Unusual Microtonal Instruments, Part 4

So far, we have examined a large variety of microtonal instruments. We have yet to discuss the keyboard and its role in producing microtonal music. In some ways the piano style keyboard is the victim of its own success. Its twelve keys per octave arrangement has become so common that many have forgotten that there are other alternatives, but imagine what you could do with this alternative keyboard controller from H-Pi Instruments.

Tonal Plexus

This keyboard features an impressive 211 keys per octave. I can't imagine a situation where this wouldn't be sufficient. This same company also sells the Tuning Box, the world's first microtonal midi converter. You can use it to retune electronic keyboards or software synthesizers. It can store over 500 tunings. This is a great idea. This could save a person a lot of time and money shopping for equipment with microtonal capabilities.

If this all sounds new and unusual, you might enjoy visiting their instrument galleries that feature a long history of keyboards capable of playing more than 12 notes per octave. For example, here is a modern reconstruction of a sixteenth century harpsichord that has 36 keys per octave split between two manuals.


Here is a 31 tone to the octave pipe organ.

Fokker organ

Here is a closeup of a 22 tone just intonation harpsichord keyboard with unusual split keys.

Just Intonation harpsichord

See also:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5


Cyclepath said...

This is a very interesting blog. I have posted an explanation for the curious numbers of degrees in equal temperament on http://www.chemicalgalaxy.co.uk/KEYS34.pdf Regards, Philip Stewart

Daniel Thompson said...

Thank you for the link. It provides a good description of some interesting temperaments.

I don't know if you are familiar with the alternate tunings group at
If not, you might enjoy checking it out.

Barb said...

Hey, thanks for dropping by and doing Link It Up! Haven't seen you around in a while. :)

Bill Windes said...

I love actually seeing the archicembalo after having heard about for so many years. I will definitely be (re)checking this blog out. You are performing a much needed service.

Great stuff!