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Digital keyboard recordings

Discussion in 'General' started by MindenBlues, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I know the topic was here already, but there are some things I like to bring on top again (driven by some recent digital recordings), in order to hopefully start a fruitful discussion about that again.

    Background:
    The thing is, one can by listening of a recording very often detect whether it is coming from a real piano or a digital piano. However, if it comes from a digital piano it is not so that it is difficult to check whether the file was from real playing or not - instead it is impossible. Because it is no acoustical difference whether the take is recorded as midi file and played back through the same keyboard (or other sources) to record it as audio file or recorded directly as audio file. If it is recorded as midi file it is an pretty easy thing to manipulate indefinitely. In fact it is very easy to remove flaws, play it back faster or make a run smooth, or change dynamics. One can get a flawless masterpiece by editing, and this I consider as a dangerous temptation, because it is easy.
    A recording based on a midi file is what I would call a fake if it is not clearly mentioned as a recording produced that way. Since midi based recordings are not allowed here, to fully right, nobody who likes to have his digital recordings hosted here, will acknowledge that. That's a problem, isnt' it? To make it clear - I will not accuse the honesty digital piano submitters here, however!

    On the other side also audio takes from a real piano can be manipulated, e.g. they can be cutted. But at least the pianist shows that he/she was able to play it once in the manner it is played back, even if it was not in a row a complete piece. Professional recordings are also often produced in that manner, so it seems. However midi based recordings are by far more vulnerable for manipulation, I think.

    Proposal:
    My suggestion is that in future, only acoustical recordings from a real piano are allowed here. The most of recordings submitted are real piano recordings anyway. The rules are of course up to Robert in first rank, but let me please state this proposal.

    What with those who don't have a real piano:
    So there is only a problem with the small percentage of submitters who don't have an acoustic piano and have only a digital one. It may be different in different countries - but at least in Germany there is always a school in the near, or a church or an assembly room with a grand or at least an upright piano. I know from own experience, that at least if one proposes to spent a tuning, one gets open doors for using it. And - larger rooms or churches or school auditoriums are often much better from the acoustics as at home. Also, during nights they are very quiet. So hopefully, this would solve the problem with recording on a real piano.
    What remains is the need for a recording equipment. I think there are easy to use and affordable mp3 recorders which deliver sufficient quality.


    What do you think about that?
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It's a difficult and dangeous discussion. I sympathize with what you are saying Olaf, but I am not sure it can be done. For better or worse, more and more pianists turn to digital instruments as it they have some great advantages over acoustics. You may well be wrong in thinking that only a small percentage of our pianists records digitally ! I cannot see them all reverting the a local school of church to record on whatever honkytonk they may have there. It seems like we can not turn back the clock avert the tidal wave of digital music.

    And if only this was the entire problem it would no be so bad. There seem to be inifinite gradations between a honest-to-god manual performance and a purely digital concoction and it's sometimes impossible to hear a difference. I fear that we will always have to be wary of anything that gets submitted here, and decide on a case-by-case basis. I'd rather not have to do it but there is no other way.

    Just personal opinion of course, not speaking for Robert here. He's a bit tied up at the moment (well, not literally so, of course :wink: )
     
  3. Cydonia

    Cydonia New Member

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    Sorry, but I find this proposition absurd.

    Not everyone has the space, a house, an appartment with enough tolerant neighbors or the money to buy an acoustic piano, be it a grand or an upright. Not to mention the additional money just to keep it in good condition. It might be easier in Europe to get your hands on a decently regulated piano and try to do an okay recording hoping there won't be too much background noise from other people around, but here in Québec you need a pass to enter a campus and get access to a piano for obvious security reasons after certain unfortunate events in schools. Of course, there's always the common variety of pianos in terrible condition, that hasn't been regulated since years, etc. For this reason, I don't think that using an acoustic instrument is always the best option for a recording.

    On the other hand, with the technology and latest audio software available today, it is as easy to edit and trick an audio recording coming from an acoustic instrument than it is to modify one coming from a digital one. You just need a dry enough sound, a good software and some time. Pitch, amplitude, audio length corrections are all as easy to achieve on audio now than MIDI editing.

    So as a result, if you want to ban digital instruments audio recordings for the mere reason that it's possible to edit and modify them, you'll have to ban acoustic instruments audio recordings as well, as it's now as easy to use similar techniques to perfect the content. In other words, you would have to only accept video recordings, since then it would become rather complicated for someone to edit and modify one without being detectable.

