The traditional black and white keys of a piano keyboard are just never enough for some people. Dodeka have not only reinvented the musical keyboard they have designed a new form of notation to go with it.
The main driving force behind Dodeka is to making music as easy as possible. Then everyone can express themselves and “feel the joy of music”. Apparently, there’s “no need to be a rocket scientist anymore to play music!” Dodeka makes the acts of composing and playing music at least “twenty times easier”. Dodeka is telling us that music is too hard, that this universal language cannot be understood. Written music is a mess because it’s been developed over hundreds of years and goes all weird as soon as you move off the key of C.
Basically, they are saying that music, enjoyed and played by millions of people the world over, is too hard and they’ve taken out a load of notes to make it easier. They’ve invented a keyboard that’s easier to play because it doesn’t have those tricky two levels of keys and a system of notation that’s totally logical.
Ok, let me stop here because I just don’t get it. Playing a traditional instrument takes practice. Reading music requires that you learn how to do it. The hundreds of years that have gone into the development of notation have enabled every symphony ever written, to be read and understood by every musician. There’s nothing in the Dodeka instrument or notation that doesn’t require practice or learning. It’s just another system to learn. Sure if you take out a load of notes and fix a keyboard to a scale then it’s going to be easier to bang out a tune – but you are restricting the possibilities of expression. They celebrate the removal of sharps and flats, the very tools that enable a planets worth of instruments to play together. With Dodeka all instruments will have to be tuned the same, to play the same. Where’s the musicality in that?
The video below is just awful, it comes across like a documentary on refugees or poor displaced people – no they just struggle with musical notation. There’s sad little girl who doesn’t know how to play whose face lights up with Dodeka – I keep waiting for the voice of the late great Terry Wogan to appear asking for donations.
I’m all for innovative ways to make music accessible. Take a look at devices such as Novation Circuit, Maschine, LinnStrument, sequencers, modular synthesis, computers all these things enable people to express themselves without musical training. None of it requires the reinvention of music itself.
“Learning and playing music is usually really hard right?” Yes, it probably should be.
More information on the Dodeka website and on their Kickstarter page where they are trying to raise 55,000 Swiss Francs. Or instead invest in some music lessons or better still just trust your ears and start playing.