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#1565087 - 11/27/10 10:23 AM Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter?
Gary Allen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/15/09
Posts: 141
Loc: Tennessee
I am curious if you think that eventually the accoustic piano could go the way of the typewriter, cameras that use film, etc.?

As digital pianos continue to evolve and become more sophisticated is it possible that they could someday replicate the sound of the long strings that make our grand pianos so beloved? Beautiful digital grand piano facades could still be used if an instrument is dominantly for a furniture statement. For those with limited spaces, however, a small cabinent would remain preferred.

Setting tradition aside (and I realize this is no small thing) if a digital instrument could ultimately replicate, indistinguishably, the sound of a concert grand (or any other grand) for a fraction of the cost and offer the versatility that they do, could they potentially someday make our accoustic pianos obsolete????

There have alredy been many individuals, churches and others that have divested their accoustic pianos in favor of digital instruments so perhaps this question is not as far fetched as it may at first seem.

Please know that I personally love my grand piano and am in the process of buying an additional one. I also, however, really enjoy the versatility of my digital pianos yet also know that my digitals do not have either the sound or feel of my grand. That said, however, my spinet-sized digital sounds better to me than any spinet I have heard.

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#1565115 - 11/27/10 10:55 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8585
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Gary Allen
There have alredy been many individuals, churches and others that have divested their accoustic pianos in favor of digital instruments so perhaps this question is not as far fetched as it may at first seem.


I think you are right in your assessment of trends regarding acoustic and digital pianos.

I recently purchased a nice older Yamaha C7 grand piano from a large church that went to all digital pianos. The Yamaha C7 had been neglected and needed some work, but was still a nice piano. I think the primary reason for their decision was because the digital pianos were more practical in terms of the style of music that fit their worship service, which was more new age and contemporary (and amplified).

I don’t see digital pianos taking the place of acoustics any more than electric guitars have taken the place of acoustic guitars.

However, I personally do not think that digital pianos, no matter how advanced, will ever totally take the place of acoustic pianos, at least in homes and concert halls. Churches and schools may be a different story.

Not to brag, but as it stands now, I’d say I can tell whether a piano is an acoustic or a digital just by listening closely (with 99.9% accuracy).

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1565123 - 11/27/10 11:10 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
no
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1565132 - 11/27/10 11:25 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4381
Loc: Jersey Shore
only if Gyro becomes God...


But seriously' no way...

Even though my Estonia is problematic, I couldn't even go near my old kawai digital.

Acoustics give a tonal and tactile feedback no digital can replace.

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#1565147 - 11/27/10 11:45 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Silverwood Pianos Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4235
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

There will always be the purist that has a desire to hear the sound vibration of an acoustic instrument.

There will also be the high level concert pianist and concert hall that would refuse to play on or purchase one of those “microwave pianos”.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1565153 - 11/27/10 11:49 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
No.

And, there are still people who use film cameras and typewriters, too. And analog vinyl LP records and tape mastering decks.

There are some good reasons they're still with us, notably the limitations of digital technology and its overhead.

The real reason the word processor decked the typewriter was cost and flexibility, and it was still a long time before printer quality caught up. When DPs can say as much, and can match the quality, including the 'presence' and tactile experience (which none of them can, and are not close to it), well... post again then.
_________________________
Clef


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#1565167 - 11/27/10 12:07 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
jens4711 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/10
Posts: 86
Loc: Danmark
Originally Posted By: Gary Allen
I am curious if you think that eventually the accoustic piano could go the way of the typewriter, cameras that use film, etc.?


I think in the very long run, the answer would be yes. As with the film camera and typewriter, a few people will continue to use them for a while, but ultimately they will become rare.

But at the current level of technology, the acoustic gives a much better experience from the PLAYERs perspective, so it will take a long while before the digital pianos take over completely.

In the following I use the term synthesizer as a collective term for all sort of electronic keyboards (including digital pianos), since they share more technology than they differ.

From a RECORDING and popular music CONCERT perspective, I'am afraid, we are already seeing that digital synthesizers are taking over in a big fashion. With todays synthesizers the majority of people can't distinguish music from acoustic versus synthesizers, when the primary source of the sound, is from loudspeakers.

See "Broadway sings blues over synthesizer invasion":
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hgWRFjXMEeZ6C8wOghjExHJ4o-Kg

Synthesizers have so many unique advantages, and the sound will continue to improve, and therefore their use will continue to increase. They will never become real pianos, but from a sound perspective the difference will diminish to become zero at some point, also from a PLAYERs perspective. There is every reason to believe this.

Unfortunately this will also mean that acoustic pianos will sell less, and the price will increase. I do not think they will go away, but they will become rare. And the few there are will also undergo technological changes, as will everything else.

And this is not a bad thing.

If you find this scenery frightening, then just remember that Bach himself was at the very forefront of technology at his time, and that if he had lived today he would probably have embraced electronic synthesizers.

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#1565168 - 11/27/10 12:11 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
No, not if they just duplicate the sound. If they duplicate the sound AND the feel, then they'll have something truly worth considering.

Duplicating the sound includes true & complete duplication of the way a piano pedal behaves, which is apparently quite difficult since no manufacturer has even got "in the ballpark" AFAIK.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1565170 - 11/27/10 12:11 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Bach would most likely have a job playing the most awesome pipe organ in the world, if he were alive today.

he already wrote the music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01jwhoCY1AI&feature=related

(i absolutely love the sound of this organ.

I was able to play this one a few times in the 70s, when my friend legitimately practiced for services.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9RT3u6KoAE&feature=related






_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1565230 - 11/27/10 01:53 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
PianoMan1958 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 502
Loc: Tennessee
I sure hope not.

Recently I did (2) recording sessions in studios with Yamaha digital pianos. Although they sounded nice on the recordings (and were professional keyboards, not consumer line) I still had some difficulty putting expression on these recordings. Because the final mix included all sorts of other instruments, the piano parts sounded OK; however, when I would come home from one of these sessions and sit down at my Yamaha C5 grand, the fullness of tone and expression it allows was way beyond anything these studio digitals could deliver.
_________________________
Jack in TN

Plays:
Yamaha C5 grand (home)
Kawai KG5 grand (church)
Roland RD300GX digital (jazz group)

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#1565275 - 11/27/10 02:57 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Clavier Übung Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/23/10
Posts: 26
Loc: Dallas, TX
I think this is an interesting idea from a musicological perspective. As jens4711 mentions, there may be technological advances in the very long run that even the playing field between acoustic and digital pianos.

I happen to play the harpsichord and pipe organ as well as the piano. In fact, I have a harpsichord at home and one at work. I studied harpsichord in grad school. Of course, this was an instrument that was made literally and figuratively obsolete by the piano. However, there arose a harpsichord revival in the early 20th century that continues today. I love my piano, but it can't replace the tone and feel of my harpsichord. It is difficult to realize Couperin on a piano without making musical sacrifices of some kind (although I play it on the piano anyway). I love them both for different reasons.

The same thing happened with the mechanical pipe organ in America. In the mid-1950's, organists began a revival against electric action pipe organs and mushy, symphonic organs, preferring direct linkages and historical sounding tones. Such people were nicknamed 'purists,' and the journals of the day were rife with rather vehement arguments for and against the organ reform movement. Today, most universities and concert halls generally purchase mechanical action pipe organs when such a thing is possible. That was not the case 50 years ago.

Bear in mind that one can still get a degree studying the harpsichord, clavichord, and even the fortepiano. There are people who make a living playing the krummhorn and the sackbut (not very many, but they exist). As long as institutions exist for the continuing study of historical music and instruments, I think there will always be spheres of influence in which the original is always preferred.

The acoustic piano is an incredible instrument, and among musical instruments is unrivaled in that it has remained ubiquitous in one form or another over the last two centuries. I think there remains a fascination with the historical aspects of all instruments, such that people will want to hear the real deal, particularly among the academic and performing set. We may see digital instruments outsell acoustic pianos, and even dominate the market some day. But in my opinion, there will always be a place for study and performance on acoustic pianos.
_________________________
1941 Steinway A-III
1919 Arnold Dolmetsch Harpsichord


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#1565296 - 11/27/10 03:24 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3372
For the professional, I really doubt it. Digital technology becomes obsolete quickly, and most pianists wouldn't put up with that. Plus, a digital instrument would need to have the ability to withstand heavy-duty use, which they currently do not. Even film cameras are not obsolete, yet, especially for pros; it takes about 25MP to equal 35mm film, and to replicate the old-school large format film (still the standard for serious photography) is in the 100sMP.

For the casual player, who would otherwise buy a cheap upright, yes. But if piano manufacturers start designing pianos that require less maintenance (by using composite materials), then maybe not.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1565312 - 11/27/10 03:52 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
as they say, imitation is the best flattery.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1565313 - 11/27/10 03:52 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
onion Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/10
Posts: 11
Quote:
I still had some difficulty putting expression on these recordings. Because the final mix included all sorts of other instruments, the piano parts sounded OK; however, when I would come home from one of these sessions and sit down at my Yamaha C5 grand, the fullness of tone and expression it allows was way beyond anything these studio digitals could deliver

Amen Pianoman...I played digitals for 15 years before getting my grand. the digital manufacturers will never be able to replicate the fullness of sound, and especially the SUSTAIN, of a grand piano. I lament every Sunday when I have to go to where our church currently meets and lead worship on a digital piano. We have had even musically untrained people over the house who hear the grand and are immediately struck by the difference. There is and never will be a comparison.
But of course, you can't just pack up and carry a 900 lb. piano either, now can you?
_________________________
Psa 33:3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

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#1565315 - 11/27/10 03:56 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
pno Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 1042
Loc: ♪oron♪o, on♪ario, canada...
A digital would not be replacing an acoustic until the day you could replace your food with batteries.
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YAMAHA C2M PE

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#1565333 - 11/27/10 04:32 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5282
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I don't see nine footers leaving the concert hall anytime soon but I do see more and more hybrids (like the AvantGrand) being used for practice pianos for professionals. I also see hybrids as the main piano in restaurants, hotels, and cruise ships as time goes on.

How many piano manufacturers were there in the US 50 years ago? ... 100 years ago? How many today? Bösendorfer (Austrian) was taken over in January 2008 by Yamaha because they were going under. When will Steinway start to have cash flow problems? Who will take over Steinway? Before you start thinking that Steinway will never go under, did you ever think that Bösendorfer would go under? Yamaha can afford to make acoustic pianos probably because they have money from the digital side of the house; just making acoustic pianos seems a risky business today.

Who can afford many multiples of $10,000 for a new grand? I see a great big market in restoring old grands but I see fewer manufacturers of grand pianos in the future.

Hybrids are going to become more and more popular but there will always be conventional grand pianos - just fewer companies that make them though.
_________________________
website

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#1565405 - 11/27/10 07:17 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Mark...]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Ohio, US
Originally Posted By: Mark...


...Acoustics give a tonal and tactile feedback no digital can replace.

Definately, even more so during a power outage.
_________________________
I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.


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#1565410 - 11/27/10 07:25 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Jeff Clef]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3191
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
No.

And, there are still people who use film cameras and typewriters, too. And analog vinyl LP records and tape mastering decks.


I have read that the sales and popularity of vinyl is steadily increased the last few years.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

Free Tune from my Blues & Boogie-Woogie Piano CD:

https://app.box.com/files/0/f/0/1/f_2665138101

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#1565447 - 11/27/10 08:25 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
Aliwally Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/07
Posts: 521
Loc: Washington, D.C.
I am a drummer first, so that question was asked about drums when the electronic drums came out, the drum machines. What we did not know is not only did they replace the acoustic drums, but they (especially the drum machine) replaced drummers. Scary....

Drummers are back in the studios, and acoustic drums are being made the best they ever have. They mix different woods to get different tones, you can spend as much cash on a drumset now than a Grand Piano and that is with no hardware, just shells.

So I think the acoustic piano will come up with some new technology based on the old, Kawai M3 action is a small example, I think some genius somewhere will come up with a soundboard design, scale designs, etc...that was never thought of before....

I feel the acoustic piano will remain, I could never see a symphony of all acoustic instruments having a digital piano perform with them on stage. I heard it has been done though, but I am quite sure that is very rare. So as long as we have classical music, orchestras, yamahas, kawais, steinways, I don't see it happening...
_________________________
Yamaha P-120, Feurich 122

Always look ahead, but never look back. - Miles Davis

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#1565470 - 11/27/10 09:11 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
BerndAB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/10
Posts: 545
Loc: Germany
All acoustic pianos will go this way of the typewriter..

Also every electronic piano..

Why? Imagine a "Matrix" world where everybody gets in baby age implanted a tiny microchip in a stainless steel housing, with inductive information transfer and a set of thousands electrodes to stimulate every region in the brain. Then no further seeing is necessary, no hearing, no tasting, no feeling, nothing else but being connected to a serving computer which loads your brain with the impulses wanted..

Even eating and drinking and ..x then will be no longer necessary - stimulation of the proper brain map region will be enough. Maybe if you can pay for this.. who knows? Or will this be for free?
wink

...hrm - one disadvantage (maybe): without ..x mankind will come to a full stop.

Bernd A.B - lucky owner of the last IBM typewriter model
_________________________
Pls excuse any bad english.

D 1877 satin black plain

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#1565491 - 11/27/10 09:48 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: onion]
PianoMan1958 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 502
Loc: Tennessee
Onion,

Thankfully our church still prefers an acoustic grand (we have a Kawai 6'8" which has a very full tone and long sustain), although we use digitals in some of our classrooms and in our church jazz band gigs. If I could carry a grand with me to those gigs, I would and so would the other members of the band. They prefer the sound of the acoustic grand too.

It's good to hear there are other pianists out there who still prefer acoustics. As long as there are enough of us, hopefully there will still be a few companies out there producing them.


Edited by PianoMan1958 (11/27/10 09:50 PM)
_________________________
Jack in TN

Plays:
Yamaha C5 grand (home)
Kawai KG5 grand (church)
Roland RD300GX digital (jazz group)

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#1565499 - 11/27/10 10:07 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1290
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
"Never" is a really, really long time. Certainly not in my lifetime, but, never?
_________________________
Laugh More
Yamaha G7 - Roland FP7

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#1565561 - 11/28/10 01:20 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1192
Loc: Nashville, TN
On the surface this is an interesting question, however, I don't think digital paino manufacturers are even 50% of the way there to make an exact copy of a fine acoustic sound, and the way the inovative pace of technology has slowed down, I don't see them makeing a whole lot of progress anytime soon. And as far as durability, my 1927 Knabe is still a first rate instrument at age 83, I have yet to see a digital piano that wasn't in serious need of replacement after 10 years. I would say that digitals are only 10% of acoustic pianos, if that, in terms of longevity. Don't get me wrong, I like digitals for certain applications, but they certainly have their limitations.
_________________________
Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.

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#1565588 - 11/28/10 02:57 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Dave Horne]
beethoven986 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3372
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
How many piano manufacturers were there in the US 50 years ago? ... 100 years ago? How many today? Bösendorfer (Austrian) was taken over in January 2008 by Yamaha because they were going under. When will Steinway start to have cash flow problems? Who will take over Steinway? Before you start thinking that Steinway will never go under, did you ever think that Bösendorfer would go under? Yamaha can afford to make acoustic pianos probably because they have money from the digital side of the house; just making acoustic pianos seems a risky business today.


I don't think this is a strong argument. Sure, there were many, many more companies building pianos 50-100 years ago. But, how many of them built world-class instruments? The US companies built a lot of crap, especially after the Great Depression.

As for Boesendorfer, sure they had a lot of debt, but that is likely due to poor management and marketing. Steingraeber, for example, is a profitable company, and their pianos are more expensive than Boesendorfer. It is also important to note that before Yamaha's ownership, an Austrian bank owned it, and before that... Kimball! At any rate, your assertion that Boesendorfer "went under" is simply false. They never even declared bankruptcy.

