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June 18, 2024

Talking Piano

Wrote Kottke: "The Talking Piano is a regular analog piano played by a computer-controlled mechanical machine and sounds like a person speaking."


Deus Cantando is the work of artist Peter Ablinger.

He recorded a German school student reciting some text and then composed a tune for the mechanical player to sound like the recitation.

I cannot improve upon Jason Noble's description of the work:

This is not digital manipulation, nor a digitally programmed piano like a Disklavier.

This is a normal, acoustic piano, any old piano.

The mechanism performing it consists of 88 electronically controlled, mechanical "fingers," synchronized with superhuman speed and accuracy to replicate the spectral content of a child’s voice.

Watching the above-linked video, it may seem that the speech is completely intelligible, but this is partially an illusion.

The visual prompt of the words on the screen are an essential cue: take them away, and it becomes much harder to understand the words.

But it is still remarkable that the auditory system is able to group discrete notes from a piano into such a close approximation of a continuous human voice, and that Ablinger was able to do this so convincingly using a conventional instrument (albeit, played robotically).

Don't need no stinkin' AI....

June 18, 2024 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


Deus Cantando means God singing. As used above, it is blasphemous.

Posted by: James DiGriz | Jun 19, 2024 5:28:38 PM

When I watch the closed captions I can get it. But with my eyes closed......nada.

Posted by: Mike | Jun 19, 2024 9:54:13 AM

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