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Anne Beetem Acker

Line of MIDI-based reproducing player pianos introduced by Yamaha Corporation in 1982 (1986 in North America). The Disklavier system combines an acoustic piano with an electromechanical player-piano system. As in other such systems, fibre-optic sensors register the movement of keys, hammers, and pedals during performance, while the digital controller operates a bank of solenoids installed under the piano’s key bed; one solenoid is positioned under the tail of each key, with additional solenoids connected to the pedal rods. Performance information is stored digitally on CD-ROM, floppy discs (still used for many accompaniments for instructional piano material), or a hard drive. Disklavier systems can be connected to sequencers, tone modules, and computers via MIDI and Ethernet. A built-in speaker system attached to the case under the soundboard is used to play back optional digital piano sound and especially for playback of accompanying orchestral or vocal tracks.

Unlike other electronic player systems, the Disklavier is only installed in new Yamaha pianos and only at the factory. It cannot be installed in older Yamahas or other brands of pianos. Compared with other systems, the Disklavier’s recording capability is generally regarded to be of the highest quality and sophistication. Of the Disklavier models available in ...

Article

Leonidas Economou

(b Trikala, Greece, April 7, 1922; d Athens, Greece, April 8, 1990). Greek composer and lyricist. He was of middle-class origin and finished high school in 1941. He became fascinated with rebetiko and the music of the refugees from Asia Minor, and he was also influenced by religious Byzantine and folk music. From 1941 until 1947 he worked as a bouzouki player in taverns and nightclubs in Trikala and especially Thessaloniki. He was lauded for his first recorded compositions, made in 1947 and including the emblematic laïko song Nychtose choris fengari (‘The Night Fell with No Moon’), which were invested with various social and political meanings as a result of the civil war. In the following years he cooperated with several important laïko creators, and had dozens of hits in the late rebetiko style with singers like Haskil, Tsaousakis, and Bellou, and in grieving or Indian style with singers like Kazantzidis, Gavalas, Angelopoulos, Menidiatis, and Lydia. From ...

Article

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...

Article

Hugh Davies

Electromechanical keyboard instrument developed by Frederick M. Sammis at RCA in Hollywood about 1936 and designed for use in film studios. Each of the ten (or perhaps more) keys on the keyboard controlled a separate strip of pre-recorded film soundtrack, which was played back when the key was depressed. The soundtracks could contain recordings of music, speech, or sound effects. The mechanism of the instrument included a device that silently returned each film strip to its beginning as soon as the key was released. The principle of the ‘singing keyboard’ is the same as that found in several patents in the 1920s for instruments based on sounds pre-recorded on magnetized discs and wires, and in the Mellotron (1963), which uses magnetic tapes. About 1933 Sammis collaborated with Arnold Lesti on the Polytone.

F.M. Sammis: ‘The Singing Keyboard’, Radio-Craft (1936), no.7, 588, 617 T. Rhea: ‘Electronic Perspectives: Photoelectric Acoustic-Sound Instruments’, ...