Wednesday, 1 June 2011

What if a Piano behaved like a Computer?

"What would a Piano have to do, to be as frustrating to work with, as a Computer?"

A simple question, not even my own, but a fun one to think through =)

First, you approach the piano in the morning, and you open the key cover.. then you go get some coffee while the keys slowly appear from inside the piano, in clusters, but not organised in any musical fashion.

You come back with your coffee to find there's a few octaves there, the last octave hasn't appeared yet (again), and a few notes from the bottom one are in the wrong place.. but that's to be expected, it's been a while since you did any maintenance on the piano.

You pull out the stool, sit down, and try a few practice pieces.. some of the notes make no noise at all, others get stuck in the down position, and a whole bunch of them seem to be silent until suddenly all the notes you played on those notes are emitted in a 5 second burst, a full 30 seconds after you played them

Somewhere around here you notice the bottom octave has finally sorted out it's notes to be in the right order, and generally everything is looking usable.. except that top octave is still absent.. you ring the piano help desk, who say "this has been happening a lot recently", and if "you could try playing Ebm7 a few times in the 2nd octave, this might help clear it up".

Dutifully you try this, and sigh with despair as all the legs fall off the piano stool..

You phone back.. and have to once again go through counting each note with the helpdesk person who is unable to comprehend the simple phrase "all the notes are there, but the piano stool has no legs" .. 

"86..87..88.. yes, I know the notes are there.. the problem is the stool!" you attempt to tell them..

"ah.. the stool!".. the help desk person escalates you to their supervisor, who hmmm's a lot in agreement, then suggests that "these things just happen", and "did you make coffee before playing?".. you did? ah.. well your warranty is void, and they could send a carpenter out to reattach the legs, but they'll have to charge you.

Hanging up in disgust, you fetch a chair from the dining room, close and reopen the key cover a few times, and manage to get almost all the way through todays practice pieces before the piano decides every note is now Eb and will remain so until tomorrow.

Defeated, you pick up your copy of "Technical Piano" magazine, and read all about the new release of 'Piano 2.0' due out next Tuesday, which will hopefully resolve that last octave problem for good, but the reviewer isn't very hopeful as the same claims were made for Piano 1.8 and 1.9, and they just made it worse. 'Piano 2.0' will of course, only work on pianos made in the last 2 years, will require an extra string to be added for every 3rd note, and will likely mean on older pianos that notes may not play properly during fast sections of music. Despite these drawbacks, the reviewer thinks it looks like the best release of Piano since 1.2 introduced the sustain pedal.

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