The future of piano - Is it bright?

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Postby 109-1098732706 » Mon Oct 25, 2004 3:07 pm

I was reading what was said about the piano vs. keyboard. I feel that the piano lets me have more emotion and a better sound. However, my piano is in the center of my house and I can't play it 24/7 (no matter how much I want to). Sometimes I will go grab my keyboard and play on it, but I always bolt for my piano when I can.
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Postby 119-1097335655 » Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:25 am

Dr. Leland mentioned in one of his posts that 'people often tire of perfection'. I think that you might revise this slightly and say with a tad bit more accuracy that 'people quickly tire of repetition and homogeneity'. The acoustic piano, with its imperfections - things I'd rather refer to collectively as its personality - assures us that ennui of perfect homogeneity will never overcome us, so long as we do not eschew it in favor of the monotone drone of the Perfect digital piano.

And again, in considering the ascension of the digital piano, and its approximation to the sound of 'the real thing' - much the way the running ends of the graph of 1/X struggle eternally, Sisyphus-style, to reach the unattainable X and Y axes - without actually becoming an acoustic piano, the Perfect digital piano will forever remain just that - a digital piano, a brilliant electronic creation with its own strengths and weaknesses, but not a thing truly capable of supplanting its organic ancestors.

Obviously I am rather biased in favor of 'the real thing' but, I think, not without ample justification.

Cheers.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Nov 17, 2004 8:33 am

wouldbewarrior wrote:And again, in considering the ascension of the digital piano, and its approximation to the sound of 'the real thing' - much the way the running ends of the graph of 1/X struggle eternally, Sisyphus-style, to reach the unattainable X and Y axes - without actually becoming an acoustic piano, the Perfect digital piano will forever remain just that - a digital piano, a brilliant electronic creation with its own strengths and weaknesses, but not a thing truly capable of supplanting its organic ancestors.

Like the 1/X plot, whose asymptotes get arbitrarily close to the axes as X goes toward 0 and infinity, the digital piano will almost certainly get arbitrarily close to acoustic piano sound as advances continue in digital signal processors and related technologies. Ten years ago, the sound of the General MIDI piano patch map on a computer was so bad that it sounded more like a harpsichord than an acoustic piano. The problem was not in the map but in the old Fourier synthesis ("FM synthesis") technology of the first computer sound cards. With today's wavetable sound cards and surround speaker systems, digital sound gets closer and closer to the "real thing." Of course, the digital keyboard can also "emulate" the sound of 128 different instruments with General MIDI technology.

I agree that the digital piano will never completely achieve the sound, let alone "feel" and "organic" nature of the piano. But, as keyboards get arbitrarily close to the acoustic piano in sound, at much lower price, will digital keyboards become a common substitute for teaching and learning the piano, or at least a required part of acoustic piano education? The piano never completely replaced the harpsichord and certainly didn't reproduce its sound, but few people learn to play the harpsichord these days, and those who do play mostly "period" music.

I guess what I'm saying in this thread is that we need to teach and learn both the acoustic piano and the digital keyboard to gain the most that each experience has to offer. :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby pianoannie » Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:46 am

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:The piano never completely replaced the harpsichord and certainly didn't reproduce its sound, but few people learn to play the harpsichord these days, and those who do play mostly "period" music.

I guess what I'm saying in this thread is that we need to teach and learn both the acoustic piano and the digital keyboard to gain the most that each experience has to offer. :)

John,
You're always a step ahead of my thinking with your posts! Just yesterday I was contemplating the role that digital pianos and electric keyboards play in the life of today's families. Now, maybe you were referring more to the Clavinova, Roland, etc type digital more than the Yamaha and Casio keyboards. But I was thinking of how many kids do own keyboards, and perhaps it's time I learn more about their capabilities and consider teaching keyboard as a separate course of study from piano. I'm not familiar with particular books designed for teaching electric keyboard, but I assume they exist (sounds like a google search for me).
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:10 pm

