[sdiy] is there a keyboard with keys that can be pulled out?

brianw brianw at audiobanshee.com
Fri Apr 28 06:43:00 CEST 2023

On Apr 27, 2023, at 2:44 PM, cheater cheater via Synth-diy <synth-diy at synth-diy.org> wrote:
> As in subject, has anyone seen a keyboard where you can grab the keys
> and pull them out lengthwise as an additional axis of performance
> input?
> We all know about keyboards where you can move the keys to the side,
> but I don't think I've seen something where you can pull them out or
> push them in.
> Thanks

Hal Chamberlin invented a keyboard where every key would slide in and out to control individual expression. There was actually a raised, knurled area on each key so that your finger wouldn't slip on the normally-smooth surface of a standard key. I believe that it had a rack and pinion system that turned a potentiometer for each key inside the keyboard enclosure.

I saw flyers for the product in the late eighties around the time that I visited Micro Technology Unlimited, Hal's company that made a digital recording system based on floppy disks (!).

I don't think that this was related to Hal's work for Kurzweil, but I think it was around the same time - perhaps right before.

Needless to say, it was expensive to manufacture, and not exactly popular with the typical keyboardist. It certainly stuck in my mind as inspiration for purchasing the Ensoniq Performance Sampler with PolyAT in 1988 or 1989.

Hal Chamberlin graduated from my alma mater, NCSU, and I remember reading through his hard-bound Masters Thesis in the engineering library: He designed a digital synthesizer in 1973.

Brian Willoughby

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