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Sensitive Piano Keys Let Pianists Create New Sounds


Hands on a musical keyboard.

A new musical keyboard uses touch-detecting sensors to bring the sound of string instruments to the piano.

Credit: theVerge.com

Queen Mary, University of London researchers, composers, and musicians have created a keyboard called TouchKeys that uses touch-detecting sensors to bring the sound of string instruments to the piano.

A set of 26 sensors is embedded in each key, functioning similarly to a smartphone's touchscreen so that, for example, sliding the finger up and down a single key bends the pitch to simulate a rock guitar.

TouchKeys relies on algorithms to prevent unintended string sounds that might occur when pianists change hand position.

"I'm trying to preserve the feel of the keyboard so an experienced pianist can pick it up right away, while adding a range of new expressive techniques," says TouchKeys project leader Andrew McPherson. "Ultimately we are both looking at the same musical ideas: continuous expressive control under the fingertips. We're just coming at it from different angles."

Later this month, McPherson and his colleagues will release the keyboard on crowdfunding website Kickstarter to raise funds to commercialize the technology.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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