Steingraeber Creates New Artistic Possibilities With Electronics
Electronics are not always used to serve artistic and creative expression in the world of music. They are often used for muting, or in ‘player pianos’ for example, and in pop music where, of late, the sound just booms out directly from the piano’s soundboard. A musical enhancement? Hardly!
However there are a multitude of professional applications that electronics can offer music and Steingraeber & Söhne has demonstrated just that in a series of trial runs* by composer Robert HP Platz from the University of Musik Würzburg, and pianist Clara Murnig from the Beethoven Institute at the University of Music Vienna. This particular transducer technology was born out of a collaboration between Robert HP Platz and IRCAM Paris, and subsequently optimised in SWR’s (Südwestrundfunk) Experimental Studio in Freiburg. The startlingly-authentic grand piano sound is thanks not to out-dated sampling techniques, but to the physical modelling approach of piano sound ‘Guru’ Philippe Guillaume and his firm Modartt/pianoteq.
Here are just some of the things a Steingraeber Transducer Grand Piano has to offer:
It canplay in all temperaments, including historical or non-European, as well as all in registers, switching from one to the other instantly at the click of a mouse.
Live performances ofquarter-tone music, by Charles Ives and Alois Hába for example, can be created easily, as the sound of the piano’s own strings is mixed flawlessly with that of the transducer, all within the same soundboard. The Transducer Grand Piano is controlled by both the pianist themselves and the sound engineer at the computer.
Compositions requiring a piano withlive electronicsno longer need an external loudspeaker.
The transducer acts as a ‘booster‘ to the sound of a live piano, perfect for open-air concerts.
The application of transducers to provide access to a variety of piano temperaments has already aroused the interest of pianist and Professor of Piano at the University of Arts in Teheran, Dr. Pooyan Azadeh, during a visit to Steingraeber in September 2015. In order to adapt ancient Persian music to the piano, he needed pianos with Eastern temperaments and microtones. Especially in Iran, Western instruments must also be capable of authentically performing Eastern music.
The first grand piano of that kind was presented on May 20, 2017 in Stuttgart’s Liederhalle at a concert involving artists from the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. The concert was titled “Self-playing and alternately tuned pianos: how modern technology can creatively expand the artistic possibilities of classic pianos: A live demonstration of the Steingraeber & Söhne D-232 Transducer Grand Piano in concert”
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