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What if Chopin had MIDI?

Posted By: CyberGene

What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 06:38 PM

Seriously, it was actually possible but they didn’t use it and it is such a missed opportunity! frown

I’m serious and here’s what I mean. I just came up with an idea for pretty easy solution that would allow for any of those classical composers/pianists, even baroque ones, to record their performances for us to listen today.

It works like how seismograph works or ECG, etc: attach a small pencil at the end of each key and run a rolling paper with constant speed. Each press of the key will draw a curve which ultimately represents position of the key in any moment hence you can derive velocity. Well, they wouldn’t have used it to reproduce music but we could’ve scanned the paper today and produce a MIDI file smile Nice, huh?
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 06:45 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
Seriously, it was actually possible but they didn’t use it and it is such a missed opportunity! frown

I’m serious and here’s what I mean. I just came up with an idea for pretty easy solution that would allow for any of those classical composers/pianists, even baroque ones, to record their performances for us to listen today.

It works like how seismograph works or ECG, etc: attach a small pencil at the end of each key and run a rolling paper with constant speed. Each press of the key will draw a curve which ultimately represents position of the key in any moment hence you can derive velocity. Well, they wouldn’t have used it to reproduce music but we could’ve scanned the paper today and produce a MIDI file smile Nice, huh?

Cool idea, but sadly, they obviously didn't have the foresight. Alas!
Posted By: johnstaf

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 06:46 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
Seriously, it was actually possible but they didn’t use it and it is such a missed opportunity! frown

I’m serious and here’s what I mean. I just came up with an idea for pretty easy solution that would allow for any of those classical composers/pianists, even baroque ones, to record their performances for us to listen today.

It works like how seismograph works or ECG, etc: attach a small pencil at the end of each key and run a rolling paper with constant speed. Each press of the key will draw a curve which ultimately represents position of the key in any moment hence you can derive velocity. Well, they wouldn’t have used it to reproduce music but we could’ve scanned the paper today and produce a MIDI file smile Nice, huh?


That would be great!


Another thing, had someone had the spark of inspiration, sound recording would have been possible hundreds of years earlier, as it didn't require any advanced technology. Just clockwork and wax.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 06:54 PM

Yeah, wax for audio recording! Easy to do (although as with my “MIDI” idea would have been hard to replay with their technology, hence nobody did it)
Posted By: navindra

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 07:39 PM

What about piano rolls?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_roll
Posted By: Christopher Sajdak

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 07:46 PM

This is pretty amazing:

Hear Debussy Play Debussy: A Vintage Recording from 1913
http://www.openculture.com/2013/01/...t_composers_playing_returns_to_life.html
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 08:02 PM

I know about piano rolls but they were already good enough to be used for replaying them which would have been slightly more difficult in the early 19-th century.
Posted By: WhoDwaldi

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/07/19 11:45 PM

He would have done even more elaborate fiorituras. 😆
Posted By: Andrew_G

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 02:15 PM

Some composers did not need MIDI due to phenomenal memory. Mozart and Rachmaninoff are examples. Similar examples exist in mathematics and other human activities. For writing they were able to put in what is already formed in their mind, without any drafts.

A possibility of performing written music automatically, which is elementary today due to MIDI, could help them share and discuss a new music with non-musicians (though I think Chopin did not need this).

However...
This possibility provides to millions, independently of their musical knowledge, cultural, emotional or historical education, training or talent, a possibility to produce and share sound tracks.

Is this good? Yes and No!

Along with really good music today we are overwhelmed by a host of musical debris. Alas! This analogy leads me to inventing new terms: Musbris, Soundbris, Videobris...

In Chopin time this was impossible!



Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 02:23 PM

^ I think you missed the point entirely smile It's not for us to hear Chopin's compositions, we've already heard them millions of times in zillions of interpretations. MIDI is not used for music notation. What's really interesting is to see how Chopin himself played his pieces which would be apparent from a recorded MIDI performance containing his phrasing, legato, pedaling, tempos, rubato, general feel, etc. But maybe I wasn't clear in my original post, sorry if that's the case.
Posted By: Andrew_G

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 02:28 PM

Oh... sorry
Posted By: Dave Horne

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 04:45 PM

Overall, musical standards have dropped considerably. At one time you had to compose a symphony to earn your degree. smile
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 05:07 PM

Yes, it would be very nice to know exactly how a great artist of the past played his own pieces. And how did Paganini played its Stradivari? I think no midi track that could record that...

Sometimes I wonder too, in a fantasy world, what if Chopin had tried a digital piano? Perhaps he would say: "The lid! Open the lid! Where does the lid open? It sounds so boxy!".

And what he would say of piano modeling, Pianoteq, piano sampling, etc.? Perhaps he would say: "What the... Give me my Pleyel! Or at least an Erard!". laugh
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 05:21 PM

Originally Posted by magicpiano
Sometimes I wonder too, in a fantasy world, what if Chopin had tried a digital piano? Perhaps he would say: "The lid! Open the lid! Where does the lid open? It sounds so boxy!".

