Meet the Harmonicade, a multi-channel MIDI keyboard that uses arcade push-buttons in a Wicki-Hayden button layout

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Or you could, I dunno, just buy an accordion? I feel like this is a bad way to learn about playing music, but I just can’t put my finger on the exact reason. . . .

That’s kind of like saying that a Dvorak keyboard is a bad way to learn typing, which it is, if you end up having to use Qwerty keyboards. But for electronic music, where all MIDI controllers are interchangeable, you could just be that person who always brings their Dvorak Wicki-Hayden keyboard with them.

Plus, it’s not like learning to play the violin / saxophone / steel drum etc. is teaching you anything about piano fingering.


+1 cat video.


As cool as arcade buttons are, won’t they lose velocity sensitivity?

Pretty important in an instrument


Oh, my God, major endorphin releaser! First I’ve heard of Wicki-Hayden note layout, and I love it! (It’s the Wicki-Hayden that lights me up, not the Harmonicade as such.)


Surely I’m not the only one who looks at the above picture and thinks, Avalon Hill, or SPI, or Empire of the Petal Throne, or whatever your tabletop hex-grid pleasure.


For me, it’s the lack of velocity sensitivity. All the notes are the same volume.


Can’t lose what it never had.

Bingo. The generated synth-pad tones sound good, but there’s no sense of dynamics.


The thing with amplitude dynamics and accordions (like this thing sort of resembles) is that there is variable amplitude control, but it’s not specifically tied to note onset (bellow pressure). The general topic of expanded dynamic control is one of the best areas of promise for alternative/novel midi controllers, (historically technological and marketing limits have kept most product offerings in electronic music interfaces bound to the piano-note “all-dynamics determined-at-onset” model). These days we’re seeing a ton of new approaches that break that mold though - there are two recently minted specifications that aim to address these shortcomings, MPE (midi polyphonic expression) and midi 2.0 (higher bit-depth messaging and bi-directional links), and lots of novel controllers that break away from the strictly piano paradigm.


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