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I was watching a youtube video and saw a piano like instrument that was new to me, and have had a hard time identifying what it was. I loved the timbre and the idea for it:

Eric Clapton Live Performance of Somewhere over the Rainbow at 2:22

I did looking around, and found something called a "melodica". It seems similar, but there are differences:

  • Melodica has less range.
  • It is higher pitched.
  • Melodica has a brighter sound, but I like the dark sound of the instrument in the video.
  • The mouth piece seems different.

Can anyone identify the instrument by name or possibly by a reference to somewhere it is sold? (I'm not asking for advertising, but if it is the only way to identify something then it is still much appreciated.)

Also the name of the performer might be useful too, since I can find other videos of him playing the instrument.

I also noticed that in the last few seconds of the video, he is playing without the mouth piece in. Perhaps it is not an "instrument" so much as an accessory for a keyboard? I don't know. Thanks for any help.

  • 1
    Welcome to Music.SE! Usually questions about identifying instruments get closed, because they are not useful to future readers. However, I think this should stay open. Looking at the clip, the performer seems to be playing keyboard using a "breath controller". Very interesting... (As you say, an accessory.) It might possibly be helpful to change this question to be more general, and not specifically about this one song/performer; you could still use this song as an example. – Bob Broadley Feb 4 '15 at 8:51
  • @BobBroadley Thank you, this is my first post to this stackexchange (although I have used others). I'll look up breath controller, and please feel free to edit my post if you think it may be better presented. – DanielV Feb 4 '15 at 9:05
  • Breath Control is part of the Midi spec, CC2. Whether anything is mapped to use it or not, is of course, another matter - but through a sequencer you could variably map to volume/expression, 'brightness' of one sort or another, attack, etc. (& thank you for knowing how to use YouTube time-stamps. Most considerate.) – Tetsujin Feb 4 '15 at 10:20
  • There used to be dedicated wind controllers, set up for saxophone-style playing - see windsynth.net/faq.html - though idk whether you can still get them – Tetsujin Feb 4 '15 at 10:24
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It probably depends on the keyboard's expander whether it supports this kind of input. It probably is linked to the "expression" controller or pedal. An obvious candidate for Midi expanders dealing with this kind of input are those which specifically support use with an accordion since reasonably recent accordion midification sets usually include a pressure sensor.

Another good candidate are normal keyboards which are also available in an "accordion" version (for example, among the oldtimers the Solton/Ketron MS-80 is an accordion keyboard version of the MS-100, so the MS-100, a regular keyboard, is a good candidate for breath controllers).

Of course this also means that electronic accordions (or their keyboard variants) are sort of predestined as a controller for creating music controlled by pressure, and if you use the bellows rather than a mouthpiece, you even remain able to sing along. And you can even get acoustic-only accordions for that kind of expressive play.

The acoustic flat hand-sharing-manual keyboard variant is a harmonium. However, the have a lot more inertia regarding the bellows control: you can use them for general loudness variations, but they don't really work well for actual articulation.

  • I remember my first ever Frankfurt Musik Messe way back in the late 80s/early 90s… I couldn't believe how many synths had been turned into accordions - DX7 was the weirdest, closely followed by the Novation BassStation ;) – Tetsujin Feb 4 '15 at 10:29

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