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#2048732 - 03/15/13 02:46 PM Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic?
Mark_C Offline
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Loc: New York
I'm pretty far removed from the digital piano world, although several friends have them (in addition to their "regular" pianos) and I happened to be in school near where Moog was doing his synthesizers in the '60's and went to some early demonstrations. Most of what I see and hear about it now is on this site, when I glance sometimes at that other section. I understand very little of what they're talking about, and in my gut I don't really consider it the same instrument that 'we' play. But I do appreciate more and more what it offers, how the technology has been advancing, and, I have to admit, the advantages over 'our' piano, although believe me I feel that what gets lost is much greater. Still, while I hope the acoustic piano will survive forever, I'd guess it won't be that long before it becomes essentially a relic. How long? I'd guess as short as 100 years -- about 3 generations of human beings, assuming the world lasts that long. shocked
I think there's a high chance that as soon as 50 years from now, relatively few people will feel there's a reason to invest the greater money and space on acoustic pianos, and within another couple of generations after that, they will rarely be seen.

What do you think?

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#2048743 - 03/15/13 03:02 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Polyphonist Online   content
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That would be very sad, I hope I won't live to that day if it ever happens. Digitals are vastly inferior to acoustics in almost every way possible, except convenience and portability.
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#2048744 - 03/15/13 03:02 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
chrisbell Offline
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Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1332
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
It will never be a relic. Ever.

And I have 2 digital grands, 1 synth keyboard, 13 hardware synths, 2 samplers + at least 120 software synths and a 5 Tb sampler library.

In this part of the woods, the piano business is solid and growing.
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#2048749 - 03/15/13 03:06 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: chrisbell]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: chrisbell
It will never be a relic. Ever.

And I have 2 digital grands, 1 synth keyboard, 13 hardware synths, 2 samplers + at least 120 software synths and a 5 Tb sampler library....

Sounds like a very strong vote, coming from someone like you. I hope you're right. smile

BTW, why multiple digitals?
(Sorry about the stupid question, but as I said, I don't really know anything.) ha

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#2048756 - 03/15/13 03:12 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
mermilylumpkin Offline
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Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
I don't know that the same laws of technological change apply to musical instruments as the rest of the world. On a hypothetical level, you'd imagine that violin makers would have been able to benefit from the years and years they've had to refine their craft and further analyze various acoustical properties, yet it's the original Strads and Guarneris that fetch top dollar. There's obviously various reasons for this, but one of them may well be that instrumentalists place less value on the notion of the latest state of the art technology.

Is there really a digital piano that compares with the acoustical properties of a Steinway or Fazioli? At best, the tone would be a copy from an acoustic piano. I'd imagine pianists prefer acoustic to digital for much the same reason hardcore audiophiles would rather listen to vinyl than an mp3 which is really a copy of a copy of a copy. The mechanics of a piano is just so different than the mechanics of a digital keyboard, on a micro level anyway, I always feel like I'm playing a different instrument when I switch from one to the other.


Edited by mermilylumpkin (03/15/13 03:13 PM)

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#2048762 - 03/15/13 03:23 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
BDB Online   content
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Strads and Guarneris have been modified to bring them up to today's standards, with new necks, fingerboards and strings, among other things. The bows of the time are considered obsolete, as well. Unmodified they are less desirable.
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#2048768 - 03/15/13 03:36 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
FSO Offline
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Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 852
Loc: UK, Brighton
The technology *will* get good enough to replicate harmonic resonance, woodiness etc. Um...another couple of decades and I believe we will see and hear digital pianos outstrip acoustic pianos in terms of space, cost and dare I suggest sound? However, there will always be acoustics around; just as acoustic guitars have taken a back seat but are still around. I mean...I only own a digital, but as soon as I live somewhere with a mortgage (as opposed to renting) it'll be all acoustic-y....and why? Because "real" pianos have more soul. Because wood is infinitely superior to plastic...just because! laugh Um...I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels such...just one thing keeps me sure the piano won't be graved by the digital disease: resources. More and more wood grows every year (well, less, but you get the point laugh ); some precious metals (which will be required for the *best* circuitry to provide the *best* sound) are pretty finite...um...mermilylumpkin; the audiophile comment is, perhaps, a tad unjustified; our ears adapt to small differences and find homes of listening...so, um, when someone used to listening to vinyl hears the minute difference in mp3 they don't *feel* the music quite as deeply, even if they're *technically* hearing a better version...of course, um, this doesn't deal with the youngsters, but that's cult followings for you laugh I agree regarding sensitivity in touch by the way; I've many times considered stop playing my portable grand as (and thus all instruments as it is the only one I have access to), I feel, it is teaching me improper sensitivity and pedaling habits...um...I fear each note extra will unprepare me one note further from the piano laugh
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#2048771 - 03/15/13 03:50 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
BruceD Offline
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" ... will become..."? I have played some acoustic pianos that have already become 'relics.' smile

