The Piano’s Newest Relative

The piano undoubtedly has many advantages over other instruments: the possibility of thick harmonies, complex textures, and a wide range.  But it also has limitations, especially in terms of  tuning and inflection.  During a performance, it is impossible to play notes “in between the keys.” Pianists are not able to perform microtonal scales (typical of many non-Western genres and some contemporary composers), alternate tuning systems (common in Early music contexts), vibrato, portamento (sliding into a note), true glisses, same note trills, and the likes.  At least not until now…

Please welcome the fluid piano into the keyboard family. This new invention, the brainchild of Geoff Smith, allows performers to easily adjust the tuning of each pitch before or during a performance.  Every note has a tuning mechanism that can alter the pitch by up to a whole step. 

Being confronted with a new instrument like this can be intimidating for pianists who are suddenly faced with a new set of demands and musical possibilities.  But it also presents exciting new potential for composers and performers alike. 

The video below features the premier performance of this instrument, played by Pam Chowhan.

 

Here is a video about the fluid piano, featuring commentary by the inventor.

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