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Bikexprt.com Web Site


A summary of my work with keyboards

I have taken a keen interest in musical instrument design since I began reading books on musical instrument theory in high school.

In 1968, struck with the expressive possibilities of instruments with free control of musical pitch, I conceived of a keyboard instrument with keys that move toward and away from the player, allowing independent control of pitch. I pursued this idea for the next 17 years, culminating with the building of an electronic prototype Notebender, which proved the concept practical and workable.

Steps along the way to the electronic Notebender included the building of a two-manual baroque harpsichord in 1970-71 in order to familiarize myself with keyboard instrument concepts, and a mechanoelectrical prototype Notebender in the mid 1970's which changed the pitch the more or less the way Scruggs pegs do on a banjo. It was playable, but every one of the 57 strings needed tuning before every playing...

More recently, I have been exploring musical scales which use other tunings than the12-tone equal temperament of the conventional musical keyboard. There is a large body of music theory about such scales, and they are in fact used in the music of many cultures around the world. Unfortunately, they are not compatible with conventional keyboard instruments.

By taking advantage of computer control and electronic synthesis, it is today possible to build keyboard instruments which overcome this limitiation. I am currently working on the design and construction of such an instrument. It will use a general keyboard, which is described on this site.


[Top: John S. Allen's Home Page]
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Contents 1997 John S. Allen

Last revised 21 September 1997