Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 49

Grieg’s Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 16, for performance with a real orchestra. At the time, the General MIDI tone generator that rendered the orchestral instruments sounded quite artificial, but I found that practicing with this early stage, virtual orchestra was much more helpful than practicing with a second-piano accompaniment or an inflexible MMO recording. That was the state-of-the-art in the mid-1990s, when we so eagerly looked to the future.

Personal Orchestra. These files and more will become available for sale on the Zenph website. How was the experience? Ask the kids. Seven-year-old Elizabeth stated, “I think it’s fun!” Thirteen-year-old Caity remarked, “Wow, this is awesome! I was really excited because I’ve never played with something like this before.”

The virtual orchestra matures
Frank continued to develop his software over the years, and today it is available under the name Home Concert Xtreme, produced by Zenph Sound Innovations (www.zenph.com). In its current incarnation, the program not only follows the soloist, it also displays music on the screen and turns the pages automatically (the Clavier Companion review is in the September/October 2010 issue). However, the program, by itself, does not provide a complete, virtual reality experience. In order to have a compelling, concerto experience with a virtual orchestra you need: • a quality piano that can be connected to a personal computer or iPad • score-following software (such as Home Concert Xtreme) • a MIDI file that contains the left- and right-hand piano tracks as well as separate tracks for the orchestral parts • a realistic tone generator for the orchestra • quality speakers There are a number of sources of quality acoustic pianos that can be plugged into a computer or iPad. Yamaha’s Disklavier (www.disklavier.com) is one of the best known choices. In the case of the concert at the University of Utah (described above), a Steinway was fitted with a PNOscan system (www.qrsmusic.com). Without affecting the touch or tone of the instrument, PNOscan provides optical sensors under the keys and in the pedal mechanism and can be added to any acoustic piano. Both the Disklavier and the PNOscan system output MIDI data and can be plugged into a computer. Of course, a quality digital piano can suffice. Achieving a realistic orchestra sound is a difficult matter. The usual General MIDI (GM) tone generator that is available in many MIDI keyboards and computers is relatively low quality. For example, GM has no way of differentiating among a violin upbow, downbow, or spiccato bow. There are, however, very expensive orchestral sound libraries that provide a broad range of samples for all of the standard instruments. The best of these cost thousands of dollars and take up many gigabytes of computer storage. Although their sounds are compelling, these high level orchestral libraries are impractical for most people—at the present time. In 2004, harpist Gary Garritan released an amazing string library at an affordable price. Not long after that, he completed an orchestra set with the addition of woodwinds, brass, and percussion and named the package Garritan Personal Orchestra (www.garritan.com). The sounds in this library were produced by recording studio musicians. This library of orchestral sounds has a retail price of $149, which puts the library into an affordable price range. MIDI files for the University of Utah concert were created by expert musicians who carefully edited the files, optimizing them for Garritan
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 CLAVIER COMPANION

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Clavier Companion - January/February 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clavier Companion - January/February 2012

Clavier Companion - January/February 2012
Contents
Editor's Page: New discoveries
Variations: Tackling a twelve-year old's slump
Musings: Creative being and the disciplined life
An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
The story of music on board the RMS Titanic
The enchanted world of piano fairy tales
Jazz & Pop: The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation
Music Reading: Recipes for effective teaching
Perspectives: Coping with burnout
Technology: Virtual reality in the piano studio
Tech Tips
First Looks: What Music Means To Me
New music reviews
CD & DVD reviews
News & Notes
Pupil Saver
Keyboard Kids' Companion
Advertiser Index
Questions & Answers
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Clavier Companion - January/February 2012
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover2
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Contents
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 2
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 3
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Editor's Page: New discoveries
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 5
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Variations: Tackling a twelve-year old's slump
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 7
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Musings: Creative being and the disciplined life
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 9
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 11
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 12
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 13
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 14
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 15
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 16
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 17
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - The story of music on board the RMS Titanic
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 19
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 20
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 21
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 22
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 23
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 24
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 25
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 26
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 27
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 28
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 29
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - The enchanted world of piano fairy tales
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 31
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 32
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 33
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 34
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 35
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Jazz & Pop: The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 37
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Music Reading: Recipes for effective teaching
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 39
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 40
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 41
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Perspectives: Coping with burnout
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 43
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 44
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 45
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Technology: Virtual reality in the piano studio
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Tech Tips
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 48
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 49
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - New music reviews
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 51
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 52
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 53
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - CD & DVD reviews
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 55
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - News & Notes
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Pupil Saver
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 58
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 59
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Keyboard Kids' Companion
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 61
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Advertiser Index
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 63
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Questions & Answers
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover3
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover4
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