Ha, funny, I also often fantasize around that theme laugh Like for instance Bach suddenly appeared in my living room but alone and he sees the N1X, he somehow realizes it's a keyboard instrument, opens the lid and sees keyboard and is so fascinated but it doesn't make any sound! But he won't just stop, he would eventually press the power button, he will realize it's some weird instrument that makes unknown to him sound (in hist last years he played a few fortepianos) but never a clean sound such as the CFX sampling, never so heavy keys (?) which are then so dynamic and expressive. He would try the pedals and would realize the sustain pedal allows for some interesting effects which he's not ever imagined. His music has almost always been polyphonic but using the sustain pedal allows for some nice arpeggios to be created that span the entire keyboard, what he would improvise wink

I have also imagined if I'm somehow sent back in the past with my music library and I am allowed to show to Bach the classical music history, what pieces I should show to him, whether he would like them. What kind of modern music he might like: jazz, avant-garde, grandiose romantic symphonies laugh
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 05:39 PM

Or maybe he would say: "Oh my, why did they cut the back of this harpsichord? It is normal that it does not sound... It has no strings!"... laugh
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 06:39 PM

He would say geez even a piano built as recent as the 1750's has more velocity layers than this crap.
Posted By: Pete14

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 06:48 PM

Bach would neither be surprised nor upset over this ‘machine’. He would sit in front of it and at some point, as CG says, press the power button. A sound is reproduced by subsequently pressing a key, and very matter-of-facty Bach goes to work on yet another masterpiece.
Chopin, on the other hand, would have a much harder time figuring out the power button, but eventually George Sand would figure it out and power-on the thing. Chopin would then sit and play a note. Hating the experience, he would label the machine ‘a diabolical entity’ that should never see the light of day. He would then go back to his Pleyel, and very sadly (he never smiled) compose yet another redundant etude!
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 06:54 PM

Originally Posted by Jethro
He would say geez even a piano built as recent as the 1750's has more velocity layers than this crap.

Bach is known to play the harpsichord and the organ. They all have 1 layer. He would be more than happy with the 127 velocity layers of the N1X. He might even discover the obscure function + some key combination to change the touch to fixed and finally find peace smile
Posted By: Granyala

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 08:22 PM

If the composers of old had modern technology?
The result would have been insane pieces no human could ever hope to play.

Midi for playback is one thing, Midi for editing/layering is a whole other ballgame.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/08/19 08:54 PM

We had midis back in the 1960s, along with minis and maxis. Did Chopin? smile
Posted By: Harpuia

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/09/19 06:08 AM

What if Chopin was given a VPC1 with Pianoteq Playel? What would he say?

"This crap thing is NEVER a Playel. Crap plastic sound!"
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/09/19 06:41 AM

If Chopin could hear Pianoteq he'd drop dead on the spot.
Today, were someone to bring such equipment to Pierre Lachaise we could witness the rolling-over-in-the-grave phenomenon.
Originally Posted by Harpuia
What if Chopin was given a VPC1 with Pianoteq Playel? What would he say?
"This crap thing is NEVER a Playel. Crap plastic sound!"
But ... getting back to Chopin's early- and mid-19th century time ... I think he'd first have to wait for more than half a century to get some electricity to power the thing.
Posted By: pianophil

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/09/19 08:15 AM

Originally Posted by Harpuia
What if Chopin was given a VPC1 with Pianoteq Playel? What would he say?

"This crap thing is NEVER a Playel. Crap plastic sound!"


The correct spelling of this historical piano is "Pleyel". It was built in 1835, and has a marvelous and very delicate sound, very different from the sound of modern pianos. Personnally I think Chopin would have loved the Pianateq version, but who am I to to tell what Chopin would say?

In any case, could you tell what you find wrong in the F. Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante Op. 22 demo that you can listen on our demo page
https://www.pianoteq.com/kremsegg2 ?
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/09/19 08:31 AM

Today is the 77th anniversary of Leningrad première of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7

The circumstances were far from the usual. Read through that, you won't be sorry. One can hardly keep his eyes dry while reading about such a heroism!

Sorry for the offtopic, couldn't find better place for that, so it's my thread after all wink
Posted By: midenok

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/09/19 10:33 PM

Rachmaninoff's Window in Time was reproduced from such a thing as piano roll. A wonderful piece indeed! But this is very individual. A great composer does not always mean a great performer (and vice versa). I am not sure, but probably baroque performing standards was not as such high as now. I believe we have capable composers/performers like Mozart or Bach as of now. It's just time that dictates different standards and needs.

Midi is very limited technology, btw. Only 255 gradations of velocity. It's like looking at VGA monitor which is probably enough for playing tetris as Midi is sufficient for electronic music.
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/10/19 11:26 AM

Originally Posted by midenok
[...]Midi is very limited technology, btw. Only 255 gradations of velocity. It's like looking at VGA monitor which is probably enough for playing tetris as Midi is sufficient for electronic music.
Standard MIDI allows 127 velocity variations. Anyway I think it's more than enough to feel all the volume and timbre dynamics your ear needs to feel the player expressiveness. The problem is the quality of the sound source engine in creating those 127 variations.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/10/19 12:52 PM

Yes, 127 is enough. More than enough. If you hear a problem it's the sound source, not the loudness resolution.
A piano is not a VGA monitor, and we don't play Tetris on a piano, do we? smile
Originally Posted by midenok
Midi is very limited technology, btw. Only 255 gradations of velocity. It's like looking at VGA monitor which is probably enough for playing tetris as Midi is sufficient for electronic music.

