It initially looks like a standard grand piano, but when you look closer, you realise it has no black keys.
If there’s one instrument almost everyone in the world is familiar with, it’s the piano. We all know how a piano looks, sounds and we have a fair idea about its musical range. So prepare to have your mind blown by the “Sinhakken” model!
A pianist found this unique instrument by chance while wandering around a musical instrument fair in Japan. It looks pretty strange because we’re all used to seeing 52 white keys and 36 black ones. In this case, it’s hard not to stare at 52 pristine white rectangles with no tapering to allow room for black keys.
It is mesmerising, but the obvious question is – what is its effect on the piano’s music?
The first thing you notice is that because there are no black keys, the piano can only play songs in C Major. As one commenter points out, to play in other keys without the black keys, you’d need extra pedals as you do on a concert grand harp.
Micronet Co., Ltd, a software company from Japan, uploaded the video. In case you don’t recognise the piece on this unusual instrument, it’s Debussy’s Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum’ from the Children’s Corner Suite. As this is a simple tune that primarily uses the white keys, this is a logical piece to play.
However, even if we ignore the depth the black keys give the chords, this piano would be very challenging to play. Many piano teachers advise their students to use the black keys as fixed reference points, allowing them to play without looking down. As all keys would feel identical on the Sinhakken, surely even the most experienced pianists would struggle to orient themselves.
As this instrument only appears to exist in Japan, it seems unlikely we need to worry about it changing the way we listen to piano music. As a one-off curiosity, though, it’s fun to listen to.