An Overview of The Seaboard Grand

The Seaboard Grand has been described as being like no other piano anyone has ever seen or played before. This instrument, which has been referred to as a ‘fretless piano’, was created by design company Roli. It is a futuristic-looking electronic keyboard that replaces the traditional keys of a keyboard or piano with continuous touch ‘keywaves’. Similar to a giant ipad the keys are almost flat against the main body of the instrument – it would be hard to play with your eyes closed.

The keywaves will allow the player to choose a wide variety of absolute pitches and then manipulate them in several ways. Using a pressure-sensitive, soft-touch interface, the Grand Seaboard is played like a piano but due to its infinite pitches, it can vibrate, modulate and bend tones by merely using the keys themselves. For example if the player moves a finger left on a key, it ‘bends’ downwards.

In the right hands this amount of control and expression makes the Seaboard a monster instrument.

The advent of the Seaboard Grand does not mean that it is the end of the Piano. For the modern keyboard musician however, it provides intuitive expression and control that can only be dreamt of by keyboard controllers. The instrument does away with the mod wheel and pitch bend control. This allows the player to bend pitches and intensify performance with the touch of a finger, facilitating much more expressive control (check out the video above featuring Cory Henry at NAMM).

It’s still possible to play the Seaboard Grand like a piano if a classic EP patch is loaded. With other instruments and modern electronic patches however, the player can open up an entirely new expressive world that responds while he or she is playing.

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