Here’s all that new Roland stuff in one place, even accordions

It was called “909 day.” It was on the ninth of September. And it included a new 909 product. So far, so good. But Roland’s 909 day stops making sense around there. It launched over 30 products, many of them unrelated, over 24 hours. “909 Day” saw new … accordions. Also, record players that said 909 on them. There were four continents, and a marathon Web stream that would have taken 24 hours to watch, sometimes switching between Japanese and English. In years of covering this business, I’ve never seen anything like it. But before you blow this off, there …


Nord’s Electro 5 Revises A Favorite Stage Piano

Year after year, a lot of what the music instruments industry does is iterative – evolutionary, not revolutionary. But for the day-in, day-out operation of a lot of gigging musicians, some of the less-thrilling announcements are the ones that simply make life better. That means, for example, Clavia’s announcement of a new Nord Electro 5 keyboard matters. The number of stage musicians who rely on the signature red keyboards from Sweden is simply stunning. Nord aren’t cheap, but their attention to detail has earned them a lot of impassioned enthusiasts. I actually had the pleasure of visiting Clavia when I …


NI Officially Reveals Komplete 10, Kontrol Keyboards [Details, Gallery]

You’ve seen the leaks; now here’s the official announcement. Native Instruments is releasing an update to its Komplete suite of production tools (including Massive, Kontakt, Absynth, Reaktor, and others). And while the software update is largely composed of some (nice) new instruments, the banner news here is hardware. As NI has done with its DJ line (Traktor Kontrol) and Maschine groove workstation, the company is unveiling integrated hardware that makes for a hybrid hardware/software solution. The Komplete Kontrol instruments come in 25, 49-, and 61-key variations, coupled with touch strips for pitch and mod, 8 encoders paired with interactive displays …


New Native Instruments Komplete Keyboards, Software Updates Revealed in Various Leaks

Keeping new musical instrument announcements under wraps prior to embargo dates is proving, again, to be more or less impossible. Native Instruments’ Komplete updates, teased in a video on Friday, have now been prematurely revealed via one print magazine hitting newsstands (Beat, in Germany), and multiple leaks by dealers (some even crawled by Google, according to a CDM reader). Forum members at GearSlutz have been dutifully reproducing everything, leaving few secrets. From there, the cat’s out of the bag; I’m seeing this spreading through German-language outlets and expect others will pick this up soon. Oddly, forum members and commenters have …


Acoustic Revelation: Inside the Una Corda, the 100kg, 21st Century Piano Built for Nils Frahm

Now this is a revolutionary etude. There’s no question the acoustic grand is an engineering wonder, a musical instrument with literal tons of string tension producing unparalleled sound. But it’s a 19th Century technological marvel. Innovations, apart from subtle variations, have been largely frozen since the likes of the Steinway & Sons Model D-274. The Model D is a beauty; the question is, what have builders been doing with the 155 years since it was introduced? Builder David Klavins is a master instrument maker re-imagining the piano for our century. And he isn’t afraid to go to extremes to do …


The Player Piano with Drums and Gunshots: An Oddity of the Silent Film Era [Videos]

If you want wild, futuristic, and inventive, some of the craziest inventions come from the past. The Photoplayer makes today’s music tech look positively dull. Joe Rinaudo has made a business of bringing back antiques, but his 1926 Photoplayer may top the list. Built to add dynamic soundtracks for silent films, the machine is an ingenious contrivance for live music generation. First, it has the ability to run “two decks” – that is, by having two rolls instead of one, you can queue up the next roll while the other is playing. (Okay, so it sort of invented DJing.) Second, …


Pinball Pianola: Pinball Game Meets a Piano in a Wild Constructed Instrument

Pinball Pianola from Lucas Abela on Vimeo. The mechanical and kinetic collide – literally – with the sonic, in a devilishly-inventive hybrid instrument that cross-breeds a pinball table with a piano. Australian artist Lucas Abela is joining us next month as part of CTM Festival: The Golden Age. In the meantime, he shares this work. I’ve devised a Frankenstein experiment, combining the greatest musical invention of all time, the Piano; with the coolest amusement machines ever conceived; Pinball, to create an interactive sound installation like no other; ‘Pinball Pianola’, a musical device constructed by replacing the keyboard, hammers and front …


Musikmesse Wrap-up, with Keyboard Magazine: The Latest Gear [Gallery, Roland Wireless Vid]

Like a World’s Fair of all the invention in music technology, the big trade shows still gather many of the latest creations from around the globe. And while the NAMM show in California is big, Musikmesse is bigger: spanning some 11 halls (together with a live lighting and event show called Pro Light+Sound), it’s the biggest on Earth. Having covered NAMM for German publication DE:BUG, I’m thrilled to get to do the reverse and highlight the best of Messe for California-based Keyboard Magazine. Musikmesse 2012 Gear Report [Keyboard Magazine] Instead of trying to cover absolutely everything, this is the stuff …


iPhone’s Siri Plays a Real Grand Piano, Raps with Notorious B.I.G.

Music lovers are hacking Apple’s Siri voice recognition technology. By connecting to some of the “intelligence” of the cloud, these tools can make your phone rap or send music files to a player piano for instant musical playback. First up: Yamaha’s piano taking requests, thanks to music grabbed online. A Yamaha rep explains: Yamaha consultant Craig Knudsen demonstrates a unique implementation of Apple’s incredible Airplay technology in an exciting new way. Here’s how it works: Take a standard MIDI songfile and convert it to an audio file (while maintaining the MIDI data). The songfile is then sent wirelessly via WiFi …


Piano Lovers: Ivory II’s Resonance Modeling a Winner, Says Keyboard Mag

Steinways in a row. One example of how pianos can be tough to model: the distinctive Steinway treble “sparkle.” Photo (CC-BY-ND) mypouss. For something with a row of keys, the piano can prove surprisingly hard to model perfectly. But computer software, blessed with lavish storage space for samples and now-ample processing power, has a decided edge. There are lots of good sampled pianos, but two products have really impressed me above the others: Synthogy’s Ivory and Pianoteq’s modeled instruments. After years of waiting, Ivory II is now here, and my friend and colleague Steve Fortner, at the helm of Keyboard …