Steinway is already owned by Selmer, it has also been owned by CBS. And if memory serves me correctly, Steinway was near bankruptcy at one point during the mid 20th century (I believe that I read this in Steinway & Sons, by Richard Lieberman). If Steinway ever actually goes under/ liquidated, it has no one to blame but itself.

The fact is that we are in an exciting time for acoustic pianos. There is a lot of innovation going on, and the overall quality of pianos... especially budget pianos, has never been higher.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1565616 - 11/28/10 05:15 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5282
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
At any rate, your assertion that Boesendorfer "went under" is simply false. They never even declared bankruptcy.

beethoven986, to be accurate, I never wrote that Bösendorfer went under, I wrote that they were going under. They were actively looking for someone to take them over. Had no one taken them over they would have failed though I doubt if the Austrian government would have allowed that to happen.

Interestingly enough Bösendorfer was working on a hybrid piano and I got to play one of the three prototypes. Since they were taken over by Yamaha that project appears to have been shelved.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1565659 - 11/28/10 07:48 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
No.

But I repeat what apple has already said.
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MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels

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#1565678 - 11/28/10 09:24 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: gryphon]
Art A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/10
Posts: 145
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
One day, through technology, I am sure that a digital can come darn close to replicating a glorious concert grand.

But is that really all it ? If one day you can put on a virtual head set and a body suit and have all your senses properly stimulated is it a replacement for the real thing whether it be driving a fast car or having sex ? No it isn't.

Acoustics aren't going anywhere.... We will always long for the real thing.

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#1565685 - 11/28/10 09:49 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
appleman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 188
You're just as likely to see a person playing a digital piano at a non-classical event or recording studio as a person playing an acoustic piano. The tend away from AP will only continue until they are used in the same situations teams of horses are used, as something traditional.

Eventually, DPs will be in the majority of homes. Uprights for snobs that dislike DPs. Real grands for artists in classical settings and those with money to spend on McMansions, but local scene the DP will rule.

Eventually, piano techs will be as hard to find as pinball techs, forcing even the snobs to head to DPs. The time will come, even if we are not there yet.
_________________________
Dr. Appleman, former NASA engineer, Empire of Earth and B.S. of Ninjutsu at MIT.

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#1565702 - 11/28/10 10:46 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
bluekeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
These threads come up regularly and are always interesting. What struck me in reading through this one is that acoustic pianos <i>will</i> some day go the way of typewriters, but it won't be because DPs successfully mimic their tone and touch, it will be because musical tastes change. For several centuries western music has been based on 12 more or less even divisions in the rate at which a vibrating string doubles in pitch. The piano became the cornerstone of western music because it simply and almost exhaustively laid out the building blocks of that music.

But music will change. In a hundred years or five hundred years chromatically based music may be as quaint as Gregorian chants. Moreover, the notion that musical tone should be based on natural vibrations like that of a string or a wooden reed could be just as archaic.

I don't think there's any question that someday tech wizards can build machines that duplicate the sound and feel of today's pianos. The question is will they want to. By then popular opinion may demand something else entirely.

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#1565730 - 11/28/10 11:21 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary Allen
I am curious if you think that eventually the accoustic piano could go the way of the typewriter, cameras that use film, etc.?

As digital pianos continue to evolve and become more sophisticated is it possible that they could someday replicate the sound of the long strings that make our grand pianos so beloved?


Gary,

The acoustic piano has had a very good ride in the US for more than 100 years. That ride was nurtured for generations by an emerging middle class, a limited selection of options for home entertainment, and a high degree of cultural value attached to the European tradition of classical piano lit. The ride swept along and sustained an axis of small manufaturers of varying competence, piano teachers, tuners, and technicians of varying levels of competence, and commissioned sales personnel who offered the ignorant and/or interested either a degree of specialized prdouct knowledge, a large does of self-serving hooey, or a combination of both.

Take a long hard look at the US today. Is there an emeerging middle class or a dissapearing middle class? Are there a limited selection of home entertainment options or a dizzying array of home entertainment options that offer some sort of connectivity to each other? Is there a high degree of cultural value attached to the European tradition of classical piano lit or a schism dividing the generations who value it and those who find it utterly irrelevant?

Objects of beauty usually endure in one form or another. There is certainly more hope for the acoustic piano than threre ever should have been for the ribbon typewriter with its smudgy print. laborious touch, messy user correction mode, and failure to connect to anything. At its best it was an object of utility, not of beuuty. There is also more hope for the acoustic piano than for the film camera. Even though the acoustic piano connects to nothing, to the user of the instrument it provides much more immediate accurate feedback, and the satisfaction that comes with increased user skill. The pace of life in the US today demands more than a trip to the darkroom or a visit to the one-hour photo developer, both of which can fail to fulfill the creative vision of the user.

Objects of beauty that evoke beauty and create more beauty almost always survive. It is possible, even likely, that sometime in the future there will be a renaisaance of inteerest in an unplugged lifestyle and the joys of solitary music making and creativity unplugged. However, for the time being, look for countries and societies with an emerging middle class such as India, China, and the Asian sub-continent to carry the burden of the acoustic piano forward as their own middle classes continue to emerge and find value in cultural traditions of which they have not been a part..

BTW, the digital piano is not the enemy. It is an object of beauty, contemporary technology, and the worldwide desire for connectivity beyond family, friends.and acquaintances. It has the ability to awaken appreciation of the acoustic piano in those who have no such appreciation. However, it is painted as the devil by those who lack the technology to manufacture it, cannot make a good living selling or servicing it, and teach piano playing skills that do no exploit its musical potential. It is that axis of diehard purist elements fighting for its livelihood that is killing the acoustic piano in the US today. For those elements, the piano is not so much an instrument to create music of lasting value. It is simply a way to make a living.
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#1565740 - 11/28/10 11:36 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
ClassicalMastery Offline
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You should not have to ask if but rather when this change is going to occur. Within the current decade there will be a major shift whereby you will see many acoustic piano stores close.

This does not mean acoustic pianos will disappear forever. One can still buy typewriters at office supply stores. Film cameras are enjoyed mainly by middle aged photographers who began taking pictures in the non-digital era. Vinyl and tape have a more complex history. The revivial of interest in both will peak sometime during this decade. Acoustic pianos will become the wooden ships of the past.

Wherever digital technology has been introduced it has completely revamped that area. One reason is that it reduces the cost to the customer and the manufacturer. Eventually, the reduction becomes so overwhelming that sustaining the old pipeline from supplier to end user becomes impractical. Then extremely few manfacturers remain to supply aficionados and purists with products.


Edited by ClassicalMastery (11/28/10 11:36 AM)

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#1565747 - 11/28/10 12:00 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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No. There will always be someone building acoustic pianos.

One problem with digital instruments, even before the economy took a big plunge was that they all lost their value very quickly after the purchase. Almost as badly as cars do. At least, that is what I was told by one (or more) dealers. Similar to computers, within a few short years, there is always something bigger and better thereby affecting the longevity of its lasting value.

I bought an 88 note nice digital instrument which I lovingly refer to as "my toy piano." I bought it about 12 years ago at which time it retailed for $5,500. 4 years later, I went to sell it only to find out its real worth was now only was a mere $1,800. I decided to keep it. That doesn't happen to pianos. Not to that degree. Yes, the value of pianos has dropped over the years but then, so has many other items. Pianos for the most part, provided they were taken care of and were a reasonable instrument, retained their value for a very,very, long time.

Another factor to consider. While piano sales are indeed down and digital sales are indeed up, there are millions of pianos worldwide that will be around even if no more pianos were sold starting today. These pianos will be around for at least the next 75 years or longer. Many of these sames pianos like; Steinway, Bosendorfer, Kawai, Yamaha etc., can and will be rebuilt, rather than junked like digital pianos will be when people are finished with them.

People that work on acoustic pianos for a living can hear the difference in a heartbeat if a real piano is being used or, if a digital is being played. I believe, so can a concert artist tell the difference as many if not most of these, refuse to use a digital piano for their concerts. Horowitz for example, would never be found using anything else but, a real piano.

My 20 ¢ worth. smile
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#1565755 - 11/28/10 12:22 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
AJB Offline
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Interesting debate. My opinion:

Acoustic pianos will not die. But they will disappear almost entirely from the average home though, and become a specialist or elitist instrument, sold in low volumes. Simply because there is little or no demand in most homes in the US or Europe within our present cultures. Different in China.

Western acoustic piano dealers will diminish greatly as the market shrinks.

Digitals have a somewhat different market. I think that people who state that digitals can never replicate what an acoustic piano does are short sighted. At the top end they are pretty close now, for most users / listeners.
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#1565762 - 11/28/10 12:51 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Keith D Kerman Online   content
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Acoustic piano has more to fear from video games, short attention spans, and guitar than it has to fear from Digital Pianos.

Actually, the future of acoustics may very well be people who started on a Digital Piano rather than not starting at all, and then developed to a point of need or interest for an acoustic.
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#1565771 - 11/28/10 01:10 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: ClassicalMastery]
Steve Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted By: ClassicalMastery
You should not have to ask if but rather when this change is going to occur. Within the current decade there will be a major shift whereby you will see many acoustic piano stores close.

This does not mean acoustic pianos will disappear forever. One can still buy typewriters at office supply stores. Film cameras are enjoyed mainly by middle aged photographers who began taking pictures in the non-digital era. Vinyl and tape have a more complex history. The revivial of interest in both will peak sometime during this decade. Acoustic pianos will become the wooden ships of the past.

Wherever digital technology has been introduced it has completely revamped that area. One reason is that it reduces the cost to the customer and the manufacturer. Eventually, the reduction becomes so overwhelming that sustaining the old pipeline from supplier to end user becomes impractical. Then extremely few manfacturers remain to supply aficionados and purists with products.


The real problem will come as a matter of economics. As digitals inprove in both tone and touch, acoustic piano sales will decrease. This will make it difficult for manufacturers to get the necessary return on investment needed to sustain production of acoustics. This spells eventual doom for entry-level and mid-range acoustics.

Many of the high end manufacturers will likely stay in production since the elite (read rich) purists will create enough demand for top tier instruments.
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#1565781 - 11/28/10 01:32 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
pianoloverus Online   content
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I wonder what % of those who play the piano(at any level or age) can tell the difference between recordings of a terrific acoustic piano and the best digital or hybrid piano, like the Yamaha AvantGrand.

My guess is less than 10% of those who play the piano and maybe 20-40% of PW members. Twenty years ago those percnetages would probably have been much higher. Twenty years from now, who knows?

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#1565787 - 11/28/10 01:37 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: pianoloverus]
Silverwood Pianos Online   content
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I wonder what % of those who play the piano(at any level or age) can tell the difference between recordings of a terrific acoustic piano and the best digital or hybrid piano, like the Yamaha AvantGrand.


This of course depends upon the recording quality. In a place like YouTube for example, where the sound is so compressed it would be pretty much impossible.
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#1565797 - 11/28/10 01:52 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: pno]
David Burton Offline
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Originally Posted By: pno
A digital would not be replacing an acoustic until the day you could replace your food with batteries.


Pretty succinct.
I've owned both.
When the lights go out, one can still be played.
Other reasons too.
Acoustic pianos forever!
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#1565802 - 11/28/10 02:01 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
geraldbrennan Offline
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Registered: 02/14/08
Posts: 77
Loc: ann arbor, mi
Let me rephrase your question:
Will connoisseurship die?

No.
But it will become more rare and expensive as the centuries go by.

We live, for example, in an age when almost everyone mistakes a recording of music with music itself; when MP3s, stripped of 90% of their recorded information, playing through cheap earbuds have become the acceptable standard.
With such dumbing-down in progress, cheap fakes will rule the day. Why? Because few can tell the difference, and most of those who can, don't care.

Except for the connoisseurs. They will keep it alive.


Edited by geraldbrennan (11/28/10 03:02 PM)

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#1565822 - 11/28/10 02:24 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: geraldbrennan]
AJB Offline
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MP3's don't crackle.

I have very high end hi-fi available to me - but I increasingly use iTunes and even YouTube for day to day music consumption. Quality is improving and prices to achieve the quality are falling rapidly.

I have two acoustic pianos (Boston is out of storage) - but the digital still gets played - especially late at night when I have time and am in the mood. This "acoustic versus digital" debate passes many of us by. They both have a place and both excellent, useful musical tools.... if you slip the blinkers off.

I deplore the snobbery of it all. At the bottom to lower mid-range end, a good digital beats a cheapish acoustic and above all encourages musicians. Keith Kerman is dead right - embrace digitals as they will steer some/many musicians toward acoustics in due course.

Adrian
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#1565849 - 11/28/10 03:01 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: AJB]
geraldbrennan Offline
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Registered: 02/14/08
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Originally Posted By: AJB
MP3's don't crackle.


You're right, Adrian. I will change my post to reflect that point.

Originally Posted By: AJB
I deplore the snobbery of it all.


I can't agree that it's snobbery.
We just disagree on what "dumbing down" means.

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#1565852 - 11/28/10 03:01 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: David Burton]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: David Burton
Originally Posted By: pno
A digital would not be replacing an acoustic until the day you could replace your food with batteries.


Pretty succinct.
I've owned both.
When the lights go out, one can still be played.
Other reasons too.
Acoustic pianos forever!

But have you owned the latest and most expensive(something like the AvantGrand or an equivalent)?

I think there is some analogy between the developmnet of digital/hybrid pianos and chess playing computer programs. Thrity five years ago I could probably beat most computer programs. Twenty five years ago maybe only a computer or programs costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars could beat me. Today, a program costing maybe $25 would beat me most of the time and the best programs(no cost limit) can regularly beat all but the top grandmasters.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/28/10 03:03 PM)

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#1565861 - 11/28/10 03:16 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Rank Piano Amateur Online   content
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Why should the acoustic piano die, any more than any other musical instrument? There are digital string instruments, among others, and any digital piano can sound like any other instrument that the programmer wishes to make it imitate. I fail to see why acoustic pianos are more at risk than other instruments. Let's face it, a programmer can make a digital violin that sounds like a Stradivarius, just as much as a programmer can make a keyboard that sounds like a Bosendorfer.

Pianos are, of course, machines, probably to a greater extent than a Stradivarius. But that doesn't mean that they are more at risk than anything else. It also doesn't mean that they are not musical instruments, just as much so as flutes and oboes.

Having said all of this, I do not think that acoustic pianos (also known as pianos) will die out, any more than I think that computers are going to take over the visual art world, with human painters falling by the wayside. Digital keyboards are computers, not musical instruments. Human interaction with them is a completely different phenomenon from human interaction with actual pianos, something that is also the case with respect to violins/digital violins and painters' palettes. To say nothing of opera.

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#1565882 - 11/28/10 04:13 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: geraldbrennan]
turandot Offline
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Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: geraldbrennan


We live, for example, in an age when almost everyone mistakes a recording of music with music itself; when MP3s, stripped of 90% of their recorded information, playing through cheap earbuds have become the acceptable standard.
With such dumbing-down in progress, cheap fakes will rule the day. Why? Because few can tell the difference, and most of those who can, don't care.

Except for the connoisseurs. They will keep it alive.


Inevitably. all threads on this topic in the Piano Forum suffer from the tendency to put down digital keybaords, recorded sound, and those who enjoy them. Particular attention is given to today's youth, their musical values, their shortened attention span, and their ability to be satisfied with what their betters, "the connoisseurs". view as cheap thrills and cheap toys.

This kind of rhetoric can easily win the day in the Piano Forum. It plays to paranoia and to the obsession with one period instrument rather than the creative process of making music.

To musicians who are more interested in creating music rather than reciting or replicating a particular type of lit on a particular period instrument. it really doesn't mean a thing.

