While my elected representative gently weeps?

Yes, don’t miss this video, going social today, from Japan, in which a guitarist perfectly times playing to a politician’s sob story.

You might assume this isn’t relevant to CDM. But let’s say it hits the whammy bar — on your MIND. Earlier this month, I attended the NIME2014 conference – New Interfaces for Musical Expression. Year after year, groups like these discuss the merits of instrumental interfaces for expression. Generally, instruments like the guitar – good. Instruments like the piano – bad. No ability to add nuance after you hit a note, no ability to find any intonation between the pitches specified by the keys.

And with electronic instruments, the notion was to find things closer to guitars and violins and whatnot, rather than the preferred electronic method of making synths into a keyboard – or, better yet, a machine where you press a button and rhythms come out.

As a piano player, of course, I always slightly resented this accepted conventional wisdom. I won’t start on what typically follows, which is people talking about how only the guitarists get laid while the keyboardist is stuck in the back. That’s for you to sort out yourselves. I would assume anyone with the patience to play a French Horn would probably make a terrific lover, though they don’t get any credit at all and to be honest, I haven’t tested that theory.

But I’m speechless. Yes, I think the new test of human-like musical expression should be whether you can capture the nuance of a sobbing Japanese official. I’ll propose that paper for NIME next year. Maybe we can find this guy and fly him in as a keynote, then show him Steel Magnolias.

I’ll keep playing the keyboards, though.

Update: here’s what happens when you add ebonies and ivories.

From the same artist, what the piano lacks in the guitar’s sobbing capabilities it makes up for in percussive insistence:

Sarah Palin, like a brilliant piano solo

(Thanks, Marc!) And yes, see also many other works mapping the melodies of human speech to equal-tempered pitches, including the Steve Reich theater work The Cave.