This article describes a new kind of digital musical instrument, a novel assemblage of the familiar MIDI keyboard with custom interactive software. Inspired by John Cage's prepared piano, our instrument both takes advantage of and subverts the pianist's hard-earned, embodied training, while also inviting an extended configuration stage that “prepares” the instrument to behave in composition-specific, idiosyncratic ways. Through its flexible—though constrained—design, the instrument aims to inspire a playful approach to instrument building, composition, and performance. We outline the development history of our instrument, called bitKlavier, its current design, and some of its musical possibilities.

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