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Modular Miniature Piano

Shrink a piano and then correct the frequency electronically
  [vote for,

Pianos are expensive, heavy, and just loud enough to be distracting to roommates and neighbors but still too quiet to hear in concert without amplification. For churches and productions, long magnetic pickups similar to those used in electric guitars are placed underneath and above all the strings. Let's make the piano strings smaller, down to about a foot long (mean length). A set of strings has a magnetic pickup. Then electronics downshift the frequency and provide hi-fi audio output to headphones or amplifiers. Each modular piano covers four octaves. You can put together two to get a normal size piano, or more to get a church organ, turning the knob to change the frequency of each module as needed.

It's likely that shorter strings will vibrate for a shorter period of time. That's why we seal and pull vacuum on the string chamber. The vacuum sealed chamber is immune to the moisture and temperature changes that otherwise necessitate seasonal re-tuning. The stronger the vacuum, the quieter the instrument becomes. This muting is absolutely necessary because the high-pitched direct audio could sound silly.

How do you play a piano in a vacuum chamber? Use hydraulics to transfer keypresses to the inside of the chamber. The hydraulic links decouple the size of the keys from the spacing of the strings, a boon to the big-fingered and small-handed.

With this mostly-physical setup, you should retain more control over the sound than you would with an electric piano. Or maybe it would sound terrible. But who can say no to a piano that can be played on the beach or in the rain worry-free?

Ketchupybread, Apr 09 2013

Yamaha CP70 http://www.youtube....watch?v=iCiN2oCKGtQ
Electric piano [piluso, Apr 09 2013]


       I suspect that it will sound less like a piano than an electric piano does. There's no reason why it shouldn't sound good, though.
spidermother, Apr 09 2013

       They make some great-sounding Clavinovas these days.
RayfordSteele, Apr 09 2013

       Antonino von Gambolt baked this in 1823. His patent describes a piano (the "Magnetopaphon") in which all the strings were between 7 and 10cm long, and composed of steel wire coated with iron-impregnated latex. Amplification was accomplished by means of magnetized metal reeds tuned to match the frequency of each string, and vibrating in sympathy with the strings between gold-plated contacts; these reeds, in turn, controlled a current which flowed through a primitive but functional loudspeaker.   

       The resulting sound was a rather harsh square- wave, but this was mellowed somewhat by passing the sound through a large coiled boxwood resonator.   

       The Magnetopaphon enjoyed a short but spectacular career on the concert circuit, only to sink without trace six years after its conception. Only 9 were ever made, one of which was presented to George IV. The only surviving and playable example is on display at the West Arbroath Museum of Musical Anthropology in Dundee.   

       von Gambolt died in poverty, disillusioned, in 1841 in the Andaman islands, where he had failed to convince the Catholic church to adopt his Magnetopaphone. Although he had patented the device, he was unable to pay the renewal fee on the patent, which consequently lapsed. A slightly interesting fact: a Magnetopaphon was installed at Charing Cross railway station, where it was used from 1831 to 1954 to play a six-note jingle as a prelude to announcements.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2013

       //where he had failed to convince the Catholic church to adopt his Magnetopaphone//   

       Sp. Magnetopaphon   

       //For churches and productions, long magnetic pickups similar to those used in electric guitars are placed underneath and above all the strings.//   

       Really? Huh. When I worked as a theater tech we just set a mic pointing into the grand piano and called it a day.
ytk, Apr 09 2013


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