sequence is paused, playing notes within Misha’s current MIDI Note Map zone steps through notes in the sequence by intervals.

   If you hit the stop button to cease sequence playback, Misha will go into Play mode, all of its interval buttons will light up, and playing buttons or keys will step through notes in the current scale between the defined top and bottom notes. That range is much wider than a typical sequence might have, so I find it useful to alternate between Play and Auto Play modes for creating different flavors of melodies.

   Manually playing through a sequence reminds me of Casio’s One Key Play function on portable keyboards from the past. There were two buttons for One Key Play, allowing you to step through a sequence at speeds and with rhythmic timing determined by how you pushed the buttons. Misha’s way of working is considerably more flexible: You can use more than two buttons or keys to progress through the sequence, different intervals create a sequence of notes that differs from the original sequence, and velocity control from a MIDI keyboard allows dynamics that weren’t possible using Casio’s non-velocity-sensing One Key Play buttons.

   Besides Misha’s interval-selection approach to note generation, its sequencer works in a rather unusual fashion as well. It’s based on the Tone Row, a 20th Century composition method often attributed to Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951). In a Tone Row, a note can only sound once and can’t be repeated until every other note in the scale has played.

   With Misha’s sequencer stopped and in Play mode, when you push the record button and play a new sequence using the interval buttons and/or a MIDI controller, if an interval change leads to a note that has already played, Misha will select the next available note in the scale in the direction of the interval change.

   There’s a clock input for sync, and Misha will ignore its internal clock if something is plugged into the jack. Want Misha in charge of tempo? It lacks a dedicated clock output jack, but enabling Clock Output set output 3 to carry the internal clock at 24 ppq. When Misha’s Clock Menu is active, you see the current tempo and can tap in another using three or more keystrokes.

   When the master clock is running (Misha’s or from an external source) and you engage record, it’s a step-entry process. So you play intervals and when all of the notes in the scale have sounded, Misha will begin repeating the sequence you’ve entered, each step having the same duration. If you don’t want to use all of the notes in a scale, you can hit the play button to finish the sequence. Should you absolutely need a note to be repeated, you can set Misha to play the note in the octave above or below the desired note. This restriction might bother some musicians, but I don’t think it’s a serious problem. It didn’t keep me from creating effective sequences.

   With an external clock source connected to Misha’s clock input, but the clock isn’t running, if you touch Misha’s play button, it will sound the first step of the current sequence and then stop, waiting for the external clock to roll. This may not be unusual, but I wish it didn’t do that.



In Chord mode, Misha sends triads — or two notes, if you prefer — to its MIDI out, and individual pitch CVs and gates to its three sets of analog outputs. You can create your own chords, but nine are ready to play, including third, sixth, three types of triads, Jazz, and Copeland. You can select among chords using Misha’s interval buttons, MIDI notes or CCs, and control voltages. Misha’s LCD reveals the note names transmitted for each chord, and it gives the root note of the chord a bit of velocity boost over those for the second and third notes.

   I wish individual notes in a chord could be transmitted on different MIDI channels, so you could play multitimbral-voiced chords. You can get complex timbres using Misha’s analog outputs to control modules in a modular system.


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Alternative Controllers with Misha

Within Misha’s menu system, you can assign MIDI CCs, MIDI notes, and control voltages to perform functions such as changing the key, the scale, and any other parameter that controls what Misha does. I mentioned earlier about using lengthy keyboards to access extra operations that shorter keyboards can’t get to, but non-keyboard MIDI controllers can play nicely with Misha as well.

   Steve DeFuria uses a Novation Launchpad X when he performs live with Misha. It looks like this:


   Here’s a map that shows how Steve has programmed Launchpad buttons to control Misha’s key and scale with MIDI CC#s that don’t interfere with the wrong parameters, and choose a different preset, all from the same surface. The Launchpad is a secondary controller, while Steve plays notes on an 88-key MIDI keyboard.



   When Steve composes with Misha, he works in Cubase and, instead of using the Launchpad, he enters scale and key CC# data in Misha’s track using Cubase’s MIDI editor.

   In my case, I needed something considerably smaller. For the past few years, I’ve packed different battery-powered music devices into a Pelican 1490 case, almost everything connected and ready to plug in, turn on, and make noise with friends. Here are two earlier versions of “Peli” that included Misha. In the case on the right, I used the Dave Smith Instruments Mopho as a second voice to the MicroFreak, both fed MIDI data from Misha. The case came with me to San Francisco for the celebration of Sequential Circuit’s founder Dave Smith, and I wanted to include the Mopho as my personal tribute to Dave. The following day, I played this system in a jam session with co-synthesist David Battino, jazz guitarist Michael Groh, drummer Dave Brandt, and bass player Ned Doherty.



