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Topic: MIDI keyboard with side-to-side action?

  1. #1

    MIDI keyboard with side-to-side action?

    Hey all,

    I read about this in my vintage synthesizers book -- Apparently a musician built a keyboard in the seventies (I think) that could control a parameter by nudging the keys back and forth, side to side as you play. This is similar to aftertouch, but you push the keys sideways instead of downward pressure, much like the way a string player wiggles a string to produce vibrato.

    This seems like a great idea to me, especially good for getting realistic vibrato out of a keyboard. Seems more intuitive than aftertouch (downward) or the mod wheel, for vibrato at least. But I haven't heard of any controller that does this.

    Has there ever been a MIDI keyboard that has this kind of sideways control?

  2. #2

    Re: MIDI keyboard with side-to-side action?

    The instrument you may be referring to is the Ondes Martenot. It has a suspended keyboard which can be vibrated from side to side to produce a vibrato. This is accomplished by the use of an inductor coil which varies the resistance slightly and produces the vibrato effect. This instrument dates back to the late 1920s however the vibrato keyboard was developed in the 1930's. This is an analogue instrument and quite obsolite. There are most probably other analog synths which might accomplish the same effect. I would leave that in the hands of an old synth expert to answer. The only midi keyboard that I know of which has a way of creating a vibrato is the Kurzweil 2500 or 2600. It has a strip along the keyboard where you can vibrate your finger and get a pitch waver. They also made an add on unit called the "expression mate." Hope that this info is of some help

    Ira Kraemer

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: MIDI keyboard with side-to-side action?

    Ira is right about the Ondes Martenot being the first keyboard to have Lateral (sideways) key motion for vibrato control.

    Perhaps the keyboard you are refering to from the seventies is the Yamaha GX1, used by Led Zeppelin and Emerson-Lake & Palmer, which had lateral (sideways) key motion for vibrato and other effects. This one-and-a-half ton keyboard cost over $60,000 and was quite rare.

    I hope modern keyboard makers introduce this feature. Can you imagine, an Oxygen 8 with lateral key motion for vibrato?

    Gary Garritan

  4. #4

    Re: MIDI keyboard with side-to-side action?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan
    This one-and-a-half ton keyboard cost over $60,000 and was quite rare.
    Hmm, that's a little bit out of my price range. Yes, that's the keyboard I was originally referring to. But I didn't know the Ondes Martenot had it too. If an electronic instrument built in the 1920's could do that, then it can't be that hard to implement it today. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to locate an Ondes Martenot keyboard, rig it up with CV/Gate control outputs, plug those into a CV/Gate-to-MIDI converter, and be content with my resulting frankenstein-job lateral MIDI controller. Or else, wait for some manufacturer to cash in on this under-explored business opportunity.

    That would be a fun project to do, if you could actually find an Ondes Martenot keyboard...

  5. #5

    Smile Re: MIDI keyboard with side-to-side action?

    Hey Iontas, i had posted a similar question a while ago on Ns. You can check out the different path the conversation took here :


    "With the EL-900 Yamaha have launched a new kind of keyboard response called Horizon touch. You may have already heard about this, but in a nutshell the keyboards respond to pressure exerted sideways on the keys as well as the traditional ‘up and down’ response. As you push the key left or right the pitch changes up or down. For example, the further you push the key right the higher the pitch. Set to maximum sensitivity the pitch can be changed over an octave but of course you can adjust the amount to create the right effect. I found it quite logical to use and after a little practice I achieved some great effects. It is certainly an easier way to bend the pitch than using the second expression pedal as on the EL90. It will probably take the average player quite a while to feel really comfortable with this new technique but it is a great experience – and unique to the EL-900. This kind of keyboard touch is not available even in the synth world.
    The new keyboard design that has made this possible is called FSV. The V stands for ‘virtual’. ‘Virtual’ is from the name given to the latest addition to the EL sound. ‘Virtual Acoustic Synthesis’ "
    Theo Krueger - Composer


    Kontakt 2 Scripts

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