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Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano (Read 393 times)

Offline johnlewisgrant

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Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
« on: October 18, 2021, 04:17:48 PM »
Listening to the Chopin Competition I noticed that SEEING the body and facial language of the competitors really affected my evaluations. 

That made me think.... What really matters?  The "pure performance" (NOT seeing the antics/body language/facial expressions of the performers)? Or is it a good thing that the judges listen AND see the performer (male, female; young, old; good looking, ugly; happy, sad; annoying idiosyncrasies, beautiful mannerisms, etc., etc..?

This article suggests that we DO in fact live in a world in which it is possible to listen to totally (or sufficiently) accurate DISEMBODIED performances. 

Is that a GOOD thing or a BAD thing?  My grade 10 RCM exam was before a "blind" examiner.   Pretty much the same thing!!! But that was an exam.  What about the concert hall, the living room, etc...?

https://buffalonews.com/news/an-even-grander-piano-digital-player-piano-technology-is-changing-the-musical-world/article_4be502fe-c8b2-5a99-9a17-58af0762df2f.html


Online ranjit

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Re: Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
«Reply #1 on: October 18, 2021, 06:41:57 PM »
This article suggests that we DO in fact live in a world in which it is possible to listen to totally (or sufficiently) accurate DISEMBODIED performances. 
I would say this has been possible since the invention of the phonograph.

Offline johnlewisgrant

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Re: Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
«Reply #2 on: October 19, 2021, 01:40:40 PM »
The article is NOT TALKING ABOUT LOUDSPEAKER or phonograph technology.

The article is about the current state of "player piano" technology. 

The author maintains that the technology is now so perfect that you can't tell the difference between an original performance and the replay of that performance at the same piano.

They are exactly the same performance.

I can imagine two putative objections or, at least, provisos to this claim. But what I find more interesting is the issue it raises: what, exactly, does a "live performance" consists in? And in the context competitions and exams, is it BETTER or WORSE (or perhaps just different in some way), that the performer can't be SEEN or OBSERVED?  Is the latter integral to, or necessary to, the "performance"?

Part of the answer, obviously, depends on how you choose to use the word "performance." 

Another part of the answer raises the more interesting question: what does a performance consist of?

 



Offline brogers70

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Re: Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
«Reply #3 on: October 19, 2021, 04:12:33 PM »
I think a performance is a human interaction between the performer and the audience; part of that interaction is being able to see the performer. It's good to have "disembodied" orchestral auditions behind a screen in situations where subconscious (or explicitly conscious) bias has excluded women or minorities from success, but that does not mean that a "disembodied" performance is better or more pure than one in which the musicians and the audience relate more directly to one another.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
«Reply #4 on: October 19, 2021, 04:50:23 PM »
When i attend a performance, I close my eyes. I really don't get the idea (from a musical standpoint) of watching the performer. Does one need cues - to be picked-up from watching the performer - to understand the emotional context?
I find it a distraction, and prefer to just listen.
When this idea comes up in conversation, most folks I talk to find that watching is very important to them. To each, their own. Many like to watch Lenny dance on the podium, but all that time with Jerome Robbins still - doesn't compel my eyes:) . I know he couldn't help himself, but like Gould's singing- I posit it is much better to ignore - and just let the music speak.
The only exception - is Jerry Lee Louis using his heel on the keys :)
4'33"

Offline johnlewisgrant

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Re: Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
«Reply #5 on: October 20, 2021, 12:57:07 AM »
I don't trust myself NOT to be distracted and, perhaps, even somewhat negatively prejudiced by facial expressions and gesticulations. Case in point: Eva Gevorgyan's performance (today) of the Chopin E Minor Concerto (the final stage of the Warsaw Chopin Competition). The E Minor (for me at least) is hard enough to listen to repeatedly without having to endure, as well, the emotional externalizations (where they exist) of the soloist. 

That's probably WRONG of me. I readily admit that. But I had to close my eyes to Gevorgan's gesticulations after a couple of minutes into the piano's entry in the first movement.  (Even after closing my eyes it was already too late.  I couldn't get the body language out of my mind; so I stopped listening altogether.) 

So in this instance, Gevorgan may have given a good performance, but I'll never know.  My loss, presumably, because, of course, the music should come first in any performance; and a REALLY GOOD listener (or adjudicator?!!) must be prepared (arguably?) to mentally bracket unwanted facial expressions, body language, etc., etc. 

Other listeners, alternatively, may have thought her body language a PLUS.  And that's OK, too. I just don't fall into that category.  In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether her body language MADE ME THINK that the dynamics and rubato were extreme, unnecessary and even unhelpful. As I say, I don't trust myself to separate body language from the purely auditory component of musical expression.  (Maybe there are two aesthetic experiences and "works of art" or "forms of musical expression": the audio only "work of art" and then something slightly (but sometimes significantly) different: the audio AND visual performance, which is a different creative act in some way.)

Audio recordings have their benefits, because that question doesn't come up!

Online ranjit

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Re: Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
«Reply #6 on: October 25, 2021, 06:35:24 PM »

The author maintains that the technology is now so perfect that you can't tell the difference between an original performance and the replay of that performance at the same piano.
There was a video where conservatory students fooled their professors by using the same player piano technology (Dmitry Shishkin was in the video playing from behind the scenes). So yes, this is possible.

However, as a pianist, if you have some imagination, you can imagine how a performance would have sounded from a recording (for imo any decent recording made from the 1980s onwards in many cases), and it will be very accurate, though not perfect. So it doesn't make a huge difference, except for those pieces which rely very heavily on those pianistic effects which don't come across over a recording well.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Interesting Article on the state of the modern Player Piano
«Reply #7 on: October 26, 2021, 08:57:56 PM »
I don't trust myself NOT to be distracted and, perhaps, even somewhat negatively prejudiced by facial expressions and gesticulations. Case in point: Eva Gevorgyan's performance (today) of the Chopin E Minor Concerto (the final stage of the Warsaw Chopin Competition). The E Minor (for me at least) is hard enough to listen to repeatedly without having to endure, as well, the emotional externalizations (where they exist) of the soloist. 

That's probably WRONG of me. I readily admit that. But I had to close my eyes to Gevorgan's gesticulations after a couple of minutes into the piano's entry in the first movement.  (Even after closing my eyes it was already too late.  I couldn't get the body language out of my mind; so I stopped listening altogether.) 

So in this instance, Gevorgan may have given a good performance, but I'll never know.  My loss, presumably, because, of course, the music should come first in any performance; and a REALLY GOOD listener (or adjudicator?!!) must be prepared (arguably?) to mentally bracket unwanted facial expressions, body language, etc., etc. 

Other listeners, alternatively, may have thought her body language a PLUS.  And that's OK, too. I just don't fall into that category.  In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether her body language MADE ME THINK that the dynamics and rubato were extreme, unnecessary and even unhelpful. As I say, I don't trust myself to separate body language from the purely auditory component of musical expression.  (Maybe there are two aesthetic experiences and "works of art" or "forms of musical expression": the audio only "work of art" and then something slightly (but sometimes significantly) different: the audio AND visual performance, which is a different creative act in some way.)

Audio recordings have their benefits, because that question doesn't come up!

I don't think you are wrong, necessarily. Many old method books stress the importance of sitting up straight, with dignity and economy of motion (without stiffness!). Modern players could well learn from this, and both they and we would benefit, in my opinion.