There’s only so much you can innovate something before it stagnates, before you run out of possibilities or end up altering it beyond it’s original purpose. London based tech company Roli however show that the keyboard still has more to offer, it just takes a bit of ingenuity.
You may have already heard of the ‘Seaboard Grand’ released in 2013 at a wallet-burning $2,999 but Roli are now releasing the not as bankrupting ‘Seaboard Rise’. At $799 the Seaboard Rise may be smaller and cheaper but that doesn’t mean Roli haven’t made some improvements over the past two years.
So what is it that sets Seaboards apart from regular keyboards? Well quite a lot actually. The UK based startup’s CEO, Roland Lamb, got the inspiration from waves for the aptly named Seaboard. Lamb, who also created the device, says he was sketching waves when he noticed how the patterns of waves were both continuous and separated into alternate sections. This sparked in Lamb the idea of a piano that worked in the same way, allowing players to play notes as usual but also explore the spaces between them. The result was the Seaboard Grand, a pressure sensitive keyboard that’s pitch, volume and timbre can be controlled by strikes, presses, glides and slides.
Two years later the Rise promises an easy-to-use multi-platform synth/keyboard/MIDI controller with a built in user control panel and bluetooth wireless freedom. The portable keyboard has been designed to be supported by multiple OS’ and to be compatible with a range of popular DAWs and software/hardware synthesizers. At the launch event for Rise, Roland Lamb said: “(The Seaboard Rise) is the world’s first truly accessible expressive controller. It’s a next-generation gestural instrument.”
In addition to the smaller size the Rise differs in production whereas the Seaboard Grand was built by hand the Rise will be mass produced, however retaining the charm with it’s sleek black style.
In an interview with The Verge Roland Lamb said the following.
A living musical instrument is 10 percent physical, 90 percent cultural. Say you go to a museum and see some old instrument, but nobody knows how to play it or what the music was like that was made with it. Then it’s just a dead object.
There are people who are really good with a hammer or knife, but their level of virtuosity [is nothing] compared with playing, say, a violin — the number of years of skill and practice that go into that.
You can pre-order the Seaboard Rise from the Roli website for $799/£599, expecting to start shipping from the 9th of October.
Watch a full performance of the Seaboard Rise at it’s launch event in the video below.