Nils also made a wonderful contribution to the music community with his instrument plug-in:
To my knowledge, harpsichords and pianos are never fretted and need at least one string per note.
If you meant "typically" as in the majority, the majority of the keys have three strings.
For uprights, the una corda pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings so they don't accelerate for as long on their way in.
But on a grand, the una corda pedal indeed still shifts the entire mechanism to the right so that the hammers truly hit una corda each.
String resonance and the case. Removing the case from a piano is like a make a drum out of a hoop and a skin. The case modulates the sound. It softens the rough edges and projects sound in particular directions. Removing it doesn't make the sound better. The case also ensures that all the piano innards are in a homogeneous environment. Without a case, individual strings will be in different temperature regions. Wooden parts will be in different moistures. Felt and leather bits will age inconstantly. A piano living without a case is like storing a strat violin on a shelf: artistically interesting but not done by anyone who actually appreciates the instrument.
Try Harold Budd:
('tis not-so-humble self-promotion, of course, but let me know if you do like it!)
Frahm uses prepared pianos — meaning pianos that have been modified with things like paper or fabric attached to strings/hammers, and with microphones placed in strategic places to capture subtleties that normal recordings don't. (His solo piano pieces are full of lovely creaks and clicks.)
Frahm hasn't made an uninteresting album so far. His solo piano album, Screws, is great:
His latest, All Melody, is more electronic:
I'm also a big fan of the American composer Luke Howard, who does very much the same thing:
Howard is also a brilliant jazz pianist. His album Open Road with the bassist Janos Bruneel is fantastic.
Another superb prepared-piano guy is Clem Leek:
And then there's Dustin O'Halloran, whose name sounds like he should be a gangly, wandering folk singer, but is actually a phenomenal pianist and composer. His three piano solo albums are great. He's been doing a lot of soundtrack composition recently that mixes electronics and piano; his score for the recent film Puzzle is on rotation in my Spotify:
O'Halloran's electronic side project, Winged Victory for the Sullen, is also superb:
The Norwegian pianist Otto Totland:
Also check out Hauschka and Federico Albanese.
Interesting Read: https://grapevine.is/culture/music/iceland-airwaves/airwaves...
Another artist who has used a specially-crafted MIDI-controlled piano is Dan Deacon. His stuff is not exactly New Classical, though, it's a bit more frenetic and goofy, but quite good.
He talks about it quite in a bit in a Pitchfork TV video that documented him working on one of his albums, Bromst: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPg4Vcr56F0
I'm not sure if he used that piano to compose his sonata Op 110, but it has a section that starts with una corda, with a very serene melody, and as it gradually picks up its energy Beethoven instructs the player to use more and more strings... an effect that's not quite possible with modern pianos as modern una corda is not actually one but two strings per key (in the middle-to-high region), and that's the only distinction we have.
 See, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI1viKPG3TI starting ~18:32 until the end.
EDIT: found it! https://www.pianostreet.com/blog/piano-news/bluthner-and-the...
Unfortunately, most of the samples are of obscure compositions. I think some tracks of traditional piano standards, especially side by side with a regular piano, would really show off the sound more.
It would be super uncomfortaable and players would damage their hearing so fast. You want to be out of the path of the sound, not just for the "listener"s benefit, but absolutely also your own. It's why grand pianos reflect sound "to the side". If you used the upright approach of sending it over the pianist, you'd end up with a lot of damaged ears and broken players.
"You know what the fella said – in Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
where as the video on the OP link is soft and almost like a dulcimer with a boatload of felt. I suspect thats also down to another layer of felt and playing softly.
either way, it sounds fantastic.
The video the parent linked to is the Una Corda - played by the designer/builder
Another one I really like is the Array Mbira, up to 7 octave chromatic Mbiras with stereo pickups.
Not all are concert pianist. Should have an option
88-key Una Corda® Piano……………………………………………………..€ 21,900 net*
Including big wheels, tone modulator, and music stand
Why would any serious musician spend 22k Euros on this piano when they could get an actual grand piano from a reputable maker? If you're super wealthy and you like fun toys, sure, but this is going to be an inferior instrument in volume, tone, tone control, sustain, and pretty much all the features a serious pianist is adept at manipulating.
You answered your own question but you're still unsatisfied with something?
This is the first line of text on the website: "Commissioned by and in cooperation with Nils Frahm we have developed the Una Corda Piano."
Here's Nils Frahm's website http://www.nilsfrahm.com/ so maybe you can find out why he decided to commission it.
Really can't figure out why this irrelevant, negative comment is highest upvoted...
Second, it's a bit delusional to say most serious musicians can easily afford 22k Euros on what is essentially an experimental piano. I know dozens of serious amateurs/semi-pros/pros, and basically none of them could afford this instrument.
This is a toy for the rich and the superstar musicians who actually get paid creme of the crop wages. The rest of us 99% of the serious pianists who get paid between 0 and 100k a year, lets say, will get much much higher value on 22k euros by buying a used Steinway, Yamaha, or other instrument. Hell, I've been playing classical piano, trained with concertizing pianists, for 20 years and I make great practice use out of a $9k Kawaii bought for $6k.
Never said anything of the sort so I am not sure who you are arguing with. I said that it was not surprising for a serious musician to spend 20k+ on an instrument. I think that's a reasonable statement for some definition of "serious." In any case, my general point is that in the world of fine instruments 20k is not an absurd number to hear.
I could never entertain spending €22k on a musical instrument, but I own the Native Instruments sample library for the Una Corda and use it often. It's a beautiful instrument and I'm glad that it exists in the world.
There are plenty of performance and studio artists would are far more likely to go "well my home setup/shared studio already has several pianos including at least one grand, $30k for this Una Corda? I can probably budget for that".
Especially recording studios. Getting a Una Corda and getting the kind of artists in that would play it is worth the up front cost.
"It really felt like a brilliant new instrument, it was so nice. First time in my life to have kind of like a new piano. It sits in between a clavichord, guitar and a harp, and that was exactly what I wanted."
It's a different sound. For a certain type of music, it's superior to regular pianos.
There are how many kinds of electric guitars, acoustic guitars, woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion instruments, electronic gear...? Very very many. Even in piano-land, different makers have characteristic tones. A musician hears a sound in their head, and wants to replicate and shape it exactly.
This is a piece of functional art like a Rolex.
Most gear above a certain pricepoint isn't even really marketed directly to musicians anymore. It's recording studios, live music production companies and backline rental companies who are going to be buying these things and they're totally going to sell.
I have relatives that play the European baroque music circle. They have a fine collection of various stringed instruments.
Most of them are older than the USA. to give a rough price just look at this page: http://www.contrabass.co.uk/cstopquality.htm
A "decent" baby grand piano (used) is about £10k. A "concert" baby grand is about £18k (you know, loud, acid, overly bright)
For the sort of music I want to play, the Una Corda, is perfect. If I was working at a recording studio again, I suspect there would be a large market for having this piano in.
In most of the studios I've been in, the piano is stripped bare and has all sorts of padding in. (and no, its not fun to vacuum.)
For higher notes you need thinner and shorter strings, which are quieter. Traditional pianos have different numbers of strings per note (one for bass notes, two for the mid-range, and three for treble notes) so that the notes sound roughly the same volume across the keyboard. This also gives a very rich tone, as the strings are very very slightly different in frequency.
The Una Corda only has one string per note. It's probably a lot quieter in the high octaves, but it has a thin and very pure tone which doesn't sound a lot like a traditional piano, which is very appealing to people who are looking for new and interesting sounds. And the quietness doesn't matter so much with modern amplification technology.
If you break down the sound of a piano (mentally) the start of the note is sharp and sudden, followed by a hum.
The extra strings are never actually perfectly in tune, which is partly why a piano sounds "bright" If it were a person it'd sound a bit nasally. (the more out of tune the strings the more honky tonk and wobbly it sounds)
rough guide: a concert piano sounds like a nasal person making an "EEEEGGHHHHHHHH" noise, but with a smile. (well a Steinway does)
A softened piano, or a Una Corda sounds more like a hhMMMMMmmmmmm. Because it only has one string, and has a less violent hammer action, the sounds is more sinusoidal, so sounds smoother.
edit the soundboard also significantly affects the tone, but I can't remember how.
On the subject of one string per hammer: while this is novel for a modern acoustic piano, it is not especially so for other members of the family. Smaller harpsichords, for instance, are always strung like this, and even in larger ones having multiple "choirs" of strings, the number of strings being plucked simultaneously by a single key can always be configured, typically through levers or pedals.
In the 1970s Yamaha brought out line of single-strung stage pianos (CP-70, CP-80, etc.) that were popular with rock players because they were relatively portable and significantly faster to tune. (Kawai also had an upright of similar design.) These were not loud enough to be played acoustically, but instead were fitted with electric-guitar-style pickups under each string much like the Una Corda has, producing a similar sound. In fact, as I listened to the soundtrack on the video, I was struck by the resemblance of the sound not only to the Yamaha CP-70, but to the Rhodes electric piano, which has rigid steel tines instead of strings, but also one to a key.
I like the ability to swap in various felts to modify the timbre; many modern harpsichords have this facility also, with something called a "buff stop." Player pianos in the first half of the 20th century frequently featured a lever that would lower a comb of felt with little metal rivets between the hammers and strings, producing a "honky tonk" or "tack piano" sound; presumably one could fashion something similar for the Una Corda.
The open, vertical design reminds me of the beautiful Clavicytheriums produced by the American harpsichord builder Steven Sørli (http://www.lautenwerk.com). Here's a video of one: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL89758D803857A19B
Yes, these are quiet instruments, but the late-Renaissance and Baroque music one would typically perform on them is much better served by this sparse clarity than can be produced on the modern grand piano. I suspect that the Una Corda would be similarly friendly to this repertoire.
Another benefit of the single-stringing is that, presumably, a capable player might reasonably expect to tune the instrument themselves, permitting the setting of very specific configurations other than twelve exactly equal divisions of the octave tuned to A=440. For acoustic and historical reasons, a lot of pieces really bloom in a certain way when you can do this, but on the modern grand piano it's a time-consuming task usually best left to a professional tuner/technician. (Because of the relatively unstable nature of their instruments, harpsichord players, like harpists and guitarists, have to learn to do this themselves early on in their studies, and thereby gain exposure to various temperaments and reference pitches, e.g. Werckmeister III at A=415.)
On the matter of price, 22,000 Euro (~$25K) is about the going rate for a new custom-built harpsichord, so that's not totally unreasonable. Other classical and orchestral instruments of professional quality frequently command similar sums, and new grand pianos easily get up into the six-figure range.
I would love to see one of these in person. Anyone spotted one in the US yet?