Magnetic Resonance Piano

I just watched Xenia Pestova Bennett’s Gresham College Lecture, Cyborg Piano: Magnetic Resonance Piano, where she talks a bit about the history of keyboard instruments and experimental modifications to them, and performs several pieces on an augmented piano that adds expressivity with electromagnets above the strings and sensors on the keyboard to pick up gestures.

I’m not sure that it can do anything that couldn’t be done with purely electronic instruments (in particular, it seemed like some of the gestural elements are similar to those in the Osmose), but by modifying an actual piano, it both satisfies those who might sneer at synthesizers by being “real”, and also (I presume) adds a real physicality to the sound that you wouldn’t get with an electronic instrument (e.g., physical interaction between the instrument and the space it’s being played in).


Yesterday I was looking at the Electromagnetic Piano that won third place in the Guthman competition this year. Sounds similar…?

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Interesting idea!
Think even in the age of digital simulations it is imho worth to think about innovations on acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments - still a lot of room for new things!
Think it is more difficult to innovate in that area though. One factor might be that particularly for the usual classical acoustic instruments, people dedicate a lifetime perfecting their skills on a particular instrument. So any improvement/simplification/extension that threatens to invalidate the time investment tends to be fought against with passion :slight_smile:

Magnets are not only used for shaping the actual sound. E.g. there are upright pianos that use (non electronic) magnets to supposably get the repetition behavior closer to that of a grand piano. Never played on one of those, so no idea how well this works - but the idea sounds plausible:

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