New Keyboard Layout

The conventional musical keyboard layout has been in use since 1361, so perhaps it’s time we embraced a new design for the digital age. A series of ‘sonome’ keyboards based on the harmonic table aims to take performance in another direction…

Music On The Table

The melodic (or harmonic) table is sort of like the periodic table of elements, repurposed for music. It lays out the notes (from the conventional Western scales) in a hexagonal lattice.
Keyboard Layout Notes
This layout provides a more intuitive and logical musical interface – when you start on any note, the notes surrounding it all have a clear musical relationship. For example, the note above will be a fifth up, the note up-to-the-right will be a major third, and up-to-the-left is a minor third.

My Favourite Axis

Although it’s always difficult for new instrument designs to get off the ground, the homebrew scene indicates that there will always be people who want instruments customised to their own needs – or that existing designs are not as satisfying as they could be. The honeycomb structure of the Axis keyboard is certainly quite a leap from the regular keyboard, but as this device has gone into commercial production, its makers certainly seem to believe that it has potential mass appeal.

The theory of the device seems sound – notes laid out along axes of musical relationships, which leads to pattern-based chord structures and scales. This format will certainly be favoured by some musicians and some genres, but the marketing team has its work cut out to raise awareness of the product’s existence.

Here’s Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater putting the Axis through its paces…


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