Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | November 10, 2010

Attention Music Nerds!

This info is lovingly posted for all of our music nerd friends, but even if you don’t play a note or own a musical instrument, I think you will find it interesting…

Most of us are familiar with the look of a piano keyboard – 88 keys arranged in one long row.

The arrangement and style of the keyboard has served us well for hundreds of years.

But, there is always someone who wants to “build a better mousetrap”, and in the late 1800’s, Hungarian mathematician Paul von Janko designed a new keyboard intended to make it easier to learn and to play.

At first, the von Janko keyboard looks a bit overwhelming – 6 rows of keys replace the traditional single row.

However, because of the arrangement of notes on the keyboard, and the manner in which the keys are connected, the player only has to learn one set of chord fingering, and he or she can play in any key by simply moving to another row on the keyboard.

Now, I would think that such an improvement would have made this keyboard a huge success, but most pianists of the day were not interested in learning the new fingering, and although some piano manufacturers offered the keyboards, the von Janko design never became popular, and just a fewof these keyboards remain in existence today.

This is why we consider ourselves lucky to have seen a von Janko keyboard installed on a Steinway concert grand piano, at the Stephen Foster Museum. This particular Steinway originally belonged to Franklin Coleman Bush, who is known for opening the first school of music in Miami, Florida. Sure wish we could have heard it in action!

Here is an example of what the von Janko keyboard looked like…

Von Janko Keyboard

For more on the von Janko keyboard you can check out these websites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janko_keyboard

http://www.pianoworld.com/fun/janko.htm

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