Posted By: navindra

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/10/19 06:24 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Yes, 127 is enough. More than enough. If you hear a problem it's the sound source, not the loudness resolution.
A piano is not a VGA monitor, and we don't play Tetris on a piano, do we? smile
Originally Posted by midenok
Midi is very limited technology, btw. Only 255 gradations of velocity. It's like looking at VGA monitor which is probably enough for playing tetris as Midi is sufficient for electronic music.



My Casio has HiRes MIDI which is like 4K HDR to your VGA.

Pete14
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/10/19 06:30 PM

And ... does it make a difference? Piano has sound.
4K video has picture.
There's no relationship.
Originally Posted by navindra
My Casio has HiRes MIDI which is like 4K HDR to your VGA.
It's irrelevant, except for marketing people bent on deluding the gullible.
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/10/19 07:17 PM

Yes, having more than 127 velocity values for a piano sound it's like having a 8K resolution on a smartphone display. Totally useless... But I'm sure in the near future we will see 8K smartphones too.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/10/19 11:08 PM

Originally Posted by magicpiano
But I'm sure in the near future we will see 8K smartphones too.


Along with the usual group of people claiming they can see the difference. A bit like audiophiles.
Posted By: Frédéric L

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/10/19 11:39 PM

I am a bit puzzled by this discussion. I have an hard time to hit the same note twice with the same velocity... then 127 levels is enough for me... but the designer of the Piano Phoenix by Adele H seems to have requirements by professional at 1300 levels. I have no clue how the extra levels are used (more between levels ? More less than 1 level ? Etc. )
Posted By: johnstaf

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 12:26 AM

Originally Posted by Frédéric L
II have an hard time to hit the same note twice with the same velocity...


Isn't that an argument for more rather than fewer velocities?
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 12:40 AM

That surely is not an argument for more. It only serves to show that either 127 is enough ... or that Frederic (and I) lack consistency of touch.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 12:48 AM

I'd like to see someone on here posting a video of them playing the same note with 127 different audible amplitude variations.

I'd wager not many could manage more than about 12.
Posted By: Pete14

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 01:17 AM

Martha Argerich is known for playing over a thousand audible variations on a single note! She currently holds the record.
Barenboim is a close second (clocking in at 879 audible variations).
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 09:32 AM

Originally Posted by Pete14
Martha Argerich is known for playing over a thousand audible variations on a single note![...]

Audible from who? Some extraterrestrial being? confused

Let's make a simple experiment: make a MIDI file in which a C4 note is played first at velocity 100, then, at velocity 101. After some seconds, the same 2 notes are played 10 times but in a random order... Do you think you are able to tell without doubts which is the C4 at velocity 100 and which is at 101 ? Of course we have to use some piano engine that realistically generates different timbre and volume for each velocity (we can use Pianoteq).
If you are able to distinguish between the two velocities, then we need more than 127 of them. Otherwise, 127 variations is good and 1000 (or more) is just marketing (as the 8K display for a smartphone).

Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 10:42 AM

Is that a fact? Or is it "I read it on the internet so it must be true"?
Originally Posted by Pete14
Martha Argerich is known for playing over a thousand audible variations on a single note! She currently holds the record.
Barenboim is a close second (clocking in at 879 audible variations).
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 11:06 AM

Originally Posted by Pete14
Martha Argerich is known for playing over a thousand audible variations on a single note! She currently holds the record.
Barenboim is a close second (clocking in at 879 audible variations).

Reference?

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Is that a fact? Or is it "I read it on the internet so it must be true"?
Originally Posted by Pete14
Martha Argerich is known for playing over a thousand audible variations on a single note! She currently holds the record.
Barenboim is a close second (clocking in at 879 audible variations).

I googled and couldn’t even find an Internet reference, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 11:25 AM

As if though you’re not used to Pete’s humorous style smile
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 11:28 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
As if though you’re not used to Pete’s humorous style smile

Clearly humor impaired folks like me benefit from the appropriate emoticon.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 02:29 PM

I see.
Originally Posted by CyberGene
As if though you’re not used to Pete’s humorous style smile
One word:
[Linked Image]
Posted By: Gombessa

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 06:18 PM

Originally Posted by Frédéric L
I am a bit puzzled by this discussion. I have an hard time to hit the same note twice with the same velocity... then 127 levels is enough for me... but the designer of the Piano Phoenix by Adele H seems to have requirements by professional at 1300 levels. I have no clue how the extra levels are used (more between levels ? More less than 1 level ? Etc. )


If I had a nickel for every time I heard this argument smile

If a DP only had 8 total velocities, I bet nobody here would be able to hit every note at the exact velocity they intended in their standard repertoire. I bet at 4 velocities it would still be the case. But I think a DP supporting only midi velocities 0-3 for ppp-fff would be extremely limiting and clearly noticable.

Imo, it's NEVER about whether you can hit the precise velocity you want, it's whether there's an audible difference between velocities actually played.

If you can't hear or feel a difference, it probably doesn't matter to have more. If you can tell the difference, then maybe more velocities can be heard as well.
Posted By: johnstaf

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 06:40 PM

Originally Posted by Gombessa


If I had a nickel for every time I heard this argument smile

If a DP only had 8 total velocities, I bet nobody here would be able to hit every note at the exact velocity they intended in their standard repertoire. I bet at 4 velocities it would still be the case. But I think a DP supporting only midi velocities 0-3 for ppp-fff would be extremely limiting and clearly noticable.

