A museum whose curator is a programmer

ZENPH takes audio recordings and turns them back into live performances, precisely replicating what was originally recorded. The software-based process extracts and encodes the details of how each note was played, including musical nuances such as volume, articulation, and pedal actions. The encoding is played back on an acoustic grand piano fitted with sophisticated computers and hardware, allowing listeners to experience the performance as if they were in the room when the original recording was made. This "re-performance" is then recorded afresh using the latest techniques. The result is a sonic rediscovery of an iconic twentieth-century recording.

So reads the promotional copy on the back of my newest cd. We'll see.

To tell the truth, I'm a little more interested in the prospect of seeing a re-performance live than in being able to buy a record of a re-performance. The Zenph website has a schedule of upcoming performances, but it's not exactly a coming to your town soon sort of thing. And anyway, it looks like their catalog is still pretty thin -- they've got one record each from Glenn Gould and Art Tatum, and one forthcoming from Isaac Albeniz, who I suppose I should have heard of but haven't.

I'm eager for the day when this technology can be extended to instruments other than the piano, and developed so that the re-creations don't have to be extracted from solo performances. I'm thinking in particular about some Sydney Bechet tracks I've heard that feature wonderful playing of the soprano sax but are marred by an atrocious rhythm section and low quality audio. It sure would be something to be able to pull out Bechet's playing and then pair up a Zenph/Bechet-bot with competent accompaniment.

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