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Jul 30, 2017 9:50 AM ET

mPIANO – OPEN UP A NEW DIMENSION OF MUSIC A world premiere from Austria, the country of music – Breathtaking design and innovative features that will inspire creativity

iCrowdNewswire - Jul 30, 2017

About this project

At ALPHA PIANOS, we develop and distribute exceptionally designed electronic musical instruments incorporating an array of outstanding features and groundbreaking technology. 

We innovate to unite form and function, and to provide musicians with organic instruments that seamlessly respond to the most expressive performances. Our success is measured by the musicians who love these instruments and the exciting music they create.

With these incomparable instruments, ALPHA PIANOS GmbH positions itself as a visionary pioneer in the traditional musical instrument industry. 

mPIANO is a MIDI controller that hides all control functions for polyphonic expression inside the keyboard of a grand piano.

Look beyond the magnificent design and you’ll discover new expressive possibilities to inspire your creative spirit. For the first time you can shape and energize your performances on real piano keys with built-in control options.

Fully functional mPIANO prototype
Fully functional mPIANO prototype

Touch-sensitive key surfaces and high-resolution pressure/release sensitivity give you extensive real-time control of your performance after you hit the note.

  • 88 original, long piano keys 
  • Capacitive sensor beneath the surface of each key 
  • Constant key resistance through innovative shape memory alloy springs 
  • High-resolution optical sensors to accurately measure the slightest key movements 
  • Adjustable note-on/note-off thresholds 
  • Up to four keyboard split zones with individual characteristics 
  • iOS App to configure individual real-time controller settings and create set lists 

TOUCH-SENSITIVITY

Beneath the surface of each key is a capacitive sensor that recognizes the location and movement of your finger on each key. Finger placement and motion on the key surface can be configured for pitch bend, aftertouch or any other continuous controller (MIDI CC) through the mPIANO iPad app. Even the length of the touch-sensitive area on the keys can be defined and customized in up to four keyboard split zones.

SHAPE MEMORY ALLOY KEY SPRINGS

One of mPIANO’s revolutionary innovations is the weighting of the keys. For the first time it is possible to have a constant counterforce for each key, no matter how far it is pressed – a property of real piano action. This is achieved by using shape memory alloy springs below each key that recall their original form when the key is released.

Unique high-resolution optical sensors below each key measure the speed of the vertical movement, delivering ten times higher precision than MIDI. Depending on your note-on threshold settings, you may trigger notes at even the slightest touch. As another example, you may assign key pressure to volume – the further a key is pressed, the louder your strings get. Assigning key pressure to aftertouch or any other CC value opens a world of options for shaping and morphing sounds.

THE APP

Take the mPIANO’s user interface with you. Connect the iPad app with any mPIANO via WLAN or LAN and transfer your settings and playlists to the controller. The intuitive and comprehensive app lets you manage settings, such as:

  • Division in up to 4 individual split areas; as narrow as one key 
  • Configuration of note-on and note-off threshold, touch-sensitive slider, key pressure 
  • Pedal configuration 
  • Set lists for live operation

The mPIANO is ageless, you can imagine it in a futuristic set as well as in a classical setting. What we chose was the first, and most simple draft designed.

»The mPIANO fascinates with its sophisticated actuator technology, which provides musicians with novel possibilities, and not least with its impressive design.«
»The mPIANO fascinates with its sophisticated actuator technology, which provides musicians with novel possibilities, and not least with its impressive design.«

 

 

mPIANO – play music in three dimensions without lifting your hands from the keyboard.

Touch-sensitive key surfaces and high-resolution pressure/release sensitivity give you extensive real-time control of your performance after you hit the note.

  

 

 

Never lift a hand again. Under each key, a hidden capacitive sensor measures the finger’s motion. Each key is like a touchscreen and it generates data. With the mPIANO iOS App you decide what you want to control with each single key-slider.  MIDI CC, monophonic and polyphonic expression, volume control, pitch bend, aftertouch mono- and polyphonic, even light shows… anything you can think of.

mPIANO keys
mPIANO keys

Moving your fingers along the continuous controller then steers and modulates the sound – without lifting your hands from the keyboard.

A high-resolution optical sensor under each key exactly measures key travel. It counts microscopic lines (16 lines/mm) on the key’s way up and down. It doesn’t measure reflection but physical lines.

Using the mPIANO App you decide the range that’s supposed to generate sound.

mPIANO rendering
mPIANO rendering

This means you can trigger sounds at the very start of key travel, by barely touching the key. You may play a note by tapping or stroking the keys – to play a glissando on the harp, or to play it like a xylophone, or wind instruments. mPIANO is fully customizable, whichever idea you may have.  On top of that, measuring key travel from the top instead of from the bottom reduces the latency of the keys, helping everyone to play much faster on the mPIANO!

