Home / Technology / Roli unveils Lumi: a bright keyboard that teaches you how to play the piano

Roli unveils Lumi: a bright keyboard that teaches you how to play the piano

Many people try to learn an instrument at one time or another in their lives, and for many of us, this instrument is the piano. But when you stop learning, it's not easy to go back – not without paying at least expensive lessons.

Roli, a young musical equipment company, wants to change that with the launch of Lumi: a 24-key light keyboard and a complementary application that teaches users to play the piano from scratch before turning into a composition tool. blocking.

The keyboard and companion app are available for pre-order on Kickstarter today, at a base price of $ 249 and early sales at $ 150. Delivery starts in October.

A companion app teaches you how to play without a score.
Credit: Roli

Roli's founder, Roland Lamb, said the goal was to appeal to as wide a group of music lovers as possible. With that in mind, he says, Lumi's learning functions do not begin by teaching you the basics of the score. Instead, Lumi offers a Guitar style an interface that will take you to play your favorite songs by pressing the lighting buttons as the notes appear on the screen.

"Music education often starts with music playback [but] no good language learning program starts with learning to read before you can talk, "says Lamb The edge. "Guitar Hero is a lot of value because it is fun and easy to use – just follow the lights. "

By providing users with an intuitive interface to play before they can read, Lamb explains that Lumi creates an easy access ramp for beginners. Once the users have passed the Guitar Hero step, the application makes things more difficult by first adding the name of the notes, then an interface from left to right, then chords and keys, and finally by proposing classical partitions.

This certainly seems like a good way to start beginners, but an equally important part of the Lumi package is the song library.

In a demo version of the application The edge briefly tried, the available tracks were varied. They included pop titanic music like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, as well as jazz and classical music standards from J.S. Bach to Herbie Hancock. Roli indicates that the application will be launched with a few hundred tracks, but that this library will be updated over time at no additional cost.

The keyboard is minimalist, with just buttons for power and to change the octave.
Credit: Lumi

Lumi marks an interesting stage for Roli. Since its creation in 2009, the company manufactures a series of products that have gradually become a mass market.

His signature technology has always been his fine, touch-sensitive keyboards, which allow musicians to fold notes on a piano or synthesizer like on a guitar.

It started with the $ 499 2-key Seaboard Grand in 2013, followed by the $ 799 7-key Seaboard Rise in 2015. Then, in 2016, he released the Blocks Modular Rhythm Manufacturing Equipment, as well as # 39, a keyboard: the $ 299 Seaboard Block.

But Lumi feels that, for the first time, the company is making a product that is supposed to appeal to people who do not already Make music. Although Lamb hopes that the musical composition will always have a kick of Lumi. Several keyboards can be linked to create larger play spaces. The device also functions as a normal MIDI input, usable with all the usual professional music software, such as Ableton Live and Cubase.

"The concept of very low floor and high ceiling has always been very important," says Lamb. "I had great moments when I had the opportunity to show Lumi to prominent musicians and have them replay their tracks. It's very funny to see how they react to their own music … they see how easy and straightforward it is to play. "

Lumi is lightweight and portable, not heavier than an iPad.
Credit: Roli

But trying to appeal to as large a population as possible could also impede Lumi. Even with its companion app and track library, $ 249 is a big price for such a small keyboard. The use of illuminated keys as a teaching device is also not a new concept. Casio sells a number of larger and cheaper keyboards with bright keys, for example (although they do not have companion apps or popular songs). And you can even buy additional LED strips for acoustic pianos offering similar features.

During our time with a prototype version of Lumi hardware, we were also a little overwhelmed by the quality and responsiveness of the hardware. Too many keys were not saved and the keys themselves were too fragile and cheap.

Roli, however, says he is still developing the final version of the keyboard, which we will try ourselves before launching the device. "The keyboard action is definitely something we are currently doing," said Lamb. "The situation has improved a lot even a few weeks ago and we will definitely be by far the best of all portable keyboards of this size."

Aside from these reservations, Lumi certainly offers unique experiences. A feature that stands out is the jam mode in which the keys light up with the chords and scales of a song. The stronger the color of each note, the closer to the root of the song's key. It's a simple approach that even allows jazz novices like me to improvise with some skill.

Lamb – an accomplished pianist himself – says it's his favorite way to use the keyboard, especially to play with John Coltrane's jazz standards. "I like to play" Giant Steps "in jam mode because I can understand the chord changes in different ways," he says. "It presents musical opportunities in a way I have never seen before."

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