Imo, it's NEVER about whether you can hit the precise velocity you want, it's whether there's an audible difference between velocities actually played.

If you can't hear or feel a difference, it probably doesn't matter to have more. If you can tell the difference, then maybe more velocities can be heard as well.


Yes. I don't understand how the inability to reproduce velocities accurately means fewer velocities are necessary.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/11/19 06:46 PM

It’s not about being able to hit the exact velocity on instant. But rather in a sequence of notes, whether a trill, a phrase or a repeated note. While listening to your current note (and in the context of previously played notes that will create pretty accurate muscle memory in your forearms and fingers) you should be able to produce pretty consistent note velocities that follow. With that in mind, if you feel you target a particular note velocity (or range) but the actually produced values audibly jump around that and you miss some in between, then the velocity resolution is low.

With that in mind I think 127 is more than enough.
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 05:12 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
It’s not about being able to hit the exact velocity on instant. But rather in a sequence of notes, whether a trill, a phrase or a repeated note. While listening to your current note (and in the context of previously played notes that will create pretty accurate muscle memory in your forearms and fingers) you should be able to produce pretty consistent note velocities that follow. With that in mind, if you feel you target a particular note velocity (or range) but the actually produced values audibly jump around that and you miss some in between, then the velocity resolution is low.

With that in mind I think 127 is more than enough.

Yes, basically it is about the creative process. As an artist, you don't want to have any limitations to what you can or can't do. Listening to another pianist play on a digital piano might sound fine to you, but if you ask him or her if the outcome was what he or she expected they might say no. They might say they had other intentions throughout the piece he or she was playing but was somewhat limited by the technology.

That said, it's difficult to argue that more velocity layers are needed over the 127 currently available when most sampled libraries represent only a fraction of what is already available.

So I would never debate the velocity layer issue from a listener's perspective, but it is from the pianist's perspective and the limitations it may enforce on sensitive, experienced pianists. I think it is up to the individual to decide whether MIDI or digital technology will work for them. For anyone else to decide for them is hubristic.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 06:11 PM

Originally Posted by Jethro
Originally Posted by CyberGene
It’s not about being able to hit the exact velocity on instant. But rather in a sequence of notes, whether a trill, a phrase or a repeated note. While listening to your current note (and in the context of previously played notes that will create pretty accurate muscle memory in your forearms and fingers) you should be able to produce pretty consistent note velocities that follow. With that in mind, if you feel you target a particular note velocity (or range) but the actually produced values audibly jump around that and you miss some in between, then the velocity resolution is low.

With that in mind I think 127 is more than enough.

Yes, basically it is about the creative process. As an artist, you don't want to have any limitations to what you can or can't do. Listening to another pianist play on a digital piano might sound fine to you, but if you ask him or her if the outcome was what he or she expected they might say no. They might say they had other intentions throughout the piece he or she was playing but was somewhat limited by the technology.

That said, it's difficult to argue that more velocity layers are needed over the 127 currently available when most sampled libraries represent only a fraction of what is already available.

So I would never debate the velocity layer issue from a listener's perspective, but it is from the pianist's perspective and the limitations it may enforce on sensitive, experienced pianists. I think it is up to the individual to decide whether MIDI or digital technology will work for them. For anyone else to decide for them is hubristic.

All digital pianos and VST-s for at least the last 20-30 years support 127 velocity layers. I’m not sure what you’re implying, e.g. that only Pianoteq supports 127 velocities? In case you mean that, you’re wrong. All pianos can respond with smooth dynamic gradation in 127 volume steps. And many sample-based digital pianos and VST-s also produce 127 different timbres which is apparent in the excellent spectral analysis our forum member dewster used to perform on digital pianos in the past. No difference here between Pianoteq and digital pianos.
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 06:23 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by Jethro
Originally Posted by CyberGene
It’s not about being able to hit the exact velocity on instant. But rather in a sequence of notes, whether a trill, a phrase or a repeated note. While listening to your current note (and in the context of previously played notes that will create pretty accurate muscle memory in your forearms and fingers) you should be able to produce pretty consistent note velocities that follow. With that in mind, if you feel you target a particular note velocity (or range) but the actually produced values audibly jump around that and you miss some in between, then the velocity resolution is low.

With that in mind I think 127 is more than enough.

Yes, basically it is about the creative process. As an artist, you don't want to have any limitations to what you can or can't do. Listening to another pianist play on a digital piano might sound fine to you, but if you ask him or her if the outcome was what he or she expected they might say no. They might say they had other intentions throughout the piece he or she was playing but was somewhat limited by the technology.

That said, it's difficult to argue that more velocity layers are needed over the 127 currently available when most sampled libraries represent only a fraction of what is already available.

So I would never debate the velocity layer issue from a listener's perspective, but it is from the pianist's perspective and the limitations it may enforce on sensitive, experienced pianists. I think it is up to the individual to decide whether MIDI or digital technology will work for them. For anyone else to decide for them is hubristic.

All digital pianos and VST-s for at least the last 20-30 years support 127 velocity layers. I’m not sure what you’re implying, e.g. that only Pianoteq supports 127 velocities? In case you mean that, you’re wrong. All pianos can respond with smooth dynamic gradation in 127 volume steps. And many sample-based digital pianos and VST-s also produce 127 different timbres which is apparent in the excellent spectral analysis our forum member dewster used to perform on digital pianos in the past. No difference here between Pianoteq and digital pianos.


