A curved piano keyboard

4th June 2023 | Musings | 3 comments

A friend has sent me information about a new piano, designed with an ergonomically curved keyboard. I have wondered about the feasibility of such a keyboard for a long time, but have never had the opportunity to try one.

As a pianist, often required to traverse the whole keyboard in both treble and bass directions, one is aware of having to extend the elbow and arm in a certain way because the keyboard is straight, not curved. All pianists get used to this, of course, and indeed one almost wonders whether there is any degree of virtuosity still to be conquered by the most able pianists. But might it be more pleasant to play on a curved keyboard designed to follow the curve made by the human arm as it rotates outward from the body?

This new piano was developed in association with the architect Rafael Viñoly, who unfortunately died in March of this year. Viñoly himself was a keen pianist, it seems. He worked in conjunction with Belgian piano maker Chris Maene.

It’s interesting to wonder how the curved-keyboard piano could get into general use. There would be no point in installing them first of all in concert halls, because most pianists who came to play there would never have had the chance to play a curved keyboard. And at the moment it would be too risky to switch to a curved-keyboard piano for one’s own use at home, because when you went to play anywhere else, you’d probably have to play a coventional straight keyboard.

I haven’t had a chance to play a curved keyboard, but I did once have a go at a curved typing keyboard, and although I could see it would be comfortable, I could also see it was going to take a while to adjust. The adjustment would be greater with a piano, which has a much wider keyboard than a typewriter.

So far, I have only seen this image, from which one can clearly see that the curved piano is a thing of beauty. I’m a little puzzled about the lid, though. There seems to be no section of the lid which can fold down over the flattened music desk to protect the instrument from dust when it is not in use. Is that because the curve makes it tricky to devise a foldable section that fits neatly over the rest of the lid?


  1. Stephen Frost

    Interesting! I can’t see it catching on though. The straight keyboard design is so deeply embedded in our culture it would be impossible to replace. The qwerty keyboard is, apparently, not the optimum design or order of letters, but we’re stuck with it. One wonders too what effect a curved keyboard has on the sound of the piano, given that much else will have had to be modified. Thank you for your musings!

    • Susan Tomes

      Yes, you are right about the straight keyboard being deeply embedded in our culture. What next? Curved kitchen counters?

  2. Jane Ginsborg

    When I was a student at GSMD in the 70s I lived in the top flat of a house in St John’s Wood. The pianist Vera Benenson lived on the ground floor, and George and I became friendly with her. She either had, or had played – George will remember which – a piano with a curved keyboard. In similar vein, our friend from university, Peter Mansfield (also a trombonist) owned and played several pianos with double keyboards (good for playing double octaves!). There are some interesting examples of experimental instruments that never quite took off in various museums – Cite de la Musique, as I remember, and in Berlin.


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