Two examples are especially noteworthy. Yamaha supports the Minnesota International e-Competition, in which contestants gather in several cities and play Disklavier concert grands. Their performances are recorded using Video Sync, then sent to judges in another location, who, rather than listen to recordings, watch and listen to the music reproduced perfectly on other Disklavier pianos.
A similar concept is a technology called Remote Lesson, which debuted in spring 2010 after years of development and testing. A student takes a lesson on one Disklavier while a teacher located far away teaches and critiques on a second Disklavier connected via the Internet, student and teacher communicating with each other in real time via videoconferencing. Initially, this feature will be made available only to selected universities and at additional cost. Details and timing regarding availability of this feature to individuals is still under discussion.
Yamaha’s latest Disklavier offering is Disklavier TV, which uses RemoteLive technology. Disklavier TV makes it possible for Mark IV or E3 Disklavier owners to receive video, audio, and piano data in perfect sync, so they can receive concerts in their home with their Disklavier playing the piano part in sync with the rest of the concert. During the 2013 NAMM trade show, Yamaha used this technology to hold a major concert in which Elton John was broadcast live, playing Disklavier pianos in many different countries simultaneously, in perfect sync with program audio and video.
Yamaha maintains a large and growing library of music for the Disklavier, including piano solo, piano with recorded “live” accompaniment, piano with digital instrumental accompaniment, and PianoSmart arrangements. The system will also play standard MIDI files types 0 and 1.
Yamaha also makes a line of Silent Pianos, formerly called MIDIPianos. Technically, these are not Disklaviers because they don’t use solenoids for playback; they’re included here because they are closely related products that have some similar features. Like Disklaviers, Silent Pianos have sensors associated with their keys, hammers, and pedals that record their movements in MIDI format and output the information through a digital-piano sound chip to headphones or speakers, or to a computer for editing. With the addition of Yamaha’s Silent System, the acoustic piano can be silenced and the instrument used as a digital piano with a real piano action.
Two new Silent Systems are now available. The SG2 system is available in the b1, b2, and b3 vertical models and the GB1K grand. This system offers a CFIIIS concert grand piano voice, nine additional voices, can record and playback MIDI files, and has USB capability to preserve recorded performances. The SH system, used in all other piano models, offers a piano voice that uses binaural sampling of the CFX concert grand, 18 additional voices, can record and play back MIDI and audio files, and has USB capability to preserve recorded performances. See also the article on “Hybrid Pianos” in this issue for additional information.
Mike Kemper, a Los Angeles-based piano technician and expert on electronic player-piano systems, contributed to this article.