I'll chime in with two comments:

Any of you who have seriously studied piano technology, as I have, know that the sound produced by a piano string in even the finest Steinway is actually so full of acoustical garbage and mathematically imperfect overtones that it's hard to believe. Nothing matches anything else in the harmonic spectrum, and every note on the keyboard differs somewhat from every other one. Add to that the fact that every tone has a slightly different decay rate, and that a lot of the sound (as much as half in the highest register) is the noise of the percussive impact of the hammer. Then the tuning is a compromise, called Equal Temperament, that for some intervals is way off base; and the higher you go as you tune, the more you have to stretch the octaves in order to match the first and most prominent overtone of the lower note of each. From the standpoint of acoustical perfection, the piano is a mess--and that's why we love it so. It's what philosopher Brand Blanchard called "the glory of the imperfect."

My other comment, re digital keyboards, is a practical problem that I'm surprised hasn't yet shown up in posts: it's been our experience that students, when turned loose on a keyboard, want to spend far more time monkeying around with all the gadgets and effects, trying to sound like The Rolling Stones, than sticking with ear training or theory or trying to get the thumb under. I wonder if others have had this problem--if not, please tell us how you do it!

Dr. Bill.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Nov 18, 2004 8:31 am

This thread has gotten somewhat focused on technology - mea culpa, I'm afraid. While the role of technology in the future of piano is important, perhaps critical, I, for one, would be interested in hearing people talk about where they think teaching and learning the piano are going. Are there any new approaches that seem particularly promising? Are there technical developments in piano design and manufacture that promise a better acoustical piano or is all the innovation in digital keyboards?

I hope that we can expand this thread to cover these and other areas which will impact the future of teaching and learning piano. :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby 68-1101106062 » Sat Nov 27, 2004 10:40 am

Has anyone had any experience with the Yamaha Diskclavier series? We have a two in the store where I rent studio space. I see them as the merging of technology and what many would call the "traditional" piano.

This is my first post, so I hope I am posting this link correctly. It takes you to one of the Diskclavier pages on the Yamaha site.

Yamaha Corporation of America - DC7M4t
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Postby 67-1101455209 » Sun Nov 28, 2004 2:37 am

I'm with Mins Music.........Kids can handle more in their lessons, including classical music. One of my young male students is excited to be learning 'real' music by 'dead' composers as opposed to the pieces in his beginner method books. He hasn't looked back and he has finally discovered that counting is not all bad! With young attitudes like that, piano music and instruction will survive.
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Postby 113-1101975159 » Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:21 am

Hello!
I'm new here..I'm piano teacher from Poland.
I have a question..
How do you teach your students playing "a prima vista"?
It would be very helpful. I'm looking for informations on this topic. Maybe you know some publications or sites about it? I'm thinking about taking it as topic for my MA essay but in Poland publications are very poor and I'd appreciate your help.
If you have any questions on teaching piano in Poland don't hesitate to ask me.
Thank you,
karolina
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Dec 02, 2004 8:28 am

qjamanka wrote:If you have any questions on teaching piano in Poland don't hesitate to ask me.
Thank you,
karolina

We would love to hear about teaching in Poland. I suspect the teaching environment there differs in interesting ways from that in North America. Please start a new thread in the Running a Teaching Studio forum or the Piano Teaching Tips forum and tell us about teaching Poland.

Welcome to the Board!
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Glissando88keys » Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:57 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:I wonder if we can take a step or three back and try to understand where we are now with piano and where we might be going. Will piano be relevant in the future or will it largely die out, much like the lute, for example? I don't know the answers to these and lots of related questions, but I hope that we can begin to understand where we might be going and what we can do to participate meaningfully in that future.