    The problem is not the media or type of instrument one uses. It is that some people, like certain here who enjoyed using recordings from other artists and pretend they were theirs, enjoy to get some cyber notoriety using dishonest means. Don't forget that nobody can know, recognize or have access to all piano recordings done worldwide. So again, it would be very easy for someone to find an acoustic piano recording done by some obscure but good pianist and pretend it's his/hers as the chances it can be recognized are minimal. Not to mention it could be "audio modified" just a bit to make sure it's not perfectly identical.

    In conclusion, your argument about excluding digital piano audio recordings for the only reason that they can be edited and used fraudulently doesn't make sense to me.

    If many great pianists needed much more than one take and/or used editing techniques available in their time (even in the 60s) for studio recordings so to get the results they wanted on the medias, I don't see why guys like Rubinstein should be considered any less impostors than someone here who uses a digital piano.

    In conclusion, it's not because there were some dishonest people here who are now banned that we should extend this to paranoiac proportions. Especially as this would disqualify people who aren't as wealthly or able to find the resources to do good recordings on an acoustic. Piano music should not be limited to a certain category of people, nor to a certain elite who have access to what they want because they are in a better position financially or know the right contact people.

    As usual, opinions may vary. 8)
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Okay, here are some thoughts from a person who just a couple months ago figured out how to plug headphones into my computer speakers. :shock: I've had the speakers for at least seven or eight years, and I swear that little hole wasn't always there. :wink:
    So, you may want to disregard all of this, but...I really, really hate all this midi file stuff. How do you make a midi recording, anyway? Doesn't matter. But usually even I can tell when a recording doesn't sound like a real piano; those midi files sound funny, like it's a Mickey Mouse piano. There have been, however, one or two times when I've heard someone here who plays on an instrument that sounds so good, and I'm surprised when I learn that it was a digital piano. With that said, and again, remember, I don't really know what I'm talking about, but if a midi file can be edited to erase mistakes and so forth, can a person who wants to commit fraud like our recent friend: i.e., steal a professional player's recordings - but in a different approach, put IN a mistake here and there so as to make the recording sound more realistic? And then there's what Cydonia said about altering real piano recordings, and I think about J. Jeligy, or Jelicy, or Jelcefy, can't remember his exact name, but from what I can remember, he was editing his recordings to make them perfect and they were real piano files, right? Olaf, I agree - it's disheartening to learn of someone cheating but I wonder if there are others that we don't know about.
     
  5. Cydonia

    Cydonia New Member

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    Well, my main point is very simple : anyone can alter and perfect an audio recording done on any instrument. The technology exists since a long time and is now available to everyone through software. There's a big difference between fixing one or two things and doctor up an entire performance, not to mention pretend you do a performance using someone else's.

    Both acoustic and digital pianos have their advantages and disadvantages. Acoustic pianos offer the real sound, offer more sonic nuances, but they are very difficult to record and cost much more to buy and keep in good shape. Digital pianos don't sound as realistic, have limited dynamics, but you can instantly change their temperament from equal to Werkmeister III pushing one single button instead of paying the piano tech a little fortune every time.

    By the way, you can also play MIDI files on acoustic pianos. You just need an interface installed with the mechanism. So any acoustic piano "player" can become an impostor just as well.

    The impostors shoot themselves in the foot anyway, since dishonesty disqualifies. If they are not detected, they won't last very long anyway, so I don't care about them.

    And I would certainly not disqualify a majority of genuine players because of that.
     
  6. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Interesting, different opinions!

    If I see the development for music performances in Germany, I watch almost just the opposite. I never have seen a serious performer playing classical music on a digital keyboard, so that has not changed.
    But there are tendencies to play in historical correct manner. Old cembali are used again, especially organs get reconstructed to use old pipe materials, in order to come close to the orginal tone. That combined with a corresponding playing style, so for baroque music in old fingerings in order to get that typical groovy baroque sound you will hear in literally every new professional baroque recording (in opposite to the more romantique oriented playing style you find in 30 years old recordings). The point is that there are tendencies too towards a more puristic approach.

    I don't deny that more and more pianists buy a digital piano - I did too, for practising purposes, to not disturb others while playing with headphone. The only thing under discussion is the appropriate way to record in the final stage.


    Cydonia, I see your points. Maybe it is in Germany much easier to find a good piano to record - I only can speak what my experiences are. Of course, also in Germany the schools are closed at night, you cannot simply walk in. Especially an offer for a tuning opens the door also for good quality grands in schools or churches. Maybe one simply needs to ask and do it? I don't know whether you asked Cydonia, but I did, and my experiences are positive!