Cheers!
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#2048777 - 03/15/13 03:58 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2289
Loc: San Jose, CA
Digitals are getting pretty good. But, they don't come anywhere near filling a large space the way a concert grand does. There's only so much you can do with a pair of speakers. I don't see any way to cure this shortcoming; you need all of the heavy, earthen and organic material of a piano to replicate the full experience for your audience.

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#2048778 - 03/15/13 04:00 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Hakki Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2402
This topic comes on and off occasionally.
My first reaction is that, guessing about the future of acoustic piano and even disagreeing on our guesses is somewhat meaningless. Because non of us will live that long, and therefore any guess is as worthless as the other.

Secondly, the digital pianos, besides the piano sound, can also produce other instrument sounds, such as string, wind, percussion etc. instruments.
Now, I don't see any, and really ANY, difference between the sound being produced whether it is a wind instrument sound or a piano sound.
Would you be able to persuade a clarinetist that the clarinet sound produced by a digital piano is any close to what he is hearing when he plays his instrument?
The same, is as valid for me. In the end it is a digitally produced artificial sound.

Despite all the above, and though I find it meaningless, yet it has been requested by Mark, here is my guess:

I agree with Mark.


Edited by Hakki (03/15/13 04:01 PM)
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#2048784 - 03/15/13 04:14 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Hakki]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: Hakki
Despite all the above....here is my guess:

I agree with Mark.

Even though it sucks?? ha
("It" meaning two things: the DP, and what we're saying.)

Indeed that was a surprise ending to your post!

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#2048791 - 03/15/13 04:35 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Hakki]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Hakki
Because non of us will live that long,


The kids on this forum might. smile
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#2048799 - 03/15/13 05:02 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
-Frycek Offline
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Loc: SC Mountains
I think it could acoustics could become obsolete as far as amateur players are concerned but I'm pretty sure there will always the demand for "the real thing" from at least an elite group of professionals. That will keep at least some acoustic makers in business. After all, "they" still make harpsichords and lutes.
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#2048803 - 03/15/13 05:05 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
SBP Offline
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Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
I hope they don't.

Personally, I hope that acoustics will evolve away from the loud beasts they are today. That would sure make them more pleasant to play for long periods :P

Mostly, the problem with digitals is that the very best ones are basically just pianos without strings. What's the point of that? You might as well put the strings and soundboard in. Hybrid pianos seem to be the way to go, if you must have a digital piano and an acoustic.


Edited by SBP (03/15/13 05:07 PM)
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#2048804 - 03/15/13 05:10 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Hakki Offline
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Posts: 2402
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Despite all the above....here is my guess:

I agree with Mark.

Even though it sucks?? ha
("It" meaning two things: the DP, and what we're saying.)

Indeed that was a surprise ending to your post!


But DP's suck today. It doesn't mean they will still suck a hundred years later.
My worthless guess is that, they probably won't.
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#2048810 - 03/15/13 05:23 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
They don't suck today. I have been hunting for a digital piano the past couple of weeks, originally out of necessity. But I'm now very excited to get one, so blown away was I by how far along the technology has come even in the last year or so.

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#2048811 - 03/15/13 05:24 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4804
Having put my foot into the digital camp when I joined this forum in 2010, which was when I bought my first piano - a digital, I have to admit that the only reason I bought it was because it was either that or nothing: neighbors surrounding me would never tolerate me playing an acoustic. But I was quite pleasantly surprised at how good digitals (or at least the one I bought) have become, in emulating so many characteristics of the real thing. Such that ever since, I won't play on any acoustic that's out of tune or obviously decrepit, whereas before, I'd play on anything that resembled a piano, as long as it was mechanical.....

But of course, I still hanker after a Bösendorfer Imperial 290 or Fazioli F308. Or even a Yamaha CFX, or a Blüthner Model 1, or C.Bechstein D282. Even a Steinway D272 will be fine grin. (In my dreams......).

But with the increasing deforestation around the world as populations keep expanding exponentially, I can't see acoustics staying around forever - especially as digitals (especially of the modeled variety, like my V-Piano) keep improving. I remember when CD first appeared: how could numbers (with error correction built in) possibly give good quality sound for discerning classical listeners, compared to vinyl LP, where all the information from the master tape is in the grooves?
Well, how many of us listen to, or even own any LPs now (assuming we're old enough to know what they look like....)? I haven't played any of mine for decades, and all my favorite recordings on LP have now been duplicated on subsequent CD releases, which I've acquired.

