Sweet Jesus! What's that girl playing?

Isn't there something a bit terrifying about this picture? About how complicated that thing looks? It's a Chromatone 312, with a Janko keyboard (and apparently a Korg sound set). The keyboard layout was patented in 1882 by Hungarian mathematician/musician Paul von Janko. Notes are repeated, so that chords in different keys are played the same way, and an octave span is smaller than on a normal keyboard. They're also called Wholetone keyboards. This red keyboard is the Wholetone Revolution MIDI controller, which seems to have been out of production for a while. There are plenty of baffling charts to explain how the wholetone system works, but no price or export details on the Japan-only Chromatone 312. I'd love to hear from anyone who's played one.

I've played one before... It's an interesting layout, but for traditional Keyboardists, it may not be so intuitive. Much like going from a QWERTY keyboard to a Dvorak.

Nice things:
Chords are one shape. Majors are the same shape no matter where you are, so just put your index finger on the root and go. Horizontal movement gives you whole tones, and diagonal movement gives you a semi-tone. As you move "up" the keyboard, you get higher octaves... Very intuitive.

Also, once you know a melody, it is easy to transpose, since you just start the pattern on a different root.

Lousy Things:
It's easy to get lost. maybe that goes away with experience, but the one I used wasn't marked, and it was a hassle to figure out where I was by finding middle C and counting. Also, Accidentals are not color coded, which helps with the finger disorientation.

Also, many chord patterns can be tricky. Again, maybe this is just me being new, but where piano has stretches, this tends to lead to finger "clustering" like a guitarist, and often 7 and 9 chords get the ol' digits in a bunch.

Anyone who has ever seen a Chromatic Button Accordion should be able to grasp this one, and in Eastern Europe, most people use CBA's.

Overall, I think the Janko Keyboard would be easier to learn and easier to play than a traditional keyboard. The notes are arranged more logically, a CM and DM have the same fingering meaning one shape needs to be learned per chord type, not 12. I found my 1 week experience a little difficult, but not half as bad as if I had never seen a traditional keyboard and got handed one.

My one line review...
It brings the logic of a guitarist's fretboard to the keyboard player.
Try it out here: http://improvise.free.fr/beanbut/bean.htm
If someone imports this puppy to the US, I'll be the first in line.
I read much of the site. Apparently, it is not on sale in Japan yet either. Interesting stuff. Maybe the 19th century was not ready for it, but I think the 21st century may be.
I cannot wait to get my hands on one! My desire for a type of chromatic keyboard started when a guitar playing freind of mine gave me a quick run-down of guitar fingering.. and there I was, still struggling with an unintuitive keyboard layout.
I used to have my piano tuned by Sam Berd, a remarkable guy who tuned pianos for everyone from Vladimir Horowitz to Steely Dan. Sam invented a keyboard, known as the Berd Board, that had alternating black and white keys (no two white keys together) and thus many of the features of the keyboard posted here. For example, transposing from one key to another was simply a matter of moving to the left or right: fingering was the same. Back in the 70s he had a studio right across from Carnegie Hall where he taught kids to play on the berd board. He also manufactured berd boards that could be placed on top of tradional piano keyboards and then played. Sam also invented a notation system for piano that used a separate line for each finger.
I'm the guy with website tutorials on Janko WholeTone KB. This site . . . http://www.TheCipher.com/wholetone-keyboard_triads.html

Just thought I'd say it's great to see so many people open to new ideas.

I get tons of email inquiries regarding the Chromatone, but alas the company seems to be dragging it's heals for years, and there's little I can tell people. One of these days though. ;')

If you hear of any developments, regarding availability or even alternative manufacturers, please let me know so I can update my site.

see ya
The wholetone revolution list price was a shade under 500000 yen.

There is no price or street date for the chromatone 312 (though I can ask, since it's in my neighbourhood.
I've been doing system analysis and playing a cross strung harp based on this whole tone chromatic arrangement. It is absolutely ingenious and almost self teaches one about music theory. Acoustic keyboard makers really should bring this thing back. It makes SENSE and is easier to play. (Once you can transcend habits.)

It is GREAT!!!

Ben Brown
i just bought a wholetone revolution 312 (the red one) for 4000 yen or about 40$!!!! i love it!!! truely remarkable keyboard and luck ( yes i live in japan)
Q: Where can I buy this Janko system Japanese synth?

Please reply using: jdrinda@hotmail.com

Thanking you jjj from Chile
Seek this damn thing a half of my life. DIY solutions doesn't fit me much, really, not so technology-advanced. Do not want to play wooden tank, before got this one, ready to kill someone who owns;) Web-site turns out to be vaporware crap.

Don't tell me how "good" or "ugly" it is, because of the stupid "academy guys" who resemble ancient apes, sometimes, Janko layout didn't prevail our unlogic and idiotic "normal" keyboard.

Thank you for HQ information, can anyone tell WHERE i can buy this thing?

Many thanks in advance, i'll help/provide something in turn,

with love from Russia.
Vasily Starostin,
Formal logician, mathematik
and musician.
I prefer the bilinear chromatic keyboard idea to this and even to the Janko piano. Adding so many rows results in buttons instead of keys. I would rather have proper piano keys and less rows.

Jim Allan

the manufacturer has a little info in english here:


looks like these may be available worldwide now, at least in a limited quantity?
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