An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

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Is this something you wish existed?

Heck ye
9
82%
Nah, im good, but its a cool idea
1
9%
Nah, this wouldnt work (pls comment why?)
1
9%
 
Total votes: 11

Elkjær
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An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by Elkjær » Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:19 am

;) Hi everyone!

We are a group of students fiddling around with an Idea for a MIDI-keyboard that supports microtonal scales. This should naturally also be able to interface with modular stuff as this is a field where microtonality is thriving.

So what we want to do is a keyboard where every second key is raised like the black keys on a regular keyboard. All the keys will be backlit. By turning on and off the lights you can create the patterns of different tuning systems i.e 16 notes per octave. Illustration is added as an attachment.

So what do you guys think about this idea? We are eager to get your feedback. What are some improvements. What features would you like to see in an instrument like this? Would you want a sequencer on board? Are there other or better ways to enable musicians to play microtonally? Is this a product you wish existed? Any thoughts are welcome! :hyper:
Attachments
microtonal keyboard.PNG

themuffwiglerxo
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by themuffwiglerxo » Tue Sep 29, 2020 12:03 pm

So you can basically scale while playing? Lets say I play the 12-tone system - can I switch it up to a x notes per octave while playing?

Elkjær
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by Elkjær » Tue Sep 29, 2020 12:26 pm

Sure, we should definetely make it possible to switch seamlessly between different tuning presets! Check out this webpage fir more information https://www.flowkeyboard.com/. And sign up if you are interested!

themuffwiglerxo
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by themuffwiglerxo » Tue Sep 29, 2020 12:30 pm

Cool, good luck! Would definitely be a nice feature to have.

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KSS
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by KSS » Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:10 pm

I went to the site listed and did not really find anything new there?? Was hoping to see more examples as the 16 note/octave example doesn't make sense to me.

The Thomas Organ company had backlit keys under the Color-Glo brand, and it was a neat thing for some beginners. Many music teachers would disagree, but it did help some who didn't have or seek formal training.

In short, I need to see more before being able to form an opinion on the actual product.

Always nice to see someone looking into alternative controllers for electronic music.

Details matter.

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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by Pelsea » Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:14 pm

Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
Patch responsibly.
pqe

Elkjær
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by Elkjær » Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:18 pm

Really glad you guys have taken the time to answer and to show your interest even though i might have been quite unclear! ;)

Ill try to explain a little more accurately what we are thinking of. Often when you want to use other tuning systems than the traditional 12-tone systems you customize keyboards to fit the tuning. Here for example is a custom made 22 notes per octave keyboard:
Image
However this is very static once you got this pattern you are stuck with a 22 note/oct system until you take your keyboard apart and mess around with the key order again. We want to solve this by letting you turn on or off the keys on the keyboard in order to make these patterns that fit different tuning systems. The LED backlighting is what makes it easy to visualize the current pattern. The different patterns and tuning settings can be stored as presets so that you can easily flick between them.

I am aware of Haken audio and the Linnstument. They do indeed also have great microtonal capabilities, but i do believe this idea differs by quite bit in playing style and features. The pattern on the Haken instrument is still stuck at the 12 note/oct pattern and you have to rely on your ears (as far as I know) to hit the correct notes in other tuning systems.

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KSS
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by KSS » Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:41 am

Appreciate the pic. Did already understand the rest. Still trying to figure how the 16 per makes sense. amd feel it would be made clear with several example configurations. Data sample of one is hard to draw reliable conclusion. Said sample being the 16/oct. As the other 12/oct is instantly clear.

Using RGB LEDs would mean you could do quite a bit more long-term. In the shorter term you could make instant reverse keys by using white on the sharps and some dark color like purple for the naturals. Mold everything the same color and let the LEDs define the rest.

I think you'll want -and need- more than on-off lighting per key.
Last edited by KSS on Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

kdjupdal
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by kdjupdal » Wed Sep 30, 2020 2:35 pm

Interesting idea.
It could be practical to be able to mark the octaves and the fifths (the C and the G) with a different coloured led. Like how the harp strings are marked.

As for other microtonal controllers, there is the lumatone, which is being released these days.

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oberdada
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by oberdada » Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:45 pm

Looks like a promising idea. The organ players who performed on Harry Partch's Chromelodeon may have had difficulties at first finding their way on a keyboard where a sounding octave spans almost four octaves of keyes, but they apparenty got used to it.

You have probably seen designs for 31TET keyboards with three layers of keys, let's say white, black and gray. So what I'm not sure about is how this proposed design would relate functionally to particular tunings. But I imagine the design would be helpful while learning to play in new tunings. That something might be difficult to master without some practice is not an argument against it.

danifor
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by danifor » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:48 am

What about non equal steps? And non octave temperaments? Have you considered this?

Knights Who Say Neve
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by Knights Who Say Neve » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:02 pm

Cool idea. Couple of suggestions:

Include a way to use that pitch slider to find a pitch and then assign that pitch to a key. A tuning could be built up quickly by ear that way. (Bonus points - the ability to save & transmit the resulting tuning as a MTS and/or Scala file).

Support for MTS real time messages, i.e. the keyboard should be able to send these out for each keypress.

Also, a split channel method (i.e. each note assigned to a new midi channel, with pitch bends in front of each note).

Another vote for having multicolored leds for the keys, that could be set as the user sees fit. A lot of people would want to color code various pitch relationships in the scale (I know I would).
Space and time contain a manifold of pure a priori intuition, but at the same time are conditions of the receptivity of our mind- conditions under which alone it can receive representations of other objects, and which therefore must also always affect the concept of these objects. But if this manifold is to be known, the spontaneity of our thought requires that it be gone thorough in a certain way, taken up and connected. This act I name synthesis. -Kant

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knifey
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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by knifey » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:17 pm

How about getting rid of the whole "black & white" keys to start with? I think that interface puts a LOT of conceptual and visual constraints on how "mincrotonal" the keyboard can be.

Are you looking at all into Harry Partch?

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Re: An idea for a microtonal MIDI-keyboard

Post by Domin » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:12 pm

Elkjær wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:18 pm
Here for example is a custom made 22 notes per octave keyboard:
Image
Pretty cute but fingerings change with transposition. Not what I'm looking for.

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