The pitfalls of digital pianos - Pedalling

Discuss the digital alternatives to the acoustic piano

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:21 pm

Has anybody ever heard the Swingle Singers? They recorded entire Bach fugues and other works, actually singing all the parts EXACTLY as written, using 'scat' syllables and frequently adding jazzy rhythm background but without changing the meter or anything. They were terrific, and I'd have to agree with Dr. Z. and Stretto that Bach would probably have loved it.

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:14 pm

Dr. Bill Leland wrote:Has anybody ever heard the Swingle Singers? They recorded entire Bach fugues and other works, actually singing all the parts EXACTLY as written, using 'scat' syllables and frequently adding jazzy rhythm background but without changing the meter or anything.

Sure have and they were great! Like I said earlier in this thread, it's not the instrument, it's the performer that makes the music. :cool:
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:26 am

...........provided the instrument is capable of doing it.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:43 pm

Swinging, singing Bach? Sounds far out to me! Are you sure Bach would have liked it?

I do not want to go into the iaino/keyboars debate again.

I'll stay with my piano.


:p

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Postby Stretto » Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:43 pm

loveapiano wrote:I do not want to go into the iaino/keyboars debate again.
:p
Joan

Joan, don't tell me there are even more instruments out there to debate that I wasn't aware of!

I hope no one comes to me wanting to take lessons with only an "iaino or keyboar" to practice on or I'm sending them your way!!!

p. s. sorry to jive you! I was confident you wouldn't mind.
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Postby Cy Shuster » Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:49 am

Dr. Bill Leland wrote:It seems to me that the ideal criterion for choosing a keyboard instrument should be repertoire. No one plays Rachmaninoff on a harpsichord, but since the big period instrument revival of the 20th century there has been a world-wide movement to perform Bach and other earlier composers on the harpsichord and clavichord, which are now being not only restored but manufactured new.

I apologize in advance to Christine for going a bit off-road with this thread again (sorry, I don't have an answer for your question!).

Since Dr. Leland has mentioned the trend toward period instruments, I'd like to mention my own interest in "historic tunings", which is also going through an upsurge of interest.

It's not very well known that about 100 years ago there were many different options available for tuning a piano or harpsichord. While today's standard is "equal temperament", in which a piece may be transposed to any key and sound the same (except for pitch, of course), earlier temperaments were unequal, and the relative pitches of notes would change as a piece modulated. For example, major thirds would become wider and more dissonant as you go around the circle of fifths, and would become narrower as you return to C. Harpsichords and clavichords typically use these older tunings.

To give a shred of relevance to the rest of this thread (sorry!), it's interesting to note that many modern digital keyboards have the ability to change their tuning with the push of a button. Yamaha Clavinovas with an LCD screen have this option.

Many musicians feel that using these temperaments is an important part of a period performance (or "historically informed"? Gosh, I hope this isn't another land mine...).

Of course, acoustic pianos can be tuned in these original temperaments. Many of them are "mild" enough to be used for anything short of Ravel.

Here's a great timeline of temperament use:
http://rollingball.com/TemperamentsFrames.htm

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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Sat Apr 08, 2006 8:39 am

Last year I posted a review of the theory software program "Practica Musica" in which I noted that "there are no fewer than eight different tunings available, from the modern Equal Temperament all the way back to Pythagoras." These different historical tunings are indeed showing up more and more, as Cy has mentioned; it's easy to do with digital technology.

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:11 pm

If any of you would like to see a regular program featuring digital keyboards, check out Paul Todd's program on the Angel network (carried on most cable and satellite TV). Todd is the director of music at a large Miami church. His TV program has occasional religious overtones, but it's content is of the genre that I would call "fusion". It's a mixture of contemporary, new age, classical and rock. Todd plays multiple digital keyboards at once, putting on a virtuoso display. Although he's in his 50's, he looks a little like a rock star with "big hair". I've seen him in person. Audiences love him. I even asked him to be an interviewee on PEP, but he's too busy with concert performances and his church duties to do that. Anyway, you may prefer the acoustic piano (as at least one contributor to this thread has stated pretty directly), but Todd's program will give you a sense of the capbilities of digital pianos when played by a professional.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:37 pm

I was going to correct that, after reading it but it was late! Very funny, Stretto...took me a minute to figure out what you were saying! Slow, today, getting over a virus!

