Touch-responsive instruments and synthesisers from music tech start-up ROLI use gestures such as presses, bends and slides to offer a new level of musical expression. Matthew Stock reports.
It's been hailed as a musical revolution. Instead of regular black and white keys of a piano, the Seaboard has one continious, touch-responsive surface. The soft, springy, material responds wherever the user presses. Developed by music tech start-up ROLI, the Seaboard's inventor says it presents a new paradigm for musical expression. SOUNDBITE (English) ROLAND LAMB, FOUNDER & CEO OF ROLI, SAYING: "I wanted to be able to express more from the keyboard and create the kind of sounds and modulations that people could create on a bass or a guitar or a saxophone. And I was sitting at the piano and thinking why can't I strike a note and then glide it and slide it and move it. And I could sing like what I wanted to be able to hear, but I couldn't do that." Professional pianist Marco Parisi says its blown his musical mind. SOUNDBITE (English) MARCO PARISI, MUSICIAN, SITTING NEXT TO BROTHER JACK, SAYING: "To be able to use my piano technique and make that expressive changed my world. I don't play piano any more - I play only the Seaboard, only the Seaboard." The Seaboard was first released in 2013. Since then ROLI has raised more than $50 million in investment. This is their latest creation. (UPSOT) Called Blocks - it's a modular synthesiser system, basically - a music studio in your pocket. Its tactile and touch-responsive pressure pad is designed to help anyone created a layered and professional sounding track. Musicians can build a multi-piece kit; magnetically clicking together Blocks to build a customised mini music studio. At its debut in London, Blocks hit all the right notes with guests, including established artists. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GRIMES, MUSICIAN, SAYING: "My grandma really likes it and my brother, who doesn't play music, really likes it. And that's one of the things that really got me excited about it; is that I think you don't need a lot of musical experience to make stuff that sounds good or professional with it." Blocks is available from ROLI's website and is being rolled out at Apple stores in the coming weeks.