The really odd thing is that most people now listen to music on far inferior MP3 format and YouTube recordings. The audiophiles of yesteryear would be aghast that we happily tolerate dynamic compression (such that pp becomes mf plus hiss), distortion, frequency loss etc, etc. Who's to say that even if digitals never attain the 'live' experience of playing on a fully mechanical instrument, we wouldn't switch over to them in droves simply for their convenience, their ability to stay in tune indefinitely, the fact that they need no maintenance whatsoever and can tolerate any temperature and (lack of) humidity?

If you haven't heard a modeled DP played by a classical pianist in a concert hall before, have a listen to this: http://youtu.be/w0-dC7eT_Oo
I played Schumann/Liszt's Widmung and other pieces on that digital in the Royal College of Music concert hall in London two years ago, and truly felt like I was playing on a well-regulated (and perfectly tuned) grand, such was its range of tone color, dynamics and responsiveness.

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#2048814 - 03/15/13 05:29 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
LarryShone Offline
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Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 770
Loc: Darlington, UK
I very much doubt acoustics will ever become mere relics. Its not just a case of technology being on a par with acoustic engineering, its something 'other', something tactile! New materials replacing wood maybe (there are some high end acoustic guitars made of carbon that are used by professional players now).
So no, I dont think acoustics will ever disappear, especially in professional circles.
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#2048816 - 03/15/13 05:44 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: bennevis]
Hakki Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2402
Originally Posted By: bennevis

If you haven't heard a modeled DP played by a classical pianist in a concert hall before, have a listen to this: http://youtu.be/w0-dC7eT_Oo
I played Schumann/Liszt's Widmung and other pieces on that digital in the Royal College of Music concert hall in London two years ago, and truly felt like I was playing on a well-regulated (and perfectly tuned) grand, such was its range of tone color, dynamics and responsiveness.


This is very typical of how different all of us can be.
To me, this is just what I mean, when I say it sucks. Right from the very first note.


Edited by Hakki (03/15/13 06:00 PM)
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#2048819 - 03/15/13 06:02 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
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Loc: Manchester, UK
To my ears VI Labs True Keys is the best sounding virtual piano on the market
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zBYtrClM5k

No one can say it doesn't sound better than this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8frV3I8OM4

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#2048821 - 03/15/13 06:12 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Mwm Offline
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Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
I have had a grand for 48 years, and a DP for 27 years, as well as a clavichord. They each serve a niche in my playing and performing. With a good grand, you feel the string vibrations through the keys, since the whole physical structure of the acoustic piano participates and contributes to the sound. Being able to respond, not only to the sound of the notes and to the action, but also to the vibrations makes one feel part of the instrument, something that, as far as I know, has not been simulated on a DP (yet). Until it does, my guess is that performers, at least, will demand acoustic pianos.

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#2048824 - 03/15/13 06:27 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Hakki Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
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Say, when pianists play the same Steinway D, for example, Cliburn, Rubinstein, Horowitz, etc., they produce completely different sounds from the very same piano. You might even recognize who is who.

For now, I don't think such a thing is possible with DPs.
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#2048826 - 03/15/13 06:32 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mwm]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mwm
I have had a grand for 48 years, and a DP for 27 years, as well as a clavichord. They each serve a niche in my playing and performing. With a good grand, you feel the string vibrations through the keys, since the whole physical structure of the acoustic piano participates and contributes to the sound. Being able to respond, not only to the sound of the notes and to the action, but also to the vibrations makes one feel part of the instrument, something that, as far as I know, has not been simulated on a DP (yet). Until it does, my guess is that performers, at least, will demand acoustic pianos.
It has been done on the Yamaha Avant Grand as of a few years ago.

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#2048827 - 03/15/13 06:34 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Offline
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I think the huge percentage of pianists, including those on this thread who hate the sound of digitals/hybrids, would have difficulty telling the difference in a blind test.

Some time ago a good pianist posted a recording in the Members Recordings forum. Many praised the recording and some began asking about the piano and guessing what piano it was. The recording was done on a digital or hybrid, but no one guessed this.


Edited by pianoloverus (03/15/13 06:44 PM)

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#2048828 - 03/15/13 06:35 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
patH Online   content
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Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 547
Loc: Germany
I don't think it will die out. Not before the end of humanity as we know it, anyway.
Just like the synthesizer did not replace every other instrument, the digital piano will not replace the acoustic piano.

