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Dead Performances Live Again

Would you like to be able to hear Glenn Gould, the genius pianist who died in 1982? A company has invented a way for us to be able to do just that. The same thing was done many years ago with the creation of piano rolls for player pianos. Artists like Scott Joplin played tunes that were "recorded" on the rolls and can still be listened to today.

A software company called Zenph Studios has discovered a way to take a recording from a record and convert it into a live performance played by a real piano. Gould is a perfect candidate for this process, since during his lifetime, he gave almost no live concerts, preferring to make records instead.

Zenph has learned how to extract the sounds from audio recordings and convert them into the music code for computers. Earlier attempts at doing this have not been able to capture two or more notes played at the same time, which is the essence of sophisticated piano playing. In previous attempts, engineers have only caught 80-90% of the notes correctly, with about 10% missing and another 10% wrong.

For their newest challenge, Zenph took an old scratchy record of the Goldberg Variations, composed by Bach and played by Gould in 1955. Then they essentially turned a Steinway into a computer by programming it to play the Bach composition the same way Gould did. In the future, they plan to tinker with the sound, so that if the original artist, for instance, played an out-of-tune piano, they can make him sound like he was playing a concert grand. They have resurrected the old piano rolls idea?with new technology.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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