Computer Music Journal Papers
with audio/video examples for the papers
We have two substantial papers about bitKlavier coming out in the Computer Music Journal, summer of ’20. Included here are pre-published versions, along with media examples for the figures:
“Preparing the Digital Piano: Introducing bitKlavier.” Dan Trueman and Michael Mulshine. Computer Music Journal, Vol. 43, Nos. 2-3 (2019)
“Tuning Playfully: Composed and Adaptive Tunings in bitKlavier.” Dan Trueman, Aatish Bhatia, Michael Mulshine, and Theo Trevisan. Computer Music Journal, Vol. 43, Nos. 2-3 (2019)
In addition, Adam Sliwinski wrote an expansive paper about the performer’s perspective working with bitKlavier.
The first Computer Music Journal paper is an introduction to the instrument:
bitKlavier is a new kind of digital musical instrument, a novel assemblage of the familiar MIDI keyboard with bespoke interactive software. Inspired by John Cage’s prepared piano, bitKlavier both leverages and subverts the pianist’s hard-earned embodied training, while also inviting an extended configuration stage that “prepares” the instrument to behave in composition-specific, idiosyncratic ways. Through its flexible though constrained design, bitKlavier aims to inspire a playful approach to instrument building, composition, and performance. We outline the development history of bitKlavier, its current design, and some of its musical possibilities.
And the second is a deep dive into tuning and temperament in bitKlavier:
Combining a new software system with the familiar interface of the MIDI keyboard, bitKlavier is a versatile instrument for exploring the nature of tuning and temperament. We describe a number of approaches it facilitates, including composed tunings, moving fundamental systems, and a novel adaptive tuning system. All of these are characterized by the overarching design priority for bitKlavier to be a context for musical play and exploration, as opposed to finding singular, “correct” solutions to particular tuning “problems,” as has often been the case historically.
Preparing the Digital Piano: Introducing bitKlavier examples:
Figures 2 – 7 (video)
Figure 8: Key releases launch metronomic pulses in Nostalgic Synchronic Etude #1.
Figure 9: Arpeggios being collapsed into single synchronic pulses.
Figure 17: An example utilizing many of the core features of bitKlavier: Trueman’s ‘Etude #5: Wallumrød’ from Nostalgic Synchronic.
Tuning Playfully: Composed and Adaptive Tunings in bitKlavier examples:
Figure 1: Moving fundamentals.
Figure 2: Micro-voice leading, resulting from moving fundamentals, from Trueman’s Etude #2, “Undertow.”
Figure 3: Moving fundamentals to create overtone-tuned melodic lines, approximating the non-ET sound of a traditional Norwegian fiddle tune.
Figure 4: Changing fundamentals under a constant fingering pattern, causing markedly different melodic intervals.
Figure 5: Simple adaptive tuning. Each new note becomes the fundamental for the tuning of the next note, resulting in tuning drift.
Figure 6: Simple adaptive tuning with prepared resets.
Figure 7: Adaptive anchored tuning.
Figure 8: Tuning drift from adaptive tuning. Two ascending 9:8 minor-seconds are larger than one descending 4:5 major-third, causing this pattern to drift upwards by a syntonic comma.
Figure 9: Example of adaptive tuning drift in Trueman’s ‘Songs That Are Hard To Sing’
Figure 15: A M3 with a whole-step in between; the M2 springs push the M3 wide, while the M3 pushes the whole-step springs narrow, leaving the springs stressed.
Figure 16: With C defined as the fundamental, the C-E and D-E whole-steps take on different rest lengths, so this system can converge to a tuning with no stress in the springs.
Figure 18: A stack of perfect fifths, C-G-D-A, with automatic fundamental finding and anchor weight setting, and the P5 set to “local” mode and weighted more heavily than the M6. Note that the bitKlavier “gallery” for this figure (available with online materials for this article) has two different “pianos” that the reader can try, one that converges very quickly and smoothly on the stable tuning, and one that oscillates audibly as it converges, due to much lower drag and spring stiffness values.
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