However, I believe that spinets and console pianos might die out eventually. They have poorer action than proper uprights, and therefore no real advantage over digital pianos. Unless you intend to play the piano during the next power outage.
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#2048830 - 03/15/13 06:37 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: pianoloverus]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2289
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the huge percentage of pianists, including those on this thread who hate the sound of digitals/hybrids, would have difficulty telling the difference in a blind test.


Not if I was sitting in the back of a concert hall.

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#2048832 - 03/15/13 06:48 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: jeffreyjones]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the huge percentage of pianists, including those on this thread who hate the sound of digitals/hybrids, would have difficulty telling the difference in a blind test.


Not if I was sitting in the back of a concert hall.
Yes, I agree that in a space like that digitals are lacking.

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#2048843 - 03/15/13 07:23 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19641
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the huge percentage of pianists, including those on this thread who hate the sound of digitals/hybrids, would have difficulty telling the difference in a blind test.

I sure do, at least in online postings. After seeing this first part of your post, I was going to mention about how I was fooled by a posted recording, similarly to what you talked about in the next part. I don't think it was the one you referred to, but....it was of Chopin's 1st Etude. I did a detailed reply and then was pretty mad when it turned out that this wasn't "real" playing; not only was it on a digital, but the tempo and dynamics were played with after the fact. There was another thread more recently where apparently the posted recording was a doctored digital. Even after some people said this was obviously what it was, I couldn't tell and had no idea what enabled them to know.

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Having put my foot into the digital camp when I joined this forum in 2010, which was when I bought my first piano - a digital....

Maybe showing my bigotry about DP's grin I was very surprised to see this! Through your posts, we know that you're a very serious and very knowledgeable classical piano person, and I wouldn't have expected that you'd be coming from a DP. I guess it also shows how far DP's have come -- farther than I knew, even though I do realize what Debrucey said, that they've been advancing ever more rapidly, even just in the past year.

Originally Posted By: Hakki
Say, when pianists play the same Steinway D, for example, Cliburn, Rubinstein, Horowitz, etc., they produce completely different sounds from the very same piano. You might even recognize who is who.
For now, I don't think such a thing is possible with DPs.

Besides how what you have in mind might be more possible as DP's continue advancing, I think there could also be recognizable differences from the different creative ways that people use the "settings." (Sorry, I'm sure I'm not using the right term, but I mean the programming and adjusting of the kinds of sounds.)

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#2048845 - 03/15/13 07:48 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
bennevis Online   content
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Posts: 4804
Originally Posted By: Mark_C


Originally Posted By: bennevis
Having put my foot into the digital camp when I joined this forum in 2010, which was when I bought my first piano - a digital....

Maybe showing my bigotry about DP's grin I was very surprised to see this! Through your posts, we know that you're a very serious and very knowledgeable classical piano person, and I wouldn't have expected that you'd be coming from a DP. I guess it also shows how far DP's have come -- farther than I knew, even though I do realize what Debrucey said, that they've been advancing ever more rapidly, even just in the past year.



You wouldn't be surprised to learn that I was quite a bigot about the uselessness of DPs for the discerning classical pianist, until I actually decided to buy one for myself in 2010 grin - when reality set in, and I realized I was really fed up of not having a piano to practise on at home, and having to rely on doing the circuits of piano showrooms, occasionally hiring a practice room, or playing on decrepit instruments wherever I could find them....

Until then I'd never touched a DP - not even with a barge pole, with garlic around my neck and holy water ready for sprinkling....... wink

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#2048849 - 03/15/13 07:57 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Lemon Pledge Offline
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Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 350
Digitals do not come anywhere close to replicating the sound of an acoustic piano, and if their progress during the last 25 years can be extrapolated forward, they never will. They are interesting and useful instruments in their own right, but completely different. And so I don't believe that the acoustic piano will ever be reduced to a true relic, because the music that was written for it (or its cousins) over 250-300 years is just too damn good; someone will always want to play the piano repertoire, and digitals will never suffice for it.

However, I suppose I can imagine a future in which good composers stop writing for it. Not a likely future, imo, but a possible one.

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New Topics - Multiple Forums
Another Improvisation
by Polyphonist
Today at 02:55 AM
4/4 measure in 3/4 time?
by caters
Today at 01:10 AM
Mac mini for software pianos?
by Mta88
Today at 01:10 AM
Installed an LX system on my Baldwin C
by SpectrumMan
Today at 12:04 AM
Join the false-beat revolution: get your wires straight!!!
by A443
Yesterday at 11:15 PM
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