Musical instruments are the vehicles through which artists can express their every emotion. However, while an instrument like the piano can provide sounds to feelings, it can also be artistically restricting.
The design-led music technology startup company ROLI is changing this with its revolutionary musical instrument that reimagines the classic piano keyboard into a more expressive instrument.
"If you think about the piano, it's not like the cello or guitar. We are limited. We just set dynamics and that's it," says pianist Marco Parisi in a interview with Tech Times. "This is the evolution."
The Seaboard Grand is a radically new type of keyboard and MIDI controller that is soft to touch and pressure-sensitive, giving the artist expression in every gesture.
Hand-assembled in London, the instrument has a sleek design and is offered in three options: the Seaboard Grand Studio (that has 37 keywaves), the Grand Stage (61 keywaves) and the Grand Limited First Edition with (88 keywaves).
ROLI's Seaboard Grands are equipped with patent-pending SEA Interface sensor technology that allows the musician to control pitch, vibrato and per-note dynamics. It has soft, seamless, continuous sense of control surface that enables the musician to do things like play with bravado, slur notes and play above and below keys.
"Even more beautiful beyond the design is the functionality in that you can do the most expressive gestures with your fingertips in real time," says Evan O'Brien, head of artist relations at ROLI.
The musician can also slide their fingers in a "Z" motion in between, below and above keys, providing a unique way pianists and keyboard players can play music.
"I've been playing this for awhile, and when I come back to the piano, I feel limited," Parisi, who also works with ROLI, says. "I can really express what I'm thinking. And I can play what I'm seeing."
Because the keys are pressure-sensitive, the musician can control things like volume and timbre change. The instrument is equipped with precision pitch control with polyphonic pitch blend and aftertouch. It also has per-note dynamics and built-in effects.
"It puts the power of expressiveness in your fingers, where it belongs," O'Brien says.
Every Seaboard Grand comes with a USB key, and the instrument's audio engine software, built from the ground up, is called Equator, a multidimensional synthesizer for Seaboard. Equator comes with 48 different sounds, but users can also load sound onto the keyboard, allowing musicians to take the instrument with them to play on the stage.
The Seaboard also comes with a multitimbral softsynth software called PolyThru, and FXpansion's Synth Squad. All software is compatible with Mac OS X. The instrument is also compatible with many third-party software.
The Grand Studio retails for $1,999, and the Grand Stage retails for $2,999 directly from the company's website at ROLI.com. New Yorkers can also pick one up at MOMA stores.
Check out a video of the ROLI Seaboard Grand.
CE Week 2015's consumer electronics and technology exhibits in New York City from June 22-26 showcased products from more than 175 participating companies, along with a program of over 35 conference sessions, keynotes and workshops, at the Metropolitan Pavilion/Altman Building.