Pianoteq (www.pianoteq.com), a product of French software developer Modartt, is based entirely on physical modeling; there are no samples involved. This $348 (€249) downloadable program is easily installed, and places relatively low demands on hardware. Because, rather than manipulating a sample, physical modeling generates sounds based on mathematical models of all of the elements that determine piano tone, the control over tone is seemingly endless. Controls are broken down into groups: Tuning, Voicing, Design, EQ, Velocity, and Effects. Within Voicing, you can control hammer hardness for three dynamic ranges, hammer noise, the relative intensity of the fundamental frequency and the first seven harmonics, and the "irregularity" of those intensities. Under Design you'll find controls governing string length, soundboard characteristics, and resonances. And while you might think that a mathematically generated tone would sound somewhat artificial and sterile, I can tell you that the results are quite the opposite. The tonal range is very natural, unless settings are deliberately pushed beyond normal boundaries to create what I'll call "piano mutations." There are a number of preset pianos, and you can store your own custom creations. Another unique facet of Pianoteq is the inclusion of restorations of historical pianos, fortepianos, and harpsichords, developed through Modartt's modeling of irreplaceable museum instruments so that they can be widely heard without risk of damage to the originals. Not sure if all this might be too much for you? Download the free trial copy from pianoteq.com.
If you're not particularly into computers, software pianos may not be for you. But if you enjoy even a mild bit of tinkering, and have dreamed of owning a collection of the world's finest pianos or even of "designing" your own piano, you may find software pianos an irresistible temptation. If you're interested in following the world of piano software, it's discussed in Piano World's "Digital Pianos--Synths & Keyboards" forum. ¤
FALL 2009 -- page 128
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Hybrid & Player Pianos