Tale of Two Keyboards

Day 12 Week 2 Q1  Thursday, January 12, 2023

Some days I feel caught between expression and communication even though striving to do both, hopefully at the same time. I assume most writers are attempting to communicate and express themselves. I am less sure this is true about artists in general or musicians in particular. Perhaps this is projection, as we tend to see the world the way we are, not the way it is. This may be why most writers’ early novels and even nonfiction are autobiographical in some way. It is difficult to both not have a perspective and also have a perspective at the same time. Perhaps this is akin to feeling both special and insignificant at the same time, another balancing act if ever there was one.

Returning from the philosophical to the pragmatic, have you ever acquired something you suspected could be wonderful, checked it out to make sure it worked and then put it aside and never really used it? And if enough time passes by, you might not even remember why it might be wonderful, as you may no longer be on that particular path because something small like a global pandemic got in the way.

In this case, I am speaking of a marvelous but surprisingly rare tool for expression and communication, that is to say, musical expression and communication.  It is a very robust three-octave keyboard with full-size keys that, at 22 inches long, barely fits in a backpack and weighs just under two pounds. Before turning away and assuming this has nothing to do with you because you are neither any kind of musician nor especially a keyboard player, let me explain.

Although pianos, harpsichords and the like have been around for hundreds of years, digital controllers have been around for decades, and some backpacks are 22 inches long, there seems to have come into being a single device that works well enough for a real pianist to play expressively enough to communicate. One would think this should be trivial to create and get updated, but it was not, and I do personally know this, having been involved in and continuing to watch this field for fifty years.  

The ubiquitous two-octave mini-size key keyboard is useful only for single-note (monophonic) expression. And why does this matter?  Because most music requires, in addition to melody, harmony and rhythm. And this is why the guitar and the piano are the two most popular instruments in the world because they are the most self-contained, and neither, by the way, fits into a backpack. Well, there are some, but they are too complex, convoluted and just plain silly to matter to the tens of millions of piano and guitar players in the world. 

The sweet spot to be backpackable is 22 inches maximum, and the sweet spot for musical expression is three polyphonic octaves. And having it be aesthetically engineered in that it is both durable and emotionally pleasing is cream on the top. Evidently, I purchased one some time ago and brought it on a trip for the first time this week. This morning, for the first time, I was able to enjoy at 6 AM, while not awakening the others in the house, the joy of playing the piano I brought in a bag which sounds really very good. Performance-quality good!

What a joy.

I bet there are things in your life just like this, ready to be pressed into service. But for me, this adds to the tourability of my MeaningPlace.