Not implying anything grin. Yes any MIDI capable digital piano is capable of 127 velocity layers, whether there is this smooth dynamic gradation in 127 different timbres exists in most sampled pianos today- I'd say that is open to debate. I certainly don't feel that smooth gradation- others may though. So to each his own. I happen to agree with the argument for and against modeled and sampled sounds by the way. They both have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

My suggestion is always to aim towards an acoustic piano at some point in your playing and all is solved.
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 06:42 PM

I think that if a pianist has the feel that he/she isn't able to give the dynamics he wants in its playing on a digital piano, compared to an acoustic, the culprit is not the standard MIDI limit of 127 values for the velocity, but the imperfect mechanics/electronics of the keyboard action and/or the quality of the sound engine.

If you really need more than 127 velocity values, you should explain why. Let's suppose we have a VST with 127 velocity layers fully sampled one-by-one. Do you think a human ear could feel a difference (in timbre and volume) between velocity X and velocity X+1 (where X is between 1 and 127)? Would a person feel the need of a velocity X+0.5 ?
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 07:09 PM

Originally Posted by magicpiano
I think that if a pianist has the feel that he/she isn't able to give the dynamics he wants in its playing on a digital piano, compared to an acoustic, the culprit is not the standard MIDI limit of 127 values for the velocity, but the imperfect mechanics/electronics of the keyboard action and/or the quality of the sound engine.

If you really need more than 127 velocity values, you should explain why. Let's suppose we have a VST with 127 velocity layers fully sampled one-by-one. Do you think a human ear could feel a difference (in timbre and volume) between velocity X and velocity X+1 (where X is between 1 and 127)? Would a person feel the need of a velocity X+0.5 ?

I guess we would never know for sure unless they got beyond that 127 level limit. No one's perfect when they play no matter what the level- and maybe 127 levels is all that can audibly be discriminated by even the most experienced pianists, but think about how many possible velocities a piano key can actually be struck. It must be close to infinity. I can't tell you how the brain is able to go from a thought to a tactile action when playing music, but I can guarantee it allows for far more than just 127 different velocities to strike a key. That key strike may be attenuated by your emotional state, the touch and feedback of the keyboard, the technical demands of the piece you are attempting and your own physiological/biomechanical constraints. All artists would prefer the maximum amount of sensitivity that an instrument would allow for. This 127 level limitation was a established at a time when I was using 5.25 floppy discs and Atari computers. Maybe this limitation was posed by the limitations of the technology at that time, but why should we assume this is the limitation of the human brain to discriminate? The point being, most artists/high level pianists would prefer the least amount of limitations to express their art to maximize the amount of creativity our brains are truly capable of.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 07:53 PM

I’ve seen similar arguments about 4K and 8K televisions not being needed because they are beyond the point of our brains to resolve the pixels. This may be absolutely true, however 4K televisions are nonetheless already here and 8K televisions are coming soon whether we need it or not. In the same way, the next version of the MIDI standard is coming and some number of years from now, it won’t matter if we can resolve 127 audio levels or 256 times as many because the MIDI then will simply have a higher limit.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 08:14 PM

And are we sure our digital pianos are not internally using much higher resolution velocity values? Maybe when exported through MIDI it’s only 127 but down-converted from a higher precision. In my DIY controller I have approximately 20000 steps between lowest velocity and highest velocity. And I recalculate that to produce a value between 1-127. I could easily imagine that my N1X might be even better than that taking in mind how advanced it is. Why would they bother to internally handicap it? Replaying the samples in the 16-bit dynamic range (even if not using the entire range) is exactly the same as replaying only 127 volume levels, there’s no difference.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 08:33 PM

Let's stop calling them "127 velocity layers" when they're not layers. They're just 127 digital stops on the volume control.
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 08:45 PM

Originally Posted by Jethro
I guess we would never know for sure unless they got beyond that 127 level limit. No one's perfect when they play no matter what the level- and maybe 127 levels is all that can audibly be discriminated by even the most experienced pianists, but think about how many possible velocities a piano key can actually be struck. It must be close to infinity. I can't tell you how the brain is able to go from a thought to a tactile action when playing music, but I can guarantee it allows for far more than just 127 different velocities to strike a key. That key strike may be attenuated by your emotional state, the touch and feedback of the keyboard, the technical demands of the piece you are attempting and your own physiological/biomechanical constraints. All artists would prefer the maximum amount of sensitivity that an instrument would allow for. This 127 level limitation was a established at a time when I was using 5.25 floppy discs and Atari computers. Maybe this limitation was posed by the limitations of the technology at that time, but why should we assume this is the limitation of the human brain to discriminate? The point being, most artists/high level pianists would prefer the least amount of limitations to express their art to maximize the amount of creativity our brains are truly capable of.

Of course an acoustic piano is capable of infinite timbrical and volume variations. That our fingers are able to generate much more velocities than 127, it's true. We are analogic beings, not digital. But this doesn't mean that the human brain is capable to "distinctly" perceive more than 127 timbrical variations in the typical dynamic range of a piano. Honestly, I don't think I'm able to clearly distinguish the timbre of all the 20 layers of my piano VST. For example, supposing they are all volume-normalized, if you listen to the 4th and then the 8th velocity layer, then you can hear a difference. But between the 7th and the 8th it's very very difficult. And they are just 20! So, why we would need more than 127?

