Monday, October 13, 2008

The Story of PianoSoft Plus Audio

Today, the Yamahamusicsoft blog is proud to present our first in a series of posts from Cathy, one of Yamaha's PianoSoft managers. Over the coming months, she will be letting us in on the some of the details about the people behind the your Disklavier music and how it gets made. Cathy starts us off today by recounting the story of how audio and PianoSoft first came together.

Hi! My name is Cathy and I have been involved in PianoSoft development since 1990. When the Yamahamusicsoft team asked me to recall some “historic moments,” the first one that popped in my mind was the “eureka” moment we experienced when we realized we would be able to combine the Disklavier with singing. Click here to read more.

At this point in PianoSoft development we offered two types of PianoSoft: PianoSoft Solo which contains piano music only, and PianoSoft Plus, which contains piano plus synthesized voices. One of our most talented consultants, Tom Zink, had often said he thought it would be great if we could add audio to our MIDI files. At this point the idea was just a pipe dream but not long afterward, the Disklavier Marketing department asked our department to create PianoSoft with audio. Jim Leahy, the chief PianoSoft engineer, and I gave each other dumb looks and left the room.

We hurried on over to Tom Zink’s house and asked Tom if adding audio to PianoSoft would be possible. I think he was probably wondering why it took us so long to ask. He “ripped” audio from a CD and then played the Disklavier along with it. When he played it back, we had the live piano with the audio recording for the very first time. I remember saying then that I would never forget how exciting it was to hear the two together.

This was just the first step because there were many other technical hurdles to overcome. For example, at first the music was playing out of a computer through the Disklavier – not out of the Disklavier itself. Again we had to go beyond our department for help.

Dane Madsen is currently the Digital Piano Marketing Manager at Yamaha but at this time he was a project manager for the Piano Division. Dane is a fine musician who, as a kid, read gear magazines instead of comic books, so he has always been a step ahead in technology. Dane figured out how to make PianoSoft Plus Audio masters, then Yamaha Japan created a fantastic mastering tool, and now we have more than 80 PianoSoft Plus Audio CDs in the PianoSoft library.

PianoSoft creation is most definitely a team effort and over time, I look forward to telling you more about the people who help turn ideas into real products.