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Postby 108-1121887355 » Sun Apr 09, 2006 2:12 pm

Did I post this in the wroing place. Stretto was referrring to two of my typos.

Dr. John, you couldn't have been referring to me about the piano, could you? I only have basic cable so do not see that program. I would keep an open mind and watch it if I could. But I still want to play a piano!

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:05 am

loveapiano wrote:Dr. John, you couldn't have been referring to me about the piano, could you? I only have basic cable so do not see that program. I would keep an open mind and watch it if I could. But I still want to play a piano!

Actually, no, I wasn't referring specifically to you in my earlier post, since there have been several expressions of preference for the acoustic piano in this thread. I prefer the acoustic piano, too - for many parts of the repertoire but not all. My main point in all these exchanges about digital pianos and acoustic pianos is that the digital keyboard and piano open new vistas for teaching and learning which I believe we would be foolish to ignore, for pedagogical, technological, cultural and expressional reasons. Of course, if you or others want to succumb to the dark side of the piano force, I'll just have to bring out my light metronome! :laugh:
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:48 am

No, no, not the metronome!

I am not able to explore, nor do I understand, all the ways digital can open new vistas. I will take your word and the information on these threads. Perhaps this is why I would not reply to your question of what is innovative in teaching and learning.

I will read and try to learn, tho it is something I probably cannot experience.

Thanks of your patience with a digital novice.

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Postby Stretto » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:44 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:My main point in all these exchanges about digital pianos and acoustic pianos is that the digital keyboard and piano open new vistas for teaching and learning which I believe we would be foolish to ignore, for pedagogical, technological, cultural and expressional reasons. Of course, if you or others want to succumb to the dark side of the piano force, I'll just have to bring out my light metronome! :laugh:

OK, I'm guilty. I am on the "dark side" of the piano force but not in the sense that I am against teaching someone with a digital keyboard or piano or utilizing them in teaching. However, I am in the "dark" in the sense that I am relatively "clueless" as to how I can take advantage of what these instruments can offer in helping students learn piano. I need an "education" on what I can do with these instruments in the way of teaching and how I can best teach someone with one of these instruments. Please do bring out your light metronome and "enlighten" me!

Up until now, from what I can remember (unless I missed something) the discussions have seemed to remain in speaking primarly of generalities of the advantages of acoustics and digitals. I agree digital keyboards and pianos have value and have a lot of capabilities to offer that an acoustic doesn't have. So you have won me over in that I will no longer imply that digitals are inferior as instruments. I hearby take an oath! I've read the discussions and some articles related to digital keyboards and digital pianos on PEP although perhaps not all. I can't remember reading anything on specific ways that a piano teacher can utilize these instruments to his/her advantage in the studio. Perhaps you can direct me to such an article that would give me more specific ideas rather than just generalities of the differences in instruments.

I only have a very dim, vague idea of how I can use these instruments to teach piano in my studio and how I can help someone who has these instruments utilize them to their full potential. The only ideas I can come up with would be to hook them up to a computer to use in conjunction with piano teaching and learning software, composing software, theory, sight-singing, and ear-training software, and maybe show someone how to make recordings and manipulate recordings off of these instruments (which I don't know much about currently).

Are these the kinds of things you are referring to as far as a piano teacher making these instruments a part of teaching and learning? Dr. Zeigler, I would be interested to hear what kinds of examples come to your mind when you're thinking about the concept of what piano teachers can do to incorporate these instruments into the piano teaching process. To be specific, I am interested in particulars and specifics! Again, please lead me out of the "dark" to the doorway leading to the path of incorporating these instruments in my studio either by way of directing me to an article(s) on PEP I'm not aware of or by way of listing some of your own ideas here. :)




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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:20 pm

Stretto wrote:
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:My main point in all these exchanges about digital pianos and acoustic pianos is that the digital keyboard and piano open new vistas for teaching and learning which I believe we would be foolish to ignore, for pedagogical, technological, cultural and expressional reasons. Of course, if you or others want to succumb to the dark side of the piano force, I'll just have to bring out my light metronome! :laugh:

However, I am in the "dark" in the sense that I am relatively "clueless" as to how I can take advantage of what these instruments can offer in helping students learn piano. I need an "education" on what I can do with these instruments in the way of teaching. Please do bring out your light metronome and "enlighten" me!

