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MMD > Archives > September 2009 > 2009.09.17 > 06Prev  Next

Paper Roll vs. Computer Disk Player Pianos
By Roy Matson

A comment on the two pneumatic vs. electronic reproducing piano
thoughts [090916 MMDigest].  I particularly identify with Kurt
Morrison's observations, though both writers spoke with similar

A dear friend of 40+ years recently took delivery on a magnificent
7'6" Yamaha Disklavier -- new.  He has kabillions of "recordings"
from all imaginable sources, most of which I cannot imagine.  They
all seem to make the keys go down and sound come out.

The most impressive demonstration of computer-to-pneumatic reproducing
technology to date, for me, has been Tom Ahern's Chickering 9' Ampico
grand, with late "A" mechanism and all the improvements it incorporated,
which is roll activated _or_ via his laptop, activating an electromagnetic
valve block, the pneumatic system receives signals at atmospheric
pressure and the computer literally opens the holes precisely as the
roll does.

This appeals to me, and seems to me the best of both worlds, since
neither the rolls are obsolete, nor is the performance compromised
through electronic 'filtering'.

I will never forget the first time I heard a reproducing piano play
well; I was transfixed and "hooked" instantly.  Having the great
fortune to acquire an example of each of the 'big three', and over
35 years accumulated a good library of recordings for all three, I'm
pretty smug about being able to hold myself in thrall until I go to
that great piano factory in the sky.

I agree with both writers; I have yet to hear a performance of any
kind other than a fine live pianist, that can carry me away, thrill and
satisfy, the way a good piano, reproducing a good recording, and all
the bits in proper working order using the pneumatic magic we all
appreciate can.

As an aside to Rowland Lee, had I only been there I would have been the
lone person regarding the electronic rendition of your playing with
(well concealed) condescending ennui, until you returned, when I would
have settled myself behind the potted palms and hung on every note as
you played the old fashioned way, with your fingers!

Now, when can we get Peter Mintun to record some proper paper
reproducing records?

My 6 cents worth!

Roy A. Matson, former Seattlite

(Message sent Thu 17 Sep 2009, 19:37:03 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Computer, Disk, Paper, Pianos, Player, Roll, vs

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