The New Musical Instrument – The KeyMusician Keyboard

I find this instrument very mobile, easy to learn, and great for improvising an individual instrument part with other instruments. I have a great wealth of good instrument sounds, and I can change instruments (and key-signatures) at the touch of a button, even while holding out a chord.

I have included compositions and improvisations of my own, as well as arrangements here. The arrangements were all played by ear (both melody and harmony), so they may not be precisely right, but they sound great just the same.

One of the best sounds on the FluidR3_GM soundfont, is the cello. I use it probably the most often, in improvising with the music of others. Here is a quick impromptu piece I did with it. The chords instrument sound is String Ensemble 1.

Cello Impromptu - Aere

The oboe sound is also very good on the FluidR3_GM soundfont. Here, it is used to play the theme from Eric Satie's “Gymnopedies”:

Gymnopedies - Satie

Here is an example of some improvisational flute playing. With this, I demonstrate the feature where playing a chord injects any required flats, sharps (or naturals) into the melody portion of the keyboard. This transforms what would be fast, intricate scales with flats inserted, into simple glissandos (the finger dragged over the keyboard keys).

Flute Fantasia

One of my favorite pieces I created for the Instrument, is the “Nessun Dorma” aria, from Giocomo Puccini's opera “Turandot”, here played on the french horn:

Puccini - Nessun Dorma - Turandot

I have a piano improvisation on the theme from Maurice Ravel's “Pavane For A Dead Princess”, which I adapted to be played on the new instrument. I love the harmonies in this piece:

Pavane for a Dead Princess - Ravel

Where most people aren't into classical music, I composed a piece on the instrument, perhaps more like something in the rock genre, complete with a wailing distortion guitar.

Of course, my classical & new-age genre roots are quickly evident (as I am not a rock musician), but this composition does provide a change of pace from the others. An interesting thing about this piece, is due to the keyboard being 'folded-in' on itself, I am able to play both the bass guitar part and the solo guitar part with just one hand:

Turning Toward Home - Aere

Although the instrument is easiest played as a solo-plus-chords instrument, you can play pieces entirely in the melody portion (which is only 4 keys less than a full 88-key keyboard).

The following two pieces are examples of doing just that.

This piece is a short composition, played entirely in the melody portion of the keyboard (as you would do with a piano). It illustrates (at the end) how you can play with one hand, both notes that are very high, and very low, at the same time.

Glowing Memories

This next piece has an interesting origin.

I was improvising a different piece, and I kept hearing Claude Debussy's “Clair De Lune” in the harmony I was experimenting with (a sequence of descending thirds). So I just started improvising “Clair De Lune”.

In this case, I am playing it using the ZynAddSubFX synthesizer available on Linux, which has a great sound for it.

This piece is played almost entirely using pairs of fingers on each hand, working together. It also has a case where the right hand plays (on the final chord) notes in the bass, the middle range, and above the melody. See what you think:

Clair De Lune - Debussy

Back in high school, I played B-flat Cornet in band, and was 1st-chair of the section my last few high-school years.

I was composing music for the instrument, which motivated my parents to get a piano, and get me piano lessons, which opened new vistas into the world of music for me.

Now, with the KeyMusician Keyboard, I have come full-circle, and have again composed a piece for Trumpet/Cornet. See what you think by clicking the link below.

Trumpet Voluntary - Aere

And finally, check out the “Ultimate” demo (below). This one is a full-blown piece of mine, and it illustrates how you can seamlessly change instruments in the middle of playing the piece.

Also, I used what I call 'composite voices' where the sound consists of a foreground sound (piano, for example), along with a background sound (strings, for example), played at a lower volume.

It starts out with everything being played in the melody section of the keyboard, then switches to a combination of melody instrument and chords instrument.

See what you think:

Aere – Ultimate Demo

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