   With Misha doing its thing, the improvisational material I played was completely different than my contributions to the music using synths and effects without Misha. I have jammed numerous times with Misha in my system, and the more time I work with it before and at jams, the more different things I can do with Misha’s melodies, sequences, and chord progressions.

   Here’s the way Peli looks as of September 2023.



   Things are really tight, but I needed a way to change keys, scales, and more in as tiny a space as possible. The solution appears at the bottom toward the right of the MicroFreak. The little off-white box with blue buttons is a Distropolis Goods Phantasmal Force (https://www.tindie.com/products/distropolis/phantasmal-force-micro-midi-controller).




   This is what I’ve programmed the DGPF’s 16 buttons to do with Misha.



   It was a matter of figuring out which controllers were free and avoiding any controllers used by MIDI gear downstream from Misha. With such extra control engaged, I can change Misha’s key and scale in real time, and quickly enable or disable Misha’s interval processing.

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Key History

Although Misha has only been available since mid 2022, its interval-based note-transposition concept actually goes back decades. In 1994, when I was on the editorial staff at Keyboard magazine, a rather confusing press release came in the mail about a product with the most unusual and humorous name I’ve ever heard: the Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee. If you have the July 1994 issue of Keyboard, you can see this text in the New Products section on page 139:

       MIDI INTERFACE. Yippeeeeee! Haven’t you always wanted to play music using a computer keyboard? Gruenbaum Research has the answer: Their

       Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee ($1,495) is a micro-processor-based MIDI interface that allows you to trigger synth modules from a standard

       computer QWERTY keyboard. Modulations and changes of scale are accomplished with the touch of a button or a footswitch. Tone rows and harmony

       configurations can be created or selected on the fly. Gruenbaum Research, New York, NY.

   Managing editor Debbie Greenberg and I co-wrote this text based on the press release materials we received, but there wasn’t a photo of the Samchillian and we didn’t understand that it was actually a unique MIDI controller, which you can see for yourself in this vintage YouTube video:






Leon Gruenbaum’s Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee, as it looked in 2013. (photo by Mick F. Cantarella)


   Leon Gruenbaum created the Samchillian, which is really the predecessor to Misha.

   There’s another fascinating connection between Misha and Keyboard: Steve DeFuria wrote the Software for Musicians and Systems & Applications columns for the magazine — usually both in the same edition! — beginning in early 1986. In his Systems & Applications column for the September 1987 issue, titled Mapping Perfect Harmonies, Steve wrote, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could just tell your instruments what key you’re playing in, and then play whatever notes you want, while your instruments supply the appropriate harmony note or notes?” He goes on to describe how to program and play with diatonic, Lydian, and Ionian key maps on a powerful MIDI processor that was available at the time, the Axxess Unlimited Mapper. “One of the amazing things about playing this way is the resulting freedom from the standard harmonic ideas that we all tend to fall into in most keyboard styles. If you’re an improviser, you’ll be bowled over by the effect this has on your approach to melody and harmonization. Talk about instant gratification! You’ll undoubtedly find some music that you didn’t know you had in you.”

   Steve could have been writing about Misha. Isn’t it great that Steve and Leon got to work together in bringing Misha to life? Eventide project manager Joe Waltz was the third musketeer in making Misha happen.

   I will be Zooming soon with Leon, Steve, and Joe about Misha’s creation and where they’d like it to go. Stay tuned.


Bottom Line

Misha may not appeal to you. Maybe it would bother you for an E key not to play an E, and perhaps it would bother you for one key to play a different note every time you played it. Modular users might feel its 28hp width isn’t worth the features it delivers. It’s not cheap either.

   I get it. I understand these qualms. But for me, Misha hits so many of the right notes. In action, with multitimbral voices from different synths playing a melody or chord progression or sequence like I’ve never played it before, I’m drawn into what’s happening, how I can change what’s going on, where it might go next — it’s challenging and inspiring at the same time. While I worked with Misha, I found that I tended to record more often than I usually do to capture music I didn’t necessarily know how to recreate.

   Misha brought me new capabilities in making music, and it’s with me to stay.



Pros: Inspiring MIDI note processing and sequencing. Outstanding for improvising and discovering new melodies and chord progressions, whether or not you know music theory. If you do, Misha is deeply programmable to meet your needs. Scores of scales are available, including plenty that are microtonal. CV control of VCO waveform volumes and pan positions.


Cons: Addictive. No MIDI I/O via USB port. No MIDI control of VCO waveform volumes or pan positions. Tone Row restriction of notes in sequences might seem limiting. Bypassing MIDI note processing requires CC#88 or a multi-step menu dive.


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Mark thanks so much for this in-depth review. I don't have much of value to add beyond I'm fascinated by the Misha, and it's now on the list to buy if / when I make the eurorack plunge. I've been tempted on Eurorack for 3 or 4 years now but don't really have the room to kick much off. But the interest has not faded. Because of the lack of USB MIDI, it doesn't work in my setup as a desktop unit sadly.

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