Easy Piano Keyboard

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
adXok
KVRist
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Post Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:34 am

Hi, guys
My first post ever in your lovely forum. Yes, I am a design engineer and I have designed a better piano keyboard. It is called simply the Plain Piano Keyboard. Actually it is a Janko derivative but that is a subject for the advanced auditory.

Here are the demonstration videos on my YouTube channel. Any criticism, advices, recommendations are more than welcome. Thank you!

Plain Piano Keybaord - video demo not in sync though
Last edited by adXok on Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

A_SN
KVRian
981 posts since 6 May, 2008 from Poland

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:20 am

Can you explain in short what's the layout like?

I'd really like to try a keyboard that would be a matrix of square keys that would be chromatic horizontally and separated by major thirds vertically, just like the major thirds tuning (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_thirds_tuning) on fretted string instruments, except with keys instead of strings and frets. Really good for triads among other things.

PS: you shouldn't have so much shaky cam in your video, it's bad
Developer of Photosounder (a spectral editor/synth), SplineEQ and Spiral

adXok
KVRist
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:30 am

the layout is chromatic


rows 2-4 share the same note ("vertically") correspondingly in a wholetone scale pattern:

C D E F# G# A# C... and again




row 1-3-5 share the same note ("vertically") correspondingly in a wholetone scale pattern:

C# D# F G A B C#... and again

Sorrym for the shaky video. I work alone, it is visible that with my left hand I hold the phone (camera). The second camera is stationary though.

adXok
KVRist
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:09 am

Any other questions, please ask.
This keyboard one day will have to replace the old black-n-white clumsy one.

Me and the people involved into it will make it happen.

User avatar
BertKoor
KVRAF
11283 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:17 am

adXok wrote:Hi, guys
My first post ever in your lovely forum.
Your first full sentence, and it's already a complete lie! (because we hate our forum, it cannot be lovely)
You have posted before here at KVR, easy to discover with a few clicks:
So what have you actually learned meanwhile?
adXok wrote:This keyboard one day will have to replace the old black-n-white clumsy one.
Multiple issues with this single sentence:
  • one day - is not true. Again! You know the Jankó keyboard design is well over 130 years old. A substantial amount of accordeon players use a simular concept
  • "will have to replace" - sounds plainly fascist to me. In a reflex I will resist all your attempts to change my world!
  • clumsy - that's just an opinion, and depends on training. I will be very clumsy on that keyboard.
adXok wrote:Me and the people involved into it will make it happen.
Yes, please introduce the other people. You guys are very brave... So there's adXok, Ian van Loyden, Ivaylo Naydenov, and who else?
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

TerribleNews
KVRer
15 posts since 21 Jul, 2016

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:03 pm

Hopefully someday, teachers come around to teach the world that it's OK to use an Easy Piano Keyboard.

User avatar
BertKoor
KVRAF
11283 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:47 pm

And these teachers come from where? Elsewhere I read there is no teaching method for Janko layout. And who produces these alternative keybeds for the same price as standard keybeds? Chicken & egg problem.

It is far too difficult to set something different next to an accepted world standard. Note for example adXok suggested new note names in the past. Now he conforms to standard.
Say I invented a new alphabet. Who will adopt? Not worth the effort.....
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

JCJR
KVRAF
2802 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:01 am

The "new better easier keyboard layout" has occupied lots of design, development and promotion effort for hundreds of years. Strangely, the same "new ideas" are thunk up over and over, and then some other fella spends a lot of development time trying to refine and get it adopted. Perhaps unaware of nearly the same "failed" ideas from decades or even hundreds of years ago. Or maybe convinced that this time he's gonna get it right.

A fella I know spent years and lots of money manufacturing and trying to sell one of those schemes. After he spent the big bucks for "final" plastic injection molds, I got him to retrofit my old Ensoniq EPS with his keyboard. Like so many designs, it was a variant of offset tiers of whole-tone scales.

Spent awhile off'n'on for a couple of years trying to get rudimentarily proficient on the keyboard. True, you could use the exact same fingerings in any key. Some techniques difficult on conventional keyboard were easy on the "more logical" keyboard. However, other techniques easy on conventional keyboard required painful hand-contortions on the new "better" keyboard. Certain common scales or playing techniques required such hand contortions that if one were to do it for hours a day as a pro musician, it would almost certainly risk repetitive stress hand injuries.

The layout made "unconventional" music easier to play, but made "conventional" music more difficult to play. It required surprisingly difficult finger contortions to play a new orleans barrel-house boogie or bach or standards such as "misty" or whatever. So if somebody needed to play conventional rock, classical, jazz or blues that keyboard would work you to death, though maybe there were other styles of music from mars that would be real easy to play on the "better improved" keyboard.

There are many ways cascaded whole-tone keys could be configured and shaped. Maybe there are specific configurations that wouldn't tie the fingers in knots so badly as my friend's design. With relatively inexpensive 3D printers, it would be easier to experiment with different shapes and layouts nowadays without having to precisely carve wood or invest in expensive tooling on "mistaken designs".

