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 Post subject: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:47 pm 
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Hi! This is my very first message in the forum :)

As a "visiting card", I upload one of my recordings (and most favorite piano pieces): the first Novellette by R. Schumann.
I know that the audience here is the best I could hope for: thus, I would be happy to read your comments on my performance.


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:10 am 
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Hello Klavier and welcome to Piano Society. I've listened to your recording here and think you play very nicely. I can't give you any detailed comments, though, because I've never studied this piece. The only tiny little thing that I'm not crazy about is the sound of your digital piano. Maybe there is nothing you can do about that...?

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:33 pm 
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Hello and welcome, good to hear you value our opinions !

This is not an easy piece with its fast octave runs, and you play it with panache and confidence. I'd like a bit more freedom and fantasy though, it all seems a bit literal. I too find the digital sound rather off-putting, plus I noticed a fair number of little inaccuracies. None of them bad mistakes, but together, enough to give a bit of an untidy impression.

I'm starting to wonder if we should allow acoustic instruments only... Maybe these are a vanishing species, and maybe we're dinosaurs to hang on to acoustics for dear life... But I'd take a real piano over a digital one almost every time. The more digitals I hear here, the less I seem to like them. Anyone else sharing that sentiment ?

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:50 pm 
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Location: Toronto
I concur: the sound is artificial. That might not matter, except that the performance wooden and mechanical as well. That's a double negative, which makes this rendition hard to listen to, perhaps especially because the piece is so familiar, and our ears are accustomed to hearing a more realistic sound.

The pianist doesn't have to tell me how he or she "made" the piece, or what instrument or technology he or she used. Technology is so advanced these days that literally anything is possible. But what I listen to has to sound "pianistic", and sometimes even "beautiful" is nice, although I wouldn't make the latter necessary condition of acceptance. But certainly the former. I believe a good, perhaps a very good pianist can make even an artificial piano sound pianistic, but it is extremely difficult. It is precisely because the tonal quality of such instruments is so limited that the bar for anyone that chooses to use one is so very high.

jg


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:45 am 
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You are right, I played on a Yamaha clp270. I wish I had an acoustic piano, but when I moved to my new house some years ago I had no room for it and for a digital piano (to be used for practicing during night hours). Thus I had to sell my old Schulze-Pollman :(
When I bought the yamaha, it was considered to have the best sound. And actually the sound is far better than what you can hear from the mp3: I believe the problem is that, for recording the performance via cables, I can only plug to the microphone input of the laptop, which unfortunately has no line-in. Thus the sound is always filtered and worsened with respect to the original one.
I will look for a way to improve the recording quality and if you have any idea for doing that, I will greatly appreciate!


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:03 pm 
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techneut wrote:
I'd like a bit more freedom and fantasy though, it all seems a bit literal. I too find the digital sound rather off-putting.


I suspect the two are related. I practiced for years on a digital keyboard (also a Yamaha) and my control of sonority and shaping improved significantly within months of purchasing a decent upright piano. The keyboard sound is quite reasonable as keyboard sounds go, imo, but I really do think they are ultimately for convenience only and not a real substitute.

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 2:58 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Hello and welcome, good to hear you value our opinions !

The more digitals I hear here, the less I seem to like them. Anyone else sharing that sentiment ?



There is a vast difference between the sound of a stage piano which puts all the samples on a small ROM chip with looping and a lot of compression, versus a software piano with gigabytes of high fidelity samples with no looping and multiple layers of velocity switching. I strongly suspect, you would not be able to tell what is an acoustic piano with some of these software instruments. The piano is easier to mimic in this way since it is a mechanical instrument. You don't have any control of the sound once the key is hit.


andrew wrote:
techneut wrote:
I'd like a bit more freedom and fantasy though, it all seems a bit literal. I too find the digital sound rather off-putting.


I suspect the two are related. I practiced for years on a digital keyboard (also a Yamaha) and my control of sonority and shaping improved significantly within months of purchasing a decent upright piano. The keyboard sound is quite reasonable as keyboard sounds go, imo, but I really do think they are ultimately for convenience only and not a real substitute.



I agree the action is better on a real piano because of the hammers and the bounce off the strings. I prefer the sound of a grand piano over an upright and those are out of my price range, also there is the inconvenience of tuning it and they are more difficult to record.

There is the issue of sympathetic vibrations between the strings which you don't get on a sampled piano. I feel the effect has been over-rated but maybe I am wrong about that. Physical modeling pianos are now a reality though and they do deal with this issue. They actually synthesize the piano sound so it is dynamic and reacts more to your playing style. One is software; the Pianoteq piano. I'm not too crazy about it but others rave about it. This is new technology. Another by Roland is called V-Piano with a current street price of $5,999.00. I would like to play that before I judge it but not until the price comes way down.

