Original Link - http://japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/musical-instrument-makers-direct-energies-into-hybrid-pianos
HAMAMATSU —Japanese musical instrument makers are pouring their energies into the development of hybrid pianos combining traditional skills with digital technology.
These manufacturers include Yamaha Corp and Kawai Musical Instruments Mfg Co.
Yamaha’s latest product is the AvantGrand, a size smaller than a grand piano. Kawai has a piano which emphasizes a soundboard speaker. Roland marketed the electronic piano V-Piano last year.
Their competition for the development and sale of hybrid and electronic pianos is expected to intensify against the backdrop of declines in the number of acoustic pianos sold in the country.
According to the Japan Musical Instruments Association, the sale of acoustic pianos amounted to about 300,000 at their peak but plummeted to about 20,000 last year.
Piano makers are trying to find a way to put their technology to use in new instruments that enable musical lovers to enjoy a genuine sound and a sense of playing a grand piano, which they cannot own because they live in a small space or it would be too noisy.
Pianist Ikuyo Nakamichi played ‘‘Love’s Greeting’’ composed by E.W. Elgar at a gathering held in Tokyo by Yamaha Corp to publicly unveil AvantGrand, a new product in its hybrid series. Those present at the performance listened to the rich sound of the piano.
Speaking highly of the piano, Nakamichi said the feel of it was the same as that of a grand piano, adding its sound responded to different touches she made on the keyboard.
A musical composition like ‘‘Love’s Greeting’’ with a refined tune as its distinctive feature could bring out the quality of a piano and the ability of a performer. Yamaha is confident in the success of the AvantGrand in its first hybrid series.
AvantGrand’s volume control is made from the sound coming from the speaker in a mechanism akin to an electronic piano. Its keyboard system is similar to that of a grand piano.
The maker installed an exclusive speaker and pedals to reinforce the sound quality of a new piano.
A 14-year-old junior high school student in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, who is getting lessons playing a model piano priced at about 1.52 million yen, said the sound is close to that of a grand piano.
Yamaha President Mitsuru Umemura said his company wants to respond to diverse consumer needs and hopes to increase to five times the sale of hybrid pianos five years from now.
Like an acoustic piano, Kawai’s soundboard speaker produces sounds by shaking wood but vibration comes from electric signals instead of strings. Kawai said sound control is possible and the expanse of sounds has remarkably improved as compared with conventional speakers.
Kawai also said that without using headphones a sound source has made the improvement possible.
Roland Corp, a major electronic musical instrument maker, marketed V-Piano by enhancing a change in smoothing sound color, previously considered a problem for an electronic piano. V-Piano players can also make sounds to their liking.
Kazuya Yanase, a board member, said the piano has been accepted by classical music pianists ‘‘beyond our expectations.’’