BBC4 explores the historical quirk that was Synth Britannia on October 16th (with the usual time shifted repeats on and around that date). Obviously of interest to anyone who ever fiddled around with a synthesizer (that’d include me then) or anyone who has a passing interest in the influence that the early years of electronic music had on the British music scene of the late 70’s to early 80’s.
Also this autumn BBC4 will be exploring Metal Britannia. Not sure I’ll go out of my way for that one but each to their own musical tastes eh.
The chromatone musical keyboard seen here replaces the conventional piano style keyboard with what’s known as a Jankó keyboard, a solution that dates from 1882. The result looks like a bizarre marriage of a musical keyboard and typewriter. In fact there are 312 unlabelled keys. The concepts can get a bit complex but in essence the main idea was to preserve the same structure for all chords and allow access to multiple incidences of the same notes without having to span the same distances required on a conventional musical keyboard layout.
Like many innovative ideas that take on an already established system it continues to face problems in gaining anything other than a niche acceptance owing to having to relearn a new system and is best exploited by those learning the system before or alongside a conventional system as this video shows.