Good music can be composed with and delivered by a variety of musical instruments. Some music sounds better of acoustics, and unsurprisingly, some music sounds better on digital instruments. Some music sounds better on a completely different instrument.

To have a preference for acoustic pianos is no crime, but to constantly beat down digital technology and its users to shore up one's opinion and quiet one's doubts about the future shows a lack of understanding about what music is.
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#1565901 - 11/28/10 04:56 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
PianoMan1958 Offline
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I don't see that all pianists are putting down digital pianos per se. I love to play them (we have a couple nice ones at our church) on occasion, especially when there is not a well maintained grand available, or the fit is better in a particular musical group, etc.

It's just that when it comes down to pure musical enjoyment and expression and/or piano solos, I prefer a nice grand piano. It gives a feedback and responsiveness that a digital piano cannot give at this point in time.

That's not snobbery, just a fact of life for many accomplished pianists. For some of the same reasons that an accomplished drummer would prefer acoustic drums over electronic ones, for example.


Edited by PianoMan1958 (11/28/10 04:57 PM)
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#1565902 - 11/28/10 04:58 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
Dave Horne Offline
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I think most folks here agree that the piano (acoustic piano) is here to stay. Unfortunately as time goes on there will be fewer and fewer piano stores where you can shop for one. In the last five years two stores that I could bike to (that's how close they were to me) closed. One store had been in business for over 100 years. Both stores were temporarily taken over by a very large piano store. The larger store used these smaller locations to sell their excess pianos. Both stores stayed open for a number of months and then closed.

I don't have an emotional attachment to my instrument, for me the piano is a tool. On the classical concert stage the piano will always be there, but in a restaurant or hotel, I'd prefer a hybrid. (Soundmen also prefer digital pianos.)

I sold my C3 about 12 years ago after I encountered a GranTouch (Yamaha's first hybrid piano). For practice purposes I found it an excellent replacement for my C3. I could practice whenever I wanted to and didn't have to stuff many towels in the soundboard to quiet it down. (I also received a generous trade in price when I bought the AvantGrand 12 years later.)

I even enjoyed playing the GranTouch at the theater. It looked like a baby grand, sounded very nice and was in tune. I was in heaven - a grand piano action and the piano was perfectly in tune. (I had the idea for this kind of piano for many years prior I should add.)

I have no vested interest in the piano industry. I don't sell them, I don't tune them, I don't work on them - I just play them.

I'm waiting for Yamaha (and hopefully Bösendorfer) to introduce a hybrid using the action from their nine footers. I'd love to play on a Steinway hybrid if they ever decide to develop one. I like my AvantGrand, but it's really the idea that I like.

Pianos are tools. If this is an emotional issue for you, get over it. In a sense I'm a chauffeur and the piano is my bus. I keep my bus maintained but now welcome the fact that I now longer have to have the oil changed several times a year. I'll drive anything you put in front of me but it's sure nice to play a grand piano action where the piano is always in tune.

Also, I make a distinction between a digital piano and a hybrid. There are many cheap digital pianos on the market; my frame of reference is the AvantGrand - a hybrid.

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#1565937 - 11/28/10 06:07 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Gary Allen]
apple* Offline


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it needn't be a question of either/or, digital/acoustic if one has what one needs.

I am fortunate to live in the middle of the US where used things are super cheap. my grand was not inexpensive. this instrument is supplemented by several guitars, a digital piano, a keyboard, a church organ and a glockenspiel. I own a flute, trumpet and several recorders for my kids. My son made his own didgeridoo. We like messing around together making music... nothing formal.

I would be happy with any full keyboard if I couldn't have my grand. I am delighted to own it.. but i was happy with my 200 dollar old uprights. Currently I am liking my organ.. it is very complex to add the feet, plan the legato and orchestrate... plus it is in the sunshine in the afternoons.
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#1565942 - 11/28/10 06:10 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Keith D Kerman]
kurtie Offline
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Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 210
Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
Actually, the future of acoustics may very well be people who started on a Digital Piano rather than not starting at all, and then developed to a point of need or interest for an acoustic.


+1

I started playing on a DP, now I am looking for an acoustic. Without DPs I never would have started playing piano. Sometimes DPs and APs do not compete but can complement each other.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I wonder what % of those who play the piano(at any level or age) can tell the difference between recordings of a terrific acoustic piano and the best digital or hybrid piano, like the Yamaha AvantGrand.


I want an acoustic piano for playing it, not for recording. If I was to record something, I would do it with the DP: much better quality, much easier (no mics), you can record the MIDI sequence, and so on. I probably could be fooled in the blind test that you describe, but I can tell the difference when I am playing a digital connected to speakers and when I am playing an acoustic. For me that is the deal, how it feels when playing not when listening a recording.

I understand (to my own limits) and like technology (I am computer scientist). I have a DP, and enjoy playing it. But even all the problems associated to an analogue piano (couldn't play late at night, expensive, hard to move, has to be tuned, humidity control) I am seriously considering to get one. I am going to keep my DP (that's out of discussion... I need a DP), but I feel that an acoustic will complement what I feel the DP lacks.

Is not only that one can tell consciously the difference between the sound of and AP and a DP. The finest details are kept in the subconscious. I would like to see the results of the next experiment: pick an audience of people and play some very emotive piece of piano, first played on a DP and then on an AP, and then measure the emotions felt by the audience. How to do that? I don't know, designing experiments is definitely not my field, but it would be an interesting experiment.

IMHO the problem with a DP is that it is too deterministic and predictable. You can play exactly the same sound as many times as you want. An acoustic, even when only playing one single note, generates a complex and chaotic (as in 'chaos theory', that is, complex and non-deterministic) sound, and there are not two notes completely equal. Sampled pianos, even the huge multi gigabyte libraries that we can get today have that problem, but of course, the bigger the library, the less noticeable the problem.

Virtual pianos (Pianoteq and V-Piano) I think that are the way to go for DPs, but are still far away.

Will Acoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? I believe we will see the last acoustic piano go away when the last paper book will be substituted by an e-book reader. I don't think that I am going to see any of those events, and I am too young too consider myself old. (Ok, 'the last' is to say too much... the point is that they are not going to disappear in the next years or decades).

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#1565992 - 11/28/10 07:34 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
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Well, I have a fairly decent 88 weighted key digital and my recently acquired 1978 model Yamaha C7 acoustic grand. I’m sure you all know which one I prefer to play most of the time… okay, all of the time. smile

However, my two grand children, ages 6 and 4, love the digital the best; they call it the “funky” smile piano, because of all the accompaniment sounds and recordings on it. I let them have their way with the digital and play with it to their little hearts content; but they have to wash their hands and sit up straight and use proper technique to play the Yamaha.

I personally think both acoustics and digitals will be around a while. I would say they complement each other rather than cancel each other out.

Rick
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#1565998 - 11/28/10 07:37 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
durden365 Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 95
Loc: Canada


I started shooting a 25 year old fil camera after using a semi-pro digital for a while, why? because the mechanical workings of these machines have this charisma that can't be replaced by circuit boards, same thing with vinyl records, typewriters, and acoustic pianos.

im not too worried, before acoustic pianos can be completely eliminated, their digital counter parts HAVE to be able to mimic every aspect so well that the differences are negligible, which I doubt will happen within my life time.

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#1566003 - 11/28/10 07:46 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: kurtie]
Dave Horne Offline
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Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Is not only that one can tell consciously the difference between the sound of and AP and a DP. The finest details are kept in the subconscious. I would like to see the results of the next experiment: pick an audience of people and play some very emotive piece of piano, first played on a DP and then on an AP, and then measure the emotions felt by the audience. How to do that? I don't know, designing experiments is definitely not my field, but it would be an interesting experiment.

What some folks perceive as emotions from the performer are simply show biz hand movements, the ol' throwing the hair back and all kinds of body contortions. Other folks perceive minute technical control from the performer as being emotional.

Measuring emotions from the music itself, good luck.

Rather than attempting to measure emotions it would be easier to simply have the same performance played back on a piano and a hybrid. Keeping the volume levels of the hybrid within 0.5 dB of the acoustic piano should keep things honest as folks tend to like what they perceive as louder.

As long as you mentioned emotions I feel I have to add this - I get really irritated when I hear teachers using emotional words to get the student to alter their playing. If someone told me to play with more emotion I would have no idea what they meant. I would assume they would want more body contortions from me, perhaps more facial expressions, whatever. I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms - this section should be louder, softer, ... a slight ritard, ... gradually speeding up, a gradual crescendo ... and so forth. Using emotional words leads to poor musical communication.

I remember a personal incident. I was a high school music major and everyone had to perform for the class. A teacher took me aside and road mapped a two part invention - louder here, softer here, detached notes here, slow down here ... and so forth. I performed the piece and the really good pianist in the class told me afterward that I played very musically (or with lots of feeling, I forget).

Now I didn't play musically per se, I was merely following someone else's instructions ... and certainly did not play with emotion, the only emotion I had was fear. What the listener heard was the this section louder, that section softer, slowing up there ... etc. That made a lasting impression on me. If you want to discuss music using emotional terms, great. I don't, I use musical terms as I find they communicate more effectively.
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#1566092 - 11/28/10 09:24 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: apple*]
Baroque Style Online   content
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Originally Posted By: apple*
as they say, imitation is the best flattery.


What about digital cameras? They imitate "real" cameras, but they have dominated the mass consumer market. Digital SLRs have also replaced "real" SLRs.

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#1566164 - 11/29/10 12:53 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
sam235813 Offline
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i'm trying to imagine glenn gould on an avantgrand... no. it's not working...
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#1566169 - 11/29/10 12:59 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
sam235813 Offline
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note: the big disruptive technology to hit pianos was in the mid 1920s: radio.


Edited by sam235813 (11/29/10 01:00 AM)
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#1566171 - 11/29/10 01:06 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewri [Re: Steve Cohen]
Bob Offline
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Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen

The real problem will come as a matter of economics. As digitals inprove in both tone and touch, acoustic piano sales will decrease. This will make it difficult for manufacturers to get the necessary return on investment needed to sustain production of acoustics. This spells eventual doom for entry-level and mid-range acoustics.

Many of the high end manufacturers will likely stay in production since the elite (read rich) purists will create enough demand for top tier instruments.


That's exactly right, Steve, at least in the USA. Will some low end makers concentrate their sales efforts in China? Isn't that what Baldwin/Dongbei is already doing?

After tuning a Steinway D and B this morning, I played the Avant Grand in the next room. Great action, but still not a Steinway. Not yet...........
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#1566179 - 11/29/10 01:45 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Baroque Style]
Gary Allen Offline
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I was gone for a few days after posing this thread. I am very impressed by the many great thoughts, analogies, and philosophies on this issue. I am also one who has no business interest at risk irrespective of the long term outcome of any further market shifts between accoustic/digital pianos. I am only an intermediate player and the biggest potential future loss I potentially face is the loss of value in my pianos. While this is to most piano owners (myself included) no small thing the pianos were bought to keep and not with resell intended.

I love the look of the grand, the feel of the grand and the sound of the grand over my digital (particularly in the piano mode). And there is no doubt that the grand makes a furniture statement. I feel more like a piano player at a grand than I do at my console style digital (that offers me a close up "wall view.") All this said the grand tires me out more--I can play longer on my digital with its light touch. The digital allows me to turn up or down the volume. My grand does not have a silent feature so when the "lights go out" at my home it more-often-than-not actually means that the accoustic gets shut down. I then get the headphones out because everyone else is going to bed while I shift to the digital...works well with my "night-owl" lifestyle and frequent insomnia. If the electricity goes out at night I can't play either one as I only read music. If during the day the accoustic can, of course, still be played.

Economically the digital pianos (like any other computer) do lose value quickly due to continuous evolving technology. It occurs to me that it is possible to lose as much or more on an accoustic if you change your mind and want to resell. Example: Say 5 years ago bought a new reknowned brand grand piano for $50,000. Try to sell it today and say you get $35,000. You have experienced a $15,000 loss. If 5 years ago you bought a supreme digital for $15,000 and try to sell it today you would get very little for it and it might take a very long time to sell. Worst case you can't sell it. In such case you lost $15,000. If you keep it you are out $15,000, but get to keep the piano and it will still do everything you bought it to do it just will no longer be the lastest, greatest thing out there. With the grand you lost $15,000 but you no longer have the piano!

The digitals are getting better and less expensive just as all electronics do. It seems to me that, recession aside, accoustic grand pianos have also come down in price but not the good ones--only the lower tier imports. Due to our devaluing U.S. dollar the better grands are getting higher in price and from what I understand about accoustic pianos (which is not much) there are relatively insignificant changes, to these newer higher priced pianos.

Personally, I don't plan to change my accoustic grand or my digital piano...I love them both! Unless I have a "life-changing event" I plan to keep them and appreciate all that they both offer.

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#1566229 - 11/29/10 07:23 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: sam235813]
Dave Horne Offline
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Originally Posted By: sam235813
note: the big disruptive technology to hit pianos was in the mid 1920s: radio.


I'm sure performing musicians found the piano roll a disruption as well. One day you have a job and the next you're replaced by digital technology - piano rolls!
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#1566240 - 11/29/10 08:06 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Dave Horne]
sam235813 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I'm sure performing musicians found the piano roll a disruption as well. One day you have a job and the next you're replaced by digital technology - piano rolls!
not sure, but i think players helped sustain production volume (at the expense of "pianist volume") up through 1960s. rolls were themselves disrupted by digital. the more subtle disruptions to acoustics (post radio) were production technology "improvements" that reduced manufacturing cost. i think global output peaked in 1979 (at around 990,000 acoustic units). by 1992, it fell to around 600,000 with about 95% coming from asia. no real way to account to the secondary market though. i think poster Steve Cohen makes a good projection above.


Edited by sam235813 (11/29/10 08:07 AM)
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#1566250 - 11/29/10 08:22 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
apple* Offline


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there are some interesting points being made. ... and yes, I can imagine Glenn Gould on an avantgrand. they have a sterility i think he would enjoy.

sterility in a very in tune, good sense.
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#1566374 - 11/29/10 01:23 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Mark... Offline
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When I'm looking for music on You tube, and there is a list I can see, I always go to the acoustic pianos to listen.

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#1566387 - 11/29/10 01:48 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: apple*]
sam235813 Offline
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Originally Posted By: apple*
there are some interesting points being made. ... and yes, I can imagine Glenn Gould on an avantgrand. they have a sterility i think he would enjoy.

sterility in a very in tune, good sense.
especially given that his last Golberg set was done on a yamaha.
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#1566407 - 11/29/10 02:16 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Given Gould's love of editing (in his time, only available on magnetic tape), and since we now have the ability to play back from disc onto a real piano... yes, I think he might have just loved it. In that way, anyway.

Also, given his very painful injuries, the much lighter touch and greater adjustability of the keyboard's height and position might have afforded him some relief.

Editing is not exactly an easy job, though, even if the tools are easier to use now than the white pencil marks on tape and demagnetized straight razor of his day.

It's true he was a germiphobe, but his favored instrument voicing was not sterile at all... not to my ear.
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#1566462 - 11/29/10 04:45 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
ToneCanvas Offline
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Registered: 10/27/09
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I don't think it's a matter of "digital Keyboard (let's not even use the word 'piano' in describing the digital instrument) VS. piano (no need to use 'acoustic' in front of that word.) While the two instruments have similarities, they are different instruments altogether. Each offer different things to the musician. Digital keyboards (depending on the instrument) offer different sounds, accompaniments, arranging capabilities, and even tuning possibilities that a piano does not offer. The piano offers tactil feedback and tonal sonoreties that a digital sampling technology can capture (although some are getting close!)

