Uncaged::Conlon Robot Keyboard Prize 2017

In 2017, for the first time, the UnCaged Toy Piano (US) and Conlon Foundation (NL)  will collaborate on a joint call for submissions for the 2017 Robot Keyboard Prize. For this year’s competition, we are seeking adventurous new works for Ranjit Bhatnagar's midi-controlled Robot Toy Piano. Innovative ways of integrating electronics are encouraged, but not mandatory.

The prize for 1st place is a performance in the Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Utrecht, Holland) in September 2017 and the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival (New York City, December 2017), plus $1000 of which $500 from the UnCaged Toy Piano and $500 from Conlon Foundation towards travel/accommodation costs, to enable the prize winner to attend the performance in Utrecht, NL. The prize for Honorable Mention is a performance in the Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Utrecht, Holland) in September 2017 and the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival (New York City, December 2017).


Guidelines for the competition:

1. The competition is open to composers and sound artists of all ages and nationalities.

2. Works must be written for the Robot Toy Piano as a concert work (not installations).

3. Works may include one live performer on a conventional or unconventional instrument (i.e. orchestral, homemade, or mechanized instrument)

4. The duration of the piece may be no longer than 15 minutes. 


The deadline for submissions is May 1st, 2017 and should include:

1. A short bio of the composer in pdf.

2. A score/information sheet with a detailed description of the work in pdf.

3. A downloadable audio and/or video preview of the work in .mp3 or .avi. or a link to a website where the file remains available until June 1st, 2017                                         

The decision of the jury will be made public no later than June 1st, 2017


Built by New York-based sound artist, Ranjit Bhatnagar, the robot toy piano is a redesigned player toy piano (PianoLodeon) that reads midi files. 

1. The RTP has no keyboard, and can be exclusively played through midi-in data on the tines. The tines could be played or dampened by hand with mallets or other implements, however, extreme care has to be taken not to damage the fragile plastic hammers and the electronics.

2. The Dynamic range of the instrument is fixed - in other words, on/off at a midi velocity of 127/0.

3. Repetition rate: At 120bpm (=120) the fastest allowable repetition on a single pitch would be 16th notes, or 8 note-ons per second. 

If the overall temp is faster than 120, the repetition should be reduced accordingly. In order to give the mechanical hammers time to reset between note-ons, there should be a rest of at least 1/16th second between notes, corresponding to a 32nd rest at a tempo of 120. If your temp is much faster than 120, use 16th rests or longer.

4. The RTP has no dampers, similar to most toy piano’s.  As this instrument has one velocity, there is one attack/sustain value. which can can be heard in the video. This volume and sustain parameters are commensurate with ‘ff’ on most toy piano's.

5. The functioning midi range is: midi numbers 36-64, pitch names [C-3 to E-5]. The pitches sound a Major Third below the corresponding pitch names/midi numbers.

6. The robot toy piano can play off either a USB or traditional MIDI cable. Due to the delicate and homemade nature of the instrument, it is best not to ask the robot to fire more than eight notes simultaneously.



Submissions and inquiries should be sent to:  uncagedconlon2017@gmail.com