Friday, 23 October 2009

Keyboard Hunting

Long time ago, when I was skinny and my daily diet included a bottle of Coke mixed with sweetened condensed milk (I’ve stopped consuming this long time ago), my biggest two hobbies were music and photography. Those were how I was identified by people around me. “ade the keyboardist” or “ade the photography guy”, to distinguish me from other Ade’s. It’s quite a common name in Indonesia.

Camera; Photo by Rohan KarAnyway…

My father got me a Nikon F90X camera in 1996. At that time, it was a superb camera (autofocus was expensive). If you were born in the 90s or after and you started using cameras just a few years ago, let me tell you that hardly anyone used memory cards to store photos those days. (I hear you gasp.) We used this thing called film (some people still use this, by the way). A roll of film can store about 24 or 36 shots. Before printing the pictures, the film needs to be processed in a dark room. Exposing the roll into open light is the equivalent of tossing a today’s memory card into a bonfire.

Yet people were just happy. (If at this point, you’re still expecting me to talk about music, keep on reading. I will do so, if you bear with me.)

These days, people with digital compact cameras equipped with a 4-GB memory card can take thousands of pictures. I recently bought a Fujifilm A170. It was the cheapest I could find in store (only 2 digits in Australian dollar), and just put a 2-GB SD card into it. The camera itself can store pictures at about 10 megapixels, yet I set the resolution to 1600×1200 (about 3 megapixels). The reason for this is that it’s only a compact camera with a small physical lens. You can put the best software into it, but the lens, which (nota bene), simply put, provide the input to the software, must still obey the laws of physics. I personally think 10 megapixels for a compact camera is overkill as the picture quality won’t be excellent anyway. If I need 10 megapixels, I’ll just use an SLR camera with a good lens. (And that’s why I only take pictures with a mobile phone if I forget to bring any real camera.)

Oh, I’m supposed to talk about music, right? OK.

If you’ve just known my music recently, you might now know that I also play digital keyboards. Well, not these days, but there were those days, and there may come the days.

I’m currently thinking of getting myself a keyboard. Whether it’s just a keyboard that sounds, or a synth, or a workstation, I don’t know yet. I haven’t played electronic keyboards for a while, and I haven’t really followed the progress of technology in this area. So, I’ve got a bit to catch up.

I just wonder whether we have a scenario similar to digital cameras here, i.e. do we have keyboards on the market just padded with features that aren’t really useful or only useful when paired with a missing set of features? Key lighting? I do not ever think it is useful. It’s more distracting than helpful. Recording facility, but no way to store the recorded song(s) into a removable media? It’s like, imagine a camera with only internal memory and no way to use a memory card. And no, just being able to transfer the recorded MIDI file into a computer doesn’t appeal me that much. When I take a picture by my digital camera, I can view it on the camera, and after I transfer it to my computer, I can see the picture exactly as I view it on the camera, and I don’t need the camera to see it on my computer. Not really the case with MIDI files.

Anyway… I’m still continuing my research to find a keyboard. Let me know if you’d like to help me. If I finally find one, I’ll tell my story here.

[Photo by Rohan Kar]