Musical Development problems – the Janko Keyboard

So, I have passed my Master of Engineering, which means that from next Thursday I can style myself “Mr Owen Woods, BA(Hons) MEng CertGSMD”. Not that I will in polite conversation mind, but it is rather daunting that it is an option. And with this revelation, it is beginning to sink in that I am going to leave this place. Which is not an unpleasant thought, it has been a tricky four years, but it isn’t wholly pleasant either.

And I have finished off my Cambridge experience in style, obviously, by playing in five gigs in the last seven days (see my gig diary). Four of these were with my piano trio “There and Back Again” and the other was with the Cambridge University Ceilidh Band. All very good fun but it does mean that my body clock is all over the place. It is 8am and I haven’t been to bed yet.

So rather than write one of my long, rambling, semi-coherent posts, I thought that I would just give you a video, to make a point. In the last two posts on musical instrument development (Making the most of your Limitations and The pitfalls of Musical Instrument Acoustics) I made the point that step changes in instrument development are difficult to implement, no matter how demonstratably better the new system is. An illustration of this is the piano keyboard, which requires you to learn a new fingering for every single scale. There are several systems of fingering which enable you to learn one fingering which is the same for every key, just shifted by position and so I thought I would share the one that I know least but like most: the Janko System.

The Janko System is an isomorphic keyboard layout (meaning that shifting key does not shift patterns) based on the whole tone scale. In this respect it is similar to the Wicki-Hayden system that I have on the bass end of my Hohner Liliput (more on that later).  However, this system is optimised for chromaticism and for using two hands, meaning that the offset between the rows is different. The result is that the range of the typical hand is increased and the fingering is a lot simpler. For much more information, see Daskin Manufacturing’s very informative site, or marvel at the video below. Enjoy!

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5 thoughts on “Musical Development problems – the Janko Keyboard

  1. I just discovered your site, and am delighted that I’m not the only person in the country with a nerdy interest in squeezeboxes and obscure fingering systems like the Janko. I sent you an email asking if you’d be interested in making contact, but thought that just in case it gets filed as spam, I should let you know here as well.

    • Most interested to hear that you have a “Hayden Bass* on your Liliput, look forward to hearing more.
      The precursor of the Janko keboard was first suggested by Trotter in a patent of 1811, however like Wiki he appears to have done absolutely nothing to promote it.
      Now that my little idea has taken on a life of it’s own (with the ultimate accolade of being produced in a *Cheap Chinese” version), I have returned to take a closer look at Melodeons and Anglo-concertinas.
      Hope to run into you again at Sidmouth, best wishes.
      Brian.

      • Nice to hear from you Brian! The Hayden Bass on the Liliput works really well, I will post an inside and out post on it in August, once I get back from festivalling. Your layout is particularly well adapted for diatonic playing with split fingerings, i.e. on concertinas and accordions. I think that the Janko has a little more scope in the context of a piano and of course on that instrument you can use your thumb more easily, which extends the effective range of the hand. But for the bass end of my instrument your layout is ideal. I am not the first to use it for the bass end of a box: there was a van der Aa for sale on melnet a little while back with a variant – however the buttons were not raked, which I think reduces the efficacy of the layout significantly.

        Hopefully will run into you again at Sidmouth (we ran into each other last year, but I hadn’t figured out who you were then).

  2. Pingback: The Loomes Chromatic | Music and Melodeons

  3. From what I gather… I trust that the grossly, zebra piano Kbd layout and the traditional music notation has been (and still is) fostered and perpetuated by professional musicians to discourage hobby musicians and bolster the pockets of music teachers. That’s all there’s to it!
    It’s, because the Janko Kbd and my Janko WYSIWYG type of notation*) proves that the same end result is 10x faster and easier achievable! :)
    Their reasoning is: Why make it faster and easier when it can be done more difficult and slower? :(

    *) My Janko notation offers basic transcription of traditional music notation and MIDI files to visually suit the Janko Kbd layout. I’m looking for a programmer to accelerate the transcription process. jdrinda@hotmail.com

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