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Touchkeys - A New Keyboard Controller

Posted: Friday 30th August

Touchkeys - A New Keyboard Controller

We have recently learnt of this facisinating keyboard project and thought our readers might be interested!

TouchKeys are a new musical instrument controller transforming the piano-style keyboard into an expressive multi-touch control surface. TouchKeys are touch sensors that can be added to the surface of any keyboard, measuring the location of the musician's fingers on the keys during performance.

On traditional keyboards it is difficult to shape the sound of a note after it has been played. On the TouchKeys, vibrato, pitch bends, timbre and volume changes are as simple as shaking the wrist back and forth or moving the finger up and down on the key. TouchKeys work with any synthesiser and are especially well-suited to playing wind and string sounds, which have long been a challenge to emulate from the keyboard.

Uniquely, TouchKeys work with any existing keyboard, from the smallest portable keyboards to full-sized grands, retaining the familiar feel of the keyboard while adding many new expressive techniques. Do-it-yourself kits will be available for musicians to install on their own keyboards, as well as a limited number of prebuilt instruments. The project is launching on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter and has already reached its goal of raising £30k by 2 September to fund the production of TouchKeys sets and get them into the hands of musicians.

Andrew McPherson, creator of the TouchKeys, is a composer and engineer and a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London. His previous project, the magnetic resonator piano, has been used in dozens of performances worldwide over the past 4 years, most recently by the London Chamber Orchestra and the band "These New Puritans".

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