Keyboard coloring variations

A common way to help users orient themselves on the chromatic Janko keyboard is to color some of the keys black, corresponding to the black keys on the traditional diatonic piano keyboard. (The actual Janko keyboard doesn’t use narrower keys on the upper row, so the pictures below are a bit misleading in that regard.)

Below are six keyboard coloring schemes. The first three are ways of coloring a chromatic keyboard. The second three are ways of coloring a diatonic keyboard. Here’s a legend for the six variations below:

  1. Chromatic keyboard with chromatic coloring
  2. Chromatic keyboard with diatonic coloring
  3. Same as #2, using opposite colors
  4. Diatonic keyboard with diatonic coloring
  5. Diatonic keyboard with chromatic coloring
  6. Same as #5, using opposite colors

[I’m trying out a new drawing program, so please excuse the big “UNREGISTERED” watermark. If I end up registering it, I’ll replace the image, or better yet, break it into six images. Okay, I know. It’s ridiculous. But I need to go to bed.]

Keyboard coloring experiments

These were inspired by a photo that Paul Morris posted to the MNMA forum, in which he had physically used black tape and white tape to achieve the coloring in #5 above on his traditional keyboard.


  1. juan said,

    November 3, 2008 @ 12:08 am

    hey man!!
    what’s the word on piano ninja!!?? You still working on that project?? I just came across it and got incredibly excited? It seems like the coolest thing of all time!! I don’t see any more recent posts — has the project died?

  2. Evan said,

    November 3, 2008 @ 10:13 am

    Juan, thanks for your comment and your excitement! The project has certainly been delayed over the course of the last year. But I’ve found renewed inspiration and commitment and have been working on it for the last few days as a matter of fact. I’ll have to submit another post on it again soon.

  3. J Austin said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

    If anyone is still following the keyboard coloring thread–I ran across an interesting THREE-color Janko proposal (patent, actually) that seems pretty clever: by S. Roy Pertchik
    The idea is to repeat three successive colors/textures, say white, gray, black, on successive keys in the lower 6, and the same colors on the upper six offset by 1.5 spaces, so white above falls midway between the two white below, etc.
    The author claims that all scales, intervals, and chords then follow the same relative color sequence in all keys. He further claims that by using keytop textures, the “colors” could be recognized by feel, allowing uniform key shape.
    With at least 3 rows of keys (playing on two), then, you could literally use the same fingerings in ALL 12 keys.

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