I've read the discussions and some articles related to digital keyboards and digital pianos on PEP although perhaps not all. I can't remember reading anything on specific ways that a piano teacher can utilize these instruments to his/her advantage in the studio. Perhaps you can direct me to such an article that would give me more specific ideas rather than just generalities of the differences in instruments.

The only ideas I can come up with would be to hook them up to a computer to use in conjunction with piano teaching and learning software, composing software, theory, sight-singing, and ear-training software, and maybe show someone how to make recordings and manipulate recordings off of these instruments (which I don't know much about currently).

Are these the kinds of things you are referring to as far as a piano teacher making these instruments a part of teaching and learning?

Again, please lead me out of the "dark" to the doorway leading to the path of incorporating these instruments in my studio either by way of directing me to an article(s) on PEP I'm not aware of or by way of listing some of your own ideas here. :)

All right, I'll stop making jokes on the Board, since people sometimes seem to take offense from or read too much into them. My comment about the "dark side of the piano force" and "light metronome" were (to me) obvious paraphrasings of famous Star Wars quotes. I used them precisely because they are sci-fi/technology parts of popular culture which I felt most people would know about and find amusing.

There are too many articles on PEP which deal with these questions (not including posts on the Board) to list here. Check out the Teaching Studio (linked on every page on the site) for specific articles on how to set up a theory lab and what you can do with one. Your list of possible uses is correct, though incomplete. It would seem to me that those reasons you cited alone would be enough to justify a MIDI keyboard based lab. You might also want to look at my Music and the Home Computer series of articles for information on learning software and how to use it, composing packages and how they can be applied, information on sound creation on the PC, and lots more. For piano teacher reviews of over 60 software packages for home or studio, see our Piano and Software Reviews page. More than 90% of these programs either use or require a MIDI compatible keyboard.

Given the number of articles on PEP relevant to technology in the teaching studio, more of which you can find simply by using PEP's Search pages (linked on every page on the site, including this one), there is enough reading on the site covering this topic to keep you busy for a solid day of reading. What we can't (and don't) do is give you a prescription for exactly what you should use and how you should use it. That's simply impossible, since we don't know your student composition, what areas you feel could benefit from computer aided instruction, what hardware you have, and how much time you want to devote to educating yourself about these matters (among other imponderables). I wasn't born with a knowledge of techology in the teaching studio, but I took the time to learn it. Since you have asked for specific answers, I suggest you ask me a specific question and I'll do my best to answer it, if I know the answer. ???




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Postby Stretto » Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:21 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:[All right, I'll stop making jokes on the Board, since people sometimes seem to take offense from or read too much into them. My comment about the "dark side of the piano force" and "light metronome" were (to me) obvious paraphrasings of famous Star Wars quotes. I used them precisely because they are sci-fi/technology parts of popular culture which I felt most people would know about and find amusing.

I wasn't offended at all. I did find the comments humorous. I was just going along with the same choice of wording about being on the "dark" side and using your "light metronome" to explain that I am uneducated and in the "dark" on how I might employ the use of keyboards and digital pianos in teaching piano. Although my version of "dark" meant lacking knowledge rather than being "on the dark side of the force" in being in opposition to using keyboards and digitals pianos in teaching piano. And I wanted you to use your "light" to enlighten me on the subject rather than "zap" me for disagreeing. I guess you could say I am trying to come from the "dark side of the force" on the issue to the "good side" (forgot what the other side was called in Star Wars).

In the two most recent threads in this forum on the topic, we've mainly discussed differences in the instruments and have not really gotten to ways piano teachers can incorporate these instruments in teaching and how teachers can help those who are taking lessons with a keyboard or digital piano use their instrument to it's potential.

I was kind of not only asking for myself but trying to be a spokesperson for other teachers who may be wondering about ways to best teach a person with a keyboard or digital piano and help them utilize their instrument to it's full advantage if the piano teacher should choose to accept students with these instruments.

Thanks for the info. and the PEP article referrals. I guess I'll have my reading cut out for me. I just am trying to gain a better understanding of what place keyboards and digital pianos hold in teaching piano to students. :D




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