Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Disappearing Piano

First you see it. Then you don't. Sorta like magic. Black in my book. That's the way these large beautiful instruments keep disappearing, being replaced by overpriced electronic impostors.

Granted, synthetic piano sounds have come a long way since #8 on the DX-7 in the early 80's. (Love that patch!) There's nothing like the old Rhodes or a good electric piano and funky or techno synthesized sound banks. New timbres inspire creativity, for sure. But not at the expense of losing the natural acoustic. 




All the sampling in the world can't come close to its sonorous overtones, velvet tone, and lively harmonics. The longer, the better. I've got my eye on a premium  Steinway at Chafin Music http://chafinmusic.com/pianos.aspx. Trade my Kawai in and it'll still put me back to make that black beauty mine!



Maybe I just don't appreciated the wonders of 21st century technology. But how can a tiny chip and fibers ever produce the sonic richness that organic materials of ebony, strings, wooden hammers and felt can? Can you simulate A-440? Make 440 vibrations per second by artificial means? How can the thin spectrum of electricity transfer the nuances of human touch? 'Touch sensitivity' features and weighted keys try, but fall sadly short of responding to the sharp hit of fingertip, gentle dip of wrist, lift of hand, elbows and all manner of technique, arm and shoulder pressure and, last but not least: expression of heart.

I think that's what the poser keyboards are missing:

HEART.  

Their piano sounds have the resonance of a leaky faucet drip in a bathtub ....

and are equally annoying...

                                                 ...dink,

                                                                               plink,  
                                                             
                                                                                                              dink, dink, dink....

This personal beef all started when a large local church began changing out their grand pianos with double keyboards, whose manufacturer's name is a four letter word, not coincidental, in my opinion. The pianos took backstage - literally - but could still be found in use for a choir practice, funeral or low profile worship set.

I really can't blame the guys who made the decision. They're guitarists after all.

They      know      not      what      they      do.

They can pick up their acoustic instrument anytime, sans the need of amp, cables nor electricity. Though I have to say, the latter version dominates the majority of the 200 decibel song stylings. Variety of arrangements wanting.

First, the maple grand in the fellowship hall went missing.

Then the 9 foot satin Yamaha in the main sanctuary vanished from the vast backstage (It had long left front and center).

Finally, the 5'2" in the choir room was hauled off last week.....

"They're so much trouble to keep in tune."
"Our worship culture really doesn't call for grands on the platform"
"The budgets need a year-end replenishment to return them to the black." (Yup! - after the pricy purchase of 6 replacement keyboard sets).

All the pretty grand pianos.

Sold off,

one by one,

leaving an artistic and asthetic void,

an eerie vacancy,

the absence of interpretive pathos.

An unsettling barrenness in the musical landscape.



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