Category Archives: Keyboard

Introducing the Harmonic 7th Chord

If you want to experience Just Intonation first hand then please visit the Online Terpstra Keyboard and experiment for yourself.  This was originally created by James Fenn.  I have added a few additions and will continue to build upon his wonderful work.  You can even use this on an iPad or tablet of your choice in order to use multiple fingers for chords and scales.

Online Terpstra Keyboard

Make sure “Enumerate Scale” is not checked, scroll to the bottom and click on  “MAKE ME A MICROTONAL KEYBOARD!”.

Click around to hear how this Just Intonation scale sounds.  If you’re on a laptop or desktop then hold down the space-bar for sustain, or if using a tablet then shake it until you see a message that says “Sustain On” You can turn sustain off by shaking it again (working out the details on that).

To play a Harmonic 7th chord play the following notes:  R, 5/4, 3/2, 7/4.  What you have here is a very stable and consonant chord that is unavailable to you if playing on a piano in 12ET.  This is only a very small beginning of what awaits you in new musical sounds and textures.

The Janko Keyboard

Janko Keyboard

What a great idea the Janko Keyboard is.  In 1882 Paul von Jankó designed this marvelous instrument. But sadly it never took off.   There are some brave ingenious people who are endeavoring in bringing this wonderful instrument back to life and to the forefront for others to play and be creative with.

I play a number of different instruments.  Guitar and piano being among them.  When it comes to the piano I recognize something strikingly different in approach than when playing a guitar.  On the piano I have to play scales and chords differently for each of the 12 major scales, but on the guitar the scale shapes and chord shapes remain the same all over the neck (for the most part, depending on your tuning).

The take away is that you get up to speed faster on guitar chops (in all 12 keys) than you can on the piano.  Thus, you can master (I use that term very loosely) the guitar faster than you could the piano.  One of the pluses for the piano is that you always know exactly where you are because of the black key – white key pattern.  If you want to move to a different mode in a different key it might be easier on a piano if you know all 12 scales than on a guitar where you could get disoriented quite a bit easier.

The Janko Keyboard offers you the best of both worlds!  You still get to keep the same 7 white keys and 5 black keys to keep your orientation.  BUT for each scale you play, the fingering will be exactly the same!  Why this has not caught on amongst those in the music world I truly do not know!