LED illuminated isomorphic keyboard looks as good as it sounds

Unlike the traditional ebony and ivory found on pianos, isomorphic keyboards arrange buttons on a grid. This makes every chord the same shape, and to transpose a piece it’s simply a matter of moving your fingers a few places to the left or right. [Brett Park] sent in an isomorphic keyboard he built loaded up with LEDs, and we’re thinking it the perfect instrument for musicians looking to move up from playing their MacBook.

The body of [Brett]‘s keyboard is made out of a sheet of acrylic. After drilling 64 holes for each of the clear arcade buttons, [Brett] bent the sides of his hexagonal keyboard into a very sturdy-looking enclosure.

On the hardware side, [Brett] used a 64 button Arduino shield and a Sparkfun MIDI shield. The RGB LEDs behind each button are controlled via MIDI sysex messages generated outside the instrument, making it perfect for a little bit of visual feedback from whatever soft synth you desire.

In the videos after the break, you can check out the light patterns in action along with one of [Brett]‘s improvs. Notice how all the chords are the same shape, and changing the key only requires [Brett] to move his hands slightly to the side.

14 thoughts on “LED illuminated isomorphic keyboard looks as good as it sounds

    1. This is a reconfigurable isomorphic keyboard, which means there are lots of different arrangements of notes possible. One of the arrangements, called “wicki-hayden” is the layout used on accordions and concertinas. Check out the ipad software for more ideas: it’s called “musix”

      1. Actually, I believe he’s referring to the “Brown Note” as portrayed in the cartoon series South Park during the Worldwide Recorder Concert episode.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_note

        “The brown note is a hypothetical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance.”

      2. … that’s what he said (linking to “Brownian Noise” to show the first person that “Brown Noise” is incorrect).

        Alternately, I propose that the noise produces while someone is making “brown” (esp. if they just ate at Taco Bell) be henceforth referred to as “Brown Noise”. (Quick, someone with more ambition/energy/fucks-to-give go write the needed Wikipedia/Urban Dictionary entries!)

        And since the keyboard is just a MIDI controller, I would have to answer that: yes, it can indeed make “brown noise”, assuming the device you’re controlling with it has the correct sound-fonts (or whatever they’re called now) installed.

  1. Amazingly clean and thoughtful build for a prototype. I’d wish them good look on the project. A ~$500 parts bill is nothing to sneeze at.

    1. While the RGB leds being very very cool – and a large part of the build – if you remove that, and buy non transparent arcade buttons, the build cost drops quite a bit.

      I’m pretty tempted to build a controller like this.

  2. I need to array up a big batch of Cherry silent key switches I have, about 3 80′s era computers worth. The problem is making the keycaps into hexagons. They snap off, sounds like a job for 3D printing.

  3. I’d like to see someone make real versions of the band’s instruments in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Space Rockers”.

    If there was a new Buck Rogers series, this keyboard would fit in perfectly.

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