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'Tickle-the-Ivories' Keyboard

Synthesizer With Smarter Keys
  [vote for,

Sometimes I like to compose this and that on my cheap Casio synth and port it over to the computer for posterity. Being somewhat of a keyboard afficiando, I've often been frustrated by the lack of well-laid out controls; when I want to add an effect or change sounds, for instance, I really don't want to have to take my hands off the board and hunt around in some menu, operate some thumbwheel, or punch even a large button.

What I want are smarter keys.

1. Wiggle-sensitive keys that respond with a bit of pitch-bending vibrato, like any good violinist will produce. I think this option alone would easily add some human depth to the still-too-robotic synth sound without being as laborious as your typical song-editing session.

2. They would also sense at what location on the key you depress them and adjust the sound accordingly to some programmable variable. Thus, depressing the keys further up on the board might result in a more distant or tinny sound, while hitting them down closer to the edge produces a fuller sound. A sliding action might produce 'fret noise.'

3. A few infrequently-used keys, like high-b natural for instance, could be designated as 'program' keys that run macros or navigate through pre-selected options.

And finally, could I have the keys in red and silver? I'm getting bored with the whole ebony / ivory motif. At least reverse the colors.

RayfordSteele, May 18 2002

Continuum Fingerboard http://www.cerlsoundgroup.org/Continuum/
Sorta-Baked, and oddly enough, it's red and silver [professorfrink, May 19 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Similar sorts of functions on real pianos are handled by foot pedals. When I played, I never thought about where I was hitting a key. Always hit about the same area towards the tip where the leverage and control is greatest. Is it that synthesizers are inferior to pianos and this would make them more like the real thing? Or is this another way to have synthesizers do things pianos can't? Bit of both, I suppose.
ThotMouser, May 18 2002

       Interesting. But red and silver?
jackryan, May 19 2002

       It's been a while since I was into synthesizers, but options 1 and 3 were baked by professional-level synths in the 80s.
beauxeault, May 19 2002

       I believe #3 is easily accomplished with the right MIDI software... in Cakewalk at least, and likely in other programs, I think you can program macros to different note signals on your MIDI device.
professorfrink, May 19 2002

       #1 is baked, or at least was years ago. It was called 'aftertouch' - pressing harder on the key after the initial press would trigger a pre-set effect - often vibrato, but not always. I'm sure this is still a feature on synths today, but I'm out of touch.
waugsqueke, May 20 2002

       Apart from the last sentence, (2) could be approximated by key velocity, which is in the standard MIDI note-on message. As has been suggested, (1) is Aftertouch, and (3) is common on even cheapo Yamaha and Casio synths (though not programmable). Finally, a couple of rolls of electrical tape would sort out your last item.
angel, May 20 2002

       The reversed colo(u)rs keyboards have been around for ages too. I used to have a piece-of-crap Korg Poly-800 with a reversed color keyboard. Eons ago, it was not uncommon to see old Farfisa organs with such keyboards. I've also seen 92-key Bösendorfer pianos on which the extra 4 keys, at the bass end, are reversed in color.
waugsqueke, May 20 2002

       I thought this idea would be about a keyboard that would laugh when played, kinda like utopia for windows, only at random. Kind of like someone 'Tickleing-the-Ivories'
barnzenen, May 20 2002

       I sat looking at my piano keyboard. No aftertouch, no wiggly vibrato, boring black on white motif, no key mapping, no macros, no sequencer. I struck a broad chord and couldn't help but notice the one thing that made all of those deficiencies tolerable: that sound, that wonderful, sonorous, ringing sound.
bristolz, May 20 2002

       I thought it was going to be a keyboard that, when you wiggle your fingers over in that cartoon "look, I'm playing the piano, ha ha" stylee you use when playing an *imaginary* piano, would respond by playing itself in a style that matched your movements. So the standard option - fingers rapidly running up and down all over the place - would produce a light, energetic jazzy piece. Big dramatic slams produce something butch and scary, etc. The key thing would be to have the speed of the piece match that of yer fingers...
Saveloy, May 20 2002

       I sort of understand what you mean bristolz, but the problem is the one I have is just a *little* out of tune... (by about half a note on almost every note).
RobertKidney, May 20 2002

       This website includes something about vibrating the keyboard:   

swimazon, Apr 23 2003

       Do they giggle too?
DesertFox, May 25 2006

       Oh wow - I've been wanting a vibratoable keyboard for ages! Mega-croissanted!!
Joolin, Oct 24 2009

       [Joolin] Nord's instruments incorporate a pitch controller that is a contoured chunk of (real) wood that you can wiggle back and forth with your finger (as opposed to the more common wheel).   

       If you have real cash you should look into an Ondes Martinot, which has a wire loop you can stick your thumb into. Very well regarded, very chic, very expensive.
FlyingToaster, Oct 25 2009


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