New MIDI Box, Key Control, Lets You Map Your Keyboard Controller To Any Key

Artificial Noise has introduced Key Control, a MIDI device that maps your keyboard controller or synthesizer to your chosen Key and Scale.

The white keys will play all the notes in the desired Key & Scale (removing all unused notes), while the black keys will play chords within the Key & Scale. Choose between 11 scales and all 12 keys.

Here’s an example of Key Control in action:

To use, you hook up the Key Control between your keyboard controller and your desired MIDI destination (computer, synthesizer, sequencer, etc) via standard 5-Pin MIDI DIN cables. Or, you can put your synthesizer in “Local OFF” mode and send the MIDI out from your synth through the Key Control and back into the synth.

Scales include:

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Harmonic Minor
  • Melodic Minor
  • Dorian
  • Locrian
  • Lydian
  • Mixolydian
  • Phrygian
  • Hungarian Minor
  • Persian
  • Chromatic / Thru Mode

Pricing and Availability

Key Control is available for pre-order for US $199.

33 thoughts on “New MIDI Box, Key Control, Lets You Map Your Keyboard Controller To Any Key

      1. Black keys represent five pentatonic scales:

        Minor pentatonic: Eb-Gb-Ab-Bb-Db-Eb
        Major pentatonic: Gb-Ab-Bb-Db-Eb-Gb
        Blues minor: Bb-Db-Eb-Gb-Ab-Bb
        Blues major: Db-Eb-Gb-Ab-Bb-Db
        Suspended: Ab-Bb-Db-Eb-Gb-Ab

        With this device you leave the “scale” knob on “major” and then adjust the key for the pentatonic scale you want.

        For example to play the E minor blues scale you’d change the key so that the Bb black key plays an E.

        1. The above description & video show that black keys play chords rather than pentatonic scales.

          This raises another question, if there are 7 notes in the scale and 7 chords, which two chords get the axe? Arguably we could say goodbye to the diminished chord (VII), I wouldn’t lose sleep about that, but it would be better to use some kind of MIDI message to enable chords– to keep all seven.

          Is there a specific MIDI number for Sostenuto? that would be a reasonable option to enable chords. I guess not all keyboards generate it, so perhaps there’d need to be some software setting to set that command.

          1. All seven chords are spread over two octaves, plus three 7th chords I, IV & VII to make up the rest of the black keys (ie. 10 black keys). The chords are spread over the entire keyboard range (10 octaves) of black keys, in different variations and octaves – always in two octave (10 black key) spans. This includes, bass notes an octave lower as well as 1st and 2nd inversions.

  1. Why are these types of devices so popular? If you are going to play a keyboard, why not just learn how it works and you can have all these scales/modes instantly with your actual fingers. Music theory is not some secret science, it’s basic math wrapped in a language. Two 1 hour sessions with a half decent instructor, or better yet, $15 on a cheap scale/mode book will set you up for life.

    1. “If you are going to play a keyboard, why not just learn how it works and you can have all these scales/modes instantly with your actual fingers.”

      Building good technique in all keys is something that takes pianists years to get good at, and even then, most can only transpose on the fly if they were born gifted with excellent relative pitch, also.

      Why limit what you as a player can do because of instruments based on technology from 500 years ago?

      1. This is why I never mastered the keyboard, but was quite happy to learn LinnStrument, where the fingering in every key is the same yet all 12 scale notes are available as needed.

    2. Life is too short to waste it to learn how to play. If there are tools which allow to compose music without shortening your life, it is awesome! In the end of the day, if it sounds good, who cares how it is played or recorded?

    3. Why are word processors so popular?! Geeze, it was bad enough when we went from quills and ink to fountain pens, and then the devil of ball point pens appeared and oh my god! The art form of writing began going downhill fast… Then mechanical typewriters showed up and you didn’t even need to have good penmanship to be able to write your thoughts down…

      This has led to where we are today where we have these fancy computing devices that actually check your spelling, punctuation, and even grammar!

      All you need is a good goose feather quill, some squid ink, and a copy of Strunk’s Style guide to be a “real artist”

    4. Guitarist here. I don’t have time to invest learning the scales in all 12 keys. I know enough theory to plunk it out if I need to but it still is a pain for the crazy keys.

      I’m not sure if I’d use this device because I only use key controllers with my DAW, not live. But still I imagine other performing musicians who aren’t primarily keyboardists (maybe a singer in a band who is helping out on a part) needing to transpose a song they learned on one key.

      It’s basically a midi capo.

    5. Because all of us are not master and the keys yet want to make music that is appealing to the ear. Just as there are tools to help good keyboard players have a wide palette of sounds (presets), this is a tool that is good for someone, like myself who is good at designing sounds but not at playing keys.

    6. I think you are over simplifying a great deal the time it takes to learn each mode in each key to back up your assertion not to mention that this device could be pressed for use into all sorts of non-traditional “keyboard” instruments….then add in the flexibility that these type of devices give in “jam” type on the fly sessions …. if the mechanical limitations of the era hadn’t been the case, do you think that the pianoforte would have been designed the way it was? those limits no longer HAVE TO exist so why should the device remain the same?

    7. I believe using this device will teach those theories. Also with something like this you can do things that are not possible on traditional keyboards.

  2. It’s a good idea, and a reasonable device. I do agree that it is more valuable to learn to play scales and that gives you tons more control and options. But there is a place for a device like this.

    It usually bugs me that modes are included in the scale count, since they really aren’t needed. If you want dorian, just pick major and drop the root down a whole step, etc. etc. But in this case, it sounds like they make C the root no matter what, so that kind of makes sense why they are doing it this way.

    My minor gripe would be that they should have provided Maj, Harm Min, Mel Min, Pentatonic, Blues, Hungarian Min, Persian and others, along with 8-10 user slots.

  3. Great idea and absolutely love the look of this. For those dissing the notion, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

    If you already own an iOS device and a MIDI interface for it, the white-keys-to-scale part of this box functionality has been a part of the Thumbjam app for years. You can send the processed MIDI out of Thumbjam—just have to load a silent sample (or turn the volume of the app down). Will work fine on that iPhone 3g in your desk drawer.

    Can feel a little weird at first because the white keys aren’t doing what you normally expect them to but after a bit you just let go and the white keys turn into an infinite collection of well tuned Kalimbas.

    Yes, learning to play the keyboard is good and all. I’m not terrible at it but I don’t know 80% of the scales included in TJ and certainly don’t know the intervals well enough to be able to transpose to any key. Plus, if the scale has fewer than 7 notes (like many many do) you can physically play things that would be otherwise impossible unless your hands could each span a foot and a half.

    1. What’s uber-cool is to use Navichord. You can set it up so that pads trigger chords you set (like memory locations) and if you set it up, you can make it so the keyboard’s white keys (onscreen, or hardware if you route it though) will actually not only be constrained to the key, but can be constrained to the “key” or whatever of the current cord so melodies fit the chord gooder. It’s pretty amazing once you kind of wire it all together…

      You too can play 3 hour synth solos to amaze and delight your friends. 🙂

        1. Press the circular arrows in the upper 1/3 next to the chord readout. The keys on the bottom will change based on the chord you play assuming you set up those options in the settings

  4. yea that the thing that sucks about the sq1, really weird design imo. cool idea with this box, but im with the players, at least the simple modes are basic music theory all should know.

  5. Take one of these and secretly hook it up to a keyboard used by someone who knows how to really play and watch the confusion 😉

    1. @Mike: Well, it’s fairly easy to implement this in software. I’m working on a version for web-Midi and Python right now, intended for educational purposes. Don’t know if any software alternative is already available.

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