Skip to main content
Cover for Keys to Play

Keys to Play

Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo

Roger Moseley


List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs. Visit to learn more.

How do keyboards make music playable? Drawing on theories of media, systems, and cultural techniques, Keys to Play spans Greek myth and contemporary Japanese digital games to chart a genealogy of musical play and its animation via improvisation, performance, and recreation. As a paradigmatic digital interface, the keyboard forms a field of play on which the book’s diverse objects of inquiry—from clavichords to PCs and eighteenth-century musical dice games to the latest rhythm-action titles—enter into analogical relations. Remapping the keyboard’s topography by way of Mozart and Super Mario, who head an expansive cast of historical and virtual actors, Keys to Play invites readers to unlock ludic dimensions of music that are at once old and new.

Praise For Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo

"“Keys to Play” has been called a “game-changer” and “dazzling and daring” by reviewers. It cuts across the traditional sub-disciplines of music studies to offer new and challenging connections between them."
— Cornell Chronicle

University of California Press, 9780520291249, 468pp.

Publication Date: October 28, 2016

About the Author

Roger Moseley is Assistant Professor of Music at Cornell University. Active as a collaborative pianist on modern and historical instruments, he has published essays on the interface of the keyboard, the performativity of digital games, the practice of eighteenth-century improvisation, and the music of Brahms.