Thursday, June 2, 2011

Musical Typing (Part Two)

One can only think about letters on a piano so long without eventually reversing the process and wondering about notes on a keyboard. After all, what did I establish first on a piano keyboard? There weren't enough keys to do an efficient layout of all the special symbols. There are 88 keys on an ordinary piano. There are 26 letters on a keyboard plus 30 symbols and numbers. That's 56 keys not counting the special ones. Digital pianos are made with as few as 61.

It's also possible one could be much, much faster on a keyboard than on a piano, since your hands don't have to move up and down the scale. The biggest difference between the two is that a keyboard only gets one letter typed a a time, and on a piano you can play as many as ten notes simultaneously! In other words, playing music on a keyboard has the opposite problem of typing on a piano.

The possibilities are endless, but the implementation eludes me. The number pad and special keys would make a good bass section. You could hold them down while playing the letters at a breakneck speed, but that would require three hands. However, the benefit of a keyboard layout is the speed at which you can type. So what if you simply composed special music that was meant to be played on such a keyboard? Notes that come so fast you don't notice the fact they only come one at a time. What if you could play music as fast as this?

Or not, that's a little too fast for all those notes and they just kind of start to blur into a loud noise, but if there were less notes? Brilliant!

The easiest way to come up with a simple tonal keyboard layout would be to reverse the process of putting letters on a piano. I'd do something like this:

This gives us a total of four and a half octaves, without using the numbers or F1-12. To get half steps one would use the shift key, just like to get capitals. So if a is middle C then A is C#, and so on up the scale. It would make playing in different keys a pain, but who needs to? Just set your music making program to automatically update the tones. Of course, the music making program is the big missing factor in all of this...

But no matter! I'm sure someone will figure it out. And when you do, let me know, so I can hear the wonderful sound of music following my fingers rapid typing. Imagine how cool that would be, if you used the keyboard to type with but wrote music as you went along. Mixing up keyboards may not be practical, but it sure is fun!

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