Piano-playing computer makes a piano speak English

February 6, 2013 | By Abraham | 5 comments

In 2009, Austrian composer Peter Ablinger broke down a recording of a child’s voice to its singular frequencies, like pixels of sound. He then programmed a computer-operated piano to play the notes associated with each “pixel.”

The result is an eerie, almost alien, voice. At first, it’s unintelligible as language, but then when you read the words it’s saying, you can’t help but hear the piano talking…

(via Boing Boing)

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5 Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    I can understand the “voice”, even before the words were put up, but I do think it would have been more successful if they had used a child who spoke more clearly. I’m not sure whether it was due to a speech impediment or whether English is not his 1st language, but in watching the clip of him reading, there were obviously some abnormalities there that, when transferred to a computer/piano, would be magnified.

    Still, it’s pretty cool that a piano can do that.

    1. thomasblair says:

      The technique of breaking a sound down to its component frequencies is called a Fourier transform and is used in many applications. I would think the toughest part of this is getting the keys to respond quickly enough. I’m sure he did some tweaking on the action of the piano.

  2. kane brown says:

    This is only possible on a grand piano (gravity action rather than spring), to try this on an upright would just be pointless… I commend his MIDI work.

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