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IndustryMusical instruments
Founded2009; 10 years ago (2009)
FounderRoland Lamb
ProductsSeaboard Edit this on Wikidata

ROLI is a London-based music technology company known for its high tech musical instruments, particularly the Seaboard. It was founded by American-born musician and entrepreneur Roland Lamb[1] in 2009. Its instruments have been used by musicians including Grimes[2], Allah Rakha Rahman, and Hans Zimmer.[3]


Pianist Roland Lamb founded ROLI in 2009 while a graduate student at London's Royal College of Art. His first prototype of the Seaboard was a response to the design limitations of the piano keyboard as a mechanical interface.[4] As a jazz pianist, he wanted to create on a piano keyboard the effects of pitch and timbre that are often associated with string and brass instruments. His concept of the pliable, continuous "keywave surface" was the technological foundation of the Seaboard and the firm's related instruments.

ROLI's Series A fundraising in 2014 raised $12.8 million, followed by a $27 million Series B fundraising in 2016.[5] In April 2017 ROLI raised debt funding from Kreos Capital.[6]

The company is based in Dalston, London, with offices also in New York and Los Angeles. It sells its products in over 40 countries worldwide. It has acquired the following companies: JUCE, FXpansion, and Blend.

The firm has named Pharrell Williams as Chief Creative Officer.[7]



ROLI's first instrument, the Seaboard,[8][9] is a synthesizer controller based on the piano keyboard. The instrument has a continuous surface of pliable silicone rather than the discrete keys of a piano. This lets a musician play "in between" the keys of a standard piano. A player can bend the pitch of a note by making vibrato-like sideways movements, deepen a sound by pressing into the surface, and in other ways manipulate sound through touch [10].

The instrument is available in two versions: The Seaboard GRAND, is a premium synthesizer with a pliable, compliant, touch-sensitive "keywave surface" and an embedded sound engine"[11] It appeared in the Oscar-winning film "La La Land."[12]The Seaboard Rise is a USB and Bluetooth powered MIDI controller with a similar keyboard, but smaller in size and with additional functions.


The Seaboard's touch technology was adapted for BLOCKS.[13] a consumer-oriented controller system, in 2016.[14] It is a modular music-making system composed of musical controllers that connect magnetically and via Bluetooth[15] Modules include Lightpad Block, a musical touchpad with a pliable surface similar to the Seaboard, and Seaboard Block, a 24 key MPE MIDI controller with a pliable "keywave surface" similar to the "Seaboard RISE"


The company created the "Noise" app and the Equator software synthesizer. It also owns the C++ audio coding framework JUCE, the virtual instruments maker FXpansion, and the social music-sharing platform Blend.

ROLI products
Seaboard Block+2 Lightpad Blocks+Loop Block (bottom)

NOISE is a music-making app for iOS and Android devices and is also the software system for "Roli Blocks"[16]

Equator is a software synthesizer for MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) and the go-to sound engine for the "Seaboard Grand", "Seaboard Rise" And "ROLI Blocks" on a desktop computer. It works on both Mac OS and Windows. Additional expressive sounds and modulation tools can be loaded into the software synthesizer via the internet.


In 2014 the ROLI Seaboard GRAND was awarded with the 'Design of the Year' award from the Design Museum of London,[17] and the Swarovski Emerging Talent Medal presented at the Celebration of Design Awards at the London Design Festival.[18]

The ROLI Seaboard RISE 25 won a "Best of Innovation" award from the Consumer Technology Association[19] and ‘2015 Product of the Year’ by FutureMusic.[20]


  1. ^ "Fever Pitch: ROLI founder Roland Lamb talks pianos, philosophy and Hans Zimmer".
  2. ^ "Grimes Talks Up ROLI's New Modular Music Studio". 2 November 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Hans Zimmer Plays the Piano of the Future".
  4. ^ "Revolutionary keyboard is music to ears of big investors".
  5. ^ "Seaboard RISE maker ROLI raises $27 million in Series B led by Foundry Group".
  6. ^ "Music startup ROLI has raised debt funding".
  7. ^ Lunden, Ingrid. "Music startup Roli adds Pharrell Williams as new investor and chief creative officer". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  8. ^ musicradar, ROLI Seaboard instrument unveiled, 5 March 2013
  9. ^ NPR, This Expensive Rubber Mat Could Be The Synth Of The Future, 9 January 2014
  10. ^ "ROLI Seaboard Rise". Retrieved 2018-07-23.
  11. ^ "ROLI Seaboard GRAND".
  12. ^ "That Weird Keyboard from La La Land is Real, and It's a Hit".
  13. ^ "Roli's Blocks are a new kind of surface for music-making".
  14. ^ "Seaboard RISE". Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  15. ^ "BLOCKS". Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  16. ^ "NOISE". Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Seaboard GRAND wins Design of the Year award in the Product category". Sound Technology Ltd. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  18. ^ "Roland Lamb wins Swarovski Emerging Talent London Design Medal". Sound Technology Ltd. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  19. ^ "ROLI's Seaboard RISE wins CES Innovation Award". Sound Technology Ltd. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  20. ^ "Seaboard Rise Named FutureMusic 2015 Product Of The Year". FutureMusic. Retrieved 2017-07-19.

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