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MMD > Archives > April 1999 > 1999.04.15 > 08Prev  Next

Step Recording Piano
By Andy Taylor

Hi,  First of all, thanks to everyone who responded to my query,
"Recording Piano with Camcorder".  It was most appreciated!  Maybe
I will get something fixed up here that will record that piano.
To me it sounds impressive for a upright; now if I can just get what
I am hearing on tape!  Here is the project I have been working on.

I started with one very nice gutted 1922 Foster player.   I installed
a 88-note Pianomation system in a stack configuration, with lifter
fingers.  It really works extremely well.  I also use this unit to
step-record piano rolls, and the steps are accomplished with foot
pedals interfaced with the computer and Cakewalk Pro Audio.

I have retired one of our older computers (a 200 MHz machine) and
have installed the motherboard within the cabinet of the piano itself,
on the bottom left side.  There is a folding drawer that slides from
under the keybed exposing the computer keyboard.  The floppy drive is
located under the keybed on the right side.  The Pianomation stack
is in the original player action location, and the processor to the
Pianomation unit is located in the bottom on the right side.

To top this off, I have installed a 12" thin LCD monitor panel right
behind the spoolbox doors, with a wood frame that matches the finish of
the piano, right where the spoolbox was.  It really looks neat watching
the piano "roll" play via Richard Brandle's Wind program.  A "virtual
player roll"?!

In addition, this piano also has a MIDI record strip.  Cakewalk Pro
Audio allows the user to tie certain functions to MIDI notes (key
bindings), so I borrowed four notes (two at each extreme end of the
record strip, noted 1, 2, 87 & 88) and these are tied to four extra
piano pedals I installed in the toe board of the piano.  These are used
for step recording via the piano keyboard, in much the same way the old
QRS stop piano worked.

This works well for recording rolls on the measures.  I will admit this
idea is a little novel, but it works well.  The foot pedal functions
are as follows

  First pedal =  advance (set to 1/32nd step)
  Second Pedal = retard (set to 1/32nd step)
  Third pedal = pulls up the Cakewalk step record function
    (auto advance is turned off)

Once the third function is activated, you can play in your notes.  At
this point, you can add as many notes as you wish for a chord, and they
don't have to be struck at the same time -- all notes depressed will be
only on that bar of music.  This eliminates the need for stops or
octave coupling.

For example, to record a C major chord, you can just press one note
at a time.  They all will be recorded at the bar or measure once you
press the fourth pedal.  Once you depress the notes you want on that
particular bar, press the fourth pedal ("OK" or "Enter").  Then you are
ready to enter the next notes once you advance to the next step using
the first pedal.

This is not as complex as it sounds.  You do get the notes on the
measures and in time.  But the machine can not read note durations.
This has to be done after the notes are entered.

To test this I put one of my favorite J. Lawrence Cook arrangements
on our other player piano.  I slowly unrolled it one chord at a time,
watching the keys, and recreated it at the keyboard of the step piano.
This took 10 hours of spare time!

For those of you that want the first file from this collection of
parts, see

Andy Taylor - "The Lone Arranger"
Tempola Music Rolls Ltd.   "Taylor Made Just For You"

(Message sent Thu 15 Apr 1999, 07:37:20 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Piano, Recording, Step

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