To ban artificial pianos from the forum would be a tough call. I feel that anyone who can play a high quality weighted piano could easily play a real one. On the other hand, fake piano players can cheat by using quantizing and editing or recording midi at a slower tempo, then speeding up the playback. The saxontheweb.net forum does have a section for electronic wind controllers and they don't have such a requirement that people play a real sax, although I suspect most do.


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:29 pm 
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differencetone wrote:
I strongly suspect, you would not be able to tell what is an acoustic piano with some of these software instruments.

I can tell.

differencetone wrote:
To ban artificial pianos from the forum would be a tough call. I feel that anyone who can play a high quality weighted piano could easily play a real one. On the other hand, fake piano players can cheat by using quantizing and editing or recording midi at a slower tempo, then speeding up the playback. .


Yes - we don't like this sort of thing at all!! It's so unfair! We've caught several 'cheaters' and deleted their accounts. Be warned you fakers: We will eat you alive! :twisted: :lol:

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:05 pm 
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Location: Toronto
This is an important debate, and one which (surprisingly?) became quite heated when I was posting here years ago. Since I haven't been here for a very long time, I have no idea what developments have taken place on this score.

Real vs fake is easy sometimes; very, very hard others. Pianoteq, which I was an original "tester" of, many, many moons ago, is obvious. But the official Steinway-sanctioned and approved "Garritan Steinway"-- when the final result is professionally produced--is not at all fake-sounding.

But all that is completely irrelevant now....

The real issue is post-performance-editing. Why? Because new computer-player technology, flooding the market as we speak, makes it possible to rig any piano with a midi machine. Thus one can completely and totally re-edit a real performance!!! And I'm sure it's been done here by now.... The performer plays the music in himself or herself and records the performance at the real piano in midi. You edit as necessary. Then you just have the midi-machine play the result at the real piano and record it with mics.

So--to repeat--endless EDITING at REAL PIANO is now the reality.

(My parents were purists: even in the days of vinyl, there was an artificiality about the result which they (born in a different era) didn't like. Live performance, even a poor live performance, was what it was all about for them. Remember that in the last days of vinyl Gould was splicing his performances bar by bar! The last recording of the Goldberg V., which along with his earliest recording of the GV (which IS live), are my favourites by him (Dershevina is my ultimate fav, not Gould). But that last performance is super-edited!)

So I suggest that in the final analysis, the only test that "works" is what I call "pianism" or, perhaps, "musicality."

Well.... not quite....

There's "YouTube-style-verification": because videotaped performances are still pretty hard to fake. (Although the advent of programs like "Final Cut Pro," is changing even that!) But it could be a pretty solid dividing line for now, at least.

Thus PS could effectively create a category called "provably authentic recordings" or just "live recordings", which would very effectively separate the edited performances from the real thing. That's actually very simple these days, because ALL computers now come with a little eye, and if not, the little eye costs nothing to buy.

So whether one uses an electronic keyboard or the real thing, to get into the esteemed category of "live performance" at PS one would have to provide an electronic video of the performance to establish authenticity. Not hard to do, and I note that many here already doing precisely that. (you wouldn't be required to make the video itself accessible, just to provide it as proof of authenticity."

Have I done editing? Absolutely. But I would like to think the results are entirely musical. If they are not, by all means, eliminate them from this site. Which is really to say: that's the only other test--musicality--which is not the same thing as authenticity.

Significantly the musicality test should be required of all submissions, authentic (videotaped) or unverified (not videotaped). As matters stand, that's about the best that can be done to solve this intractable issue.

So maybe a new category for "provably authentic recordings"!!

JG


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:55 pm 
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I like your idea about using videos to prove if the player is actually playing. But I believe listeners visit Piano Society mostly to hear certain pieces; they don't necessarily care about how a piece was recorded. They want good playing (obviously) and good sound quality. It's really we members who are thinking along the lines of 'really' playing versus 'faked' playing.

And boy....there are programs one can use to actually edit the audio in videos? Amazing!! I'm sure learning how to use that sort of thing is way over my head. However, if there is a video editing program that can make me look skinnier, then please give it to me!! :lol:

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:13 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
And boy....there are programs one can use to actually edit the audio in videos?


Absolutely, and it's really not that difficult. Even in something as basic as Windows Movie Maker, it would be simple enough to take out the audio track and replace it with a different one (e.g. same audio track, but with the wrong note edited out.) Of course you do have to ensure that the edited portion is the same length before and after, otherwise hands and music will be out of sync in the video portion after the edit. With more sophisticated software, I'm told that a lot more is possible.

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:20 pm 
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differencetone wrote:
techneut wrote:
Hello and welcome, good to hear you value our opinions !

