Kyle S. 2024 | BASIS Independent Fremont
- Project Title: Building Simple, Accurate, Precise, and Cheap Player Pianos for Entertainment in Public and Private Spaces
- Basis Independent Advisor: Mr. Daniel Ong
- Internship Location: East Bay Music
- Onsite Mentor: Vanessa Chen
We often use speakers as a way to listen to music, radio, podcasts and more. Modern day speakers are a technological marvel in their ability to reproduce sound, however when it comes to music, they will never surpass live music in terms of audio quality. You may ask how one would have live music nearby at their beck and call in a way that could compete with a speaker. The answer is simple: player pianos aka self-playing pianos. Player pianos have been around since the mid 1800s, however they have always been an expensive commodity. Some early mechanical player pianos could cost up to 30,000$ in today's currency, and were prone to malfunctioning under the wrong circumstances. Modern electric player pianos are better in that regard, but haven’t improved much in price. This is a problem that I seek to solve by first building a player piano from a regular piano with off the shelf electronics, and then making an open source kit and instruction set in order to allow others to modify their pianos in a similar way, allowing people to enjoy a plate piano for only a few hundred dollars. Player pianos were once a common sight in the homes of everyone and I think that something of value was lost when they went out of style in favor of other ways of listening to music. I believe that by building my own player piano, and making it easy for others to do the same, I can allow people to experience the joy that those who had player pianos back in the day experienced.