Composing with a Hybrid Piano

The efficiency of composing music with a digital piano over traditional methods is roughly equivalent to the difference between writing with a pencil and writing with a computer. It’s much faster to enter notes or chords into a digital piano connected to a computer running music notation software. Nevertheless, that method still mimics handwritten music with its note by note/chord by chord approach, and requires a high degree of music theory and analysis. And working with a digital piano with limited sounds and a spring keyboard action doesn’t exactly inspire pianistic creativity. But what if there was a way to compose by simply playing spontaneously on a keyboard that felt and sounded like a magnificent concert grand piano? That is what we explore in this video, using a Yamaha N3X AvantGrand hybrid grand piano, the Yamaha MD-BT01 Bluetooth MIDI wireless adapter, and Notion for iPad/iPhone/iOS music notation app.

This video was inspired by a talented jazz pianist who was looking for a way to combine an instrument with the most realistic piano action with a music notation app that could capture an improvised performance and notate it automatically. The N3X AvantGrand is Yamaha’s premier Hybrid Grand Piano, featuring the same wooden keys and hammer action as the ones found in acoustic grand pianos combined with the digital sounds of 9′ Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial grand pianos and a powerful 12 speaker contemporary-styled piano cabinet. This pianist wanted to use Notion for iOS by PreSonus, a music notation app for iPad and iPhone that is incredibly robust and easy to use. With Yamaha’s MD-BT01 Bluetooth MIDI wireless adapter, it’s easy to connect the N3X with Notion without the need for clunky cables or adapters. Once the connection is made, all the pianist needs to do is play naturally on the N3X and watch the notes magically appear on the Notion app. 

This type of composing allows for an unprecedented level of spontaneity and creativity, and be especially helpful for talented musicians who struggle with traditional music notation. Scores created in Notion can be saved at MIDI files, XML files that can be opened in other music notation programs, PDF files for printed sheet music, or even audio files that can use a wide range of instrumental voices.

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