The 88-key piano action keyboard has always been the ‘gold standard’ for keyboardists. So it should come as no surprise that, over the years, synth designers have tried to bring the feel and playability of the grand piano to the keytar synthesizer.
Unfortunately, the Keytar Grand, despite 40 years of effort from the greatest synth minds of the last two generations, has failed to garner much interest from players. We asked keyboard historian Mark Fail why the Keytar Grand has struggled to find its niche.
“The early 70′s Keytar Grands were made with discrete electronics,” he notes. “As a result, they could easily tip the scale at 200 lbs or more.”
James Brown, above right, was one of the first musicians to attempt live performance with a Keytar Grand. His interest in the instrument was short lived, though.
In a contemporary interview, Brown had this to say about the Keytar Grand: “The first time I tried to play that thing,” he said about the Keytar Grand, “my back locked up in the middle of the song.”
“I shouted ‘Help Me!’, but no one did anything. So I cried ‘Ow!’ But, still – nobody helped me out.”
“Finally, I told the horns to take it to the bridge and drop it. I had to tell them to ‘Drop it!’ two times before they threw that thing in the river.”
Keyboard Magazine’s Mitchell Sigman reviews the new Alesis Vortex USB/MIDI keytar controller.
Sigman focuses on the the Vortex’s unique accelerometer control. The Vortex features a MIDI-assignable accelerometer, so you can control virtually any parameter by moving the Vortex?s neck: volume swells, pitch bends, vibratos, filter cutoffs, etc. Continue reading
The Brett Domino Trio (Brett Domino, Steven Peavis & Mitch Hutchinson) do their take on Cypress Hill’s Insane In The Brain.
This video captures an overview demo of the Alesis Vortex keytar MIDI controller, by Sweetwater’s Daniel Fisher.