Meet the Piano of the Future

A newly invented piano now makes it possible for pianists to slide and bend notes the way guitarists, violinists and players of other stringed instruments can.(Photo: Roli)
A newly invented piano now makes it possible for pianists to slide and bend notes the way guitarists, violinists and players of other stringed instruments can.(Photo: Roli)

Long since known as “the king of instruments,” the piano just got even grander.

A good pianist can perform amazing feats at the keyboard – crunching fistfuls of chords, swooping up and down the keyboard in lightning-fast scales, spinning out three or four or five melodies at the same time.

But despite all of these technical possibilities, pianists haven’t been able to slide seamlessly from one pitch to another, or create vibrato on a single note, the way, say, Jimi Hendrix does all over the place in his famous rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner:

Pianists haven’t been able to do these things, that is, until now.

Meet the Seaboard, a high-tech keyboard that gives pianists all the flexibility that guitarists and players of other stringed instruments have long since enjoyed. Designed by the London-based firm Roli, the Seaboard features an all-black keyboard made of touch-sensitive material that allows players to slide from note to note and to wiggle a finger from side to side on a to create the wobbly sound of vibrato on a single note. And like any good electronic keyboard, the Seaboard, can make itself sound like many things other than a piano.

In a promotional video about the Seaboard, Roland Lamb, founder and CEO of Roli and mastermind of the Seaboard, says that while a student at London’s Royal College of Music, he aspired to go beyond the piano’s limitations.

The more that I practiced the piano, the more that I found it had these fundamental limitations built into it.  And I wanted to reach other places that the piano couldn’t take me.

More about the Seaboard: 

  • Hear inventor Roland Lamb talk about The Seaboard (Roli.com)
  • Hans Zimmer Plays the Piano of the Future (CNN)
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