Ghost concert to revive music of the past

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Haydnseek
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Ghost concert to revive music of the past

Post by Haydnseek » Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:14 am

Ghost concert to revive music of the past

Wed Apr 20, 2:52 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - Music lovers in North Carolina are due for a strange treat next month.

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u ... 0420185259

They will hear two piano virtuosi in concert... but both musicians are long dead.

The music will be played on a grand piano that has been specially programmed to give a note-perfect, live rendition of ancient recordings made by Alfred Cortot in 1928 and Glenn Gould in 1962.

"The piano will replicate every note struck, down to the velocity of the hammer and position of the key when it was played," the British weekly magazine New Scientist reports in next Saturday's issue.

The key to the phantom concert lies in the transcription of the scratchy recordings into a high-resolution version of MIDI, the standard format for encoding music for computers.

The usual problem with MIDI transcription is polyphony -- distinguishing several notes that are played simultaneously.

Attempts to transcribe polyphonic notes are typically only 80 percent successful, says New Scientist. About 10 percent of polyphonic notes are missing and another 10 percent are mistranscribed, which can give the replicated music a hollowness or discordance.

Zenph Studios, a software company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, claims that it has found a solution to the problem, although it refuses to say how for commercial reasons.

It has successfully tried out the Cortot and Gould pieces on the Disklavier Pro, one of only a few concert grand pianos that can record and play back high-definition MIDI files.

A concert will be held in Raleigh next month in which Corto -- dead since 1962 -- will "play" a Chopin prelude, while Gould, in his grave since 1982, will "perform" Bach's 'Goldberg Variations'.

By faithfully transcribing the notes and reproducing them exactly as they were played at the time, the technique could haul out of the archives innumerable sound recordings that have never been released because of flaws such as background noise.

Zenph's next project is to clean up a recording made at a private party by by the jazz giant Art Tatum two years before his death in 1956, the report says.
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

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Post by Guest » Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:23 am

Is there any point to this stunt?

Haydnseek
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Post by Haydnseek » Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:54 am

I think they are developing or improving a new way to clean up old recordings and transfer them to digital format or at least to make the MIDI format better than it has been. A project like this is a challenging and fun way to refine the technology.

When Mr. Honda decided to move from motorcycles to small efficient autos he knew he needed to develop his own engines and other technology so he had his company participate in Formula 2 racing. This focused everyone’s effort on making a small car that performed well under stressful conditions and gave his company the experience and knowledge they needed to go forward.
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

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Post by Guest » Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:56 am

Thank you for the enlightenment.

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Re: Ghost concert to revive music of the past

Post by diegobueno » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:05 am

Haydnseek wrote:Ghost concert to revive music of the past
"The piano will replicate every note struck, down to the velocity of the hammer and position of the key when it was played," the British weekly magazine New Scientist reports in next Saturday's issue.

The key to the phantom concert lies in the transcription of the scratchy recordings into a high-resolution version of MIDI, the standard format for encoding music for computers.
I have to wonder how this information (velocity of the hammer and position of the key when it was played) can be obtained from a recording.

Guest

Post by Guest » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:07 am

They're analog.

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Post by MaestroDJS » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:14 am

This sounds very much like the reproducing piano demonstrations staged by Welte, Duo-Art and Ampico in the 1920s. The theory was that these piano rolls recorded the action of the performer with magnificent clarity. Acclaimed pianists such Ernst von Dohnányi and Percy Grainger sometimes demonstrated these at concerts. The stunt was for each to begin to play a concerto with a full orchestra, but then stand up, walk offstage and sit in the audience -- while the reproducing piano continued the soloist's performance without a break. Yes it was a big stunt, but Dohnányi and Grainger must have believed in the results.

Alfred Cortot made some piano rolls too, so these might be the basis of the Zenph Studios transcription. In the case of piano rolls, the performers recorded, edited and approved the rolls themselves. Did Glenn Gould make piano rolls in 1962? If the Zenph transcriptions are from sound recordings instead, that's a very tricky task.

Is Zenph is a pun on Senf (mustard, in German)? Maybe we should take their demonstration with a grain of salt, mustard, ketchup and lots of relish. :D

Dave

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Post by pizza » Thu Apr 21, 2005 11:05 am

Cortot was notorious for his wrong notes. I wonder how the Zenph process will deal with them. Does "cleaning the recording up" mean changing what he played or making it even clearer?

