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#174281 - 08/16/03 06:29 PM Janko Keyboard
zorro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/03
Posts: 271
Loc: Mesa, AZ
Has anyone had the opportunity to play one one of these babies?[/b]


How wrong can you be?
"If I were to begin my career anew it would be on this keyboard." - Arthur Rubinstein[/b]


"This invention will have replaced the present piano keyboard in fifty years' time!" - Franz Liszt[/b]
The Paul Janko keyboard
Here's what Alfred Dolge, piano builder and founder of the piano town of Dolgeville N.Y., said back in 1911 about the Janko keyboard in his book Pianos and Their Makers :




The most ingenious and really meritorious invention, revolutionary in its character, is the keyboard patented in 1882 by Paul von Janko of Austria. Moved by the desire to enable the amateur to execute the brilliant, but technically exceedingly difficult, essays of our modern composers, Janko constructed a keyboard of six tiers, one above the other, similar to the organ keyboard. On this keyboard tenths, and twelfths, can easily be produced by reaching a finger to the keyboard above or below that on which the hand is traveling. Arpeggios through the whole compass of the keyboard can be executed with a sweep of the wrist, which on the ordinary keyboard would hardly cover two octaves. Indeed, with the Janko keyboard, the hand and arm of the player can always remain in their natural position, because to sound an octave requires only the stretch of the hand equal to the sounding of the sixth on the ordinary keyboard.

It is difficult to realize the manifold possibilities which this keyboard opens up for the composer and performer. Entirely new music can be written by composers, containing chords, runs and arpeggios, utterly impossible to execute on the ordinary keyboard, and thus does the Janko keyboard make the piano, what it has often been called, a veritable "house orchestra". It is not nearly so difficult for the student to master the technic of the Janko, as to become efficient on the present keyboard. This keyboard can be readily adjusted to any piano having the ordinary action.

Like all epoch-marking innovations, this great invention is treated with indifference and open opposition. That poetic performer on the piano, Chopin, refused to play on the Erard grand pianos containing the celebrated repetition action, because his fingers were used to the stiff percussion of the English action. Today, however, English makers of concert grand pianos use the Erard action which Chopin disdained!

The piano virtuosos and teachers of the present day are opposing the Janko keyboard because its universal adoption would mean for them to forget the old and learn the new. The music publishers object to it, because their stock on hand would depreciate in value, as the Janko keyboard naturally requires different fingering than that now printed with the published compositions.

Although the Janko keyboard, in its present form, is thoroughly practical, and destined to inaugurate a new era for the piano industry, its universal success and adoption seem to be impaired by the appearance of the player piano, which enables the musical amateur to enjoy his own performance of the most difficult compositions with hardly any exertion on his part. It remains for a coming Titan of the pianoforte to lift the Janko keyboard out of its obscurity and give it its deserved place in the concert hail, there to show to the executing amateur its wonderful possibilities.


Paul von Janko, noble of Enyed, was born June 2, 1856, at Totis, Hungary. After finishing his preparatory studies, he entered both the Polytechnicum and the Conservatory of Music, in Vienna. It is quite characteristic of the dual nature of the virtuoso-inventor that he left both institutions with the highest prizes they offer.

He continued his musico-mathematical studies at the Berlin University under Helmholtz. The immediate result of these researches was the keyboard which bears his name. From 1882 to 1884 he experimented on an ordinary parlor organ; in 1885 the first Janko grand piano was built; and on March 25, 1886, he gave his first concert thereon in Vienna.
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#174282 - 08/16/03 07:08 PM Re: Janko Keyboard
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10838
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I want one!!!
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#174283 - 08/16/03 09:34 PM Re: Janko Keyboard
Dwain Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 2419
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
I'd read about these in Dolge's book, but I've never seen one. Does anyone know if any of them have even survived to today?

