Is the Seaboard Grand The Musical Instrument of The Future?
The story of the Seaboard Grand started in 2009, when a student from the London Royal College of Arts, Roland Lamb, decided to create a piano that would behave differently usual ones: on a piano / keyboard, each note exists "separetaly", unlike on a wind or stringed instrument, where the player can create a much wider range of sounds.
“Sound on a piano is very pixelated, in separate discrete elements, and if you tie all those together it can feel continuous,” Lamb said. “But other instruments, like a violin, are high resolution, because the sound is continuous and changing.”
You can play a note on a piano, and it may soudn different according to how strong you press the keys, and you can also use a pedal for added vibrato or sustain, but Lamb wanted to create a keyboard where the notes could blend seamlessly, an instrument that would also be much more sensitive to the nuances the human hand is capable of. The result, the Seaboard Grand, is an instrument that looks partly-familiar, partly-odd, and certainly very "Futuristic". Could it be showing us the way of how musical instruments could / should behave? Could it be… the Future of musical instruments?
Watch the clips and decide for yourself!
The Seaboard Grand doesn’t have "keys" but a black silicone surface that align neatly and ripple and undulate across the surface. It has a range of sensors carefully engineered to respond to pressure and hold time. They connect to the sound engine, so that each note can be manually varied in ways that other piano keys can’t.
Roli, the company that builds the Seaboard, has 40 engineers working on improving the interface, and they believe there’s a market for the instrument, and Oscar and Grammy award winning musicians such as A. R. Rhaman and Hans Zimmer have already used the instrument.
Zimmer said: “Having the Seaboard in front of me is inspiring. It has a sensual touch, which feels intuitive and very human. The Seaboard shows us how to get beyond the boundaries of the keyboard, a technology that was invented hundreds of years ago. Many people have tried and failed to do this; Roland Lamb and his team are actually much closer than anyone else has ever come to doing so, and thereby establishing a new, truly expressive digital instrument.”