 

 

Take the mPIANO’s user interface with you. Connect the iPad app with any mPIANO via WLAN or LAN and transfer your settings and playlists to the controller. The intuitive and comprehensive app lets you customize each setting.

mPIANO iOS App
mPIANO iOS App

 

 

 PATENTS 

  • 8 Patents  
  • 4 Utility Patents  
  • Patented Design  

AWARDS 

  • i2b 2014 
  • Riz Genius 2015 
  • Red Dot Award, Product Design 2016 
  • Niederösterreichischer Kulturpreis 2018

  

 

Both. I am a musician, I even have a degree in guitar. Later I worked as a sound technician for television and ran a sound studio. I was headhunted by Bösendorfer, the historical Austrian piano manufacturer. (I think of it as mama now!) There I led the electronic development department but also learned how to build the best pianos in the world.

At Bösendorfer we had this electronic grand piano in a corner, but nobody cared. I started working on it to develop it further. I also fell a bit in love with it. In 2007 Bösendorfer was taken over by Yamaha and of course the focus shifted completely on tradition. But I couldn’t let go of my idea of the best electronic piano ever. So I decided to build it myself. My first project was the ALPHA Piano, it combines the best of an analog and an e-piano. Basically it’s existing technology taken to extremes. 

It sounds like a cliché but I read a book about Steve Jobs! No kidding, after reading about the power of innovation I started thinking freely. Ha! Instead of running after a focus group and making something old better, I wanted to create a new instrument. I started thinking about the best keyboard ever, what it should be able to do. I cleared my mind from existing pianos, keyboards and technology, and wrote down a list of technical features – regardless of their feasibility. 

Because it’s easy, many people know how to play the piano and can start creating music on an mPIANO straight away!

Right. In order to use the mPIANO all you need is a MIDI cable, an iPad and some loudspeakers. The optimal setting would include a computer with a sample library or physical modeling (this way one can fully control all features of the mPIANO like split-zones, sliders, MIDI MPE…).

Rudiments, like apps for tablets. What we do is building an entirely new instrument.

The development is done, now we want to start serial production and make the mPIANO available for everybody

The funding sum will be invested in a mold for the mPIANO’s body to be realised in twin sheet technology, to finish the hardware development as well as the software and the iOS App.

Playing the mPIANO you move your fingers not only up/down and right/left, but also back/forward, opening up a new dimension.

Like with any new tool, the mere existence of new possibilities opens up new synapses in your brain. CreativityNew music. The first tests with musicians confirm this and show that they’re having a lot of fun with the mPIANO!

Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater playing the mPIANO prototype
Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater playing the mPIANO prototype

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mPIANO prototype
mPIANO prototype

 

mPIANO prototype
mPIANO prototype

 

mPIANO prototype
mPIANO prototype

 

 project video thumbnail

 

  • Number of keys: 88 
  • Type of keys: Solid spruce keys 
  • Polyphonic and monophonic aftertouch: Yes 
  • Sliders: 88 
  • Pedal: mPIANO unit with 3 pedals, analog or digital 
  • MIDI I/O: USB 2.0 USB: Yes 
  • Hardware requirements: Apple iPad 
  • OS requirements: Mac iOS 9.0 or later  
  • Power supply: 110 ‐ 230V AC 
  • Height: 762 mm / 30“ 
  • Width: 1.430 mm / 56,3“ 
  • Depth: 673 mm / 26,5“ 
  • Weight: 60 kg / 133 lb
  •  project video thumbnail

     

    Konstantin Alexander Wecker (born June 1, 1947, Munich) is a well-known German based singer-songwriter (“Liedermacher”); he also works as a composer, author, and actor.

     

     

     

     

    Special thanks to:

Risks and challenges

Keyboard – 
it is important that the keyboard meets the design’s specifications. Other keyboard instruments have a superstructure on the body and one can see only the front part of the keys, while the mPIANO’s 40 cm long keys are in plain sight. The gap between keys and their height must be perfectly built and meet the strict technical specification even after years of heavy use.

Body – 
Furthermore, the mPIANO’s body must conform to the design and feature a uniform and seamless surface. Assembly and bonding of the different pieces must guarantee that the joints won’t be visible under the lacquer.

Electronics – 
The high definition key sensors count 16 lines/mm. This is especially important for the adjusting of the note on/off position. Long-term tests and climate tests already show very good results in this area. It must be guaranteed that the mPIANO endures the hard and prolonged conditions of the tour life. Especially dust, liquids and oils must be kept away from the thin lines, and/or intercepted by specific calibration procedures.

Capacitive sensors glued under the keys’ coat scan the finger’s position. The calibration of their sensitivity is incredibly important since skin moisture is different for every user. If the sliders are too sensitive they could generate signals when adjoining keys are not pressed but brushed against. A too low sensitivity, on the other hand, would require too much pressure on the key to generate any effect.

Contact Information:

Ronny Steibl

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