New pitch-bending keyboard revealed at SXSW

11 March 2013, 15:57 | Updated: 11 March 2013, 16:00

Keyboard players can now bend the pitch of notes simply by the way they play, thanks to the Seaboard, a touch-sensitive instrument that's making waves at South by Southwest festival in Texas this week.

Chromatic black-and-white piano keys may one day be a thing of the past, thanks to a new, pressure-sensitive keyboard. The instrument, called the Seaboard Grand, is premiering at SXSW in Texas this week, and enables users to bend the pitch of notes as they play simply by changing the way they touch the keys.

While standard electric keyboards can respond to pressure, this new soft-touch keyboard can change the volume and pitch directly on the keys themselves. The result is an instrument that can create pitch bends, vibration, modulations and volume adjustments straight from the keyboard, without having to use separate dials.

Pianists will be pleased to note that switching between the piano and Seaboard shouldn't cause too much trouble: the company behind the invention, Roli, says piano players should be able to sit down at the Seaboard and play almost straight away.

The Seaboard Grand will be available for pre-order in April. As yet there is no word on how much one of the limited run of 88 instruments will cost.