A clear, achievable ideal immensely helps achieve a goal, and explain it clearly to others.
We are trying to create instruments that are:
- Easy to learn
- Easy to play expressively
- Rugged and portable
- Do most or all traditional musical things as well as or better, without "cheating"; having the instrument automate the work
- Yet able to do new musical things
- and ... oh- yes, it's would be kinda nice be affordable: initially under, say, $2000, eventually under $500.
The final deal: it should actively help learn how
music works, and make each successive piece easier to learn.
We believe we can obtain these goals through some simple innovations that are now possible
A. An ergonomic, uniform key-to-note layout, in a two dimensional array
A consistent layout (isomorphic) layout is essential. This hugely reduces the number of key combinations to learn.
Two-dimensional arrays make such instruments more practical and much more compact and light.
B. An efficient key shape
- Hexagonal, with beveled tops (about 1.5 mm off edges. e.g. like the Axis-64 design; for glissandos, feeling the shape of the key, but also pressing two or three keys at once
- Dimpled in the middle: gives tactile feedback on finger placement centering, without it fingers tend to drift
- Properly sized: about the width of an average man's finger (19 mm) as a first approximation
C. Separate keyboard for each hand
Keyboards are now crazy cheap to make (although absolutely not cheap to market or sell), so why not?
Separated keyboards have these advantages:
Each keyboard assignable to a unique instrument, key-to-note assignment can be made symmetrical, so one can transfer skills between hands,
Each keyboard assignable to overlap the other to a variable degree, making "special" effects like contrapuntal motion simpler, even trivial
One's hands won't run into each other
- Two keyboards make a smaller package than a single, long one
They can be put on a table, on a stand in front of the player, on the chest, or held like a guitar
Far more ergonomic, as they can be angled and positioned to suit
Ends the tyranny of the right-handed keyboard on the left-handed
D: Idealized key properties
- Touchweight (Downweight) and bounce see here for details on this subtle topic.
- Velocity sensitivity - a must have - without it, it can't compete with the piano's expressiveness
E. Compact keyboard dimensions
We want a instrument that can be carried anywhere, and that can be just picked up to start playing.
The net dimensions turn out well: each keypad is under 20 cm by 20 cm (10 inches square), making for a compact, portable keyboard.
F. Ergonomic foot pedals
Two pedals - normally for sustain, one for each keyboard
They should have a Velcro bad so they can be joined together, or separated, one for each foot.
G. Ergonomic special controls
It is seems silly ergonomics to place pitch and special effects mod wheels way, way off to the left side.
Special effect controls should be placed for quick, easy access, using a joystick-like 2 dimensions of control. keyboard-mounted near the thumb or mounted on the hand and attached to the thumb.
Similarly, frequently needed special controls (e.g. octave-shifting and key-modulation), should be placed near the fingers or thumb.
H. Myriad supporting accessory Accessories needed
to make an instrument work:
- fingerings and techniques for playing