    Sorry, but midi files are by far more easily to manipulate. To replace a wrong note by the correct one is a matter of some mouse clicks for a midi file. For an audio file it is impossible I believe, it is only possible to substitute the passage - and at least the pianist showed that he/she mastered that passage once. Also, amplitudes maybe corrected, but with that you would get a passage only softer or louder, but no accordingly change in tone color like on a real piano sound. With a midi file, the tone color would be changed as well, in an easy manner.

    That's why, Cydonia, although I can follow the rest of your argumentation, I still believe that midi based recordings are much, much simpler to manipulate, and also to a far-reaching extend (wrong note correction e.g.), as real audio recordings.

    For me the point is, I see a difference between substitution of audio passages what seems to be done even or especially in professional recordings, or midi editing work. The first thing shows at least still what the artist played, however he/she did not play it in a row. Midi editing has nothing to do anymore with artistic work, so that's the difference for me.

    Beside the view that midi editing has nothing to do with art, instead artificial it is the same regarding the sound. Excuse my highly personal view - but a digital piano is a dead part, has no soul and what comes out of this sounds accordingly - more or less artifical. A sligthly detuned piano with all its weakeness shows at least something living. But I respect of course other opions - a digital piano recording sounds always clean, noisefree, tuned 100%. Too clean for me, however...

    Totally agree. I tried only to think over alternative recording possibilites for those honest submitters with digital recordings, to overcome the inherent problem of midi recordings.

    Yeah, I hate it too, sounds so bloodless and cold.

    How to make a midi recording? Connect the midi cable from the digital keyboard to the PC, record something, play it back on the PC and edit the midi file until you get the level of perfection in the result what you like to have, the speed, dynamics, reading errors or slips removed. Why practise the wrong passages for half an hour if the editing needs only some seconds? Then play it back, and record the audio file. Gets always perfectly clean recordings, no need to get nervous during recording, no need to practise at the end. A midi file can be seen like a text document - one can edit until there are no mistakes anymore and print it out at the end.
    That's the whole misery I see.
     
  7. Cydonia

    Cydonia New Member

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    Olaf,

    Don't worry, I don't have any more tolerance than you about impostors. See my comments in the old now famous threads.

    As I mention, do a little Google about devices that enables one to play MIDI files on acoustic pianos. You'll discover there are technologies available like the Moog MIDI PianoBar and many others. Some of these devices cost less than a digital piano, so anyone who can afford a grand can certainly have one installed on his acoustic instrument. In other words, only the sound source differs, and anyone can use a MIDI file to play the samples of a digital piano or the strings of a MIDI grand.

    For that reason, I can not accept the argument than it's much easier to trick digital piano recordings.

    This to me simply close the debate as to someone playing an acoustic piano has zero or less chances to be an impostor.
     
  8. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Just had a look at this Moog MIDI PianoBar. It is a device what enables that an acoustic piano can be used as entry source for a midi file, instead a digital keyboard.
    However, the result of that would be the same, that there is a midi file what is played back then through a digital keyboard. With the same audible result as a digital keyboard: it sounds accordingly.

    So you are absolutely right that for creating midi files it is don't care whether produced with help of a digital keyboard or a real piano with that device or even by entering note for note or by playing back a score.

    We only differ in how to treat the results of those created files.
    Since midi files (regardless how they are created, as already discussed) are easier, much easier to manipulate (see my statement before regarding wrong notes and so on), I believe that we should not allow that here, instead insist on audio recordings from a real piano. Maybe in the future it is not doubtfree to detect whether it is a digital playback of a midifile or audio recording from a real piano, but at the moment I think it is detectable.

    I think, it is of course more than zero, but there IS less chances. And your argument regarding MIDI devices on acoustics is only something regarding feeding the input of a midi file, but with same result - a midi file.

    So instead that it disproves my arguments, it affirms them, that's why my conclusion remains - that is to give no chance for midi file created recordings :D
     
  9. Cydonia

    Cydonia New Member

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    If you would take the time to do a search, you'd also discover that well-known manufacturers like Yamaha and Bösendorfer sell acoustic pianos equipped with mechanisms that can play MIDI files. The Moog device is only one of the devices available. There are many others if you check for yourself. There was such a MIDI grand piano exposed in the shopping mall here the other week.

    People don't buy digital pianos because they want to cheat the audience. They buy them because they are more easy to move, because they cost less, because they can practice at 2 AM without waking up the whole neighborhood and because they offer advantages that acoustic pianos don't offer - like immediate temperament changes and the possibility of playing many other sounds.

