[JPL] RE: Music software to 're-perform' jazz piano masterpiece

TradeSecrets/Mancuso's TradeSecrets at comcast.net
Mon Sep 24 14:33:02 EDT 2007

An audiophile's 2 cents -

Using technology to 'read & play' music for recordings has been applied
before.  First, there were player pianos and variants.  We have recordings
of George Gershwin piano rolls for example.


In the digital domain, engineer Keith O. Johnson and the Reference
Recordings label did a series of projects in the 90's with Dick Hyman using
the Wayne Stanke designed Bösendorfer re-producing piano.  First in 1990
with Dick's "...Plays Fats Waller" , in '92 "...Plays Duke Ellington" and in
'98 "Recital".

Here's a brief explanation of the process taken from the RR website:

"NOTE: Hyman's solo performances, encoded on the Bösendorfer computer
reproducing piano, were played back live for our microphones. For the
Direct-to-CD (DCD) editions, the digitized signal was transmitted via
microwave to the CD glass master as the music was happening. No recording
tape of any kind was used, nor was the digital bitstream corrupted at any
stage by copying or editing. The very digits generated at the recording
session are engraved on the finished DCD."

Granted, Dick Hyman, personally, created the original performances by
playing them on the on the Bösendorfer re-producing piano before the
recording was made, unlike the Waller or Gould releases discussed here. But
isn't it fascinating to consider what artists performances would sound like
sans the corrupted historical recordings we have left to represent their
art?  It's not just 'Franken-musik'.

I worked for RR when Dick's CDs were released and it was very difficult to
get even savvy technical journalists to understand what we did in these
sessions.  The lack of digital rounding off on the digital direct-to-disc
releases is audible when compared to the taped recordings of these
performances released on normal CD when auditioned on a high resolution
audio system. 

Binaural recordings have also been around for a long time and provide their
own unique perspective of musical performances.

We play recordings of musicians past, why not instruments?


Jan Mancuso
Trade Secrets/KMHD
Portland, OR

> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2007 07:47:49 -0400
> From: Jazz Promo Services <jazzpromo at earthlink.net>
> Subject: [JPL] Music software to 're-perform' jazz piano masterpiece
> To: "jazzproglist at jazzweek.com" <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
> Message-ID: <C31BCAA5.D38D6%jazzpromo at earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Music software to 're-perform' jazz piano masterpiece
> Rich Pell 
> (09/21/2007 3:04 PM EDT)
> URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202100109
> LOS ANGELES " Sony BMG Masterworks and Zenph Studios have announced that a
> "re-performance" of legendary jazz pianist Art Tatum's 1949 recording "Piano
> Starts Here" will be held on Sept. 23, 2007 at 5 PM at the Shrine Auditorium
> in Los Angeles - the site of the original live concert performance.
> The re-performance, which is achieved through Zenph's music software
> technology, will be recorded by Sony BMG before a live audience for a
> forthcoming hybrid multichannel SACD/CD, to be released in early 2008. The
> re-performance will also include four songs Tatum recorded in 1933 that
> appear on "Piano Starts Here," including the jazz standard, "Tiger Rag."
> Zenph's technology captures the musical nuances of the original piano
> recording's every note, with details about the pedal actions, volume and
> articulations " all with millisecond timings. The digital data is
> transcribed into high-resolution MIDI files and played back on a
> state-of-the-art Yamaha Disklavier Pro concert grand piano, allowing for the
> production of brand new renderings without the limitations of the original
> recording.
> "It will be like going back to the moment of creation and hearing Tatum play
> in person," said John Q. Walker, President of Zenph Studios.
> The producers and engineers will also record a binaural version of the
> re-performance; headphone playback will provide an experience that
> replicates what Tatum would have heard while he sat at the piano.
> The Zenph re-performance also corrects problems that have accumulated since
> the original. A track on the current album titled "The Man I Love" omits
> excerpts from "Porgy and Bess" which Tatum performed during the original
> concert; Zenph has restored about two minutes of lost material.
> Playback speed, slowed down on the album tracks, has been corrected, so
> Tatum actually plays faster than has typically been thought. And, a tape
> glitch during "Humoresque" that mars the current re-issue will be corrected.
> Zenph's first album, a re-performance of pianist Glenn Gould's 1955
> recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, received critical acclaim and spent
> nine weeks on the Billboard Classical Top Ten chart this summer.

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