Anyway, I don't want to limit our brain abilities, but without scientific proof of the contrary, personally I think 127 timbrical variations is enough for a piano. Maybe it's not for a violin.
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 09:09 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
And are we sure our digital pianos are not internally using much higher resolution velocity values? Maybe when exported through MIDI it’s only 127 but down-converted from a higher precision.[...]
Yes, it's possible. Most of the current DPs interpolate between layers, so the limit is just in the bit-depth they use to store audio values, and it would be stupid to limit a value like 32768 in a range 1-127 if you don't have to record a MIDI file.
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 09:53 PM

Originally Posted by magicpiano
Originally Posted by Jethro
I guess we would never know for sure unless they got beyond that 127 level limit. No one's perfect when they play no matter what the level- and maybe 127 levels is all that can audibly be discriminated by even the most experienced pianists, but think about how many possible velocities a piano key can actually be struck. It must be close to infinity. I can't tell you how the brain is able to go from a thought to a tactile action when playing music, but I can guarantee it allows for far more than just 127 different velocities to strike a key. That key strike may be attenuated by your emotional state, the touch and feedback of the keyboard, the technical demands of the piece you are attempting and your own physiological/biomechanical constraints. All artists would prefer the maximum amount of sensitivity that an instrument would allow for. This 127 level limitation was a established at a time when I was using 5.25 floppy discs and Atari computers. Maybe this limitation was posed by the limitations of the technology at that time, but why should we assume this is the limitation of the human brain to discriminate? The point being, most artists/high level pianists would prefer the least amount of limitations to express their art to maximize the amount of creativity our brains are truly capable of.

Of course an acoustic piano is capable of infinite timbrical and volume variations. That our fingers are able to generate much more velocities than 127, it's true. We are analogic beings, not digital. But this doesn't mean that the human brain is capable to "distinctly" perceive more than 127 timbrical variations in the typical dynamic range of a piano. Honestly, I don't think I'm able to clearly distinguish the timbre of all the 20 layers of my piano VST. For example, supposing they are all volume-normalized, if you listen to the 4th and then the 8th velocity layer, then you can hear a difference. But between the 7th and the 8th it's very very difficult. And they are just 20! So, why we would need more than 127?

Anyway, I don't want to limit our brain abilities, but without scientific proof of the contrary, personally I think 127 timbrical variations is enough for a piano. Maybe it's not for a violin.


Yes I don't know if this had ever been scientifically researched but from my understanding the 127 was just an arbitrary number that was established given the constraints of the technology available back in the late 70's/80's when MIDI was created. You bring up another point as well with the violin. This MIDI velocity limitation was not applied specifically towards MIDI keyboards, it applied to ALL MIDI instruments including drum pads and even electronic violins and more importantly beyond that these velocity layer implementation vary from one digital instrument to the next even within the same category of instruments. I remember because I played around with those. So clearly the MIDI engineers did not have any specific instrument in mind when they created the 127 velocity standard so it supports the notion that for the digital piano there more be more (or possibly less) velocity layers that could be discriminated by advanced pianists. I'm sure we can all agree that the mechanics involved in drum playing is different from playing the piano so why restrict both to only 127 velocity layers? Imagine if Da Vinci or Van Gogh were limited to only 127 levels of brush strokes. It must of had something to do with the practicalities of the implementation of MIDI at the time and the constraints of the technology available at that time as well.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 10:05 PM

I'm pretty firmly in the camp that these ultra high resolutions are a case of Emperor's new clothes really.

I would wager that one could even perfectly well use a digital with less than 127 velocities.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 10:08 PM

Originally Posted by Zaphod
I'm pretty firmly in the camp that these ultra high resolutions are a case of Emperor's new clothes really.

Yeah, but what of it? Do you think that aside from the retro-crowd, anyone would willingly buy a 720p TV, for example, when 4K TVs are about the same price?
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 10:10 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Zaphod
I'm pretty firmly in the camp that these ultra high resolutions are a case of Emperor's new clothes really.

I would wager that one could even perfectly well use a digital with less than 127 velocities.

Yeah, but what of it? Do you think that aside from the retro-crowd, anyone would willingly buy a 720p TV, for example, when 4K TVs are about the same price?

and I'm pretty sure Kissin can make music on an 8 key toy piano but he won't be smiling.
Posted By: Zaphod

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 10:10 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Zaphod
I'm pretty firmly in the camp that these ultra high resolutions are a case of Emperor's new clothes really.

I would wager that one could even perfectly well use a digital with less than 127 velocities.

Yeah, but what of it? Do you think that aside from the retro-crowd, anyone would willingly buy a 720p TV, for example, when 4K TVs are about the same price?


Yeah that's a fair point. If it's around the same price then might as well buy it. I'd agree with that.
Posted By: johnstaf

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 10:38 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Let's stop calling them "127 velocity layers" when they're not layers. They're just 127 digital stops on the volume control.

It depends. VSL's Vienna Imperial has distinct samples for 100 velocity levels. The Synchron pianos have 60, IIRC.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 11:13 PM

Let's be sure we're talking about a velocity layer as a sample sound at a specific key velocity, rather than the 127 values of velocity in a MIDI message.

That latter only implies that the recipient device should attempt to produce 127 different loudness levels.

The former is an indication of how many distinct samples (and thereby, how many distinct timbres) the device can produce.

