xPress

Hardware/Software: Midi Keyboard (prototype)

The xPress desires to be a keyboard which feels expressive to play. Originally unknowingly, it parallels the ROLI Seaboard in a much more simplistic fashion. There is a rising tide of musicians who want to play electronic music or have the variety of sounds that MIDI affords but are finding that velocity sensitivity lacks the kind of control they are hoping for. Having the ability to control timbre while playing notes rather than just at the start of each - which is all velocity allows - enhances the musicality of MIDI exponentially.

The keys in this piece of technology are designed to afford this sort of intra note expression as you begin to apply more or less pressure to them. They are built from force sensitive resistors and can be very sensitive from a light to a hard touch. The parameter that your touch then affects can be is malleable to your own desires and flexible within your chosen DAW. Furthermore, this control change can be set to be an average of the pressure across all of the keys or set to be different for each key.

The xPress was developed with Teensy 3.6 and can be used as a regular keyboard by simply not mapping the control change parameter.

Although the barriers of creating something as expressive and with as many parameter bending abilities as the Seaboard are very much a deterrent from creating a complex machine. There is most definitely a gap in the market for a more simplistic take on modern expression in MIDI keyboards.

Some of the criticism, in fact, received about the Seaboard is that it is too different from standard keyboard. The keys are too squishy and it does not feel like a keyboard. In further development with this project, the keys would be developed to feel like a very heavily weighted piano, so as to feel more familiar.