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MMD > Archives > March 1997 > 1997.03.30 > 11Prev  Next


Duo-Art Concert Grand at "Ear Witness" Site
By Craig Brougher

It might be interesting for readers to know that there is a concert grand reproducing piano playing Paderewski's Caprice in G at the site

   http://www.madrigal.com/EW.htm

You will need Netscape's RealAudio player to hear it. I don't think they allow you to record it yet. If you don't have the RealAudio player, you can download a copy by clicking on their link to Netscape. Both versions together for about $30.00. The 3.0 released version, and a new 4.0 Beta stereo version.

I have listened to the recording several times and believe that the audio is excellent. However, the recording seems to lack the range of dynamics in the original roll. It could be just that the dynamics are electronic- ally compressed necessarily, or that the zero intensity of the Steinway DR grand has been raised to allow it more power at the maximum "crash" level intensities, hence masking its expression at the delicate levels for which the piece is known for. It would, however, be interesting to know more, and to see what others think of this very interesting site. There is a lot of otherwise good information there on the piano.

The Duo-Art concert grand is limited by ordinary D-A rolls because commercial rolls are scaled to the baby grand size. This was necessary because a Duo-Art mechanism is not self-compensating, and so the coding on the roll itself requires a prior understanding that the piano it is played on be no larger than the AR Steinway grand for satisfactory reproduction. (Even the AR has a bit more capacity than the commercial roll can provide.)

There was two ways a DR model Steinway could be fully utilized by the Duo-Art. First, as long as there were not huge chords played at crash levels in the music, the standard Duo-Art mechanism could handle it on a concert grand as long as the roll was coded differently to adapt to the DR's greater dynamics. This is how it was usually handled when the pianos toured the concert circuits. The second way this was done, I believe, was to have a large capacity remote pump offstage, with an additional device for reading the higher intensities required by the roll and providing the piano with greater power at some point ( presumably after the spill valve in the expression box closed).

I understand that Mr. Ivan Shapiro used to own such a piano (now sold) with some kind of booster device on it like this, but know nothing about it, otherwise. Maybe someone who has had experience with this piano or at least who knows how it worked would comment. I sure would be interested to know how it worked.

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Sun 30 Mar 1997, 16:03:47 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Concert, Duo-Art, Ear, Grand, Site, Witness

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