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An 88-key (standard piano) keyboard is 48œ inches from one end to the other. If you were to bend the two ends downward until they touched, making a circle, the diameter would be a bit shy of 15œ inches.
If you can imagine, take the frame and keyboard out of a grand, roll it up
so one end touches the other with the keys on the outside, then sheath it in a wooden simplified conch shape, coated with 12 coats of black (or white, if you want to go there) high-gloss. Balanced on a pedestal like a telescope on its mount, the tube piano can (albeit with a bit of effort) be pointed in any reasonable direction. You can look through it. The pedals are still in front of the player, connected mechanically through the pedestal.
The hammers would be mounted on the very inside, surrounded by the strings, those mounted on the harp (tension-bearing frame), attached to the tubular soundboard (note that in pianos the resonator is not under tension), that surrounded by the furniture. A bit of simple engineering with counterweighting, to balance the keys for a consistent touch throughout the octaves, and tadaa !
Better than a flat piano, with the proviso that hand crossovers are limited to the middle octaves unless you're double-jointed.
There's quite a bit of wood on the conch shape for resonance and reflection: it should sound quite grandey.
subIdea: The Ring Keyboard (which was the original idea before I started typing)...
is generically useful for any single-manual keyboard instrument. A synthesizer controller would, from a distance, resemble a slightly large black and white striped tambourine, with a sloping disk inside to hold the electronic gizzardry. Modulation controls, which placement usually limits usage to the left-hand, would be inside the ring, available ambidexterously to the synth player.
Related [csea, Nov 27 2013]
A kind of electromechanical Geigenwerk I think. [pocmloc, Nov 27 2013]
[pocmloc, Nov 27 2013]
[spidermother, Dec 01 2013]
Look at 55 secs into video [bhumphrys, Dec 01 2013]
And another candidate
Acoustic curves [bhumphrys, Dec 01 2013]
||Hah ! got it [post edited]: the furniture is in the shape of a simplified conch, which gives it basically the same reflective qualities as a regular grand with a raised top.
||[csea] start with [pocmloc]'s <link> then think a piano mechanical hammer action instead of artificial electric bowing and amplification, a full depth keyboard almost completely encircling the end instead of a couple shorty-key octaves on the top half, a 14 foot tube instead of 4, mounted on a conical pedestal instead of an end-table, and a shiny black curved triangular "sail" arcing up from one side.
||More modern art, less bingo basket.
||One look at the wheelharp and I was wondering where the ammunition goes.
||^ "Guitar Hero: El Mariachi" ... ?
||...and thus, clues to the musical progression of prime numbers, inherent patterns in the randomness of pi, and even the secrets behind the inverse square law itself are all revealed within the workings of a single musical instrument...
||// A bit of simple engineering with
||You may wish to study the various piano
mechanisms in detail - an interesting subject in its
own right. They are rather intricate, and strongly
dependent on gravity. Much of the major
differences between the actions of, e.g., square,
grand, and upright pianos are explained by their
various orientations w.r.t. gravity, and they simply
won't work if they aren't the right way up.
||Clearly, your piano will need to be played in space,
and rotated about its axis.
||I'm reasonably sure a decent'ish action could be built that, if not equal through the angle, would at least be consistently graded in both directions from the top. (The pedals of course, being sprung, aren't a problem)
||Yes, it probably could be done, but I suspect you
would be designing a new mechanism from the
ground up. Not a //simple// task, considering that it
took hundreds of years to come up with the modern
piano actions. And the problem remains that you
wouldn't have a centrifugal space piano.
||The centrifugal space piano could use a standard action, though the player would have to take one of those inner-ear nerve-blockers (that might be an imaginary thing).
||Anyways, after //hundreds of years// there's no mystery to piano actions. If I can unbacktrack, the touch could be totally' consistent: start by making sure that the component has equal weight and moment on either side of a hinge. This ensures that there's no disparity of default position when at rest and no disparity of momentum when moving. Then gravity can be applied through a very light weight hung off a pulley, attached to the appropriate spot on the proper side of the hinge. The topmost note wouldn't need a pulley.