Pianist and Piano, Disconnected, in Composition for Kinect and Grand

The piano is a conventional grand, but with digital interface and camera, the composer is separated from it by air, playing without touching. It’s a Theremin interface for a keyboard instrument. Piano post-modern? Gestural post-digital? Whatever it is, in a work composer Benjamin Martinson composed for player piano, computer, and Kinect camera, the piano work holds up as musical content – compositional gesture, not just gimmicky digital hand-waving. Martinson himself looks oddly isolated and awkward, a man making rough mime gestures in unseen water, molasses, and wind. I can’t tell whether this is more about our expectations of human movement, …


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 …


Playing the City: An Eindhoven Pianola Makes Urban Landscape into Music

Digital or analog, the essence of recording and production is the act of representing. One thing becomes another; one medium stores information about another. That representation can also be physical, tangible, and visible. In a sculptural pianola, Akko Goldenbeld turns the Dutch city of Eindhoven into a pianola roll, so that the landscape of buildings and streets acts as a physical musical score. I think it raises some questions about whether translating the one into the other obscures the experience of a city rather than clarifies it, but that would discount the act of watching it: with the visual connected …


Dan Deacon in the Studio, Player Piano, MIDI, and Playing the Impossible

The player piano has come, oddly, full circle. Peer into the editing pane of a music sequencer, and what you see is an abstracted virtual player piano. The editing views are even dubbed “Piano Roll” views (sometimes officially so). The MIDI protocol by which most music devices and apps communicate is itself a kind of port of the piano roll’s paradigm to a digital implementation, with fixed pitch and durations spanning time in an endless loop. So it’s fitting that Dan Deacon is busy in the studio, feeding a player piano with MIDI and computers in order to make it …