EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

The Electromagnetically-Prepared Piano and its Compositional Implications

Per Bloland

Dr. Per Bloland, Oberlin Conservatory of Music


PDF - 1.1 Mb
Download the paper


The Electromagnetically Prepared Piano device allows for direct control of piano strings through the use of an array of electromagnets. Created several years ago at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), the EMPP differs significantly from previous instruments based on similar principles in that each magnet is controlled by an arbitrary external audio signal, resulting in a much higher degree of control over pitch and timbre. The resultant sounds range from simple sine tones through complex, often ethereal textures. For the most part, these timbres are more evocative of electronically synthesized sonorities than of the acoustic piano strings from which they emanate. This paper has three primary goals: 1) to examine the compositional implications of such a hybrid instrument, 2) to describe several of the compositions that have utilized the device, and 3) to provide a detailed mechanical description for others who may wish to experiment with such a device.

EMS11 Proceedings