bookmark_borderTransposing Incy Wincy Spider using the Jankó keyboard

Knowledge of the Jankó keyboard has taught me how to do something that has until now been beyond me: transposing a tune. It’s really easy:

Incy Wincy Spider is most easily played on a piano using eight adjacent white keys: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. Here’s how that would look on the Jankó keyboard:

Let’s try to transpose it to start on F. We simply move our hands (the red box here) so that it starts there:

We see that the keys we need to play are F-G-A-A#-C-D-E-F, and you can test that by playing it on a normal piano.

Let’s look at another example:

Here we are starting on B, which leads to the sequence B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#-B.

Finally, here’s Incy Wincy starting on F#:

The sequence of keys is F#-G#-A#-B-C#-D#-F-F#.

So to transpose a piece on a normal keyboard, all you have to do is to imagine how you play it on a Jankó keyboard, shift your hands and see which keys you’d now be playing, which you can then find again on a normal piano.

bookmark_borderThe Jankó keyboard

Janko Piano
Originally uploaded by Ragtimer1

I am not a musician, although there are plenty of those in my family. I did play the violin for a year or so as a kid, but my piano skills were for years limited to one-finger versions of Incy Wincy Spider and one or two more other tunes.

However, a few days ago one of Dougie’s golf friends donated his old Yamaha PSR-530 keyboard to us, which made me study a couple of the GarageBand piano lessons that you get for free with a Mac.

After that experience, I felt a bit like I did when I was learning to drive – I kept asking myself why it was designed so badly.

However, a quick Google search taught me about the Jankó keyboard. You can read the details by following the link, but basically you can transpose a tune simply by shifting your hands.

It never seem to have become very popular, but there is a Japanese company making a similar MIDI keyboard. Here is a demonstration: