From the Monster to the Tiny

  • Posted on: 30 June 2019
  • By: C.J.
Picture of piano with arrow pointing to computer screen, taken by the author.

Last week's experiment was bigness on top of huge piled high with enormity, encompassing the all-colossal! This weekend, instead, I went small.

The Casio is now doing it's normal duty of playing the role of a practice piano--I remember the long, long hours spent practicing in the studios at Metro, and don't miss them! But, if I didn't have this little get-up, I would be there, damaging my ears playing hours at a stretch.

Speaking of little, in the lower left corner of the image attached to this article, there is a circle surrounding a wireless MIDI connector, the Bluetooth MD BT-01 from Yamaha. It actually cost about as much as the keyboard riser used in last week's experiment, but I've paid twice as much for the same (wired) functionality in the past.

Oh, please note that I paid for the item, no one is paying me directly, except through the advertising that may appear on this site.

That's right, wireless MIDI! I buried the lede on that--sorry!

It is remarkable to work with. I had low expectations from personal history with MIDI flakiness, but the online reviews were compelling (and the price point fortunately fell within casual-purchase range). I opened the box, and connected it following the instructions--with MIDI, it pays to be patient, as the literal "OUT" cable is connected to the "IN" port, or something--and the lights started to flash when I powered the Casio on. I downloaded a utility to my phone--clearly, that is the dominant digital distribution model these days, but I digitally digress--and I was able to connect and update the firmware in a few minutes. Writing that, I gots to thinking...

Write first. Ask questions later.

Actually, I played first. Configuring it via Audio MIDI Setup was a snap. There was absolutely no lag in practicing Hanon exercises, on the most beautiful Steinway-ish concert grand piano patch I had available in GarageBand.

I know, that's a sacrilege, but in this case, merely a virtual travesty. And then, I found a clavichord setting of such pure beauty and aesthetic grace that I knew that I had to record J.S. Bach's C-major Prelude #1 from the first book of the Well Tempered Clavier (originally from 1722). I was determined to record it at a tempo appropriate to my ineptitude, but there was a nasty page turn that killed me dead. Actually, the recording was marked by distraction, at first, as I was listening to a wireless rendering and that experience, in itself, was freeing and distracting. Then, I marveled when I actually played the music note perfect...

Thanks, little voice. Saying, "Wow, I can't believe you made it this far," was so not helpful! But, there you have it. That's life as it is lived, in the moment, which I then said to hell with and all that.

But the page turn! Even after making it that far, I was unable to musically fake or flub my way through it. And flub, I did. Until I remembered, that I used to have to make photocopies of music all the time in college, if Ginny or Patrice at the Music Department were around. If head honcho Hal, umm, Professor Tamblyn, was there, no dice. But I didn't have to make a trip to the media library on the Auraria Campus today, as I have a scanner...

I also have an iPad right here. I could be ecological and not print out a page of scrap paper with the second page of the score, if I had a picture of it. I could use that picture as the second page. The attached image I mentioned previously has a blue arrow showing the connection between the page of the Dover edition of the 1866 Bach-Gesellschaft edition and the iPad...

And I really could use that picture as a second page, if the iPad didn't put itself to sleep.

Yes, right as I got to the point in the really-actually-live recording where I needed it, the image disappeared.

Thanks, Apple.

But, I treated the built-in and unmodifiable automated system display setting like a page turn, and you might hear that in the recording. When I got to the end of the first page, instead of turning the page, I would touch the iPad to wake it up and increase the brightness. Of course, that took several attempts in order to be successful, including several swear-filled sessions that make me glad that I wasn't recording the audio--just the MIDI information--as I played it. I don't know if I'll publish my recording here, as I only started practicing the super-duper-simple prelude again a week or so ago. After, you know, practicing it for hours, over and over, in the practice studios at Metro. As one does.

And when one gets to thinking, one is glad that Apple is digitally signing the utility software from Yamaha. I'm going to keep that app around, and also not leave Bluetooth on by default. I turn the piano off, so there's that. But, I would be remiss in mentioning some new "Internet of Things" thing--that the BT-01 might or might not actually be part of--and not mention any security concerns.

Again, and sincerely, thanks, Apple.