I wish we would stop thinking about digital keyboards and pianos as competitors. It's not like saying "Should I get an iPhone or a Blackberry?" They're competitive smart phones. It's like saying "Should I get a laptop or an iPhone?" They are both computers, but they do different things and serve different purposes.
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#1566470 - 11/29/10 04:56 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Electronic speakers cannot yet imitate the resonance and depth of tone of any acoustic instrument. If and when that obstacle is surmounted then the game changes - but not yet, and not by a long shot. An electronic speaker box does not vibrate air the way an acoustic instrument does, and the difference is dramatic.

The type of music matters: a heavy metal rock band keyboardist at a stadium does not have the same performance and aesthetic issues as a classical pianist playing a Chopin nocturne at a recital hall. Electronic keyboards have their place in the music world, and so do pianos.

As mentioned by others in a couple of previous posts, the organ community has been going through this debate for the past 50 years. Electronic instruments simply do not produce the physically palpable sonority of a real pipe organ, and the same holds true of pianos.

In my living room both I have both a Casio keyboard, and Steinway 7-foot grand. If I play the Casio by itself, it sounds fairly realistic. But if I then play the Steinway, the competition is over. No matter how loud I turn up the volume on the Casio, it never remotely close to replicating the physical resonance of the Steinway when put to the test. The sound of the Casio (or Yamaha, or Roland, etc.) simply has no physical presence, and it all gets down to the technological limitations of the speakers.

Will electronic keyboards & speakers ever equal a concert grand? My attitude is the same as to whether I believe in aliens from outer space: I'll believe it when I personally witness it and not one second before...
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#1566479 - 11/29/10 05:05 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: ToneCanvas]
Dave Horne Offline
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Originally Posted By: ToneCanvas
I don't think it's a matter of "digital Keyboard (let's not even use the word 'piano' in describing the digital instrument) VS. piano (no need to use 'acoustic' in front of that word.) While the two instruments have similarities, they are different instruments altogether. Each offer different things to the musician. Digital keyboards (depending on the instrument) offer different sounds, accompaniments, arranging capabilities, and even tuning possibilities that a piano does not offer. The piano offers tactil feedback and tonal sonoreties that a digital sampling technology can capture (although some are getting close!)

I wish we would stop thinking about digital keyboards and pianos as competitors. It's not like saying "Should I get an iPhone or a Blackberry?" They're competitive smart phones. It's like saying "Should I get a laptop or an iPhone?" They are both computers, but they do different things and serve different purposes.


Well, I for one don't like the term digital referring to the AvantGrand since it lumps it in with all the digital keyboards that don't have a grand piano action. I prefer hybrid though I know that causes problems with some folks.

If you go to Yamaha's AvantGrand web site (see my signature) you can read Pianist's Message where three concert pianists offer their comments. For practical purposes, the AvantGrand reacts in all respects as a true acoustic piano and should be regarded as a piano. I know this will ruffle the feathers of those with a vested interest in selling, tuning and repairing pianos, but as a player it's simply a piano to me.
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#1566481 - 11/29/10 05:06 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
PianoMan1958 Offline
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Well said, Jonathan
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#1566493 - 11/29/10 05:22 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jonathan Baker]
bitWrangler Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
In my living room both I have both a Casio keyboard, and Steinway 7-foot grand. If I play the Casio by itself, it sounds fairly realistic. But if I then play the Steinway, the competition is over. No matter how loud I turn up the volume on the Casio, it never remotely close to replicating the physical resonance of the Steinway when put to the test. The sound of the Casio (or Yamaha, or Roland, etc.) simply has no physical presence, and it all gets down to the technological limitations of the speakers.


Whoa, you're comparing a $70K+ Steinway to a $1K Casio and saying that the Casio doesn't match the sonics of the Steinway and using that as an example of why DP's don't match up?

The issue isn't just one of speakers, but it's the entire chain. If one went out and hooked up a $60K stereo system (designed to reproduce piano sonics well, there is a difference) to a Avant Grand, how many people listening would be able to tell the difference? I'm not taking a stand one way or the other, because I've not done the A/B myself, but my feeling is that many folks would be hard pressed to tell the difference (other than the obvious differences between the Yamaha house sound and the S&S).

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#1566531 - 11/29/10 06:03 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Roger Ransom Offline
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But the OP asked whether the acoustic will EVENTUALLY go the way of the typewriter.

The fact that I'd rather play my G7 than my FP7 is not the point. Will it happen in 10 years? 100 years? 1,000 years? Will there even be pianos in 1000 years?

Without a time frame the question is really not easy to answer. I would say that if the desire is there that EVENTUALLY the acoustic piano will be replaced with electronic pianos (digital? who knows in the far future).
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#1566592 - 11/29/10 07:50 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Dave Horne]
ToneCanvas Offline
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Point well-taken, Dave! I was trying hard to tip-toe around a conversation that took place on this board about the semantics of calling a digital piano a "piano." But the pianoforte (loud/soft) instrument is definitely captured in many digital/electronic/electric instruments.

I'm on the AvanteGrand website now. Judging from the sound of the instrument on their website it certainly sounds lovely. I own a Yamaha GC1 and a Roland FP4. Many on this board will turn their noses up at both, but I love both instruments. My Yamaha is what I play every evening, but last week when I traveled to new Mexico for Thanksgiving it was great to take my Roland and still practice everyday! And hooking it up to my computer and playing with sounds and arrangements has only broadedned my musicianship.

And as far as I'm concerned, anything that gets people (or keeps people) making music gets a thumbs up from me! Digital piano, jaw harp, blowing into an empty bottle, Whatever! laugh
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#1566617 - 11/29/10 08:38 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Clavier Übung]
Baroque Style Online   content
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Anyone knows which DP can closely imitate the touch of a harpsichord? I am interested in learning Harpsichord.

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#1566627 - 11/29/10 08:55 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Baroque Style]
FormerFF Offline
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Originally Posted By: MandarinTree
Anyone knows which DP can closely imitate the touch of a harpsichord? I am interested in learning Harpsichord.


Roland does make a digital harpsichord. If harpsichord touch is what you are looking for in a digital instrument, that's probably as close as you are going to get.

DP's are all going to mimic a piano.
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#1566668 - 11/29/10 09:57 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: bitWrangler]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
The issue isn't just one of speakers, but it's the entire chain. If one went out and hooked up a $60K stereo system (designed to reproduce piano sonics well, there is a difference) to a Avant Grand, how many people listening would be able to tell the difference? I'm not taking a stand one way or the other, because I've not done the A/B myself, but my feeling is that many folks would be hard pressed to tell the difference (other than the obvious differences between the Yamaha house sound and the S&S).


I thought about what you wrote, and that is helpful in thinking this all through. It is very likely that most people cannot hear the difference between an acoustic instrument and a recording of it. But we are not most people, we are ourselves, and we know what we value in the musical experience. I acknowledge that one very important aspect I value when playing a really great piano is the 3-dimensional quality of the sound. The sound of a great piano (or voice, or other instrument) has a palpable, physical presence. I do not yet feel that presence through even the most expensive speakers. I may hear the approximate tonal quality, and certainly the decibel level, but not the physical embrace of the sound.

This may have a lot to do with the fact that we hear not only through our ears, but through bone conduction, and our entire bodies, actually, vibrate with the sound to a significant degree. When I am sitting at, or near, a great piano, the vibrations resonate through me, and that has a great deal to do with my listening experience, and most definitely when I am playing.

Electronic keyboards are here to stay, and perhaps acoustic engineers will eventually discover how to vibrate air waves in new ways that are fully equivalent to a grand piano.

By the way, the price tag you put on my piano would be correct if it were brand new. It has been in the family since 1932, however. I only mention that because I do not want to be confused with those more wealthy pianists who are able to purchase the best grand pianos on a whim. I understand that Van Cliburn has around twenty pianos in his home...
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#1566674 - 11/29/10 10:13 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jonathan Baker]
bitWrangler Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
The sound of a great piano (or voice, or other instrument) has a palpable, physical presence. I do not yet feel that presence through even the most expensive speakers. I may hear the approximate tonal quality, and certainly the decibel level, but not the physical embrace of the sound.


I would agree that there is definitely something special about having the real deal right there. Our piano isn't that large, but it's large enough in the room that it's in to be quite wonderful. That said however, have you ever listened to a good set of electrostats or Magnepans? They have a wonderful "airiness" about them that I absolutely love (esp Maggies) that goes a long way towards making the instrument feel like it's "right there" without screaming "I'm emanating from a cone in a box" (regardless of accuracy).

Personally I don't think the challenge is so much to faithfully reproduce the sound, it's to do it in such a way as to be both practical and affordable. That a DP can get you 90% of the way there for 10% of the price is one of the (if not _the_) biggest advantages of a DP (let's not haggle numbers, it's the gist that counts).

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#1566764 - 11/30/10 12:33 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
SoundThumb Offline
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You got it exactly right, bitWrangler. The DP gets you 90% of the way there for 10% of the cost. However, as someone who recently got an acoustic grand to put next to my trusty Fantom X8, I have to say I am really enjoying that last 10% (even as I continue making payments on the extra 90%.)

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#1566889 - 11/30/10 05:40 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
bennevis Online   content
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I'd think that for a lot of people, a high-end DP is really the only way. I play only classical music and am a recent DP convert, when I bought my V-Piano to use at home with headphones (it's either headphones or nothing in my situation), and only intended it as a practising tool to get me through to my occasional foray on a concert grand that I intended to hire at a studio. But that idea soon went out of the window, when I realised how responsive the V-Piano was to whatever I wanted to throw at it, whether it was a delicate Chopin nocturne, a fizzing Scarlatti Sonata with rapid articulation, or a barnstorming Rachmaninov Etude-tableau. In fact, I could do things on my DP that I couldn't on most upright acoustics (especially stuff that involved rapid repeated notes like Ravel's Gaspard) and could really let myself go with ppp and fff, knowing that the V-Piano could easily cope - I never missed the acoustic grand at all.

I think that as digital modelling (rather than sampling as on every other DP) becomes standard in the years to come, the DP will take over for most musicians except in concert halls - and maybe even that too for smaller venues. Incidentally, the V-Piano is featured in Larry Fine's Piano Buyer (Fall 2010 supplement to his The Piano Book).
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#1566891 - 11/30/10 05:49 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
geraldbrennan Offline
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That a DP can get you 90% of the way there for 10% of the price is one of the (if not _the_) biggest advantages of a DP (let's not haggle numbers, it's the gist that counts).

We're talking about real vs unreal. Can you be 90% pregnant?
Not a snob here, as previously charged, but these are two different worlds!
Nor am I judging the intrinsic value of the two formats. Some actually prefer playing and listening to DPs. GOOD FOR THEM! I have nothing against them. Everyone needs to listen to and play what they like.
But I have made much of my living for 40 years playing real and DPs, and find them spectacularly dissimilar.



Edited by geraldbrennan (11/30/10 05:50 AM)

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#1566927 - 11/30/10 07:29 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Dave Horne Offline
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Let's not forget that we're not just comparing apples with oranges, the AvantGrand is more like a genetically engineered apple. smile

Guys, by calling the AvantGrand a DP you are lumping it in with all the other DP's, thus I feel the need to add to the discussion ... and I'm tired of doing that.

For practice purposes (for those purists among us) and for hotels, restaurants, churches, cruise ships, etc., for the rest of us, the hybrid piano is just fine. I feel no lacking in performance at all.

I really do not see the need for 230 tunable strings under many tons of pressure for practice purposes and even for some performance venues.

Sorry, gotta go ... and practice on my 90 percent piano. smile I'm not sure but I think the 10 percent that's missing is that very slightly annoying feeling I have three days after a tuning when the G an octave and a fifth above middle C starts to go out of tune. I ain't got that feeling. smile
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#1566928 - 11/30/10 07:32 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
a genetically engineered apple.. huh?

like a delicious. I am looking forward to the chance to try an Avantgrand.
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#1566953 - 11/30/10 08:17 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
David Burton Offline
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Finding myself wide awake after quite a day involving among other things finding out that the old dog we rescued a few years ago finally managed to get to go to doggy heaven by being hit by a truck, I decided to revisit this thread and read through it.

DP vs. AP and whether the AP's will survive, is … unanswerable as stated because nobody knows the future. Just a few days ago, I had a dog and was pretty sure she would hang on for maybe a year or two more, though I began to wonder whether she might be developing cancer.

The subject at hand hangs on several ideas that are also imponderable (and boy we can often see people get into tremendous emotional clashes over things that cannot be decided); we take for granted that so many things are going to be there including piped “music” which isn't even intended to be critically listened to, paid attention to.

Not only are there musicians but there are people who listen to music, each with a different set of attention parameters. I once played two versions of a movement from a symphony well known to me but unfamiliar to my audience without telling them I was going to be doing this. After I was done, I asked them if they knew they had been listening to two versions of the same thing. A surprising number said that they thought the two selections were different pieces; on some level they hadn't paid attention. Maybe they were pondering where they would have to be later or what they would have to do. Many I realized hadn't the capacity to hear things the way I am accustomed to. Connoisseurs? No, just people that have a propensity (whether innate or learned) to pay attention.

The future? We assume that the lights and electricity shall never go out, that current living conditions shall continue, that being right around the corner from a new Dark Ages is unthinkable. But the truth is, none of us can be sure of anything. This may be my last post on Piano Forum. Who knows? In short, deciding now on the future of any musical instrument and getting heated about it, strikes me as a bit silly.

What I said before, when the lights go out, as during a power outage, I can still play my AP no matter how out of tune, etc. it may be. The DP after all has not only that limitation, but in every way it's reproduction has to be artificially created, and sorry and I will make this point, digital representation of acoustic wave forms is “as close as one pleases without actually getting there” as a mathematics professor described limits to me once and I don't think that whether a DP is to mimic a piano, a violin, a cello, etc. makes much difference.

Perhaps the best thing about a DP is that it doesn't have to sound like any acoustic instrument we are familiar with and therefore can sound like … a bunch of electronically generated noise, which is also just fine because it leads in a completely different direction; one uses a DP to create music that has only the remotest resemblance to “classical” music. Several years back I was interested in Techno music, even believed it to be the music of the future, and thought I might even “compose” some, but then what is such music for? Who listens to it and for what? How much of it sounds the same as anything else using similarly generated sound? In the final analysis, I didn't want to “crank out” merely atmospheric sound that would form a discreet part of the decoration of some space like a restaurant, hotel or even office (there was once a bank branch in Manhattan where a pianist played show tunes on a small grand piano to create a certain mood that worked … for a while, so even an AP can be used to create music that isn't really being attentively listened to.).

So when one needs to play late at night when all's asleep, there's the DP (and headphones), but when the lights go out and one can really only play during daylight hours (as was the case for much of the periods described as baroque, classical, romantic, etc.) then I guess only the AP will do. Honestly one of the main drawbacks for me with DP's was that I had to turn them on. Progress is imaginary as we have lost as much as we have gained, often more so.

So, we also might want to reckon with what we've lost and stand to lose by having the old acoustic music fall out of favour, as it already pretty much has done. One result, and we certainly have much more music widely available through recordings etc. is that music, all music, is not listened to in the same way it was even a hundred years ago, when only live performances were available and participation in music making was actually more widespread than it is now. Consider what we've lost. I could maybe make similar arguments for every single fine art including possibly cuisine, flower arranging and other decorative arts as well.

We have more music, as we have of everything else to attempt to keep us from boredom, but it doesn't get anything like the same respect.

Best...
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#1566982 - 11/30/10 09:20 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Dave Horne Offline
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David, sorry to hear about the dog you rescued.

There's a certain irony in what you write in that you are writing here and now because of electricity. If it weren't for that you really would be on the typewriter though it would take some effort to reach everyone in that manner. smile

Of course the piano will survive, there will just be fewer bought and fewer made but on major concert stages they will survive. No one disputes that, right? (Perhaps someone in the business can state with some authority what the purchase patterns have been over the last 20 years or so.)

