In La La Land, too-cool-for-cover-bands and struggling jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) plays on the Roli Seaboard Grand, a $3,000 futuristic keyboard that warps sound based on presses, bends and slides, after joining Keith’s (John Legend) band, The Messengers.
It’s a sick keyboard for professionals, but at $3,000 it’s far too pricey. That’s why Roli’s introducing the Seaboard Block, a half-sized version of the electronic instrument that’s way more affordable at $300.
The Seaboard Block’s the latest addition to Roli’s modular Blocks family.
Last year, the company launched the $180 Lightpad Block, a palm-sized pressure-sensitive touchpad with adaptive LEDs for making tunes that wirelessly connects to iPhones and iPads, and two companion modules (Live Block and Loop Block, $80 each) to aid with performance and production.
The goal of Blocks and Roli’s Noise app for iOS (a beta version for Android is coming soon) was to make music production easy for people who are instrument-challenged, but still want to learn how to make some sick beats.
Of course, if you already know a thing or two about making electronic music, Blocks is even easier to play with. Steve Aoki, RZA, and Grimes are just a few notable musicians who use and endorse Blocks. If you attended Google I/O, you got treated to some bangin’ tunes by Parisi.
With a modular design, it’s easy to expand your music production setup simply by attaching Blocks together via their magnetic “DNA connectors.”
The new Seaboard Block builds on Blocks’ expandable system. It’s got the versatility (all of the pressing, bending and sliding gestures) of a Seaboard Grand at a fraction of the cost.
The Seaboard Block is as long as three Lightpad Blocks and super compact, with 24 keys.
Instead of lugging around a large Seaboard Grand (not to mention eating Cup Noodles for who knows how long to pay for it), you could just toss the Seaboard Block into your backpack. Need a full keyboard layout? Connect two, three, or four together. Even with four, it’ll still fit in your bag because they break apart easily.
You’re also not limited to any specific setup configuration. You could connect two Seaboard Blocks vertically or horizontally, and add as many other Blocks as you want.
I’ll admit: I suck at making music and couldn’t make a beat if my life depended on it. I’ve been tooling around with GarageBand for years and still can’t figure it out.
However, the Noise app lets you make music from scratch, comes with helpful interactive tutorials on how to get started, and also lets you remix creations made by other users. I easily made a listenable track. Sure, a Roli rep held my hand during my brief demo with the Blocks, but when they left I felt confident enough to mix a decent beat.
I obviously won’t become Deadmau5 overnight, but for a few hundred bucks and the ability to expand later, Roli Blocks is an excellent way to for amateurs to get started with music creation.
The Seaboard Block available for purchase from Roli’s online store, Amazon, GuitarCenter, Sweetwater, and ships in June.