Monday, June 2, 2008

audio: re-playing piano when recording

I've been following pro-audio DSD since I found out it's been anointed the ultimate archive format. There's the Sonoma DSD multi-track recorder, which apparently sounds fantastic for recording. So let me buy a two-channel playback version of that with the same Ed Meitner Digital-Audio converters, and sell me the studio masters!

One of the recordings made with this gear is Glenn Gould live in concert, reprising his stunning 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations; Glenn Gould died in 1982. Another one is Art Tatum re-performing "Piano Starts Here"; Art Tatum died in 1956.

These recordings are of a player piano replaying a high-definition MIDI file created by software “listening” to the original poor-quality mono record. “Zenph® Studios is a software company that specializes in the algorithms and processes for understanding - and re-creating - precisely how musicians perform. ... We’re separating musicians’ performances from their original recording medium.”

OK, my mind is blown.

Years ago I went to a mechanical music museum in England. If you've only heard a cheesy player piano banging out ragtime, you have no idea how sophisticated some of the systems were. High-end player piano was the hi-fi of its day; wealthy people would install fancy pianos and monster pipe organs that played elaborate piano rolls that captured attack, pedals, and other nuances, "recorded" by famous pianists. I heard a roll of George Gershwin performing Rhapsody in Blue and the composer's take on his own composition was radically different from recordings I've heard. Zenph is creating new piano rolls by listening to old recordings.

Labels: ,