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# Type on a piano keyboard

Text entry in C major.
 (+14, -2) [vote for, against]

People who work with music on their computer tend to have an elaborate setup so that they can have the computer keyboard, the digital piano keyboard, and the mouse all accessible.

So why not get the computer keyboard out of the picture entirely? Set up a piano keyboard to enter text and commands!

In the right hand, the notes of the scale could represent 12 common letters. "C D E F G A B" = "e n t a s o d", and "C# D# F# G# A#" = "c r u l i". This scale could repeat over a few octaves, say from bass G to high C, so that you get to the next key in either direction.

The left hand would then change the "scale". The above scale would be used when the keyboard is in the key of C. Hitting a low G would change the right hand's scale to represent 12 more letters (bfghjkmpvwxy, in some order). F would have those same letters arranged differently (no musician will want to endlessly bounce between two keys). Q, Z, and digits would be available in the D scale. Going a major third up from a scale (to the scales of E, F#, A, or B) would be equivalent to the "Shift" key. A minor third (Eb, Ab, Bb) would be "Control". The left hand's range of notes would go from low C to bass G.

The advantage is this would be a true chording keyboard. Some simple shortcuts would be available to cut down on the necessity of switching scales. For example, if in addition to one note you hit the one which is a minor third above it, you get that letter followed by an H. An interval of a major second or major third gets you another letter which is likely to follow the letter for the bottom note. Some ugly augmented fourths could get you Q or Z, as the method above would otherwise leave no way to hit Ctrl-Z.

Punctuation would be intervals in the left hand - for example, a perfect fifth would be a period. Command keys like "Tab", "Enter", and "Page Down" would be chords in the right hand. "Enter" would be a C major chord, while something more obscure like "Print Screen" would be something like an F# augmented 7th. Banging a dischordant cluster of keys would appropriately enough be "Backspace". Hitting the note in the left hand for the scale you are already in would be a space.

If you happen to have a full-size keyboard, or at least one which spans more than these 4 octaves, the extra keys could be assignable like function keys.

The keyboard would communicate with the computer through MIDI, so no extra functionality is needed in the keyboard. The layout itself might be known as the "Entasod" layout, based on the letters for the C major scale.

I think this could really catch on, and perhaps the musician would get new ideas for tunes out of everyday typing. Or maybe he'd do a jazz improvisation while typing an e-mail.

 — PurpleBob, Oct 20 2001

I don't realy know much about the subject but I like the idea - I'm sure you could sell it to someone...
 — RobertKidney, Oct 21 2001

 Thinking about this a little more and even trying "playing" a couple hypothetical words, I've realized that the vowels need to be much more accessible. The F and G scales, then, should have the vowels all in the same place as they are in the C scale, and with the other 7 letters on each you cover the other 14 letters of the alphabet.

 C: entasod cruli F: empahoy bfugi G: ejkaxow qzuvi

Or something like that.
 — PurpleBob, Oct 22 2001

Reversing the process may create some great tunes, just by telling someone to F*** Off! I think that it may be easier to just have each key representing a letter rather than swapping and changing scale all the time, but then some words could become awkward with the whole keyboard needed for a normally simple word. Sounds good though, have a croissant!
 — sven3012, Oct 22 2001

 Reinstating a previously removed annotation:

I love the idea of taking this one step further and 'playing back' Word documents.
 — waugsqueke, Mar 04 2002

 I found this page because I had a similar idea for using a guitar midi interface to act as a computer keyboard! Hopefully someone will build such a thing someday, because I find it a pain --- literally --- to spend all day typing at my job and then have my hands too sore to work on guitar-playing. With a guitar-style computer keyboard, I could be improving my guitar skills (well, some of them at least) while on the job!

Please let me know if such a thing ever becomes available. (Maybe Roland or Godin could be talked into making one.) shhawley@hotmail.com
 — ScottHawley, Jun 07 2002

 "a guitar-style computer keyboard" You should post that as an idea. It'd be a killer first go.

Which gets me thinking (since I just came from the 'Lossy text compression' idea): Would a guitar-based interface be faster thank a piano-based interface? Could we extend the metaphor and ask about other instruments? Trumpets? Drums? Tap dancing?
I don't play any instruments, but it all sounds exciting anyway.
 — phoenix, Jun 08 2002

Cool idea, me being a piano player yet a slow typer. It might get a bit confusing- if you're told to play a A and you strike an F- or something like that. Great. Croissants all round.
 — squash700, Sep 04 2002

 I'm not a musician, but I've been playing with this idea in my head since about 1998, when I met a few piano virtuosi. It was nice to find this page and see you flesh out the idea, showing exactly how characters would be entered.

 I had this vague idea that commands would be entered by playing very recognizable note flurries, such as the 1st three notes of Toccata und Fugue (in D?) for undo; the first four notes of 'Happy Birthday to You' to make a smiley face; the famous 5 notes from Close Encounters for a (preset) salutation; etc. Not as practical as your idea, but if it were CUSTOMIZABLE, musicians with good chops would then have thousands of commands at their fingertips.

Your idea is great because it's still alphabetic, and doesn't require the huge amount of memorization or association that mine does. Nice.
 — tharsaile, Sep 09 2002

 This is awesome! I would love to hear music/noise as I type. A few suggestions/questions:

 Can you use a sustained bass to signal the various mode changes(switching between sets of letters, capitals, stress and punctuation... don't forget the space!!!). I'm a big fan of that sustained bass note sound.

 What if the letters or their closest phonics were prounounced as you typed the key? You know, from sampled phonics... This could be a real plus when teaching kids how to type.

 Can't you relate the voice of a commonly pronounced letter to a given note? Do Re Mi? Ohhhh remember the A,B,C song from preschool?

 What about adding letter combinations such as "oi" "ea" "ch" "th" "sh" and so on?

I'm looking at my iBook now, wishing all these keys were more like a quadrouple decker musical keyboard... and that it sounded like R2-D2 as I typed.
 — artistdude, May 27 2003

The cross-generic possibilities are amazing. For instance, someone could write a book and have a piano version as well. Or, music for deaf people - they could read the "text" that accompanies a piece of music.
 — Rubi, Dec 21 2003

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