The more digitals I hear here, the less I seem to like them. Anyone else sharing that sentiment ?



There is a vast difference between the sound of a stage piano which puts all the samples on a small ROM chip with looping and a lot of compression, versus a software piano with gigabytes of high fidelity samples with no looping and multiple layers of velocity switching. I strongly suspect, you would not be able to tell what is an acoustic piano with some of these software instruments. The piano is easier to mimic in this way since it is a mechanical instrument. You don't have any control of the sound once the key is hit.



The first point seems fair enough, but the point about "don't have any control of the sound once the key is hit" isn't entirely true as on a concert grand different gradations of pedalling produce differing decay characteristics and can be used to control sonority and voicing.

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:33 pm 
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Location: Toronto
Yes, they come PS to reference the piece perhaps more than the performance.

Believe it or not, in the "early" days of "mp3.com," many midi-type piano renditions of classical piano music were put up at the sub-category devoted to classical piano. Quite a few very talented Russian pianists were posting their material there. They soon discovered that they were competing with midi files, and the usual issues arose. The scary part is that many of them would cite online performances as examples of beautiful non-midi playing. As it turned out, almost all the performances they had cited were slavishly mechanical midi reproductions! But the Russians, brilliant pianists, most of them, couldn't spot the deception or the difference. I think, in part, they were wowed by what appeared to be phenomenal technical prowess!

So it is in the general public. Also, listeners who are not familiar with the sound of a real piano (and I think there are more and more of them), can easily be fooled. I would venture to go further still: many pianists themselves who play or work in the medium of "pianoteq", roland, yamaha, kawai synthesized pianos become accustomed to the sound. Just as, for example, the ear will gradually accommodate to the sound of an increasingly out-of-tune piano. This is a good thing, if you can't afford to tune your piano on a regular basis. But it is a decidedly bad thing in the world of synthetic sound. I think the upshot of it is that in losing touch with the real instrument you quite naturally lose sensitivity to its creative potential. That is why, at the very least, it pays to have a real piano at hand at all times. Of course, anyone with a real piano "at hand" so to speak, will always choose it over the fake piano. But for recording purposes, I prefer the "fake" where I believe I can get an aesthetically pleasing result.

I am trying to replace my aging Kawai 500 grand for this very reason. I believe I've started to accommodate to its limited potential and that it is hurting my ability to understand musically the kind of music that really depends on having a decent instrument at hand. Bach doesn't necessarily fall into this category. But Chopin and Rach certainly do. Perhaps that is why composers who actually wrote for the piano sound so nakedly inadequate on all but the very best sampled or synthetic pianos.

I really would like it if a verifiably authentic category could be created, because I for one have no wish to muddy the waters with my stuff. I may, on the other hand, be emboldened to do a recording right off the rotten Kawai, as much as a deplore the noise it makes.

JG


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 12:18 am 
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andrew wrote:
pianolady wrote:
And boy....there are programs one can use to actually edit the audio in videos?


Absolutely, and it's really not that difficult. Even in something as basic as Windows Movie Maker, it would be simple enough to take out the audio track and replace it with a different one (e.g. same audio track, but with the wrong note edited out.) Of course you do have to ensure that the edited portion is the same length before and after, otherwise hands and music will be out of sync in the video portion after the edit. With more sophisticated software, I'm told that a lot more is possible.



Yes, when I make videos, I record with the camera and also my Edirol recorder. Then I take audio out of the video recording and replace it (sync) it with the wav file from my Edirol. But editing just a note here and there is too much. I wouldn't feel right about doing it, either.

@John - members often put up 'live' recordings, so we do know by hearing audience noise that it is a 'verifiably authentic' recording. And then there are some members like Andreas (and sometimes me too) who put up a recording along with a link to a youtube video; another way to go regarding 'verifiably authentic' recordings. That's about all I am willing to do regarding setting up a new category in our recordings-category tree. We have lots of 'live' and 'authentic' recordings so I'd hate to have to move things around so much (I'm sure Chris wouldn't want to do it either). Still, interesting ideas you and some others are putting out. That's good! So...now go and video-record yourself on your rotten Kawai! :lol:

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Schumann: Novellette op. 21 no. 1
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:24 am 
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You say you have an electronic yamaha piano. If I were you I would try to find a college or some library that has practice rooms with acoustic pianos. I go to a university now and I can access to about 20 pianos at any given time of the week. They have a public access piano that is out of tune but you might try looking for one. The organic sound a piano creates just cannot be recreated through 1's and 0's. There are some convincing samplers out there but I would never buy a Reason concert pianos package over recording on an acoustic grand or upright. That's my $0.02,
best luck,
Riley

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