Historically the attempts seemed to be "castles in the air" designs of what ought to be theoretically easy to play, and previous prototyping methods expensive and slow. Often done by fellas who were not pro musicians. A successful design needs heavy usability testing by working musicians, capable of being at least as easy to play as the old-fashioned keyboard when playing conventional repertoire. Development probably requiring multiple generations of user-test prototypes before a workable configuration is found-- If in fact there is a workable configuration that is overall better than a conventional keyboard.

Conventional keyboard is a bad design from some aspects, but on the other hand is a very good design from other aspects. Conventional keyboard at least is good enough to get the job done.

adXok
KVRist
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Sun Sep 18, 2016 3:39 am

Hi, JCJR
Of course you have to spend time with the keyboard in order to be able to play it. It is a NEW keyboard instrument after all. And yes, you can play any existing classical or jazz or whatever masterpice you can find out there! You just have to spend time learning and exploring the instrument. If you do not want, then you won't be abe to play it.


Hi, BertKoor
It is my first post ever in the Hardware forum, because after so many ears I was finaly ready with the hardware implementation of my Plain Piano Keyboard.

About the "replace the black-n-white keyboard"...
If you know who Franz Liszt and Arthur Rubinstein are then I was quoting them. Rubinstein even said that he would love to start his life again usin the uniform keyboard.

The other people are: Wataru Ohkawa, Luc Lippens, Paul Vandervoort, Roy Pertchik and many more form the Music Notation Project forum. They have also their own Janko derivatives that has some critical limitations compared to the Plain Piano Keyboard. :wink:
"If I were to begin my career anew it would be on this keyboard." - Arthur Rubinstein

"This invention will have replaced the present piano keyboard in fifty years' time!" - Franz Liszt
Also, the prior derivatives: Chromatone, Lippens, Daskin and the original Janko... have a really critical limitation which has been solved in the Plain Piano Keyboard. And I am proaud I've been able to solve those problems with observation, research and creativity. :tu:
I see, you are one of those persons who would rather stop instead of progress further... Nothing wrong with that but it is not my way of thinking.

@TerribleNews
Yes, me personally, I do not have any hope about the generation above 25+ ears of age. All will start by showing our children the possible alternative so they can decide which will be better. Teachers will be paid to relearn some basic or original masterpieces to adapt them. Will be hard, but it is not impossible!

JCJR
KVRAF
2802 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:56 pm

Hi adXok

I don't care if someone invents a truly better easier keyboard. Its fine with me. Was just pointing out some practical issues. Needs worked out or "proved". Plunking "easy" chords in a single inversion in various key signatures, or hen-pecking out some scales as in your videos, shows how the keyboard "in theory" may be better but the devil is in the details.

I'm not trying to nay-say your effort. Am trying to help you.

Lots of music has melodies that span past five notes. Any phrase with more than five notes needs fast easy fingering so you can "recycle" the fingers and hand position as you go so your hands don't get tied in knots. These techniques are well-known for hundreds of years on conventional keyboard. You basically need to be able to wrap thumb and other fingers around each other to play extended passages.

IN ADDITION, BOTH HANDS need to be able to play exactly the same melodies. If the right hand can finger an extended passage, then there has to be a left hand fingering variant which can play exactly the same which the right hand can play.

In order to successfully "prove" your keyboard, or any other alternate keyboard, or promote the product to be taken seriously, you need to demonstrate that anything possible on standard 88's is also feasible on your keyboard. After all, if your easy piano is only easy on 80 percent of stuff, but it is hard as beejeezus on the other 20 percent, then most folks will probably throw all that time and effort practicing, on a standard keyboard that can do the entire 100 percent.

IMO it isn't enough to claim the keyboard can do anything and easier, but leave it as an exercise of the student to figure out how to do it. Proper testing ought to invent/discover the required efficient fingerings and prove that conventional stuff is easier on your easy keyboard, or at least prove that it is possible without contorting the hands in knots.

There have been some fabulous keyboardists with bad fingering skills, but except for a few exceptional fellas, one can't get past a certain rudimentary level with bad fingering. So to promote your keyboard, you need to discover good efficient fingerings to teach, and also along the way re-design and refine your keyboard if you discover that some fingerings are dang near impossible.

Maybe your current prototype is already perfection incarnate. It just needs testing to make sure.

A very good test bed would be to buy a COMPLETE Hanon exercises and scales in all keys. Some of the exercises merely train finger dexterity all on the "white notes" wheras other exercises train finger dexterity on extended passages of various scales and keys.

For instance, even the first simple hanon exercises which just do repetitive patterns on the white notes for finger dexterity-- Because your keyboard doesn't have all the C major scale notes on the same button-row, it might be trickier than you think to get it up to speed. Maybe easier, or maybe not.

There are many good youtube videos on the utility of practicing scales and pattern exercises. Just search Hanon Scales or Hanon Exercises to find good teachers explaining it. Much of the scale work is needed because different scales and different keys on standard keyboard need different fingering patterns, and of course entirely different fingering patterns for left versus right hand.

