The Kid Should See This

The Jankó keyboard, an 1882 replacement for the traditional piano layout

The Jankó keyboard is a musical keyboard layout for a piano designed by Paul von Jankó in 1882. It was designed to overcome two limitations on the traditional piano keyboard: the large-scale geometry of the keys (stretching beyond a ninth, or even an octave, can be difficult or impossible for pianists with small hands), and the fact that each scale has to be fingered differently. Instead of a single row, the Jankó keyboard has an array of keys consisting of two interlocking manuals with three touch-points for each key lever. Each vertical column of keys is a semitone away from its neighboring columns, and on each horizontal row of keys the interval from one note to the next is a whole step.

This key layout results in each chord and scale having the same shape on the keyboard with the same fingerings regardless of key, so there is no change in geometry when transposing music.

See this Jankó keyboard design in action on a variety of keyboards, including a Paul Vandervoort-built Jankó played by Willem Feltkamp, above. The music: Lagrima by Francisco Tárrega.

Below, on the Lippens Keyboard: Georgia on my Mind, a Ray Charles cover.

Plus: Noel Cragg plays Dave Brubeck’s Strange Meadow Lark on a Daskin Janko prototype MIDI controller.

Steve Giedosh plays Misty on a Chromatone Janko Keyboard.

And Stephen Moseson plays Charlie Brown on a custom-made Jankó:

Next: The Wheelharp & The Viola Organista, the earliest known surviving piano, a homemade Emphatic Chromatic Callioforte, a tiny balloon-powered organ made from paper & cardboard, and the glass armonica.

Bonus: The making of a Steinway Grand Piano from start to finish.

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