Instrument: Recording piano (pianola roll)

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Wondering if the “Recording piano” needs it’s own instrument.

This was the name for a piano that was fitted with a carbon rod on the underside of each key, and under each foot pedal, that dipped into mercury, allowing the recording of the changes in electrical properties that resulted from playing the piano to be made. (Doubtless the modern versions avoid mercury.) The recording was some form of pianola roll.

The keys are being pushed, strings are being struck. It’s just a piano. (We don’t have “piano microphoned by Sennheiser” as a instrument separate from “piano”. The electrical circuits are irrelevant)

What was being recorded was the electrical properties of circuits intrinsic to the recording piano. It was the changing pattern of these electrical properties that was the reason for the performance. (That it made sound simultaneously is irrelevant as the sound was just an aid to the player. Not what was recorded.)


I was thinking about opening a discussion about this, so happy someone has. So far I’ve just used “piano” but it might make sense to add an instrument - I’m on the fence on it. Opinions?


Here is a pro “recording piano” argument:

If the normal output of a (mechanical) piano was being recorded by any means (laser reflection, microphone, microwave diffraction, parralel induction by the strings) then the instrument is a (mechanical) piano.

However the audio output of a recording piano is not what is (normally) being recorded.
The recording piano creates output that a (mechanical) piano doesn’t.
The recording piano is specifically designed and used to create patterns of electrical current that signal key and pedal position changes.

If a piano is designed specifically to create electrical signals when played then it’s not a (mechanical) piano.

Even changes in the the way that the strings are stimulated change the name of stringd keyboard instruments - a piano that creates sound by electromagnetically vibrating strings is not a (mechanical) piano but rather a “electric piano”.

(The name “recording piano” creates a false impression that the piano itself records. AIUI this is not the case - the piano is only part of the process that codes the piano key/pedal movements to holes-in-paper. But “recording piano” is the accepted term for such an instrument.)


How do we handle MIDI keyboards? Same basic concept apples, I think.


We have keyboard for all stuff credited as keyboards.
We can then set MIDI keyboard in the text field if the booklet says so.


We do have the Stroh Violin, which IMO has a similar raison