I wrote a letter (snail mail as I recall) a few years ago to register my complaint with the Atlanta Ballet. It seems they couldn't afford to pay the orchestra to perform Swan Lake so the ballet troupe performed with (against?) a CD. I'm sure this had something to do with cutbacks and that truly saddened and infuriated me. Somehow bringing prerecorded music into the concert hall was the final straw for me. (I guess since prerecorded samples are used in the AvantGrand and other DP's you could use the same argument I suppose.)

Well, the thread continues .... smile
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#1567039 - 11/30/10 10:45 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Dave Horne]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dave Horne

Guys, by calling the AvantGrand a DP you are lumping it in with all the other DP's, thus I feel the need to add to the discussion ... and I'm tired of doing that.



Then maybe you should give it a rest. You don't want to become the snazzyplayer of the Piano Forum, do you? grin

Even though the Avant satisfies your personal requirements for an instrument, it will not satisfy everyone's. Also, the line of demarcation that you aree drawing between it and all other digital pianos is really just a reflection of your own priorities. Another person could say that he bought a certain Kawai model because it satisfied his requirement for a wooden action. Another could say that he bought a Roland V for its abilities to customize the sound. The Avant doesn't work for everyone. A lot of us need a measure of portability more than we need its grand piano action, impressive array of speakers, or stylish cabinet. For someof us it's just too expensive to make sense.

The success of digital pianos in general is based on cost/performance, availability through sales channels that most people seem to prefer these days, diverse functions at the push of a button, connectivity to other electronic faves such as the personal computer, and the privacy it allows for one to experience one's own music of choice, whether as a player or as a listener.

In contemporary society in developed countries there are many indications that people prefer to communicate electronically. Members of a family or living group spend more time at their individual computers than they do communicating with each other. Many young people prefer text messaging to being up close and personal or even vocalizing over a bandwidth. A music player with headphones allows for a cozy retreat into the world of one's own preference rather than sharing the music of others. All of this may be seen as good or bad depending on your point of view.

To access what one wants and avoid what one doesn't want, electronic connectivity is king. The acoustic piano has no provision for that. I hope it survives and have many reasons to think that it will, but it's going to be expensive. There's no doubt that labor costs are rising in China. There's no doubt that Indonesia is only a transitional stop for piano manufacture in that its domestic sales market for acoustic pianos is tiny. There's no doubt that piano makers in developed countries will need to fetch high prices to sustain low production numbers.

Let's just hope that those who have the passion have the coin, and that those less fortunate can satisfy their needs and wants from the used market.
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#1567065 - 11/30/10 11:22 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Dave Horne Offline
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Also, the line of demarcation that you aree drawing between it and all other digital pianos is really just a reflection of your own priorities.

Well, yes and no. At the moment the AvantGrand is the only digital piano with a real grand piano action. That alone sets it apart from the other DP's. That's the only reason I bought. Had the N3 not been introduced I would have bought another GranTouch. For me (for practicing) the grand piano action comes first with the sound a very close second.

The snazzypiano remark - I don't know who that is or his history. smile
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#1567080 - 11/30/10 11:46 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Norbert Offline
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Quote:
There's no doubt that piano makers in developed countries will need to fetch high prices to sustain low production numbers.


Completely correct.

And while being scoffed at by some, China will be the biggest ally for us poor Westeners.

Norbert
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#1567101 - 11/30/10 12:14 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
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At present, the Chinese are buying acoustic pianos like there's no tomorrow, thus keeping the piano business afloat. The rich Chinese buy Steinway, Bosendorfer etc; the others buy Young Chang. The world of classical music is going to be kept alive by the Chinese, as more and more Westerners are brought up on X Factor, mediocrity and pop, and the only 'classical' music they'll ever hear is Roll Over Beethoven (where Roll Over are the first names of the composer called Beethoven).
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#1567337 - 11/30/10 05:40 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
David Burton Offline
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"The world of classical music is going to be kept alive by the Chinese, as more and more Westerners are brought up on X Factor, mediocrity and pop, and the only 'classical' music they'll ever hear is Roll Over Beethoven (where Roll Over are the first names of the composer called Beethoven)."

It's actually worse than that. Mention Beethoven to lots of people and they think it's the name of a dog.

PS: DP's have an on/off switch. AP's can always be played.
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#1567371 - 11/30/10 06:19 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: David Burton]
Dave Horne Offline
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PS: DP's have an on/off switch. AP's can always be played.

That's true though the better half and\or the neighbors might get annoyed depending on the time you decide always is. What you look at as an advantage can be easily turned into a disadvantage. smile

When I owned my C3 I had a deal worked out with a piano tuner\friend\trumpeter for whom I made specialized practice tapes. He tuned my C3 up to six times a year.

What does a typical tuning cost these days? How much would six tunings a year set me back today?
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#1567382 - 11/30/10 06:43 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
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I think the fact that an acoustic piano can be played when the electricity fails is irrelevant unless one lives in a country like Iraq. In the U.S. I think the total time I've been without electricity during my entire life is about two days.

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#1567412 - 11/30/10 07:41 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Gary Allen Offline
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There have been a lot of fascinating perspectives from this post. Something that stands out is that the European members whom have commented seem to strongly feel that digitals will "take over". Each person has his own take on this matter--some opinions appear a bit subjective while other appear more objective.

It is difficult to ignore our own preferences, biases and personal experiences when speculating on the outcome of something which can only be guessed at.

Are decreased accoustic sales a more a statement of our battered U.S. economy (including, but not limited to, the declining middle class) or changing tastes in entertainment/music...or both?

Those that have played only accoustic or only digital are, in my (not so) humble opinion missing out on something very enjoyable. I tend to use my digital more as a practice piano and tend to spend more time on it than my grand. I use my grand for true playing/ performing and pure enjoyment. Please don't ask me to give one up but if I had to, I would definitely keep the accoustic grand! There is great virtue in both and I hope they both survive and thrive! It is indeed quite sad to see so many piano dealers closing up.

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#1567523 - 11/30/10 11:12 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Norbert]
Bob Offline
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Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
There's no doubt that piano makers in developed countries will need to fetch high prices to sustain low production numbers.


Completely correct.

And while being scoffed at by some, China will be the biggest ally for us poor Westeners.

Norbert


And Piano makers may find it less than profitable to sell in the US market, and concentrate instead on China and other developing countries.
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#1567576 - 12/01/10 01:41 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary Allen


It is difficult to ignore our own preferences, biases and personal experiences when speculating on the outcome of something which can only be guessed at.


Yeah, it's difficult, but many people don't even try. They display their biases like merit badges.

As Apple remarked, this doesn't have to be an either/or. If people want it to make it an either/or for themselves, that's fine. There are as as many members on the digital forum who dismiss acoustics as there are members here who belittle digitals.

However, if young people really want to become play-for-pay pianists these days -- even if they favor the classical repertoire and have a strong preference for acoustics --. they should become comfortable on a variety of digital keyboards including synthesizers and workstations. Regardless of what the instrument is, some players can extract more from it than others. Young players contemplating a keyboard career should learn to extract all that is musically available from each category and stay current with keyboard products as they evolve.

Short of those few elite pianists who are able to launch a concert career with a splash and sustain their popularity over a long career, precious few working pianists are able to call the shots on what they play and what they perform it on.

Originally Posted By: Gary Allen
Are decreased accoustic sales a more a statement of our battered U.S. economy (including, but not limited to, the declining middle class) or changing tastes in entertainment/music...or both?


It's both, but there's something else involved. The retail model for piano sales, which seasoned pros like Steve Cohen defend as the only workable approach to marketing acoustic pianos, turns many people off these days. They don't want to deal with nebulous pricing, the Totentanz ritual of price negotiation, and commissioned sales pros with a canned spiel. That's true in any product category, not just pianos. It's too bad in a way because there are a lot of good piano sales pros who do listen and who do share good product knowledge with customers, but the arena in which piano selling is conducted simply turns many people off. That's why Sears finally ditched the salesmen in cheap suits and polyester ties standing around waiting for the next opportunity to move a dishwasher or refrigerator in favor of the Blue Crew. Most retail product categories have adapted to the times better than pianos, whatever the reason.
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#1567580 - 12/01/10 02:07 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Norbert Offline
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Quote:
The retail model for piano sales, which seasoned pros like Steve Cohen defend as the only workable approach to marketing acoustic pianos, turns many people off these days.


Yeah, but this is not the piano's fault - but the industry's.

When done conscientiously, there's nothing better than a professional piano place giving honest advice to sincere buyers.

Part of this advice sometimes can be that a piano in not perhaps meant for absolutely everybody on planet earth - and certainly not at "all cost"

Unfortunately, much of the industry sees things differently.

Trying to push piano as a commercial, money-making type gadget - "main thing customer buys" - is exactly what got much of the industry in the trouble it is in today.

Otherwise everything else appears to be pretty well the same as before.....

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (12/01/10 02:12 AM)
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#1567619 - 12/01/10 05:14 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: David Burton]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: David Burton


PS: DP's have an on/off switch. AP's can always be played.


Reliance on electricity can hardly rate as relevant these days. I well remember the time (as a keen photographer myself) when die-hard manual camera users (especially of Leica M, beloved of war photographers and Henri-Cartier Bresson of 'the decisive moment' fame) vowed never to use cameras that required batteries, because you can never rely on them. And subsequently ditto for auto-focus, ditto for digital (even more power-hungry than auto-focus, auto-everything). Now every photographer carries spare batteries, charger, memory cards, even solar charger....

Electricity is cheaper than tuners and technicians grin.
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#1567677 - 12/01/10 08:23 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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In many aspects, it turns out to be basically a matter of taste and/or preference. One customer yesterday, an older lady in her late 70's I would guess, says she cannot understand why some people do not seem to be able to tell the difference between a digital and a piano. I can, she said. I can too, I said. Those that work on them certainly can. Just as pipe organ tuners can tell the difference between a digital or a pipe organ.

The very next client mentioned that she thought they all sounded the same and that it didn't matter what brand was played. The point is, hearing and discerning differences. Some people can, some people can't, some people don't care.

I have Bose speakers setting on my computer desk. I listened to the Avante Grand sound. To me, while it does sound pretty good, there is a difference in sound. Just as there is to me, a difference in the talked about EBVT III tuning in the technicians thread verses the ET tuning.

Some people can easily tell the differences, others can't but, does that mean they should only buy digital's or pianos? Does that mean, I'm right because I prefer pianos? It just means, some people have a preference to what THEY THINK is the same sound as a piano. So what.

The basic question is and was, "Will Acoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away?" God only knows that answer for sure. I honestly believe it will come down to partially anyway, whether or not manufacturer's prefer to build quality pianos or junk pianos. Problem pianos require a lot more service than better built pianos do. In that case, digital units may then, ultimately win. Ahhh but, will the piano fade away eventually? I still highly doubt it. Sales are down but so is manufacturing in mostly all major companies. The economy sucked and still sucks.
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#1567705 - 12/01/10 09:05 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
SCCDoug Offline
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With digital technology there are a couple of competing forces at play. On one hand there has been the tremendous growth in the consumption of low-fidelity music through the use of MP3 players and downloaded music files. This is a trend that has been driven by consumers voting for cost over quality, and arguably started with the replacement of vinyl with CD’s in the 1980s. On the other hand, it is now possible to set yourself up with a reasonably high-quality sound system with either a decent turntable or SACD player for less than $10,000. For those who argue there is no way to reproduce the physical presence of a pipe organ, just listen to something like the Anthony Newman recording of “Music for Organ, Brass and Timpani’ through a high-end surround-sound system. The effect is breathtaking. Digital technology will inevitably continue to improve a rate much faster than that of acoustic technology.

In my opinion digital pianos are already making low-end acoustic uprights obsolete. I do not believe there is any long-term future for acoustic pianos competing in a mass-production market. Acoustics will be specialty items, usually grands, for discerning consumers for whom the inherent value of the instrument has more to do with their own requirements than with more practical considerations of value.


Edited by SCCDoug (12/01/10 09:06 AM)
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#1567709 - 12/01/10 09:16 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: SCCDoug]
AJB Offline
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I am inclined to agree with this analysis.
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#1567738 - 12/01/10 10:17 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Norbert]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
The retail model for piano sales, which seasoned pros like Steve Cohen defend as the only workable approach to marketing acoustic pianos, turns many people off these days.


Yeah, but this is not the piano's fault - but the industry's.

When done conscientiously, there's nothing better than a professional piano place giving honest advice to sincere buyers.
Norbert


Norbert,

I don't disagree with you at all. I meant no slight to you, Steve, or any responsible piano retailer or sales pro. That's why I wrote in the same post that "It's too bad in a way because there are a lot of good piano sales pros who do listen and who do share good product knowledge with customers, but the arena in which piano selling is conducted simply turns many people off."

Personally, I have no fear of piano retailers (at this point), but how many people join this forum and offer up as a first post that they know little or nothing about pianos and feel at a disadvantage in selecting and buying one for their kids or even themselves? Pianos are slipping away from the public consciousness because they are all tucked away in specialty retail operations that get no foot traffic except for those who expressly have in mind to buy one, places that quite literally don't see the light of day because it's not good for the merchandise.

I don't want to harp on the pricing either, but it is a problem as well. I don't believe that most people will only buy the killer deal, but no one wants to be the rube who makes up for the killer deal that someone else got. The fear of the uninitiated to be exploited is real. People today don't want to hear about the need of the small retailer to obtain a higher margin because of his slow turn and high operating costs.

I'm not saying that the peculiarities of piano retail are as big a factor in declining sales as changing taste or the sour economy, but I honestly feel that it adds to the problem. I guess you're in a strip mall, so that's god. I've heard you serve excellent coffee and home-baked cookies. That's even better. smile I wouldn't doubt for a minute that your love of what you sell will complete the trifecta for those who venture into your shop. I wish you a great holiday selling season.





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#1567841 - 12/01/10 12:47 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
wouter79 Offline
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Probably they will overtake much of the acoustic market.

I have yet to see a speaker that can play back a piano convincingly.

Furthermore the digital piano sound is dead.

So as far as I am concerned, the DP might become a serious substitute when they can fix above issues.

However it's like MP3, it often sounds bad but almost everyone uses it. It seems most people don't hear the difference.
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#1568124 - 12/01/10 06:21 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: pianoloverus]
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the fact that an acoustic piano can be played when the electricity fails is irrelevant unless one lives in a country like Iraq. In the U.S. I think the total time I've been without electricity during my entire life is about two days.
It may not be the biggest concern for most people, and I don't lose power often, but when the power does go out the first thing I do to entertain myself is sit my but down at the piano.
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#1568128 - 12/01/10 06:32 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: wouter79]
bitWrangler Offline
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Originally Posted By: wouter79
However it's like MP3, it often sounds bad but almost everyone uses it. It seems most people don't hear the difference.


MP3's caught on not because folks couldn't hear the difference, it's because the convenience factors outweighed any loss in fidelity (kinda like the same argument when cd's came out and audiophiles the world over screamed about how the format was sonically inferior to LP's, they missed the point entirely). Apparently it turns out that the enjoyment of music goes beyond reproductive fidelity for a large portion of the listening public. Who'da thunk it?

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#1568185 - 12/01/10 08:19 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: wouter79]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: wouter79

Furthermore the digital piano sound is dead.


laugh

Gosh! I guess that makes me a necrophiliac.


If the defining quality of acoustic pianos were lack of dependence on electricity, I think there would be occasional threads in this forum about battery-powered headlamps and kerosene lanterns.
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#1568200 - 12/01/10 08:58 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Little_Blue_Engine]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the fact that an acoustic piano can be played when the electricity fails is irrelevant unless one lives in a country like Iraq. In the U.S. I think the total time I've been without electricity during my entire life is about two days.
It may not be the biggest concern for most people, and I don't lose power often, but when the power does go out the first thing I do to entertain myself is sit my but down at the piano.
How many times have you lost power and for how long?