    Because of one or two cheaters that are now banned, you are now generalizing your own personal view and ready to condemn everyone who use digital instruments. Sorry, but you are expanding a little problem into ridiculous proportions.
     
  10. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Up to now I have seen only acoustic pianos equipped with a MIDI interface in order to sent the MIDI data to the PC, so no difference regarding the already discussed problem. Or are there acoustic pianos with the possibility to play the MIDI files back in a mechanical way so that the MIDI output forces the keys and pedals to move? Never heard of that, and a first (short) search showed to me only pianos which sent MIDI data but they don't work as a modern automatic piano machine. If you can provide a link to such an acoustic MIDI playback machine, I would be interested to read about.

    Yes, that's exactly the same reason I bought a digital piano too. :D
    I only avoid recording with this, for different reasons, as I wrote already. And I tried to show alternatives, how to access a real piano for a recording for those who do not possess ones.

    I apologize myself if you received the impression I would call everyone who does a digital keyboard recording a cheater. I only liked to point out, that since it is so very easy to manipulate the intermediate midi file, that there is a certain temptation some people seem to succomb to.

    Maybe you are right, that it is only a little problem, since anyway (thanks God) only the smaller part of the submissions are digital recordings. It is only so that I simply don't like digital recordings, for the reasons already explained.
    And maybe I am not the only one regarding this dislike?
     
  11. Cydonia

    Cydonia New Member

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    Hey, looks like you're interested to succomb to the temptation of using MIDI files on a grand. 8)

    BTW, Google is your friend. Here's what I can find after one only simple search.

    For the "complete" MIDI grands, amongst others, there are the Yamaha DCFIIISPRO http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/CDA...sDetail/0,6373,CNTID=1379&CTID=201800,00.html

    And the Bösendorfer CEUS
    http://www.bosendorferlasvegas.com/bosendorfer-difference/

    There are also much cheaper MIDI systems that can be installed on existing acoustic pianos.

    Well, your proposition to exclude all future digital piano recordings on this site seems to corroborate that impression.

    Anyway, I think I've given my point of view pretty clearly, so I'm bowing out of this topic.
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It is certainly not a "little problem", but a recurring pain in the @rse.
    The trouble is that the distinction beween acoustical and digital is blurred all the way by all these
    technological wonders, some of which have been mentioned here. And for the past years we have had people trying explore the limits of what we allow here, sometimes leading to heated discussions.
    We'll just have to live with that. In the end it will come down to personal judgement, as always.

    Over and out.
     
  13. Mr Duffy

    Mr Duffy New Member

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    What do you think about that?[/quote]

    That YOU could play the wall piano in the frozen church by night.
    I prefer play my piano when I will, because I know its charateristics and the possibilities of the touch.
    The problems about editing are the same, with digital and acoustic pianos.
    But, if you will donate your Steinway and to begin to play in the night church piano,
    I'll accept it.

    Thank you,
    Sandro.

    For shipping:
    Frabosa Soprana via crosi 18 12082 Italy.
     
  14. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    First, thanks God, "my" church is heated during winter, I can play with T-Shirt, it is always warm :D
    Second, I prefer to play on my piano too, although the Grand in the church is not bad either, and the acoustics there is much greater as in my home!
    Third, everyone who likes to perform on other pianos instead the own, is well advised, to practise also on different pianos, to get used to the different keytouch and so on. Especially if one likes to play by heart without score, it is just a good idea to play that not only at home, but on different pianos. At least that is my opinion.

    That there exist nowadays indeed real piano "cheating machines" equipped with a midi playback capability was new to me, I have learned it during the discussino here thanks to Cydonia. Netherveless I still believe that midi files are much easier to manipulate as real audio files, in the same way as an electronic written letter is easier to correct as a handwritten letter.

    What I simply liked to put, are alternatives to access to real pianos which are in the public, and to use them for those who don't have an acoustic piano but have same taste (to prefer acoustic piano playing). Let it be churches, audition rooms in schools, audition rooms in hospitals, nursing rooms or club houses. At least in Germany there are plenty possibilities, with pianos of varying quality, and often there are much timegaps at which one can play undisturbed without someone listening too. Often, speaking in a friendly manner, playing and showing that one is serious with that, a propose to play the pieces for an audience there so that others benefit too, a proposal to let the piano tune, all that opens the door normally widely. At least that are my experiences in Germany, maybe in other countries it is different, I dunno.

