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Pianodrome CIC create interactive artworks and venues made from pianos which would otherwise go to waste. Driven by a belief that ‘no piano is junk, no person is unmusical’, the Pianodrome brings astonishing cultural experiences to audiences and artists alike.

Pianodrome – Sink Achmed Film – c Chris Scott

In 2018 they built the Pianodrome Amphitheatre, the world’s first amphitheatre made entirely from upcycled pianos. This impressive structure, and the community and ideas that fuelled it, laid the foundations for a new cultural hub for music, theatre and interactive sculpture.

The Pianodrome is a participatory sculptural work which questions contemporary notions of art and environment, and a safe space in which people can explore their own creativity.

The Challenge

Pianodrome’s challenge is to connect two pianos in separate geographical locations together in real time, using a digital/physical interface which allows players at each piano to engage in a musical dialogue with one another.

They would like a Challenge Respondent to develop a solution that would enable music played on piano A to be recreated on piano B in real time, playing the same sequence of notes with the same expressive qualities. A successful solution to this challenge would enable players sitting at pianos in different locations to experience a unique form of musical communication with somebody they may have never met before.

While digital player-piano technology has already been developed for the high-end piano market by both Steinway and Yamaha, and companies such as PianoDisc have created systems of servos controlled using MIDI which can be fitted to existing pianos, the real-time interactivity of digital player-pianos has not yet been fully explored in a public setting.

Pianodrome at Leith Theatre – credit Matt Wright

The successful respondent might develop the project using pre-existing technologies, or could create a system based on traditional mechanical player-pianos (known as pianolas). A secure, two-way connection between two pianos in two different locations, should allow players at each piano to interact with one another through the keyboard in real time.

Pianodrome are looking for a Challenge Respondent to develop a prototype that will allow a piano in Leeds to be connected to a piano in Edinburgh as part of Leeds International Piano Competition, taking place in September 2021. 

They are interested in partnering with a Challenge Respondent that is open to working with them on a collaborative basis to explore the technological and musical possibilities for the future of these unique and exciting venues.

They hope that this Challenge Project will be the first step towards developing an innovative system that can be reproduced at an affordable cost and used to create a ‘Pianopticon’, a digitally connected network of Pianodrome amphitheatres around the world. The ‘Pianopticon’ will link venues together in real time by live streaming visuals and audio, alongside physical-digital connectivity, from one Pianodrome directly to another, and vice-versa, providing an immersive, audio-visual experience to all who enter.

A successful connected player-piano system will improve the value of the Pianodrome’s offering to international partners. They will be seeking funding from Creative Scotland to develop the next stage of the Pianopticon network, and are looking for long term technology partners who can help to articulate their ambitious visions.

Applications for this Challenge Project are now closed. If you have any questions, please contact us at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.


If you are interested in responding to this challenge please contact the Creative Informatics team.

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