I think saying this factor is not the biggest concern for most is a huge understatement. I'd love to see customers reactions to dealer's showroom signs saying "You can play our pianos in the dark!"

As(my former pupil)John McEnroe said "You cannot be serious!"

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#1568214 - 12/01/10 09:34 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: wouter79]
fingers Offline
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Originally Posted By: wouter79
However it's like MP3, it often sounds bad but almost everyone uses it. It seems most people don't hear the difference.


I think that most people can hear differences but place greater emphasis on ease of use, price, or it being the "new technology."
When the CD arrived on the scene, it was then touted as perfect sound forever. It was then, and still is now, far from perfect.

fingers
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#1568226 - 12/01/10 10:05 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Norbert Offline
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People today forget that an instrument like a piano went through different stages in its development.

First it was very special, reserved mostly for kings and Royalties.

Next, at the turn of the century, it became more "common" and widely spread as a tool of family and and neighborly entertainment.

This era was driven by both music making and social interaction between family members.

Then came the era of mass-producers making us believe that a piano should belong into each and every household on planet earth no matter who plays - what and why it is being played.

Or played at all....

With the quality of pianos taking a steep dive as well.

Perhaps the regression we are seeing today is not without merits.

After all, this is the time many pianos once again are getting "better" - not worse.

Owning and playing a fine instrument like a piano is certainly special - always *was*.

Perhaps the way it was meant to be from its very beginning.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (12/01/10 10:09 PM)
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#1568236 - 12/01/10 10:21 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
sam235813 Offline
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in terms of listening live or having something for the home, i think the differences are obvious and the audiences will decide what they're willing to live with. as someone who plays, i think pianos win hands down.

in terms of recording artists and recordings, how can you ever tell for sure what you're listening to? can't see why an avant grand (or "v" like digital keyboards) wouldn't be just as functional in that case. if digital keyboard action quality improves at the current rate, pianos will be in for tough slog. in the end, the application drives the choice of tool imo.

despite my love for pianos, i have no love for harpsichords. and if purists had their way, we might be still playing only those. the piano itself is a technological evolution and digital keyboards only continue that tradition. change is constant.
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#1568240 - 12/01/10 10:31 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Bob Offline
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Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3896
The acoustic piano industry has shot itself in the foot.

Makers sending pianos to stores only 80% complete (still needing voicing, regulation, and 3 tunings to stabilize the strings)

Stores sending pianos to customers with no prep other than a tuning, and sometimes not even that.

Prevailing attitudes that if one buys an inexpensive piano, it's ok not to prep, because they don't play anyway.

Stores cutting back on service in misguided attempts to save costs, when gaining a reputation for excellent service would increase sales.

Stores and makers and teachers failing to mount a coordinated effort to promote the advantages of the acoustic piano over digital.

Distributors failing to place acoustic pianos in the stores where musicians shop (Best Buy, Sam Ash, Guitar Center)

Stores relying on newspaper advertising to get customers in the store when everyone gets their news from their smart phone.

In the 30 years I've been in this industry, I've never seen floor traffic in piano stores so slow. I almost never get interrupted by customers when doing floor tunings. There are no customers.

The acoustic industry is hunkering down, hoping to survive, when what they should be doing is mounting an offense to combat the digital revolution. Tout the acoustic advantages. Do digital trade in promotions. Find a way to upgrade all the digital owners to acoustics. Put acoustic pianos in stores where musicians go. Bring back the spinet, but have a tip forward action for easy service. Put an action in upright pianos that repeats like a grand. Build each and every piano as good as it can be. Nicely regulated and voiced. I have yet to see a digital needing voicing or regulating out of the box.

For gods sake do something, don't just lay down and take it.

The various associations comprised of piano techs, teachers, piano makers should start to form a plan of attack. A comprehensive, cohesive plan to promote the acoustic piano and upgrade digital owners to acoustics.



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#1568274 - 12/01/10 11:20 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
Too true, Bob. Even DPs are hardly marketed. I would die of shock if I saw a TV ad for a piano.

However, back OT, one thing the piano has going for it that the typewriter lacked, is that almost every DP refers back to an acoustic instrument that has to still exist in order to be sampled. (Though it's true that some sounds are entirely manufactured and not sampled at all.)

And, an actual piano has by far the edge over any recording when it comes to bandwidth, including frequencies which are sensed but not actually audible.

But, I have both and AP and a DP and I love them both.
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#1568289 - 12/01/10 11:51 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Bob]
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1912
Loc: El Cajon, CA
Originally Posted By: Bob
The acoustic piano industry has shot itself in the foot.

Makers sending pianos to stores only 80% complete (still needing voicing, regulation, and 3 tunings to stabilize the strings)

Stores sending pianos to customers with no prep other than a tuning, and sometimes not even that.

Prevailing attitudes that if one buys an inexpensive piano, it's ok not to prep, because they don't play anyway.

Stores cutting back on service in misguided attempts to save costs, when gaining a reputation for excellent service would increase sales.

Stores and makers and teachers failing to mount a coordinated effort to promote the advantages of the acoustic piano over digital.

Distributors failing to place acoustic pianos in the stores where musicians shop (Best Buy, Sam Ash, Guitar Center)

Stores relying on newspaper advertising to get customers in the store when everyone gets their news from their smart phone.

In the 30 years I've been in this industry, I've never seen floor traffic in piano stores so slow. I almost never get interrupted by customers when doing floor tunings. There are no customers.

The acoustic industry is hunkering down, hoping to survive, when what they should be doing is mounting an offense to combat the digital revolution. Tout the acoustic advantages. Do digital trade in promotions. Find a way to upgrade all the digital owners to acoustics. Put acoustic pianos in stores where musicians go. Bring back the spinet, but have a tip forward action for easy service. Put an action in upright pianos that repeats like a grand. Build each and every piano as good as it can be. Nicely regulated and voiced. I have yet to see a digital needing voicing or regulating out of the box.

For gods sake do something, don't just lay down and take it.

The various associations comprised of piano techs, teachers, piano makers should start to form a plan of attack. A comprehensive, cohesive plan to promote the acoustic piano and upgrade digital owners to acoustics.





I fully agree with this. For example, as for putting acoustic pianos in other music shops, I don't have to stretch my imagination too much (I don't think) to see Guitar Center dealing Baldwins, seeing as GC sells guitars made by Gibson, who now owns Baldwin.
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#1568296 - 12/01/10 11:59 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: SCCDoug]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 476
Loc: New York City!
Originally Posted By: SCCDoug
For those who argue there is no way to reproduce the physical presence of a pipe organ, just listen to something like the Anthony Newman recording of “Music for Organ, Brass and Timpani’ through a high-end surround-sound system. The effect is breathtaking. Digital technology will inevitably continue to improve a rate much faster than that of acoustic technology.


Newman's recording is great fun. But having performed on the same organ ( St. Ignatius Loyola, here in NYC) I do not have the same sensation playing the recording as sitting at the console. And that is a relatively minor instrument with a much tamer sound compared to, say, the Wannamaker in Philadelphia, or any Cavaillé-Coll in France. Sit at the console, kick the Tutti, with all reeds, diapasons, and mixtures at full steam, and judge for yourself. Actually, in many churches, the organist has the worst seat in the house: organs are usually voiced for the nave where the instrument is to be heard by the public, and not for the organ loft where the instrument screams directly in your face, but that is another matter...

But back to the piano: plug-in keyboards are an on-going reality in the music world for economic reasons: most musicians do not have $70,000 to $200,000 for a great concert grand. So, as musicians have had to do for hundreds of years, we make do with what we have and can afford. But let's not confuse our ears with our wallets.

If I had never had access to a 9-foot Steinway or Bosendorfer, I might not feel the way I do. But my ears have been permanently corrupted by an excess of sumptuous sonority from those lovely Sirens, and my fingertips cannot coax out of any electronic keyboard, even remotely, comparably subtle and supple whisperings, much less the bronze grandeur.

I really do hope for quick and substantial progress by Casio, Yamaha, Roland, and all of Japan's other electro-gizzmo factories, because there are too many musicians with tons of talent but no trust funds to subsidize their studies, and they need access to the best instruments their limited funds can afford.
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#1568309 - 12/02/10 12:25 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Bob]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 476
Loc: New York City!
Originally Posted By: Bob
In the 30 years I've been in this industry, I've never seen floor traffic in piano stores so slow. I almost never get interrupted by customers when doing floor tunings. There are no customers.


A very powerful post, overall.

In your sentence above, are you referring not only to inadequate service from distributors, but also the downturn in the world economy?

Here in NYC, ticket sales are way, way down at both opera houses (Metropolitan, and NYC Opera), as well as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, all other concert venues, and Broadway overall. The situation is getting dire, and across the country many orchestras and opera houses are now faced with extinction thanks the to sharp downturn in the economy.
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#1568410 - 12/02/10 05:05 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jeff Clef]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5282
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
Too true, Bob. Even DPs are hardly marketed. I would die of shock if I saw a TV ad for a piano.



Back when I was a regular poster at the Keyboard Magazine forum, I asked many times, where are the ads for acoustic pianos? OK, I can understand not advertising on TV, but a magazine for keyboard players should get the occasional token ad.
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#1568423 - 12/02/10 05:34 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5562
The majority of the arguments here have been along the lines of whether a DP can give the same satisfaction as an AP. In fact, for the many (? majority) who own a DP but not an AP, like myself, the issue is actually only what is the best DP to own that would satisfy my needs, because an AP is simply not possible due to the music/noise (delete as appropriate) it makes.

I don't think I'm alone in having learnt to play on an AP from a young age, when my parents' house was big enough and neighbours weren't a problem. Then university intervened, then work, and I moved away and got myself a modest accomodation where I still live, surrounded on all sides by neighbours in close proximity.

Obviously when I read of posters here talking about their 100x80x60 ft music rooms, it makes no sense to put a DP in there (I'd put in a Bosie Imperial, plus a Stuart & Sons grand so I could play K448 and Rachmaninov Suites with my pianist friend). Mansions that have halls like that still abound in large areas of the USA, but not in much of Europe, unless you're a multi-millionnaire. And as the planet becomes more crowded, more musicians (professional as well as amateur) will be living in properties that cannot accomodate a grand. And the key action of an upright is quite different from that of a grand, and to my ears, most uprights (and baby grands) have strident and unpleasant tone, especially in the bass once you start putting pressure on them. For them, as for me, a high-end DP with good tonal control at all dynamic levels and grand piano action is the best solution, and as DP continues to evolve and get ever closer to an acoustic concert grand, more and more pianists of all standards will gravitate towards one.

P.S. I can't believe I'm writing all this - my views would have been diametrically opposite just a few months ago, before I played on DPs for the first time, and eventually acquired one....
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#1568518 - 12/02/10 10:24 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jeff Clef]
turandot Offline
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Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7305
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef

However, back OT, one thing the piano has going for it that the typewriter lacked, is that almost every DP refers back to an acoustic instrument that has to still exist in order to be sampled. (Though it's true that some sounds are entirely manufactured and not sampled at all.)


It's funny. The sampling vs. physical modeling debate can become as acrimonious as the crossfire between dp and ap camps. In the long run I don't see it as an issue personally. If there is substantial interest in both, a dp maker can include both options at the push of a button, or simply enhance one with the other as Roland has done in the V. If you want a typewriter parallel, just scan through the bank of fonts that your word processor permits you to access.

Originally Posted By: 88Key Piano Player
I don't have to stretch my imagination too much (I don't think) to see Guitar Center dealing Baldwins, seeing as GC sells guitars made by Gibson, who now owns Baldwin.


It's possible, but a lot of things would have to fall into place. There would need to be enough demand for pricing to firm up. One manufacturer and its distributor would have to violate the sacred principles of territoriality. The turn and the markup would have to justify the floor space taken up. I don't think Best Buy is doing all that with their investment in drum rooms and guitar rooms. Big box vendors analyze the productivity of their floor space on a regular basis. We'll have to see how it shakes down, but I think at this point it's more likely they'll scale back on their MI space than expand it to include acoustic pianos.

Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
But back to the piano: plug-in keyboards are an on-going reality in the music world for economic reasons: most musicians do not have $70,000 to $200,000 for a great concert grand. So, as musicians have had to do for hundreds of years, we make do with what we have and can afford. But let's not confuse our ears with our wallets.


For piano devotees, cost is probably the leading factor. For musicians (there is a difference), it's functionality and connectivity. As startling as it might seem to an acoustic piano devotee, there is music which is quite popular that sounds hollow and a bit silly on an acoustic. Many here would argue that such music is shallow, caters to low taste, and will not pass the test of time. However, musicians work in the real world whereas devotees can indulge their particular piano fetish.

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Back when I was a regular poster at the Keyboard Magazine forum, I asked many times, where are the ads for acoustic pianos? OK, I can understand not advertising on TV, but a magazine for keyboard players should get the occasional token ad.


In the US, the acoustic piano industry has cast its lot with NAMM. There is no independent association of acoustic piano dealers to monitor business practices, out the rogues and charlatans, and find a common marketing strategy. Recent NAMM shows tend to prove that this is not a good idea. (The foot traffic is very light in the acoustic piano area.)

Originally Posted By: sam285813
in the end, the application drives the choice of tool imo.


Wish I had written that. Very compact way of saying what ultimately is the only thing that matters.
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#1568639 - 12/02/10 01:48 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1733
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
Originally Posted By: 88Key_PianoPlayer
Originally Posted By: Bob


Distributors failing to place acoustic pianos in the stores where musicians shop (Best Buy, Sam Ash, Guitar Center)

...... Put acoustic pianos in stores where musicians go.

For gods sake do something, don't just lay down and take it.



I fully agree with this. For example, as for putting acoustic pianos in other music shops, I don't have to stretch my imagination too much (I don't think) to see Guitar Center dealing Baldwins, seeing as GC sells guitars made by Gibson, who now owns Baldwin.


It's a great idea but unfortunately the type of people (and to me most of them don't fall into the category of "musician") that frequent GC/SA type MI stores are a totally different breed that would go to a store like "Keyboard Concepts", our local Yamaha/Bosendorfer dealer here in LA. First , they don't have the money to spend even on the least expensive Yamaha U-whatever upright much less a C2/3 entry level quality grand. Their "big purchase" would be spending 3K on the latest Yamaha Motif XF8. Second, their interests are more in synths/keyboards with the piano an afterthought--a totally different mentality than a "pianist". Them--"you mean this only does one sound " ?

To reverse that marketing concept--I remember a few years back when Keyboard Concepts experimented with having MI gear in their store. Dennis Haggerty, the owner, told me it was a nightmare. Between kids beating him up over $50 on a $1500 keyboard and the fact the "tattoo-orange hair-pierced nose-leather jacket-chain crowd" isn't conducive to someone coming in shopping for a C7, his "experiment" was short lived.

I agree, the Acoustic Piano dealers and their whole industry are feeling it, especially with the economy. I don't have an answer except that there will always be serious musicians--pros and hobbyists that can feel and hear the difference between a good quality Acoustic and a DP---granted, those people are a shrinking minority every 5-10 years now. Similar to the demand for live music played by real musicians. frown
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#1568644 - 12/02/10 01:51 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jonathan Baker]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3896
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
Originally Posted By: Bob
In the 30 years I've been in this industry, I've never seen floor traffic in piano stores so slow. I almost never get interrupted by customers when doing floor tunings. There are no customers.


A very powerful post, overall.

In your sentence above, are you referring not only to inadequate service from distributors, but also the downturn in the world economy?



It's those two reasons, combined with changing customer habits regarding relaxation time (video games, sports, TV shows, etc) and the advancing quality and value of the digital piano. Each store and maker are different - it should be stated there are makers and stores who do a nice job on their products.