HOWEVER, just because your keyboard is more "logical" and "in theory" would always use the same fingering in any key, practical fingerings still must be devised to "get the job done". So if your keyboard can do hanon at speed without wrecking your hands, then it is probably fit for purpose as a truly "easy keyboard".

Here are a couple of sample videos--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWkFfxPldtM

More humanly achievable--
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mnxstPyphA

Jazz Hanon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqn9X2bvOCM

adXok
KVRist
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:19 am

Hi, JCJR
Thanks for your suggestions.
All things you say concern technicality and exercises. All those things are possible. You have to learn only one fingering per scale. The players just has to take their times to get familiar with the keyboard.

Yes, fingerings are different than their counterparts on the old piano keyboard. But different in terms of better ergonomic, less twist of the wrist, even less movement of the fingers and last but not least - the thumb has enermously better positions to start or end to a note (key).

My design improves the already existing uniform keyboards like Daskin (USA), Chromatone (Japan), Lippens (EU) as well as the original Janko keyboard form a century+ ago.

And I will make my efforts to develop the keyboard even further by implementing a touch and light sensitive surface to it, preserving the original hexadome design. Time will tell...

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BertKoor
KVRAF
11283 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:18 am

adXok wrote:You have to learn only one fingering per scale.
Same applies to the conventional keyboard, with a little aid like this:

Image
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

JCJR
KVRAF
2802 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:38 pm

adXok wrote:Hi, JCJR
Thanks for your suggestions.
All things you say concern technicality and exercises. All those things are possible. You have to learn only one fingering per scale. The players just has to take their times to get familiar with the keyboard.

Yes, fingerings are different than their counterparts on the old piano keyboard. But different in terms of better ergonomic, less twist of the wrist, even less movement of the fingers and last but not least - the thumb has enermously better positions to start or end to a note (key).
Thanks adXok

Browsing youtube, the most "virtuoso" playing I've so far found were on fairly "trad" rectangular key janko. The players manage to get the job done with relatively few wrist and finger contortions.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mC88Mt0QxvQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK4REjqGc9w
A fella Omar Soriano has posted some excellent videos about fingering techniques. He is working logically to develop fingerings. Good work, and that Lippens keyboard seems pretty well engineered and designed, looks more playable than the chromatone.

However, note Mr. Soriano's awkward wrist positions in some passages, especially left-hand chords. That is part of what I noticed playing another variation of the "stacked wholetone rows" design. Tis doubtful if this is a problem with Mr. Soriano's technique, rather a result of the way the keys are laid out. I suspect Mr. Soriano wouldn't have to hurt his wrist so bad on a "trad" janko as above, would be interesting to know.

There are numerous design variables, key shape, horizontal spacing, row height spacing, etc. That's what I'm trying to express. Fingering needs to be as easy possible without hurting the wrists or fingers. Unfortunately, one can't just "think up" what theoretically ought to work, then build a prototype and be done. The prototype needs testing, then spacing and keyshapes modified to resolve any problems noted, then another prototype built if necessary, etc.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAdm-sQX98Y
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqTTp-GtrZQ

adXok
KVRist
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:48 am

@BertKoor
Transpose button... please, tell me you are joking! :hihi:


Hi, JCJR
There are some few Janko derivatives (Daskin, Chromatone, Lippens, Terpstra) but all those have limitations compared to my design. I haven't compared my design to theirs in the demonstrational videos but it would be quite obvious once you get involved into the subject of Uniform piano keyboards.

Fingerings and patterns are widely tweakable on uniform piano keyboards in general. Omar Soriaono preffers different approach - pattern shape, close fingering points. I prefer the interval approach and ergonomic positions of the habds at possible maximum (sometime close positioned fingers are not the best ergonomic solution). On my design vertical movement of the fingers switiching between rows is decreased to the minimum.

Scoox
KVRist
204 posts since 8 May, 2008

Re: Easy Piano Keyboard

Post Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:57 am

I'm interested in this project. I also think the piano keyboard is inherently a bad design. I personally couldn't give a cr*p about the "millions of people who have invested countless hours to master the traditional piano keyboard". The same nonesense happend with the QWERTY typing keyboard, but gues what, the Ergodox keyboard was born out of a community of geeks and enthusiasts, and now you can purchase an Ergodox EZ for just over 200 USD. I've been typing 16 years on a regular keyboard, and bought an Ergodox EZ last year, I'm typing on it right now. It's all about ergonomics. Sure, our bodies can adapt to almost anything, but that doesn't mean that "anything" is the best option. I get the feeling piano players have a sense of superiority for being able to play an instrument that's inherently a bitch to learn just be because it's poorly designed. In the end the interface is not what matters, but the sound that comes out of the instrument. If there is an interface that allows the sound you are looking for to come out sooner, then I'd say that interface is better designed.

Currently there are no Janko MIDI controllers. I understand Paul Vandervoort was working on such a device but it's been in the making for ages and still not available. I've spent the past few months teaching myself CAD software and 3D printing, and I'm considering printint a Janko conversion key for a Keystation 61es I have lying around. This should be pretty easy to do as I would only need to design two keys and then print 31 and 30 times, respectively (61 keys). I probably could fit a 4-row Janko on that controller.

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