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#174284 - 08/16/03 10:21 PM Re: Janko Keyboard
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24797
Loc: Oakland
There are a few that survive in museums, as curiousities. There was someone who tried reviving the idea about 15-20 years ago. There are problems with it. It adds a lot of weight to the keys. There is no tactile differentiation between notes, so you have to look if you get lost. Of course, music is written to be played on the 7-5 keyboard, not a 6-6 keyboard like this (those are notes per key level per octave), so a lot of music would be much harder to play on one of these.
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#174285 - 08/17/03 01:03 AM Re: Janko Keyboard
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1930
Loc: El Cajon, CA
I think I would prefer to stick with the normal keyboard configuration like this one.
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#174286 - 08/17/03 08:04 AM Re: Janko Keyboard
Rich Galassini Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 10495
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
I only know of Janko from reading, but the idea of this keyboard always intrigued me.

Obviously, music could be written and performed on it that would be impossible on a normal keyboard, but it always appeared to me that a design like this is just screaming for physical damage to musicians.

It would require so much change in body position to perform on it thaat it would be difficult to maintain a "healthy" technique.

Thoughts from a few "players"?

My 2 cents,
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#174287 - 08/18/03 12:17 AM Re: Janko Keyboard
ChrisKeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1342
Loc: Dallas, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Galassini:
I only know of Janko from reading, but the idea of this keyboard always intrigued me.

Obviously, music could be written and performed on it that would be impossible on a normal keyboard, but it always appeared to me that a design like this is just screaming for physical damage to musicians.

It would require so much change in body position to perform on it thaat it would be difficult to maintain a "healthy" technique.

Thoughts from a few "players"?[/b]
I can't say that it would really be that much harder to maintain a healthy technique. But, I do note that all the tiers are level. For ergonomic reasons I'd think the upper tiers should be progressively tilted upward (i.e. the back of the keys higher than the front) to better match the human arm when it reaches to hit those upper keys. But then, maybe the stretch isn't as great as I'm imagining it...

Chris

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#174288 - 08/18/03 12:52 AM Re: Janko Keyboard
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24797
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
I can't say that it would really be that much harder to maintain a healthy technique. But, I do note that all the tiers are level. For ergonomic reasons I'd think the upper tiers should be progressively tilted upward (i.e. the back of the keys higher than the front) to better match the human arm when it reaches to hit those upper keys. But then, maybe the stretch isn't as great as I'm imagining it...
The keys do rise towards the back. Each key has three striking surfaces at three different levels. The lowest tier has 3 white keys, C, D, and E, and three black keys, F#. G#. and A#. The second tier has 2 black keys, C# and D#, and 4 white keys, F, G, A, and B. The next tier is the second striking surface for the lowest tier, followed by the second surfaces for the second tier, and so on. Each tier is about as much higher than the previous tier as the top of black keys are over white keys. This keyboard takes a lot of vertical space!
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#174289 - 08/18/03 01:15 AM Re: Janko Keyboard
David Burton Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1759
Loc: Coxsackie, New York
There are always those who think that the world the way it is begs for change, and among those a smaller number who are fanatics about their particular change.

The originator of both the present keyboard layout and the grand staff on which music is scored was one Guido d'Arezzo, born: c. 995 in Paris, France, Died: c. 1050 in Avellano, France, so he wasn't Italian exactly but is believed to be of French and Italian ancestry. However he seems to have been a Benedictine monk serving in this role in Arezzo, Italy. His treatise, Micrologus de disciplina artis musicae (and no I don't have a copy) described the locus of the present system that developed (I prefer this word to evolved) into the system we all use today (if we are musically literate).

Now I realize that we are here for the blink of God's eyelash (however one wishes to conceive of God) and that the history of Western classical music is merely the length of a sigh in the eons of silence, but I for one am not too much cheered on by innovations like Jenko's. What would be next? Twelve tone serialism was bad enough and at last it is fading away as its detractors, like Pietro Mascagni, who called it noise that few would listen to until it faded away, well now we have rap which is likely to outlast serialism, how ironic!

All this innovation, might have been, could have been, etc. is merely a distraction from getting down to the discipline of making music with what we have as modern pianos.

Maybe it's the Polish dish I ate for dinner. Perhaps I'd be in better humor had it been Hungarian, but I doubt it.
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