Any piano or virtual instrument can respond appropriately to 127 velocity values and produce 127 distinct loudness levels.
But few (or any?) can produce 127 distinct timbres.

BTW ... are you sure that the VSL has 100 such levels? That seems ludicrously high ... way more than needed. But then ... that would explain the immense size of the package, eh?
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Let's stop calling them "127 velocity layers" when they're not layers. They're just 127 digital stops on the volume control.
It depends. VSL's Vienna Imperial has distinct samples for 100 velocity levels. The Synchron pianos have 60, IIRC.
Posted By: Gombessa

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/12/19 11:16 PM

[
Originally Posted by CyberGene
And are we sure our digital pianos are not internally using much higher resolution velocity values? Maybe when exported through MIDI it’s only 127 but down-converted from a higher precision. In my DIY controller I have approximately 20000 steps between lowest velocity and highest velocity. And I recalculate that to produce a value between 1-127. I could easily imagine that my N1X might be even better than that taking in mind how advanced it is. Why would they bother to internally handicap it? Replaying the samples in the 16-bit dynamic range (even if not using the entire range) is exactly the same as replaying only 127 volume levels, there’s no difference.


Someone (Arc7rus?) once mentioned offhand that Yamaha's XG standard ran at 1028 velocities. I don't recall that ever being backed up but he is (was?) A pretty well-informed guy, and it was in line with that weird Yamaha AG sales video claim. The fact that we can't really tell between that and MIDI, and basically rely on reports and hearsay really suggests that 127 isn't doing much to limit the listening or playing experience.

And as Mac mentioned, supporting additional volume stops is fairly trivial, so if it were a major limiter to realism I suspect we'd see more high res midi implementations than we do...
Posted By: Sweelinck

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 12:31 AM

Liszt apparently tried out a piano roll recording expression piano, and found the recordings too lacking in expressivity, and refused to cut a roll. But they were improved, and Debussy, Rachmaninov, and others cut rolls, some of which have been remastered into CDs.

In the early part of the 20th century, a small American piano manufacturer, Brinkerhoff, sold an upright player piano that could cut its own piano rolls— perhaps the first ever home piano with recording capability.
Posted By: johnstaf

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 01:37 AM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac

BTW ... are you sure that the VSL has 100 such levels? That seems ludicrously high ... way more than needed. But then ... that would explain the immense size of the package, eh?


That's what they claim for Vienna Imperial, and 60 for the CFX.

Vienna Imperial has the ability to produce the most delicate gradations of tone, and is unlike anything else I've ever played, but it has problems. There are out-of-tune notes that they never fixed, and while repedalling is possible, pedalling is just on/off.
Posted By: toddy

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 09:32 AM

An analogue device, like a piano, is not restricted to a specific number of possibilities as a digital device is. However, this doesn't mean an analogue device has more dynamic capability. For example, TV in the 1970s was a completely analogue process from camera to TV set. There was, theoretically, an infinite number of possible resolutions. But the results are murky and indistinct compared to digital TV, despite the fact that the latter is 'restricted' to a specific number of steps of luminosity.

On the other hand, it's true that the current midi standard of 127 levels was chosen as it represents one byte of memory (8 bits) which, when it was decided in 1982 was valuable but now could be raised to several thousand levels. But you'd have to take timing problems into account because midi transmission is serial.

But, on the whole, I doubt the 127 levels of velocity response is a meaningful restriction even though it's a standard that was decided when personal computers commonly had 64k bytes ram to operate (if you had the latest Commodore) , whereas today ram is typically 8 giga bytes - 125 thousand times bigger.
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 12:25 PM

Leaving out the VSL samples does anyone have an idea what the average timbral velocity layers there are in your typical sampled VST today? Is 10-20 layers about right? As I wrote before the velocity range allowed by MIDI is a moot point if today's sampled sounds (interposed or not) are taking only a fraction of what is available anyway. Also how well these timbral velocity layers are implemented vary from one DP or software package to another so it depends on how well they are implemented. Some perhaps don't "morph" levels as well as others so those of us who regularly practice on acoustics are sensitive to those gaps.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 12:45 PM

I think 10-20 is a realistic guess, with 20+ more probable than 10 because even very old sample libraries from the 2000-s were marketed as using 10 and more layers. I know how one would argue that 20 layers are not enough, and of course how Pianoteq "has" all of them smile First, 20 layers would cover everything between ppp and fff and although the difference between ppp and fff is drastic, the transition from ppp to fff is gradual and so 20 snapshots in that gradation would cover it sufficiently. Even without applying sample blending, it would be hard to detect the switch between 20 timbre layers but for the peace of mind many libraries and digital pianos also apply blending.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 01:57 PM

No! More is better. More is better. MORE IS BETTER!
You need 65,536 layers. At least! Nothing less will do. Nothing less will do. NOTHING LESS WILL DO!
<insert smilie or frownie here, according to your taste>
Posted By: jamiecw

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 04:30 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
No! More is better. More is better. MORE IS BETTER!
You need 65,536 layers. At least! Nothing less will do. Nothing less will do. NOTHING LESS WILL DO!
<insert smilie or frownie here, according to your taste>

