Design and Applications of a Multi-Touch Musical Keyboard

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


SMC Conference 2011 (2011)


This paper presents a hardware and software system for adding multiple touch sensitivity to the piano-style keyboard.  The traditional keyboard is a discrete interface, defining notes by onset and release.  By contrast, our system allows continuous gestural control over multiple dimensions of each note by sensing the position and size of up to three touches per key.  Sensors are constructed using system-on-chip capacitive touch sensing controllers on circuit boards shaped to each key.  The boards are laminated with thin plastic sheets to provide a traditional feel to the performer.  The sensors, which are less than 3mm thick, mount atop an existing acoustic or electronic piano keyboard.  The hardware connects by USB, and software on a host computer generates OSC messages reflecting a broad array of low- and high-level gestures, including motion of single points, two- and three-finger pinch and slide gestures, and continuous glissando tracking across multiple keys.  This paper describes the sensor design and presents selected musical mappings.

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