A new quarter-tone piano has been created at The Sibelius Music Academy

A new quarter-tone piano has been created at The Sibelius Music Academy
A quarter-tone piano, ya bish

I’m so over the piano, man. I mean, that bullshit sideways-harp-of-an-instrument has been in need of an overhaul for like, EVER, am I right?

Oh. Sorry. That actually wasn’t a rhetorical question, guys. I AM right. The Sibelius Music Academy at The University of the Arts Helsinki SAYS SO. See, they just announced that they successfully made a new piano. A better one. With more keys on it and shit. Fucking twice as many, actually.

It’s called a quarter-tone piano. And according to the wizards of invention at this school, it’s “become more and more common in contemporary music.” Logically, it follows that anyone who doesn’t agree with that statement and long to start playing one RIGHT AWAY is a complete Philistine. You’re not one of those, are you? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Keep reading.

“About 10 years ago, in the Sibelius Academy student dorm Clavis, we started to play with the idea of realizing the 24-tonescale chromaticism on just one piano in a way that is ergonomic also for the player,” said Sibelius Academy pianist Elisa Järvi. She and composer Sampo Haapamäki then started to tinker around with that idea, “testing different versions first with paper and felt.” After a while, the Academy’s “development center” and “piano department” got their shit together and funded a prototype, one-octave model (created by piano technician Matti Kyllönen).

From there, it all just kinda unfolded like some unlistenable-but-still-cool, John Cage-scored fucking fairy tale, readers. The project was “further developed with the support from the Finnish Cultural Fund,” and by 2014, Toholammi and his carpenter-buddy Otso Haapamäki “built the first full-scale keyboard prototype.” And one year later, boom: they finished this new one (with additional software developed by technician Libero Mureddu) and installed the thing at the goddamn Sibelius Center, where it’s “now available for Sibelius Academy tuition across faculties and departments — pianists, composer and music technicians.” The end.

What’s that you say? YOU totally get it? But your “neighbor” isn’t as cool as you are and might need the concept explained to him?

Okay. See, first of all, the idea of quarter-tones basically means DOUBLING the amount of keys on a standard piano, which is tuned chromatically in half-steps. This one goes up by quarters instead of halves. Second of all, the doubly cool thing about this new piano is that “the keyboard can be attached to a computer and speakers or two disclaviers tuned a quarter-tone apart,” which allows for acoustic reproduction of the sound.

But what is the Sibelius Academy gonna do with this thing? Well, for pianists fortunate enough to find themselves at this University music school’s doorstep, the instrument “offers opportunities to challenge one’s own musicianship and also one’s ears.” The relative familiarity of the standard(ish)-looking keyboard “hopefully proves useful in for example teaching solfége,” and pianists can now be “challenged to think about new fingering possibilities,” Järvi says. She is also “hoping that I could issue new solo pieces for this instrument.” In other words, it’s like I said up-top, man: everyone who knows ANYTHING about playing a piano is bored-as-shit with that instrument and its stupid, pesky, saccharine-sweet “musicality” and “even temperament.” But now, praise the goddamn gods: there’s exactly one piano in the world that, even for the most anal-retentive of performance or composition majors, is a bewildering pain in the ass all over again.

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