Modernizing Ballet Mécanique
The Copland-Sessions Concerts: A History
Copland & Sessions: A
Yamaha Disklavier®, Makes Antheil's Original Ballet Mécanique Possible.
Sometimes creativity and technology go hand-in-hand. And sometimes, the creative spirit outpaces the capabilities of technology. Such was the case when George Antheil wrote his now infamous Ballet Mécanique. The Carnegie Hall premiere in 1927, with a dozen pianists plus percussion, propellers and sirens, was a far cry from what the composer intended. That performance, which Antheil called "a three-ring circus," substituted live pianists for a group of synchronized player pianos.Player pianos with paper roles were too imprecise to meet the composer's expectations. Antheil revised the piece several times during his lifetime, but was never able to realize his original dream of synchronizing multiple mechanized pianos.
Fast forward sixty years to 1987 and tradition meets technology with the introduction of the Disklavier® digital/acoustic piano by Yamaha Corporation of America. The Disklavier is a computerized "hybrid" piano that offers the best of both words--a fine acoustic piano and the ability to record and play back performances note-for-note, with its keys and pedals moving up and down, as on the classic player pianos of old. In fact, its sophisticated system of fiber-optic sensors track the movements of the piano's hammers, keys and pedals while capturing every nuance of performance in digital form, on the same 3.5-inch floppy disks used in personal computers. The result is a technological marvel that not only makes Antheil's dream possible, but also offers endless educational, entertainment, and research applications.
To further enhance its use as a creative tool, a serial port enables Disklaviers to be used with home computers to take advantage of today's advanced software for desktop music, computer- aided composition and education. Performances can be edited and stored on a computer's hard drive. The Disklavier can also be played directly into the PC to produce a printed score. In addition, MIDI files downloaded directly from the Internet are playable on the Disklavier.
In the Disklavier, the allure of electronic assistance is not meant to replace a live pianist: it can immortalize a great performance, but it can be used as a tool for composition and music education. The Disklavier is fast becoming a mainstay of colleges, conservatories, universities, hotels, restaurants and private homes: wherever one needs an instrument that can be played as a conservatory quality piano and also set to play back music. Performances in every imaginable style are now available from a library of more than 350 pre-recorded floppy disk albums which Yamaha calls PianoSoft. The PianoSoft library offers performances by artists such as George Gershwin, Chick Corea, David Benoit, Roger Williams, Thomas Wrynkiw, Alexei Sultanov and others. Recent releases feature piano roll recordings of the great jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton, and a rare 1887 recording of Brahms performing a fragment of one of his Hungarian Dances, "live" through the magic of the Disklavier.
Since the Disklavier's development, it has sparked an interest in live piano performance that might not have occurred otherwise. And in at least in the case of Antheil, it has made a composer's dream reality.
Yamaha Corporation of America manufactures a complete line of musical instruments, professional audio products, custom-driven support products and computer-based products targeted to both the amateur and professional markets.