My thought is to put some acoustic pianos, tuned and prepped in the MI stores where musicians visit so they are exposed to them, and start touting the advantages of acoustic over digital. My fear is that the younger generation will be exposed to the digital piano, and buy one because that's what they know. The long term prospects (next decades) for the acoustic pianos and piano tuners is not good if current trends continue. The acoustic will be around, but at what numbers? (speaking USA only).
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#1568662 - 12/02/10 02:12 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
Now that I think of it, Costco has caught hell for flooring APs. Some of it from me.

I suppose a music boutique mini-mall would flop in the present economy, but what a nice thought, in a way. Pianos in one store; luthiers in another; a really great music store in a neighbor location; across the way, an electronic music house; band instruments next door; space for lessons, practice rooms; performance space with a coffee house and bar; indie recording studio, Liberace museum (now that it's out on the street).

Someone could lose several shirts, or one shirt several times. Why, you could lose your shirt for each and every one of those stores.

The only store left open in the mall after two or three years, would be the pawn shop.


Edited by Jeff Clef (12/02/10 05:34 PM)
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#1568675 - 12/02/10 02:30 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: turandot]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 476
Loc: New York City!
Originally Posted By: turandot
[quote=Jeff Clef] For piano devotees, cost is probably the leading factor. For musicians (there is a difference), it's functionality and connectivity. As startling as it might seem to an acoustic piano devotee, there is music which is quite popular that sounds hollow and a bit silly on an acoustic. Many here would argue that such music is shallow, caters to low taste, and will not pass the test of time. However, musicians work in the real world whereas devotees can indulge their particular piano fetish.


You provide a dichotomy between pianists and musicians. That would come as mighty big news to Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy, among others. They saw no division whatsoever.

I don't think that the music of, say, Art Tatum, demands the quality of a Steinway concert grand. A noisy, brassy, upright will do, and that is not to the discredit of Tatum, whose music delights me.

However, realizing the oh-so weighty musical substance of classical music does require much more than current plug-in keyboards can deliver, and "devotees [who] indulge their particular piano fetish" for coloristic nuances, fellows like Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein, and Horowitz, for instance, are regarded by most serious musicians as formidable musician-pianists working in the real world, not obscure introverts working on the fringe of musical oblivion. They demanded the highest sophistication from their instruments as intrinsic to the realization of musical content.

To put another spin on the matter, as Michaelangelo said of his art form: "Trifles make perfection, but perfection is no trifle."
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#1568779 - 12/02/10 05:04 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Dave Ferris]
jens4711 Offline
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Registered: 07/21/10
Posts: 86
Loc: Danmark
Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris

It's a great idea but unfortunately the type of people (and to me most of them
don't fall into the category of "musician") that frequent GC/SA type MI stores
are a totally different breed that would go to a store like "Keyboard Concepts",
our local Yamaha/Bosendorfer dealer here in LA. First , they don't have the
money to spend even on the least expensive Yamaha U-whatever upright much less a
C2/3 entry level quality grand. Their "big purchase" would be spending 3K on the
latest Yamaha Motif XF8. Second, their interests are more in synths/keyboards
with the piano an afterthought--a totally different mentality than a "pianist".
Them--"you mean this only does one sound " ?


Whoa, this opens up a whole lot of interesting off-topic discussions..

Such as whether the production of "real" music really stopped around the 1940's.

Or whether "real" music benefits from the extra creative dimension(s) of sound/timbre design/synthesis and sound engineering…

Or whether the laws of classical music theory, are rules to be abided or just guidelines..

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#1568796 - 12/02/10 05:32 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jonathan Baker]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7305
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker


You provide a dichotomy between pianists and musicians. That would come as mighty big news to Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy, among others. They saw no division whatsoever.

I don't think that the music of, say, Art Tatum, demands the quality of a Steinway concert grand. A noisy, brassy, upright will do, and that is not to the discredit of Tatum, whose music delights me.



Jonathan,

What you think about the piano lit pecking order is your business. The professional money-making lives of the musicians you have mentioned have no direct bearing on the future of keyboard instruments and working keyboard instrumentalists. This is true for many different reasons.

In my posts on this thread, I have tried to reference the reality of the here and now and how that reality projects into the future. That doesn't mean I like the her and now. It doesn't mean that I don't. There is often a tendency to shape the future as one would like it to be because of the passion felt about something which might be lost therein. I don't want to go there. I think it's unrealistic and unproductive.

The distinction between piano devotees and a working musician who earns a living through performing music on keyboard instruments is clear enough. It is certainly possible that a working musician could also be a piano devotee. We all have our preferences and biases. But unless he is in rarefied air, he cannot imprint his devotion to a particular species of instrument on his working life.

I assume from your link that you are a piano teacher with a decided preference for acoustic instruments. It's also clear that you regard classical music as more serious (weighty) than other genres. Here is something I posted in this thread that may help you follow the distinction (not dichotomy) that I am drawing. If, as a teacher of piano, you feel this advice is not sensible and appropriate for your students contemplating a full-time performance career in the her and now and the future, please let this thread know about it.

"... if young people really want to become play-for-pay pianists these days -- even if they favor the classical repertoire and have a strong preference for acoustics --. they should become comfortable on a variety of digital keyboards including synthesizers and workstations. Regardless of what the instrument is, some players can extract more from it than others. Young players contemplating a keyboard career should learn to extract all that is musically available from each category and stay current with keyboard products as they evolve.

Short of those few elite pianists who are able to launch a concert career with a splash and sustain their popularity over a long career, precious few working pianists are able to call the shots on what they play and what they perform it on."
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#1568799 - 12/02/10 05:33 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
For a minute there, I thought I was the author of your quoted text, Jonathan. Yet somehow, I had piano amnesia... strangely so, because I'm all for music that's hollow and shallow.

Oh, wait--- no; it makes my ears tired. It is the main reason I avoid traveling by elevator.
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#1568805 - 12/02/10 05:40 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: pianoloverus]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
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Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Ohio, US
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the fact that an acoustic piano can be played when the electricity fails is irrelevant unless one lives in a country like Iraq. In the U.S. I think the total time I've been without electricity during my entire life is about two days.
It may not be the biggest concern for most people, and I don't lose power often, but when the power does go out the first thing I do to entertain myself is sit my but down at the piano.
How many times have you lost power and for how long?

I think saying this factor is not the biggest concern for most is a huge understatement. I'd love to see customers reactions to dealer's showroom signs saying "You can play our pianos in the dark!"

As(my former pupil)John McEnroe said "You cannot be serious!"

I'd say we lose our power for more than a half hour 2 or 3 times per year. We seem to be right at the point where the dividing line between the houses that go dark and the ones that don't lies so our neighbors actually lose power more often. The longest I've ever been without power was about 7 hours a few years ago during the blackout, but family members of ours only a half hour drive away didn't get their power back until 2 days later. We have family that lost their power once for 8 days after a bad ice storm. I would never expect "you can play it in the dark" to be a sales strategy, but people who live in areas that do lose power often might take this into consideration when they're making their choice. Its something I would never have thought to consider before the experience of spending most of the day without power and being told it may be for a long time. I prefer an acoustic just because I like the overall experience of playing one compared to a digital, not having to plug it in is the icing on the cake.
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#1568909 - 12/02/10 08:30 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 476
Loc: New York City!
Hello Turandot,

Thank you for your response.

You don't believe that the successful pianists I mentioned have influence on the future of the instrument. Oh, but they do, indeed, have great influence on the tastes of other working pianists (I respectfully exclude you from their ranks). When Oscar Peterson raved about Bosedorfers and insisted on performing on them, piano students who admire his work will 'check out' that maker when they have the opportunity to hear for themselves what Peterson was talking about. That is real influence. When someone like Keith Jarrett writes the introduction for Larry Fine's "The Piano Book" and effectively advocates a level of elitism not approached by any of the posters here, his fans likewise take note and are influenced accordingly.

The world of the working pianist is not necessarily the grim existence you seem to imply. Not for me, anyway. Yes, I have had to play on mediocre pianos with a pit-band in a show, but it did not destroy me, or make me miserable, or shift my values. Yes, I have had to accompany singers or ensembles on pianos with broken strings, and/or howling out of tune. But I am still here, unbowed. So what? I relish the wonderful pianos I do get access to, and rejoice in those opportunities. The good and bad are all mixed in quick succession. That's the way it goes for a working musician.

Thank you for referencing my teaching. If we are not entirely on the same page, we are partially regarding education of those students who are working toward full-time professional careers. Although I always and repeatedly compare/contrast with students the attributes of various electronic instruments on the market, with no less intensity I compare/contrast Steinways with Bechsteins, and Yamahas with Webers. Students deal with it all, and that is par for the course. But the actual survival skills I teach (in addition to a killer technique and the usual music theory) are facile sight-reading, transposition, playing by ear, improvisation, and arranging. Those are the every day skills that have been required of me for the past thirty years, and on what instruments I employ them is secondary to the reality of the business at hand.

Like Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett, yeah, I prefer a real piano, thank you, and I cannot think of one single, solitary working-pianist I know here in New York City, or have ever known, whether classical or jazz oriented, who prefers otherwise.

Best regards,

Jonathan
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#1568951 - 12/02/10 09:41 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jeff Clef]
Bob Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef

I suppose a music boutique mini-mall would flop in the present economy, but what a nice thought, in a way. Pianos in one store; luthiers in another; a really great music store in a neighbor location; across the way, an electronic music house; band instruments next door; space for lessons, practice rooms; performance space with a coffee house and bar; indie recording studio, Liberace museum (now that it's out on the street).


A piano/music boutique of sorts was tried in downtown Chicago for a few years. There was Carl Fisher, and about 3 piano stores. They had lunchtime concerts that were really nice.

However, I like the idea of having a shopping center with a Best Buy, Sam Ash, Guitar center, and piano stores selling Steinway, Yamaha, and Kawai. In addtion add a teaching studio, dance studio, karate school, a couple of nice places to eat, maybe a book store.

The reason car dealers congregate together is to share advertising and allow the customer easy comparisons. In my market, the Yamaha store is a 35 min drive in good traffic from the Steinway and Kawai stores, which are a 10 min drive apart. Putting them all in the same strip mall, would probably be mutually beneficial, I would think?

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#1568958 - 12/02/10 09:47 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
apple* Offline


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piano row in NY?
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#1569101 - 12/03/10 03:57 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Dave Horne Offline
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The reason car dealers congregate together is to share advertising and allow the customer easy comparisons.

I don't know about that. I've always seen clusters of car dealerships in industrial type areas where real estate is cheaper; that makes sense since they need so much space.

------

Like Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett, yeah, I prefer a real piano, thank you, and I cannot think of one single, solitary working-pianist I know here in New York City, or have ever known, whether classical or jazz oriented, who prefers otherwise.

You might need to make a distinction between practice pianos and performance pianos. I'm sure the Oscar Peterson's and Keith Jarrett's of the world have no problems with their neighbors when practicing at any hour of the day or night. We mere mortals, thank you, tend to live in apartments, townhouses and row homes (I never understood the difference between a row home and a townhouse) and have neighbors to think of.

Why we're at it, since you are placing yourself in such great company, it would be great to hear samples of your playing. While I've made my living by playing I would never start a paragraph with ... Like Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett, yeah, I prefer .... but that's just me. smile
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#1569181 - 12/03/10 08:58 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jonathan Baker]
turandot Offline
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Jonathan,

Thanks for your response, but to be honest, I don't see musch there except an affirmation of your personal preferences. It's hard to find a way to interpret your comments about Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven, and Art Tatum as anything but testifying for the first three and putting down Art Tatum.

Quote:
You provide a dichotomy between pianists and musicians. That would come as mighty big news to Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy, among others. They saw no division whatsoever.

I don't think that the music of, say, Art Tatum, demands the quality of a Steinway concert grand. A noisy, brassy, upright will do, and that is not to the discredit of Tatum, whose music delights me.


I don't really believe that you find noisy brassy uprights a delight. Do you?

Now you've added the obligatory reference to 'real' pianos.

Quote:
I prefer a real piano, thank you


That's fine, but did a waiter ask you to order for the house? smile

I don't dispute that the choices of popular artists have a bearing on the choice of pianos by their fans. Love of classical music, its composers, and its artists is the biggest reason acoustic pianos have had such a long ride. Your Oscar Peterson/Bosie reference is a good one because Peterson's music was not an obvious fit for Bosie's highbrow image, and no doubt he widened the Bosie sphere of influence. However, I don't feel that Chopein sells Pleyels today, that Beethoven sells Broadwooods. or that Tatum sells noisy uprights. They sell the acoustic ideal. Same for Keith Jarrett. The huge stable of Steinway artists no doubt helps their branding, just as aggressive free-agent signings help your NY Yankess,but I doubt that many consumers show up at a Steinway shop asking for the Keith Jarrett model. If there's a parallel to Peterson/Bosie today, it's probably Herbie Hancock's endorsement of Fazioli. It's not an obvious fit either.

Anyway, I'm not accusing you of anything or trying to fight you tooth and nail here. It's par for the course on these
'potential acoustic demise' threads for members to state their preference and display their passion. Why not? It may not alter the empirical data though.

I do very much want to correct your perception that I'm painting a grim reality here. Personally, I don't see it as grim at all. I love all acoustic pianos that are in good shape. There's nothing quite like then. I love some unpretentious ones more than some pretentious ones, some short grands more than some long ones, and some verticals more than some grands, but deep down I love them all if they have their own voice and are in decent shape. I had only an Acrosonic spinet for more than ten years and don't have one bad thing to say about it.

I love the intimacy of a good digital with a good pair of phones. There's nothing quite like it. I don't regard arranging and improvisation as survival skill like you do since my own bag is orchestration, arranging, and composition. For that reason I don't consider the skill set necessary to fully exploit digital functions a survival skill either.

I love the fact that the future will be full of surprises -- bring it on -- and that music is being written now specifically with digitals in mind. Some of the most creative stuff that I hear these days is coming from that camp. It may be raw, but it's creative. So I'm not glum and I don't see the future as grim except for the fact that as acoustic sales continue their decline, choices will be fewer and prices will be far more expensive.

No animosity at all, just a different perspective.
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#1569190 - 12/03/10 09:27 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
bennevis Online   content
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Making predictions is difficult, especially about the future (Samuel Goldwyn).
Especially about the demise of APs (bennevis).
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#1569307 - 12/03/10 12:53 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
FormerFF Offline
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As long as the instrument can play piano music, does how it produces the sound really matter?
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#1569772 - 12/04/10 04:29 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
wouter79 Offline
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How it produces sound probably does not matter.
What really matters is HOW it sounds and feels.


Edited by wouter79 (12/04/10 04:30 AM)
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#1569793 - 12/04/10 05:53 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
AJB Offline
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Snag with forums like this is that we are a bunch of enthusiasts corralled together. We don't really want to contemplate the demise of our favoured instruments so a realistic appraisal of the situation may escape many of us.

The decline of the acoustic and the digital piano, is an inevitable function of changes in societal education values, leisure priorities and the availability of alternatives. Pianos of all kinds are already in a small niche market.

However, lots of very successful businesses operate successfully in small niche markets - once they wake up to what that market really is.

The piano industry is presently afflicted by substantial oversupply coupled with weak demand. So the focus of most people is on low prices.

Eventually the industry in the west will shrink such that those who are willing to pay for premium brands have a small choice but at premium prices. Everyone else will have access to cheaper (but eventually no longer "cheap") Chinese made instruments of acceptable quality.

The Chinese domestic market is still growing and manufacturers will primarily service this, but with some higher margin exports to the west. Eventually sensible currency balancing will push the prices of Chinese exports up - especially when indigenous western industries have died.

The very best piano dealers will survive. Many more will go bust. Consumers will need to travel further to buy acoustic pianos - but serious enthusiasts will not mind this.

We may see a resurgence in the secondary market for cheap oldish acoustic instruments for a while, until they wear out.

