With more than 12,000 samples and 45 preparation techniques, IRCAM Prepared Piano gives you complete control over how the preparations are used and combined. Explore the timbre variety of over 40 different preparation styles. Utilize screws, erasers, coins, clothespins, sticks and more. Excite the strings with a mallet, plectrum, bow or even an EBow. Mix and tune your sound by layering up to two different preparations per note with individual level and pitch controls.
Intuitive Layer Controls & Sparkverb
Take complete control of Una Corda, Sustenuto, dynamics and velocity, as well as independent mixing between 2 mic positions. Utilize bar hits, add delay or even Sparkverb™ to give your piano some lush atmosphere, from small spaces to huge ambient landscapes. Intuitive layer controls allow you to customize your layout quickly and randomization provides a great way to experiment with new configurations.
Expanded Playing Techniques
Striking the Strings
Mallets: The strings are struck with a vibraphone mallet. The resulting sound is similar to a normal key strike, but is slightly softer due differences between the mallet and the normal hammer action.
Wooden Stick: The strings are struck directly using wooden sticks. The attack is harder and shorter. The timbre is similar to that of a dulcimer, and can be activated by pressure on the forte pedal.
Stick Rebound: This setting features the same technique and resulting timbre as the Wooden Stick setting, but allows the stick to bounce on the string after the initial strike.
Muted Stick Rebound: This setting features the same technique as Stick Rebound, but uses the stick on muted strings (see mutes).
Plucking or Strumming the Strings with the Fingers
Pizz: The strings are plucked with a plectrum, one string only per note. This results in a sound resembling that of a guitar. It is a widely used effect, for example by Georg Crumb in Makrokosmos, or by Gerard Pesson in Rescousse.
Scratch: A fast scraping action by the nail along the string. When used on the bass strings, this causes a burst of harmonics. One can hear this technique, in combination with numerous other piano string effects, in Clepsydre by Horacio Radulescu (for 16 sound icons, or pianos installed vertically and played exclusively on the strings).
Bow: Rosin horsehair (a single strand of a violin bow) causing the two or three strings that comprise a single pitch to vibrate. The resulting sound is continuous. Changes in the direction of the bow are always audible and give transient color to the timbre. This effect is sometimes made with fishing line rosin.
Ebow: A small device normally used on electric guitars, causing the strings of the piano to vibrate through a magnetic field. This produces a continuous sound with a masked attack, resulting in a delicate and subtle timbre.
Harmonics: The default harmonic is the octave, activated by finger pressure in the middle of the string. The key is then played normally from the keyboard. It is also possible to transpose this harmonic, thereby simulating any harmonic of the string. A specific digital chord can be played by double clicking on the detune button. This technique is greatly used in solo music, as in Crumb’s work, for example, and can even be found in a transcript of Johann Sebastian Bach’s.
The preparation chosen uses a wide range of materials to create a variety of timbres from one note to another. The sounds are generally rich and resonant; they remain within the gong family, featuring a small vibration when the note is played forte.
All of Cage’s works use at least one screw. Prelude for Meditation contains only four notes, surrounded by numerous silences. Each note in the piece is prepared with bolts in addition to the normal sound of the piano, making it possible to hear the preparations clearly. By contrast, in Daughters of the Lonesome Island thirty-nine keys are prepared, almost all of them with screws, resulting in an abundance of timbres which remind the listener of a gamelan ensemble.
Screw / Bolt + Loose Nut (buzz): The same preparation described above, but with a loose nut around the screw which bounces when the note is played, creating a «buzz». An example of this preparation can be found in the first movement of John Cage’s Amores, where two notes prepared using screws must also be topped with nuts. This work also serves as a concise overview of the preparations Cage employed using mixed materials.
Coins: A coin is inserted between the strings (above 1 and 3 and below 2), greatly enriching the sound. The result resembles a rich yet soft gong, sometimes featuring a very slight vibration. The sound is generally more rounded than when the strings are prepared with screws. The low notes of John Cage’s A Room are a fine example of the use of coins, combined with screws used on other notes.
If you're a musician or sound designer who likes to explore the cutting edge of avant garde, IRCAM Prepared Piano offers an experience like no other.
Yamaha and C7 are trademarks of their respective owners. UVI is not affiliated or endorsed by any entities listed here