    What I cannot understand however is the irritable manner some statements show to me. What I tried to put is, that I prefer by far real pianos both from playing AND from listening before digital keyboards, for the different reasons which are sufficiently explained. And to show alternatives to do so even if there is no real piano at home. Perhaps there are others with other ideas how to get access to real pianos. However - no need to get embarrassed, if there are musicians to prefer to play and record on digital keyboards, no problem to me, I only don't like it myself. For me, a real piano is kind of a living musical instrument, a digital piano kind of a dead piece, but just personal preferences.
     
  15. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I play on a digital piano at home, and I'm not satisfied enough with the quality its sound to record from it, so I have been looking into other places to play, so that I can record something for the site. The church that I grew up in had a nice piano but the church was destroyed by Katrina. My mom had a good Yamaha, and it wasn't destroyed by Katrina but the water did come up almost to the soundboard, and I think the humidity may have ruined many parts - it seems as though the hammers are softer - and it is an older Yamaha that had all hand-made parts, so it will cost a great deal of money for my mom to get it sounding good again. That is a shame because her house has hardwood floors and good acoustics. I haven't attended church in many years, and most of the churches around here won't let you use your piano unless you go to their church, and the ones with good pianos have enough money that offering to pay for a tuning isn't likely to help. My school is almost two hours away and I don't know if I can get my friend with recording equipment to go all the way up there with me. :(

    So, I hope I have luck with something soon. My dad's church has a really horrible upright, unfortunately.
     
  16. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Maybe the hammers sound softer because they are still wet? At least it could be an attempt (after consulting a local expert) to put the complete mechanics out of the piano, that is very easyly done. And to let the hammers dry out that way because outside the still wet piano it dries better (maybe with help of a fan). On the other side it is maybe not good if it dries too fast. Nevertheless perhaps something can be done without spending too much money.
    I have an old upright in my holiday house, and transported it on a car trailer with a cover. Unfortunately there was a gap in the lower side of the cover, and the rain during the transport went through the complete trailer, and I needed to drive for 6 hours. How was I pleased that after removing all outer parts of the piano, and whipping all water away, this over 100 year old lady seems to have survived that trouble.
    Maybe the costs for restauration are less than you think, and Yamaha is a quality label, every part should be able to be replaced. Hammers can be replaced regardless which brand. The facturer get some hammers and produced it after that. A complete set of new hammerheads cost some hundred dollars, but the piano needs to be intonated again, what costs much more than new hammerfelts, unfortunately.
     
  17. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Well, it is frustrating because we have already had the piano worked on three times, and many things replaced already. Could the hammers really still be wet, after almost two years?
     
  18. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I dunno. If the hammers are dry but still too soft, they can be hardened by applying laquer to the hammerfelts. You could ask the tuner what laquer he/she uses for that purpose, and take an injection to apply this to the hammers which are too soft. If it is kind of last chance and the risk is low because the piano is on the border to deletion, I would have no constraint to do it myself if I were you. The alternatives are new hammerheads or hammerfelts.

    Maybe better to put that problem in the Piano thread, because way OT?
     
  19. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    digitals

    I completely understand why some people need to use digital pianos. I knew nothing about digital pianos before hearing them on this site. I thought they were just called "keyboards" and were used exclusively in pop music. It was surprising to me to hear some of the good quality recordings submitted using digital pianos. Even though I would much rather hear recordings of acoustic pianos, I welcome members to use their digital pianos if that's their only alternative.

    I know nothing about editing or midi files and all of those other gimmicks used to "fix" some recordings. I would probably be tempted to "cheat" if I knew how to. But I'm just an old fart who enjoys the old-fashioned acoustical pianos.

    I do hope that those members who edit out wrong notes, or change the tempo, and such using electronic tools are honest enough to divulge that information.
     
  20. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Jan 18, 2007
    Messages:
    829
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    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Miami, Florida, USA
    Last Name:
    Robson
    First Name:
    John
    LOCATION:
    Miami, Florida, USA
    digitals

    I completely understand why some people need to use digital pianos. I knew nothing about digital pianos before hearing them on this site. I thought they were just called "keyboards" and were used exclusively in pop music. It was surprising to me to hear some of the good quality recordings submitted using digital pianos. Even though I would much rather hear recordings of acoustic pianos, I welcome members to use their digital pianos if that's their only alternative.

    I know nothing about editing or midi files and all of those other gimmicks used to "fix" some recordings. I would probably be tempted to "cheat" if I knew how to. But I'm just an old fart who enjoys the old-fashioned acoustical pianos.

    I do hope that those members who edit out wrong notes or change the tempo and such using electronic tools are honest enough to divulge that information.
     

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