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News University Augmented instruments: tradition meets digital innovation

"Transducer - the Piano of the Future": This innovative grand piano comes from the piano manufacturer Steingraeber Bayreuth and is on loan to the Nuremberg University of Music. Since the beginning of November 2023, students and teachers have had the opportunity to explore new forms of expression with this instrument and to gain further technical insights together.

The Transducer grand piano is a groundbreaking addition to conventional acoustic keyboard instruments. The innovative feature of the instrument is a system for the electro-acoustic vibration excitation of the soundboard. Barely visible from the outside, this invention by the piano manufacturer Steingraeber Bayreuth makes it possible to create and perform "hybrid" piano works in which traditional playing techniques meet computerised sound enhancement.

The grand piano can also serve as a pure data supplier for the computer without striking any strings.

The electro-acoustic system dispenses with conventional loudspeakers - the computer-generated sound is actually produced acoustically from the wooden soundboard. The result is an incomparably present sonic aesthetic that transports players and listeners into a whole new world of sound.

Students at the university have created magical musical winter miniatures (see video below) in a series of seminars led by Prof. Toni Hinterholzinger. In these first experiments, contact microphones, feedback, a 1980s tape echo, guitar effect pedals, software-based vocoding and 'non-piano-like' virtual instruments are used to break new artistic ground. The excerpts presented are the students' own compositions. But also excerpts from Beethoven's Tempest Sonata or Johann Sebastian Bach's B minor Prelude are also presented in a completely new way thanks to the innovative possibilities.

Augmented Instruments - a joint interdisciplinary project of the Nuremberg University of Music, the piano manufacturer Steingraeber Bayreuth and LEONARDO - Centre for Creativity and Innovation

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