the prepared digital piano


v2.5 released, Commissions, Collaborations, Papers, and more

Introducing the new Blendrónic preparation, a pattern-driven sonic blender. In summary, here is what is new in v2.5: In short, Blendrónic is like a delay pedal that can be prepared to change its delay time and behavior according to a set of beat patterns, not so unlike Synchronic. It also necessitated the development of event targeting, which allows us to have Keymaps target particular actions within preparations, like, synchronizing the pulse, clearing, or other preparation-specific events. 
Like the other preparations in bitKlavier, Blendrónic has its roots in neither Anvil nor Pulley, a piece Dan composed for So Percussion over a decade ago; while it wasn't yet named the Blendrónomer, it is the driving force behind the feedback rhythmic patterns in the "Feedback" movement.
Jason Treuting of So Percussion doing battle with the original version of the Blendrónomer in "Feedback" from neither Anvil nor Pulley
Commissions and Imola Collaboration
Thanks to generous funding from the Edward T. Cone foundation, several composers will be making new pieces for bitKlavier in the coming year, including Annika Socolofsky, Bora Yoon, Chris DouthittFlorent GhysMolly HerronNoah Fishman, Nate May, and Pascal Le Boeuf. This extraordinary group of composers will both create new repertoire for the instrument and help us set the course for future developments.

Due to the efforts of pianist Cristina Altamura of Legacy Arts International, these pieces will become the focus of a collaboration with the Imola Piano Academy in Italy. Over the course of the coming year, pianists from Imola will work on the new pieces, with guidance from Cristina and bitKlavier pioneer performer Adam Sliwinski, with the aim of recording them in early 2021, followed by a record release in the subsequent months. Imola is one of the finest schools for piano study in the world, producing winners of the most prestigious competitions like the Queen Elizabeth, Gilmore, Chopin, and more, so this will be an opportunity for us to see what happens when amazing young composers meet amazing young pianists through the prepared keys of bitKlavier.
New Developer On Board
After several years working on bitKlavier and other projects here at Princeton, Mike Mulshine has moved on to the PhD program at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University. Expect amazing things!

Matt Wang, a music major from Princeton who graduated in 2019, joined us this past summer and has been spearheading the new developments at the heart of v2.5; he's a great musician (and a pianist) and coder, we are fortunate to have him.
Recent and Upcoming
We've finally gotten around to writing about bitKlavier! In the coming months, look for two substantial papers, to be published by the Computer Music Journal:
  • "Preparing the Digital Piano: Introducing bitKlavier." Dan Trueman and Michael Mulshine. Computer Music Journal, Vol. 43, Nos. 2-3 (2019)
  • "Tuning Playfully: Composed and Adaptive Tunings in bitKlavier." Dan Trueman, Aatish Bhatia, Michael Mulshine, and Theo Trevisan. Computer Music Journal, Vol. 43, Nos. 2-3 (2019)
Though officially published in 2019, the actual CMJ release date is sometime early '20. These papers might be of use to composers and pianists, and the second paper is a deep dive into the tuning capabilities of the instrument, including gory details of how spring tuning works. 

Adam has written a paper—BitKlavier: A Performer's Perspective—about his experiences working with bitKlavier from before it was bitKlavier. This should be useful to performers interested in exploring the instrument and repertoire, and it offers lots of wonderful wisdom, including about his own unexpected explorations of the instrument:
"It is so easy to change settings and immediately hear the consequences that it becomes addictive! Musicians who aren’t accustomed to thinking of themselves as composers will find themselves creating spontaneously and potentially spending hours tinkering with them. In one session, I got carried away with seeing if I could build an accurate machine to perform Reich's piano phase just triggering one note (I could), while in another I set different octaves of the keyboard to trigger metronomes at different tempi and improvised with it."

Finally, New Amsterdam Records recently released Songs That Are Hard To Sing, a 42' work by Dan for So Percussion and the JACK Quartet; Adam and Eric from So play bitKlavier throughout. Check it out:
Songs That Are Hard To Sing, by Dan Trueman, for So Percussion and the JACK Quartet, released by New Amsterdam Records in late 2019.
v2.5 is available for Mac, Windows, and iOS, in standalone and VST/AU plugin formats. And the manual has been updated, so make sure you are looking at the v2.5 manual!
Copyright © 2020 Many Arrows Music, All rights reserved.

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