Keyboard Instruments Virtual Restoration
MODARTT supports the KIViR cultural project. The purpose of this project is to create digital restorations of pianos present in museums worldwide. Pianoteq technology is used to create adapted models of these historical instruments for the public visiting the museums.
Description of the project
The KIViR project (Keyboard Instruments Virtual Restoration) addresses the case of historical keyboard music instruments present in museums from the whole world, which cannot be played in a satisfactory way and which one would like to bring to live again. In this project, we concentrate on string keyboard instruments like piano and harpsichord, but extension to other instruments could be considered in the future. Museums currently involved in the project are Schloss Kremsegg, A-4550 Kremsmünster, Austria and Handelhaus, D-06108, Halle, Germany.See the list of pianoforte virtual copies from these museums.
The usual way of bringing instruments to life again consists in restoring them properly, by repairing structure components like soundboard, pinblock, frame, or by replacing worn parts like strings, hammers or other fragile elements made of felt or skin, which fall into disrepair in course of time.
Such restorations can give excellent results and have always been practiced. However, a new trend has recently appeared, consisting in the will of conservation and safeguarding of the original instrument manufacturing, particularly if it has a great historical value. Besides, it may be risky to put a given instrument under full load (which reaches several tons). In such a case, one may choose to tune only part of the notes. In both situations above, we are faced to the following problem: only some of the notes are working correctly, and it is thus impossible to play music on such an instrument.
Digital restoration is a new experimental and innovating technology issued from recent research at MIP laboratory from INSA Toulouse which attempts to answer to the previous problem. Using mathematical and physical models, it consists in reconstructing the missing notes on a computer from the recordings of the existing notes which sound correctly. The latter can themselves be numerically tuned and voiced in order to correct some defects issued from recording, tuning or regulation difficulties. The obtained model can then be loaded into a computer connected to a digital keyboard which can be played by all museum visitors and musicians, allowing them to retrieve as far as possible the original sound of the instrument.
The advantage of this technique is the following: it becomes possible to bring to live again an historical instrument, while keeping untouched the major part of its original state.
The objective of the project is to perform digital restoration of historical keyboard instruments, and to install in museums sound devices allowing the public to play these restored versions on a digital keyboard, standing for example near the original instrument. Of course, even if an historical instrument is in a good state, it remains fragile and one cannot allow each visitor in the museum to play the instrument. So having a digital copy which can be played on a sound device is still of a great interest.
In that way, the museums participating to the project will offer to the public a patrimony that was up to now not directly accessible. Moreover, the digital sounds issued from restoration will be shared by all museums participating to the project through PIANOTEQ software and its add-ons. This will enrich the possibilities offered to the public by giving access in each Museum to a broad patrimony for as many citizens as possible.
On a long-term basis, we aim to build an important collection of digital copies (original or restored) of historical instruments from all parts of the world, not only serving as maintainable testimony of the past, but also providing data sources for creating new sounds with computers, and of course, for playing music directly on audio devices installed for public and musicians in museums.