This is what I think is already happening to the market - we are about half way through it. Feel free to disagree - the beauty of economic forecasting is that it can only be tested with hindsight.

Adrian
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#1569826 - 12/04/10 08:12 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: FormerFF]
Dave Horne Offline
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Originally Posted By: FormerFF
As long as the instrument can play piano music, does how it produces the sound really matter?


Before the electric guitar it was down right dangerous playing the steam powered guitar, but I agree with your statement.
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#1569905 - 12/04/10 10:52 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Turadot -

That you refer to a full grand as "pretentious" gives away your game...
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#1570196 - 12/04/10 04:55 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jonathan Baker]
turandot Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
Turadot -

That you refer to a full grand as "pretentious" gives away your game...



My game??????

Here's what I posted

Quote:
I love all acoustic pianos that are in good shape. There's nothing quite like then. I love some unpretentious ones more than some pretentious ones, some short grands more than some long ones, and some verticals more than some grands, but deep down I love them all if they have their own voice and are in decent shape. I had only an Acrosonic spinet for more than ten years and don't have one bad thing to say about it.


. Read it again. If you still don't understand, ask someone to explain it to you.

My reply to you was courteous and thoughtful, and this is your response---that I am playing a game????

I'm sorry you take it that way, but there's nothing I can do about it.
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#1570206 - 12/04/10 05:24 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
AJB Offline
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Oddly enough I can see exactly where Turandot is coming from here.

For close on 30 years I have collected electric (mainly) guitars. For most of my life I have played guitar more than piano. Some guitars are worth more (by "worth" I mean in the collectors market) than any top class grand piano you can think of. Think double the price of a Stuart.

And yet, some years ago, I bought in a guitar shop, a second-hand Fender "custom Shop" strat, that some idiot had altered. The body was gold, which I hated. But the neck was sublime. So I bought it for about $1,000. It is among the cheapest guitars I own.

Ninety nine times out of one hundred, if I play guitar at home or live on stage (in my amateurish way), I pick that one. I have others that are far more valuable and supposedly better. But in reality some musical instruments just "fit" us. They sing. So we should cast aside everything but that.

Same logic applies to pianos, I think. I learnt to play on my parent's old upright. I don;t actually know what make it was. Probably a Broadwood I guess. I expect I would look down on it now. But it suited me as a five year old and was plenty good enough to take me to ABRSM grade 8 a few years later. I never played on a grand throughout that time.

The truth is it's not the piano. It's the player.

Hence, Turandot has an extremely valid point. We enjoy most what suits us best.

Adrian
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#1570324 - 12/04/10 08:50 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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"Turandot" - You clearly have experience with "pretentious" pianos. I never knew that musical instruments could be pretentious, but I fully accept that you have encountered such musical beasts, and I assure you that if you play any of the pianos here in NYC that they are all quite modest and accommodating, actually, in their social and professional relations with pianists.

David Horne - distinctions between practice and performance pianos is not, to my knowledge, a matter of contention. A pianist practices and performs on what is available at hand. Simple enough. "Will the acoustic piano go the way of the typewriter?" is the valid question of this thread, and I already addressed the issue of sonority as I hear it. As for Oscar and Keith, whose reference you found disconcerting, I will rephrase it thus: Like Beethoven, I would rather play a massive Broadwood over a spindly 5-octave Viennese piano any day of the week. Thank you! I always seek out the best musical company I can find, past or present. wink



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#1570401 - 12/05/10 12:39 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Jonathan Baker]
turandot Offline
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Jonathan,

It seems that you are entitled to post a very clear pecking order of your preferences as some sort of objective reality, but I am not entitled to say in neutral generic terms what I like without ticking you off.

You have written that you compare and contrast all acoustic pianos. Have you ever had the experience that a current line of pianos from a prestige manufacturer leaves you flat -- or -- that a certain model from a prestige manufacturer leaves you thinking it's a sub-par effort from that maker? It's not about poor prep. The feeling is based on playing several samples. The piano(s) may be built like a tank with gorgeous casework. It may have contrasting veneer, inlays, whatever -- the whole nine yards. It will most definitely have the requisite action from the world's most famous action maker. But somehow or other its performance just doesn't stack up, either to other competitors in its price class or to other efforts past or present from that manufacturer.

Conversely,have you ever had the experience that a current model piano with a very modest pedigree, a plain-jane case, and a fairly modest price surprises you with its even action response and its ability to produce a fair degree of color throughout its dynamic range (even though that range might be limited at the power end)? Have you ever thought "Wow, this piano can compete above its class"?

Does that help you to understand?

If not, or if you're just lathered up about some perceived slight to you, your profession, or to New York City of all things, send me a PM and we'll sort it out. You're pushing buttons now that go way way off topic. Even though this thread has had its ups and downs. it has stayed on topic, remarkably so for a thread of its length.
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#1570823 - 12/05/10 05:36 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jonathan Baker Offline
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Turandot -

Regarding paragraph 1 of your post, above: of course, I have my preferences, as you have yours, but I don't think your preferences are 'bad' or 'less than' in any sense. And regarding your next two paragraphs I have had exactly the same impressions and experiences, it seems, fourteen trillion times. No disagreement there!

Perhaps where I expressed myself poorly is in the matter of performing, say, Schubert lieder with a singer on a piano with virtually no singing tone; there is an example where any pianist is instantly going to morph into a elitist with a bad attitude simply out of frustration, because at that point, from the pianists counterpoint, he is merely giving a bad pantomime of the music.

Or, say (and this drives me truly crazy) where the hammers have been so fluffed up that it is physically impossible to achieve more than a mezzo piano - no forte to be had - none. That leaves nothing but the tempo, and perhaps out of desperation, an exaggerated tempo rubato, which again ends up being a parody.

Last week I was obliged to play on a 9-foot Baldwin so badly mangled in its voicing that I would have traded it for an upright Yamaha. These things happen all the time, of course, but not every time. So I would say that trying to advocate for standards often feels like an uphill struggle, particularly with managers of halls or theaters who regard such matters as prissy elitism by difficult artsy-types. But I do not want to give a lopsided impression, there are terrific, fabulous pianos all over town, often found in 'modest' locations, not necessarily in the 'best' clubs or halls.

But I am starting to ramble off-topic, which is whether or not acoustic pianos will become extinct. I think I agree with many posters here that that is not imminent on the concert venue, but practice pianos definitely have competition from electric keyboards for the legitimate reasons of price and thin walls. And I cannot rail against that, although I prefer acoustic piano for the type of music I play for a living. If I were working at the synthesizer creating, say, New Age music or a variety of other styles that depend on recording for their realization, then I would probably have a significantly different outlook.

regards,

Jonathan
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#1926033 - 07/12/12 08:50 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary Allen
I am curious if you think that eventually the accoustic piano could go the way of the typewriter, cameras that use film, etc.?


2 years on and I have to confidently say... NO.

If you have played all sorts of pianos, you will know that no digital piano comes even close to the satisfaction of the feel the sound of an acoustic provides. Also, I have found the digitals to be lackluster in sound, and I own two and play them regularly.

I heard some 12,000 figure pertaining to 2012 or 2011 grand sales in America. If true, the grand is going strong to obscurity... in NEW sales. Obviously there is a market for used grands. The grand piano will become something akin to a yacht or swanky sports car: few will have them and they will be for wealthier and more-dedicated players.

It's too easy to get and play and move a digital piano when learning and poor. They are excellent solutions for this damaged economy. For people that play a lot and enjoy piano playing, the acoustics will always be honored.
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#1926053 - 07/12/12 10:10 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: David Burton]
SirHuddlestonFudd Offline
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If the lights stayed out for more than a few hours, we'd all have many more problems than where to play music. (But you did say there were other reasons, too).

Originally Posted By: David Burton

When the lights go out, one can still be played.

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#1926055 - 07/12/12 10:14 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: bitWrangler]
SirHuddlestonFudd Offline
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This has been proven. Trinity Church on Wall Street has a mammoth virtual pipe organ, featuring an impossibly elaborate, gigantic speaker system. The claim is that it's extremely hard to believe that you're not listening to a real pipe organ.

Originally Posted By: bitWrangler


The issue isn't just one of speakers, but it's the entire chain. If one went out and hooked up a $60K stereo system (designed to reproduce piano sonics well, there is a difference) to a Avant Grand, how many people listening would be able to tell the difference? I'm not taking a stand one way or the other, because I've not done the A/B myself, but my feeling is that many folks would be hard pressed to tell the difference (other than the obvious differences between the Yamaha house sound and the S&S).

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#1926136 - 07/13/12 03:33 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
backto_study_piano Offline
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#1926144 - 07/13/12 04:21 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: SirHuddlestonFudd]
charleslang Offline
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Originally Posted By: SirHuddlestonFudd
This has been proven. Trinity Church on Wall Street has a mammoth virtual pipe organ, featuring an impossibly elaborate, gigantic speaker system. The claim is that it's extremely hard to believe that you're not listening to a real pipe organ.

Originally Posted By: bitWrangler


The issue isn't just one of speakers, but it's the entire chain. If one went out and hooked up a $60K stereo system (designed to reproduce piano sonics well, there is a difference) to a Avant Grand, how many people listening would be able to tell the difference? I'm not taking a stand one way or the other, because I've not done the A/B myself, but my feeling is that many folks would be hard pressed to tell the difference (other than the obvious differences between the Yamaha house sound and the S&S).


But pianos are only like pipe organs in certain ways, and not in all ways. The only proof that digital keyboards can be as good as pianos would be to actually build one that fools people -- blindfolded players and listeners. No one has done that yet.

The topic of digital versus piano is a perennial. I think this is because these days technological advances in all realms are so fast that they lead to all sorts of surprises, like facebook, flat screen TVs, cars the park themselves, and so on. In this environment, it seems realistic that advances will be made that make digital keyboards indistinguishable in tone and touch from pianos.

On the other hand, other examples show that it's extremely difficult to predict what advances will occur and which will not. In the '50s many theorized that artificial intelligence would be far more advanced by 2012 than proved to be the case.

For other examples, one can watch any old movie about the future. In "Back to the Future", the future year is actually 2012. In the '80s, it seemed plausible to many people to think that by 2012, we might have tiny dehydrated pizzas that would fully hydrate in a few seconds in something like a microwave oven, and be delicious. Obviously that didn't happen.

So are digital instruments that perform just as well as acoustics right around the corner? Or are they a long way off? Or is it a goal like a levitating skateboard, or a warp drive, which seem to more sober minds like they might well never be realized?

I confess my complete inability to predict what might happen.

I think that the above quote suggests a project which could go a long way toward convincing some people, though, that digital have the potential to win out: if a company like Yamaha were to spend a million dollars creating just a single digital instrument that would really fool people -- players and audience members alike -- in blind tests, then that would suggest that the goal is less like levitating skateboards and warp drives, and more like facebook and flatscreen TVs. Then, it would just be a matter of waiting for the price to come down.

But, as things stand, I think we have no reason to believe that Yamaha or another company would be able to create an instrument like that.
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#1926146 - 07/13/12 04:39 AM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
maurus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary Allen
I am curious if you think that eventually the accoustic piano could go the way of the typewriter?


Eventually, of course, just as the solar system as a whole.

In the near future, no.
An acoustic piano is very unlike a typewriter. For how long have violins been around by now? Will they go away soon? Hardly.
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#1926272 - 07/13/12 01:13 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
RealPlayer Offline
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There are many reasons why a "virtual" pipe organ may be very convincing. Unlike a piano, the keys are far simpler, more like switches (on/off) and the tone envelopes are pretty constant in organ sound...a kind of sound electronics have been good at for decades now.

Pianos keys are tone regulators and resultant tones are complex due to sympathetic vibration, resonance, decay characteristics, variation in partials, and a bunch of other things I'm not conversant with. It's actually kind of amusing to observe electronic keyboard manufacturers working so hard to emulate what 19th century action hardware does so effectively...

Speaking only of those that do try to emulate piano sound and touch...synthesizers and other keyboards are different animals.
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#1926275 - 07/13/12 01:23 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Jeff Clef Offline
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I have recently read that typewriters are coming back, too, along with vinyl LPs and analog amps; evidently, some improvements have not improved things as much as claimed. The first breathless blitz of advertizing for a new product--- I at first mistyped this as "avertizing," hmmm...--- does not usually mention the new wonder's delinquencies, but by v.2 they don't even bother to deny them, and by v.3 they're openly pilloried. I guess their young developers don't realize that people remember what they said earlier.

"...This has been proven. Trinity Church on Wall Street has a mammoth virtual pipe organ, featuring an impossibly elaborate, gigantic speaker system. The claim is that it's extremely hard to believe that you're not listening to a real pipe organ..."

Tell it to someone else. Bring back Bach, who tested newly-built pipe organs and knew what was what--- and what wasn't what. If he "claimed" one couldn't tell the difference, I suppose I would buy it myself. There was a charming paragraph (if I remember the source properly) in Schweitzer's biography of Bach, which described the way organ designers would turn white as a sheet when he would get up there in the organ loft and open up all the stops. He could make anyone believe in God, and the Devil, too... at least, during the performance.

Typewriter keys and carriages have a certain feel, which some writers find to have a certain charm, and which they say helps them with their creative work. For that matter, we have given something away with the departure of the teletype and the linotype machine. I suppose most people have never had the opportunity to see these devices at their work, and I don't know if newspapers even use them anymore. It was a busy sound which created a mood and atmosphere in the newsroom and pressroom (composing room, I should say; they're different), and which created a tangible product of work. Now that they're gone, we're finding that people don't bother much with newspapers anymore, and I just wonder if there's a connection. PhD thesis, anyone?

There is no actual reason that a word processor's editing features could not be married to the interesting mechanical features of the typewriter.

Real organs (and real pianos) have a richness of character which is partly because of their imperfections. Listen to--- or play upon--- a real one and you will notice. I wonder if the glossy perfections of today's marvelous devices are, maybe subconciously, too daunting for our still-human and still imperfect minds and bodies, or perhaps mask too effectively the real effort it takes to create and perform.
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#1926278 - 07/13/12 01:32 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
Inlanding Offline
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No. Digital electric keyboards can't replace an acoustic piano in terms of feedback to the player, for one. The technology for electronic keyboards has improved greatly, but the sound they produce are still copies of a vibrating string and soundboard and they sound that way - like copies. Some are pretty good sounding, but it ends there.

Natural sympathetic vibrations and natural harmonics are not a function of an electric sound. They happen with an acoustic instrument, not an electric one. The only way to copy a felt hammer hitting a string that vibrates over a soundboard that moves air is with another acoustic piano, not with a sample of something that sounds somewhat like it. It's like comparing Apples and Rhubarb. They each have their place, as does an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar, but one cannot truly replace another.

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#1926442 - 07/13/12 07:22 PM Re: Will Accoustic Piano Ultimately Go Away Like The Typewriter? [Re: Gary Allen]
thetandyman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 443
Loc: Indiana
My 2 cents: At one time in the late "30's the Hammond organ bragged that most organists couldn't tell when they heard a Hammond in concert that it wasn't a pipe organ. When the first cylinder was played before a group on educated men, they declared that finer reproduction could not be obtained. It was so perfect in their minds. Today digital and "virtual" pipe organs are almost impossible to diferentiate between real ones. I am an organist and will hopefully have a virtual organ in my home connected to a vintage theater organ console. One thing that pianos and organs have in common, they're seldom in perfect tune. Organs can be too perfect. A little celeste in the ranks give an air of orchestral tuning. I feel real pianos will always be in demand. Unfortunately, some will be bought simply to decorate a room or impart wealth and sophistication.
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Marriage is like a card game, you start with two hearts and a diamond, later you wish you had a club and a spade!
Yamaha G7 Yamaha CVP75 digital, Allen 3500 theater organ

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