I'd be content with 65,536 Mac smile...nah, I think I'd be happy laugh...really happy grin...maybe even ecstatic crazy...think of all the possibilities we can have:

ppppp (for the ultra sensitive)
pppp (for the sensitive)
ppp (for the ones with perfect hearing)
pp (for the rest of us)
p
p with salt
p with pepper
mp
ump (ultra mezzo piano)
ummp (ultra mezzo mama-mia piano)
mmmmp (I am losing the plot)
mf
mff
mfff
mffff
mfffff
f
f with salt
f with pepper
ff
fff
ffff
fffff
ffffff
fffffff
fffffffff
ffffffffff
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 04:48 PM

Somebody objected to Carl Orff that his music is too loud:

“Why do you have to always write so loud music, see for instance Mozart, his music is so tender, even his name contains the German word ‘zart’ which means ‘gentle’”

“Well, my name contains ‘ff’!”
Posted By: magicpiano

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 08:04 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
No! More is better. More is better. MORE IS BETTER!
You need 65,536 layers. At least! Nothing less will do. Nothing less will do. NOTHING LESS WILL DO!
<insert smilie or frownie here, according to your taste>
65536 is for obsolete 16-bit machines of the 90s. Now we have 64-bit machines, so I want 2^64 = 18446744073709551616 velocity layers. Not 1 less. My ears are very sensitive.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 08:08 PM

How rude! You left out the commas! How am I to read this number?
Originally Posted by magicpiano
2^64 = 18446744073709551616 velocity layers. Not 1 less. My ears are very sensitive.
18,446,744,073,709,551,616
That's better.

But it's still not enough.

Bigger is better.
Posted By: Frédéric L

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/13/19 10:44 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
I think 10-20 is a realistic guess, with 20+ more probable than 10 because even very old sample libraries from the 2000-s were marketed as using 10 and more layers. I know how one would argue that 20 layers are not enough, and of course how Pianoteq "has" all of them smile First, 20 layers would cover everything between ppp and fff and although the difference between ppp and fff is drastic, the transition from ppp to fff is gradual and so 20 snapshots in that gradation would cover it sufficiently. Even without applying sample blending, it would be hard to detect the switch between 20 timbre layers but for the peace of mind many libraries and digital pianos also apply blending.


When playing with a virtual piano which doesn’t morph, it is rare to find velocity layer gaps. I can find them on the Bechstein from EWQL, an Imperfect Sample tried from a friend (I didn’t remember the piano), but generally its OK. Even with Pearl Concert Grand with only 8 levels.
Posted By: Jethro

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/14/19 04:46 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
I think 10-20 is a realistic guess, with 20+ more probable than 10 because even very old sample libraries from the 2000-s were marketed as using 10 and more layers. I know how one would argue that 20 layers are not enough, and of course how Pianoteq "has" all of them smile First, 20 layers would cover everything between ppp and fff and although the difference between ppp and fff is drastic, the transition from ppp to fff is gradual and so 20 snapshots in that gradation would cover it sufficiently. Even without applying sample blending, it would be hard to detect the switch between 20 timbre layers but for the peace of mind many libraries and digital pianos also apply blending.

On the bolded it really depends on the experience and sensitivity of the pianist. There was little chance that I would have been able to detect the fine differences in timbre layers between an acoustic piano and a digital sampled piano when I was a beginner pianist. First of all how do report on something that is not there in the first place. These "gaps" we refer to is missing data that is filled in or "blended" by other data so yes it is difficult to detect the switch between 20 timbre layers because the brain tries to fill in the missing info. There are no silent layers (gaps), all you know as an experienced pianist is that something is just not right when you play on most sampled digital pianos- that it takes a more significant change in finger velocity before you actually have a timbre change- that too many notes (though depressed at ever so slightly different velocities) sound pretty much the same. As one gains finer control of finger velocity as they become more experienced at the piano they will find that an acoustic piano and some modeled piano VSTS have a more linear timbre change response to your inputs. That has been my experience. But then again, there are some better VSTS out there (VSL?) that are narrowing the gap as the implement better velocity layering and "morphing" technology I suppose, but for now IMO the technology is not there yet. So there are always sacrifices when going digital. Modeled sounds may play better but the sounds kinda suck. The sampled sounds may sound better but the playability kinda sucks. I find that for practice- since I have access to an acoustic grand, the playability of my digital piano was what mattered most to me since I only imagine performing for others on my acoustic.

IMHO one should always aim towards buying an acoustic at some point.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/14/19 04:54 PM

^ Jethro, it’s a significant event that I (almost completely) agree with you this time smile A proper acoustic piano is still inimitable and neither sampled or modeled pianos can recreate it. But they are kind of close. Each approach has its cons and pros. Once you realize a digital piano (or digital system for that matter) is not 100% there, you only have to decide for yourself what you are OK sacrificing with. For one it’s the timbre realism, for other it’s the limitations of sampling.
Posted By: Frédéric L

Re: What if Chopin had MIDI? - 08/15/19 01:37 AM

“But then again, there are some better VSTS out there (VSL?) that are narrowing the gap as the implement better velocity layering and "morphing" technology I suppose, but for now IMO the technology is not there yet. ”

Isn’t VSL virtual piano between 60 (Synchron pianio, see http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...yamaha-cfx-vst-from-vsl.html#Post2733449), or 100 (Vienna Imperial) velocity layers ? This means that a layer is only shared by 2 midi levels in most cases... It will be hard to hear a difference of timbre between too consecutive layers (I mean difference of timbre, not volume), then a difference between the timbre of a played note and what it should be.
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