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Post by Ralph » Thu Apr 21, 2005 1:34 pm

npwparis wrote:Is there any point to this stunt?
*****

Actually, no.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:28 pm

npwparis wrote:Is there any point to this stunt?
They do it because they can?
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Post by Haydnseek » Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:54 pm

The Zenph Studios company does it because there is a market for MIDI format music and they have made an improvement in this technology that they hope to sell. MIDI hasn't transcribed polyphonic music very well in the past so Zemph have tackled the problem head-on by transcribing a well-known Bach recording with their new process. They are going to demonstrate their accomplishment to the public by means of a Yamaha Disklavier performance. They hope to get attention that leads to orders. It's not too hard to follow, is it?
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

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In the hans of the dead

Post by violinland » Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:23 am

Then there was the George Gershwin concert when the piano was on stage and Gershwin was not. Many people walked out of the auditorium because they found it too eerie.

Personally I would not be there in the first place.

I doubt very much the wisdom of doing all this technology for Gold - surly he must have recorded this Bach composition on LP, as he did not seem to miss much out of the Bach repertoire.

No, I am with my friend Ralph on this one.

Pity no one has found a way to do this with violinists - then I will buy the ticket for the Paganini concert if it's good or bad I want even complain.

I remember a horror film iabout a pianist who had died and his hand continued play the piano - nothing is new really.

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Post by Ralph » Fri Apr 22, 2005 6:55 am

Watch out Cheniston. With all that is being done with animatronics don't be surprised if Paginini makes his 21st Century debut at Disneyland.
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Re: In the hans of the dead

Post by Haydnseek » Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:20 am

violinland wrote:Then there was the George Gershwin concert when the piano was on stage and Gershwin was not. Many people walked out of the auditorium because they found it too eerie.

Personally I would not be there in the first place.

I doubt very much the wisdom of doing all this technology for Gold - surly he must have recorded this Bach composition on LP, as he did not seem to miss much out of the Bach repertoire.

No, I am with my friend Ralph on this one.

Pity no one has found a way to do this with violinists - then I will buy the ticket for the Paganini concert if it's good or bad I want even complain.

I remember a horror film iabout a pianist who had died and his hand continued play the piano - nothing is new really.
I think you are missing the point of the demonstration. They want to showcase an improved, more accurate Musical Instrument Digital Interface technology they have developed for musicians to use. They are not promoting concerts by dead performers, although it seems this technology might be very useful in restoring recorded piano performances from the past in better sound.

When Edison demonstrated his phonograph people thought the sound of disembodied voices from the stage was eerie. Ladies swooned. I guess he should have pulled the plug on the project right then. I mean, what was the point of it?
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

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Demo vs. Concert

Post by karlhenning » Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:28 am

Haydnseek wrote:I think you are missing the point of the demonstration.
That may be, but the article calls it a "phantom concert", a "ghost concert", and speaks of a concert by two virtuosi, long dead. Associations with what "concert" means, will creep out some people (many people, perhaps). So, if we are not to miss the point of the demonstration, it may help if the demonstration is clearly a demonstration, and not a quasi-concert.

All of us benefit from and are thankful for music-reproduction technology; but it is mechanical reproduction of a living activity. Music is not just something that comes in at the ears; there are people making the music, and (normally, though no longer exclusively) for an audience in physical attendance. I don't think we really serve the art of music, if we completely disregard its social aspects.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Haydnseek
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Re: Demo vs. Concert

Post by Haydnseek » Fri Apr 22, 2005 9:10 am

karlhenning wrote:That may be, but the article calls it a "phantom concert", a "ghost concert", and speaks of a concert by two virtuosi, long dead. Associations with what "concert" means, will creep out some people (many people, perhaps).
Perhaps they can bring in some Victorian Era "Fainting Couches" and bottles of smelling salts for those delicate creatures unable to bear the strain. Or perhaps before considering this project Zenph Studios should have adopted Mr. Podsnap's standard of judgement from Our Mutual Friend:

The question about everything was, would it bring a blush into the cheek of the young person?
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

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Re: Demo vs. Concert

Post by karlhenning » Fri Apr 22, 2005 9:23 am

Haydnseek wrote:Perhaps they can bring in some Victorian Era "Fainting Couches" and bottles of smelling salts for those delicate creatures unable to bear the strain.
Consideration for delicate creatures is neighborly.

I keep forgetting that delicacy ought to have been bred out of us moderns long ere now.

(Smash some more of those Debussy discs, Merv!)

Cheers,
~Karl
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