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MMD > Archives > March 1997 > 1997.03.18 > 06Prev  Next

Player Piano Concert
By Craig Brougher

We performed a concert with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and "Gershwin" here in Missouri some years back on an AR Duo-Art. I built a little gizmo with a light on it and a couple of switches that the conductor could use to turn the roll on and off with, from the podium. The device worked fine. There is about an inch of roll "coasting," but that was taken into consideration. (I could build one that would have zero coasting if I had to).

I wasn't really impressed with how it turned out, though. They didn't have a single practice run that was successful, and the concert was sort-of mediocre. It was a new thing to them, though. The conductor said he could do it better the next time, and wanted to give it a try. Then he mentioned it to a friend of his who also conducted, asking him to try it. So actually, he saw the potential there. He had some fun that night.

I think the problem is in the tempi. They are so used to playing Gershwin a certain way, that when they have to change, they are just not in time. The fix for this is really simple: Focus a CCD camera on the roll and let the conductor watch the music play. That way, he doesn't have to "memorize" the cadences.

I also suggest doing things other than "Gershwin." That has been played threadbare. Fix up a compact, trouble-free system with a monitor TV. Mark the on/off points on the roll as well as on the score. Edit the roll if necessary to remove sections in which the piano doesn't play, make other large reminder notations on the roll as necessary, or color the melody line, and give it a try.

Craig Brougher

[ I think conductors get upset when the soloist starts directing the
[ orchestra. Could you make a box which would synchronize the piano
[ to the conductor's beat, Craig? Then _he_ would be in control !
[ -- Robbie

(Message sent Tue 18 Mar 1997, 14:02:38 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Concert, Piano, Player

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