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Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Keytar and the Alesis Vortex

Image taken from Wikipedia.org

Alesis Vortex is an effort to revive the waning popularity of the keytar in the last decade. I appreciate the effort because it let me properly acquaint myself with the instrument this time. 

Since my youth (in the 80s) I've always seen these being used in performances and on stage, but I never knew what they were called. Because of my web search for the Alesis-Vortex mentioned to be part of the products involved in a promotion, I finally found the proper name for this instrument.

Here's the definition and description of a keytar on Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keytar

In the article, it mentions that another possible name people may identify it by, is the guit-board (not its official name). This was first used and coined in a tv-program where a character referred to it by that name.

From a certain forum I read lots of negative comments about its out-dated design and perceived impracticality from the majority of comments. However coming from a live performer's perspective, or even a person sequencing in the recording studio, there are some practical merits to this little guy.
- its got 3 octaves (37 keys).
- its got channel aftertouch for all the keys
- its got full-sized keys
- its got a ribbon controller
- last but not least, its got a built in accelerometer

For all the above merits I could add "Thats way better than my 25 key Korg Nanokeys2" at the end. It is true. I am not putting the NanoKeys down. I love my Korg NanoKey2 for the tiny footprint, making it possible for me to slide it in my bag everywhere I go.

The point I want to make, is that there are many midi controllers more limited than the Alesis Vortex in many ways, and less fashionable too. On that basis the Vortex should not come in last, in spite of all the negative posts in forums.

Then there's people's take on it being 'geeky', 'out of fashion' and 'so-yesterday'. Of course design is a subjective term, but you have to admit having shots of yourself jumping around playing an Alesis Vortex on screen is visually more interesting and dynamic than having footage of you sitting down playing a Korg NanoKey2 on your laps in the next music video of your band. Right? :)

Reviews of the Alesis Vortex here:
Review from www.uberGizmo.com
Review from www.theVerge.com
Finally, from www.djTechTools.com, a video review :