Curiosity about the ancient origins of music and musical instruments has led to a resurgence of interest in, and increased popularity of musical forms and instruments once thought extinct, like Medieval music and the lute, for example. I also see an increase in popularity of books, movies and events which vividly recreate historically accurate versions of the times and music which where characteristic of various eras. Today's technological generation watch with great interest and express a longing to experience living history by reading, watching movies, and experiencing Renaissance Festivals, concerts and the like. I wonder if we will relegate the piano to the category of curiosity one day in the future. Perhaps advances in piano manufacture will turn the tide? My guess is that only time will tell.

Digital keyboards, no matter how technologically advanced, will never replace the beautiful, complex nuances of a piano's tone. Similarly, digital photography and computer graphics will never replace pen and ink drawings, sketches, watercolors, and other forms of art. I think a preference for one form over another is a matter of personal taste, curiosity and a wish to explore the new and unusual, and familiarity with that particular art form. The more we emphasize technological music, the more the public becomes aware of it and familiar with the complexities of that form over another, say acoustical instruments. We are currently witnessing a temporary preference for technological music. With an increase in exposure to quality piano music, we may see a shift in emphasis from technology back to acoustics. I believe a music educator can take this into consideration, and teach appreciation of the history, significance and contributions of the various musical art forms and their associated instruments in context to the times in which they flourish. I think it is quite likely that one day digital keyboards, themselves may become a thing of the past.
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Postby Chilly » Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:59 am

Glissando88keys wrote:Digital keyboards, no matter how technologically advanced, will never replace the beautiful, complex nuances of a piano's tone.

I fully agree with that! :-)

I think that judging by the trend in history always repeating itself learning piano as an instrument will not die out - well, definately not in England.. And i see the same with music. Classical music may be seen as 'old fashioned' by some, but they are classics, and I don't think that they will completely be forgotten. My parents used to listen to classical when i was a kid, and i hated it, but now, as i've grown to appreciate music, i also find myself listening to classical music.

I also heard on the radio the other day a rocked up version of Pachabells Canon! believe it or not - i nearly didn't. It was brilliant - though to the pureist, they would probably have been horrified! Also saw a clip of a young boy playing pachabells canon on his electric guitar! It was truly amazing. By the way - i love the classical version of Pachabels Canon too.

I don't think that digital keyboards will die out though - they're way too practical. You can record straight onto your pc, plug your earphones in so that you don't bother the neighbors (I say this with England in mind, where houses are literally attached to each other) I have a clavinova and while i'd love a real piano too I couldn't buy one right now for practicallity sake. I think Digital is what's going to keep the acousic going in this instant and fast paced world that we live in. If someone can play on digital, they'll get so much more enjoyment out of the acoustic one that they would jump at the oportunity if they could. - though something interesting here - when i bought my clavinova, i was told that the Royal School of Music in London is starting to use Clavinova's instead of acoustic piano's. I haven't checked if that is true, but i can understand if they do.

I guess what i'm really trying to say is that it may seem like classical in it's original form is dying out, but classical music is a classic, and so is piano playing. And that's why i'm sure that it'll repeat itself, the same way we see history / fasion etc repeating itself.

If what i've said makes no sense to you, if not, let me know and i'll try clarify.
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Postby Glissando88keys » Fri Jul 21, 2006 1:19 am

Chilly wrote:
Glissando88keys wrote:I don't think that digital keyboards will die out though - they're way too practical. You can record straight onto your pc, plug your earphones in so that you don't bother the neighbors (I say this with England in mind, where houses are literally attached to each other)... I think Digital is what's going to keep the acousic going in this instant and fast paced world that we live in. If someone can play on digital, they'll get so much more enjoyment out of the acoustic one that they would jump at the oportunity if they could.

I guess what i'm really trying to say is that it may seem like classical in it's original form is dying out, but classical music is a classic, and so is piano playing. And that's why i'm sure that it'll repeat itself, the same way we see history / fasion etc repeating itself.

Chilly, your comments have made perfect sense to me. Styles come and go. We are only just beginning to uncover the past, which we once thought was lost. It is sad that we may never fully recover what ancient Greek Music was like, and what music was like in Biblical times, or before. That is why it is so important to keep the piano alive. What a loss it would be if the classics were lost to future generations!

