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Music Thing: The Chromatone 312

Peter Rojas
Chromatone 312

This Japanese girl is playing a Chromatone 312, which has a Janko Keyboard. It's got 72 keys for every 12 on a normal keyboard, and they're all white. It's terrifying. Imagine 3 unmarked QWERTY keyboards strapped together and you're still not there.


The keyboard layout was patented in 1882 by Hungarian mathematician/musician Paul von Janko. The theory is that it?s much easier to play ? chord shapes are the same in every key, and the closer-spaced keys make it possible to play faster. But, like decimal time, and the Dvorak computer keyboard, the world of Janko is divided between a tiny group of passionate believers and an enormous mass of people who?ve never really given it a second thought.

You might think that if an idea hasn?t taken off after 23 years, it?s never going to take off. But the Janko keyboard was patented 123 years ago, and the Chromatone 312 was launched in Japan late last year. Some ideas just won?t go away.

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