Technology has been one juggernaut developing leaps and bounds replacing or displacing anything coming in its way. Music Industry is no stranger to such advancements modernizing every moment. Many of the oldest and traditional musical instruments have either faded away or have been reinvented.
The latest casualty is Piano that has been reimagined to such an extent that a 5D touch has been introduced. Roli is the maker of this innovative instrument named as Seaboard. The traditional keys that we normally associate with a Piano has been replaced with Keywaves. It has been developed on touch- sensitive technology that can be played any which way with a series of infinite touches enhanced by more layers and depth of sound depending on the softness or the hardness of the touch. It is like musical elasticity in its literal sense. It can be played in two different ways. Separate notes can be played like in the Piano or Continuous notes can be played like in a violin or a flute.
The five-dimensional touches are characterized by Strike, Press, Glide, Slide and Lift. Strike is something that corresponds to a touch on a standard keyboard. Press is defined by the kind of pressure that’s applied after initial strike. Glide describes the horizontal movements from side to side along the ribbons on either side. Slide is the vertical movements up and down. Lift is the speed at which finger is lifted off the Keywave.
The interface through which our fingers interact to play the music is made of Silicon rubber. It is highly sensitive, elastic and adaptive. It differentiates between discrete and continuous inputs thereby ensuring the deserved output. The softness in the texture enables the fingers to traverse through the wave-like surface of the seaboard like hovering on the ripples of water. The intermittent troughs also allow for a pulsating change of pitch in the form of vibrato.
Seaboard has two models; Rise and Grand. Although the look and feel of both these models are same, Seaboard Rise has a soft playing surface with optimized usage of additional gestural control of slide. On the one hand, Seaboard Rise is a pure MIDI controller that has wireless connection over Bluetooth and comes with 25 Keywaves. On the other hand, the Seaboard Grand comes in 3 models with 37, 61 and 88 Keywaves and has an onboard Synth and embedded Equator. Equator is the underlying software that seamlessly integrates both the software and the hardware before producing the desired experience.
Noise 5D is a free app – also designed by Roli – is available for Iphone users transforming its screen into a multidimensional surface to allow concoction of musical sounds. All the five touches mentioned above allow the molding of sounds into a tuneful melody. There are 25 different sounds from Solo Strings to Synthetic effects available each one sounding unique in its own way.
Seaboard Rise is priced at $799.99 and Seaboard Grand at $2999.99. Though they are expensive now, I am sure they will get cheaper as the days progress. Also, considering the interest it has already generated, it’s sure to catch up sooner or later.