When I said that maybe digitals will become a thing of the past, I was referring to the possibility that something even more advanced might evolve in our technological future. I didn't mean to imply that digitals will ever become obsolete.

I completely agree that digital keyboards are very practical. Although I went to a Conservatory and was trained in the classics on a piano, I rely on my digital keyboard for the same reasons you rely on yours. I can play at any hour of the day or night, I can record or have fun with all the bells and whistles, and I can take it with me! I love to experiment with Bach in the harpsichord or organ mode. This fast paced world you mentioned means that people move around alot and might need to have something portable.

:cool:

But no matter how many reason I can find for the practicality and popularity of digitals, I still relish the moment that I become one with my piano.

:D




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Postby Chilly » Fri Jul 21, 2006 3:37 am

Glissando88keys wrote:It is sad that we may never fully recover what ancient Greek Music was like, and what music was like in Biblical times, or before. That is why it is so important to keep the piano alive. What a loss it would be if the classics were lost to future generations!



Thanks Glissando, I was thinking about that on my way home yesterday, and new thoughts came to light. Now i'm not really sure what i think.. but here are some more thoughts.

I think that the world as it is now likes instant things. You go to shops and you get instant food, take aways. You want something, you can buy it on credit - why wait till you can afford it, you can have it now. But unfortunately, you can't buy skill. Learning the piano and especially classical piano requires lots of practice, and that is not very instant. That's why i think that so much of the stuff we listen to today can be put to afew chords and a basic tune (eg. My Imortal) - it's quick and easy to learn, and why work on something like classical that going to take much longer to learn when you can perfect afew chords and away you go? So i'm wondering now if Classical music will go on and on.. ? ???

But then there will always be orchestras and what are they going to play if they don't play classical? So perhaps as long as we keep it alive, then the next generation will too and so on..?

I'd love to know what the ancient Greek Music and Biblical stuff sounds like. Especially the Biblical stuff - it would almost bring huge parts of the bible to life!
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Postby Glissando88keys » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:29 pm

Chilly wrote:
Glissando88keys wrote: But unfortunately, you can't buy skill. Learning the piano and especially classical piano requires lots of practice, and that is not very instant. That's why i think that so much of the stuff we listen to today can be put to afew chords and a basic tune (eg. My Imortal) - it's quick and easy to learn, and why work on something like classical that going to take much longer to learn when you can perfect afew chords and away you go? So i'm wondering now if Classical music will go on and on.. ? ???

Chilly, your thoughts are in synch with mine. Skill isn't attained in an instant. The classics are truly appreciated by those whose trained ear can understand the complicated musical ideas in the music, usually by those who have put in the time and effort to play an instrument themselves, those who heard the classics while growing up, or those who can appreciate the amount of time and effort it would take to play it because their ear is "cultured."

Popular music, on the other hand appeals to those who like the spontaneity of sound, basic tunes, repetitive melodic lines and simple chord progressions, because they can relate to it instantly, on a level that they can easily understand. And the reason why it's so popular? The ears of the populace are on a more basic level. musically. Most people are not trained to hear the more complex musical ideas of the classics. The simple, repetetive ideas and driving rhythms of popular music appeal on a gut level. Maybe that is where the term counter-culture originated. :cool:

I'm sure Classical music will live on in our culture as long as there are people who are willing to learn to appreciate it, for the Classics are an acquired taste that takes a fair amount of time to understand and "hear." :)

This trend for instant gratification impacts piano methods as well. I see an increase in the marketing of methods that promise the ability to play the piano in a day, and methods that claim it is unnecessary to take piano lesson unless a student plans on becoming a concert pianist. This marketing ploy is an attempt to capitalize on the public's desire for instant skill. With all the false claims , and their empty promises to students eager to learn basic piano, I wonder how long it takes before the student, (who always wanted to play piano and never had the time to learn)
gives up in frustration? ???




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