Zenph: musical time machine on the way

29 Jul 2016

In my second last post I had discussed an idea of remastering of the old recordings to live sound. This discussion generated some feedback questions and doubts. To make it more specific, we just have to take a closer look at Zenph sound innovations technology which was invented directly for the conversion of recorded piano sound into a function of hammers and pedals of a real piano. It is a successful product of venture-backed technology company, currently the part of “Steinway & Sons”, led by a team of music and software professionals.


Once processed by Zenph technology, any historical piano recording on gramophone or LP,  turns into a code to monitor specially equipped piano in the same way as it was monitored by the artist in the past. This enables to hear the recording not through a loudspeaker but through a modern piano keyboard. The co-benefit of this approach is the possibility to clean up all acoustical imperfections caused by historical methods of sound recording and futher treatment, such as narrow frequency range, noises, scratches etc.


Here is the promo video from Zenph.



And here you can find one of the first products by Zenph “Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff: Zenph Re-performance”.


It is also interesting to read what musicians have to say about this product in their customer reviews.  57% of them have evaluated the result with five stars, what is definitely a big success if to take into account that we are just at the very beginning of the Digital era.


This is how the entire Golden Age of piano comes back to life.  Paderewski, Rachmaninov, Schnabel, Cortot, Kempff, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Sofronitsky etc. etc - a great slew of historical names, many of them almost forgotten just because of imperfection of recordings - are actually reemerging now as  current performers.


Isn’t that a dream? Who could resist to hear something like that in clear sound of high quality piano?



It is Ignaz Friedman with Chopin's Mazurka Op. 67, No. 4 in A Minor - a grain of gold among innumerable treasures of legendary era.


Zenph makes the musical market more full and more diverse, much to the delight of music lovers and, probably, to lesser delight of  living pianists who will appear to compete with old masters.


Although this competition may look figurative, we are not to forget that we talk about the Digital age and the ways virtual reality reveals to consume the music. To have physical body, so to say, natural bonus for living musicians, is a distinct advantage in material world but distinct disadvantage in virtual one. Not to mention the fact that the problem of corporeal body in the times of augmented reality is just the engineering problem.


In 2014, five years after his death, Michael Jackson had performed onstage his „Slave To The Rhythm” in his own 3D body. It happened by the instrumentality of digital hologram technologies at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The public was more than thrilled.



It would be wrong to appraise this very expensive experience with Jackson only in the sense of amusement for the rich. Hologram artists are the raising trend of musical entertainment. Just look here:



Or take the Hologram Comedy Club, a new digital project to open in August 2016 in Jamestown, NY. “The real reason why holograms of dead comedians are so innovative”:


"Hologram pioneer Hologram USA — the same people who gave us the Tupac Shakur hologram at Coachella in 2012 — just announced its latest “digital resurrection” project: a new plan to bring dead stand-up comedians back to life using holograms. At a new Hologram Comedy Club being built as part of a new $18 million National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y., tourists will have a chance to watch iconic comedy routines from some of the all-time comic greats — such as George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield and Bob Hope — in an intimate comedy club environment."


Is Ignaz Friedman of the less worth than comics?


Well, the hologram of somebody playing on Steinway Spirio is a strange spectacle. For today.  Once upon a time, a printed book, recorded music and train Lumière also looked strange. It’s all about the habit.



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Violinist deeply rooted in classical tradition and concerned about the future of the genre >> more about the author 

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