For a while now there have been electronic musical keyboard controllers (the most recent one is Osmose) that feature pressure sensing and side-to-side sensing in addition to velocity sensing.

There are loads of books that discuss techniques for improving performance on piano. And there are corresponding technique books for organ and harpsichord, which are non-velocity sensing. You could use those technique books with something like the Osmose, but none of them would exercise the pressure sensing feature of the controller.

My question is, what techniques would you need to practise on one of the newer controller keyboards? Would it be a keyboard book? Could you learn by performing woodwind exercises?

The Ondes Martenot was considered a proper musical instrument in the early 20th Century - you could study it in conservatoire. I expect there'd be some crossover between Ondes technique books and Osmose, but what else would you need to study?

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    What effects do pressure and side-to-side motion have on the signals produced by the keyboard?
    – Aaron
    Feb 23, 2023 at 18:44
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    I think it depends on what you are emulating. I have maps into my DAW for wind/string instrs where velocity is part of the wind pressure/volume [which feels right for a keyboard player] but aftertouch adds to that, so you can vary within a single note. I also have an iPhone app, TouchOSC, so I can 'waggle a finger' to produce variations, mod speed/intensity etc all in a single 2-handed monophonic performance. Frankly, it took me a while to get a handle on how to play it. I did it by tweaking parameters until my dodgy playing got close to what my brain wanted to hear for a given set of actions.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


Perhaps the closest acoustic keyboard equivalent would be the clavichord, which was sensitive to pressure and side-to-side movement to a limited degree. A bibliography of clavichord technique books can be found on Terence Charlston's "Clavichord Technique & Bibliography" page.

A couple of items in the bibliography that stand out to me because of the author's names:

  • P. Badura-Skoda, Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard (Oxford University Press, 1993)
  • R. Kirkpatrick, "On Playing the Clavichord", Early Music, Vol. 9, No. 7 (July 1981), pp. 293-305

The bibliography implies also that some piano technique books discussed clavichord, with authors like Turk, Clementi, Dussek, and Hummel.

The webpage includes an interesting quote from C.P.E. Bach:

Every keyboardist should own a good harpsichord and a good clavichord ... a good clavichordist makes an accomplished harpsichordist, but not the reverse. The clavichord is needed for the study of good performance. ... Those who concentrate on the harpsichord grow accustomed to playing in only one colour, and the varied touch which the competent clavichordist brings to the harpsichord remains hidden from them. (From [CPE Bach's Essay on the True Art of Keyboard Playing, Berlin, 1759] translation by. William J Mitchell, Introduction to Part 1, pp. 37-38.)

  • Osmose and clavichord do have some things in common. But Osmose starts sending MIDI CC data from the moment you touch a key. Compare that with clavichord which only modifies the note once it has sounded. If CC data was mapped onto volume, you could do infinite sustain with crescendo/descrescendo using Osmose. With clavichord, you're limited by the fact that the vibrating string decays to silence - you can't do infinite sustain. Feb 24, 2023 at 13:00

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