The Sabotaging Piano: key-to-pitch remapping as a source of new techniques in piano improvisation

Teodoro Dannemann, and Nick Bryan-Kinns

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

  • Year: 2023
  • Location: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Track: Work in Progress
  • Pages: 574–578
  • Article Number: 82
  • PDF link

Abstract:

In this paper we present the Sabotaging Piano, a prepared electronic piano that alters key-to-pitch correspondence by reassigning adjacent pitches (i.e. one semi-tone higher or lower) to each key. Performers can control how many keys to remap through an expression pedal. If the pedal is not pressed the Sabotaging Piano works as a normal piano. When fully pressed, each key is remapped one semi-tone up or down with equal probability. Each new performance (i.e. when the piano is turned on) triggers a new and unknown remapping pattern, but the specific pattern remains fixed throughout the whole performance. This aims to provide a balance of uncertain but still explorable and learnable behaviour. We invited three professional piano improvisers to rehearse with our piano in order to prepare a final improvisation concert. We aimed to explore how much can be rehearsed or prepared with a piano that will behave somewhat differently for each new performance. We asked pianists to document their rehearsal processes to witness the appearing of strategies or techniques with the Sabotaging Piano. Through analysis of the rehearsals reports and the MIDI data collected in the final concert, here we show that the three pianists not only developed different techniques with the Sabotaging Piano, but they also leveraged the particularities of it to use them as creative resources.

Citation:

Teodoro Dannemann, and Nick Bryan-Kinns. 2023. The Sabotaging Piano: key-to-pitch remapping as a source of new techniques in piano improvisation. Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. DOI:

BibTeX Entry:

  @article{nime2023_82,
 abstract = {In this paper we present the Sabotaging Piano, a prepared electronic piano that alters key-to-pitch correspondence by reassigning adjacent pitches (i.e. one semi-tone higher or lower) to each key. Performers can control how many keys to remap through an expression pedal. If the pedal is not pressed the Sabotaging Piano works as a normal piano. When fully pressed, each key is remapped one semi-tone up or down with equal probability. Each new performance (i.e. when the piano is turned on) triggers a new and unknown remapping pattern, but the specific pattern remains fixed throughout the whole performance. This aims to provide a balance of uncertain but still explorable and learnable behaviour. 
We invited three professional piano improvisers to rehearse with our piano in order to prepare a final improvisation concert. We aimed to explore how much can be rehearsed or prepared with a piano that will behave somewhat differently for each new performance. We asked pianists to document their rehearsal processes to witness the appearing of strategies or techniques with the Sabotaging Piano. 
Through analysis of the rehearsals reports and the MIDI data collected in the final concert, here we show that the three pianists not only developed different techniques with the Sabotaging Piano, but they also leveraged the particularities of it to use them as creative resources.},
 address = {Mexico City, Mexico},
 articleno = {82},
 author = {Teodoro Dannemann and Nick Bryan-Kinns},
 booktitle = {Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression},
 editor = {Miguel Ortiz and Adnan Marquez-Borbon},
 issn = {2220-4806},
 month = {May},
 numpages = {5},
 pages = {574--578},
 title = {The Sabotaging Piano: key-to-pitch remapping as a source of new techniques in piano improvisation},
 track = {Work in Progress},
 url = {http://nime.org/proceedings/2023/nime2023_82.pdf},
 year = {2023}
}