Today has been strange. First the Tesla Coil and then the Theremin... and now I've got one more crazy instrument to show you. This one isn't some archaic remnant of a nutty inventor. It's just one of the coolest renditions of a very common instrument. Without further ado, I present to you, the Piano Arc!
This remix of the piano might not be on the "Whoops, we summoned an inter-dimensional demon" level, but it'll still blow your mind. Let me introduce you to Brockett Parsons, the lead keyboardist for Lady Gaga, and his invention, the PianoArc:
Parsons designed this beast to be the unification of three 88-key keyboards plus a 30-key control panel, giving you a total of... *gets my calculator*... 294 keys! Why is this even remotely interesting? For one, it does away with the guys who bring two keyboards and a synthesizer on stage with them, blocking the crowd's view of them or forcing them to stand sideways or backwards for most of the concert. Here, especially since you can program sounds to various sections of the literal piano roll, you can have access to a ton of different sounds, or keep them the same but use a million octaves.
It started off as just one of those cool things to do to enhance your live stage performance, but it took off and is now in production. What's really neat is when you realize you can fit two or three people inside the interior circle of the PianoArc. This allows two professionals to take turns supporting each other with chords or harmonization while they take turns soloing or composing the most beautiful improvised song you've heard.
The only problem is that so much of live performance includes indirect communication cues. Granted a lot of those are musical, many are just simple glances of the eyes or nods of the head, which you can't exactly get when you're back to back with your piano partner.
Brockett and his friend even played a demo of it at last years NAMM. Check it out in action, where they have it tilted, I suppose just for it to look cooler:
That's right. Two people can fit in there and play chopsticks at the same time! It's a special order so go ahead and get a request at the official site so you can have it to me by Christmas. Just tell the UPS guy to leave it at the front door.
I can't imagine what would happen if you slapped a couple dudes like Rick Wakeman and Lyle Mays in there. They'd be improvising next level fusion-psychedelic-jazz-rock and then Mays would accidentally step on Wakeman's wizard cape and all hell would break loose.
What I find most interesting about this is that, although Lady Gaga is an incredible pianist, that she even has one live on stage with her. Most pop stars just sing and dance to backing tracks, usually to save some money and make it so they can lip sync for the most part. I have respect for any musician who doesn't need a live band but brings one anyways. Might as well support other artists and give us all more chances to work in the industry.
Mad props to Lady Gaga for that and to Brockett Parsons for his PianoArc!