Spencer's E-Rolls.com (Glossary page)

  Antique Music for A Modern World

   If your browser saves pages, click "refresh" to see the latest version of this page.


acoustical piano  A conventional piano which produces sound by striking metallic strings with felt covered hammers. The sound is amplified and projected by the soundboard and case.

digital piano roll
Although all piano rolls are, in fact, binary representations of music and could therefore be considered digital, this term is used as a synonym for electronic images of piano rolls.

  The series of electronically controlled acoustical pianos manufactured by Yamaha Corporation. They utilize electromagnetic solenoids to operate the piano action. Music is played from computer disks and MIDI sources.

The control or variation in volume level in a performance. This is accomplished, in the reproducing piano, by regulating the vacuum level.  The pedals are also used to control dynamics but, as their effect is more complex ,it is generally referred to as expression control.

electric piano
  A piano which produces sound by mechanical means such as strings or tone bars and amplifies this sound electrically.

electronic piano 
A piano which produces sound by by electronic, rather than mechanical means, as in the acoustical or electric piano  . The source of the tone may be  recordings of actual piano tones (a sample) in electronic memory circuits or magnetic media.

Elements of a musical performance other than that specified by the notes alone. In reproducing pianos this generally refers to the control of dynamics and the use of the pedals in modifying the tone.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A popular standard for the recording of musical events that are to be performed by electronic or electronically controlled, mechanical or acoustical instruments.

A brand of electronically controlled acoustical piano. They utilize electromagnetic solenoids to operate the piano action. Music is played from computer disks and MIDI sources.

A brand of electronically controlled acoustical piano. They utilize electromagnetic solenoids to operate the piano action. Music is played from computer disks and MIDI sources.

Pneumatic Player Piano
  An acoustical piano that is played by air pressure controlled by a perforated paper roll. The holes in the paper roll control valves which direct vacuum pressure to pneumatic actuators (pneumatics) which operate the piano action. The source of vacuum pressure is usually foot powered.

An electronically controlled (MIDI) interface for pneumatic player and reproducing pianos. It is manufactured by Broadmoore Research.

Reproducing Piano 
A piano that is capable of "reproducing" a previously recorded  performance. Pneumatic Reproducing pianos were manufactured from around the turn of the century (1900) until the late 1930's.  Solenoid operated and other electronically controlled reproducing pianos are manufactured today.

An electronically recorded interval of sound which is used by various electronic devices as a basis for producing music. Samples may be recorded form conventional musical instruments or from other sources.

An electronic device or computer program whose function is to record and edit musical performances. Sequencers may utilize MIDI as well as other standards.

Solenoid Piano 
A piano whose action is operated by the action of electromagnet devices, referred to as solenoids. Sound is produced and amplified in the same manner as in a conventional acoustical piano.

Sound Card
  A plug in, add-on to a personal computer that is used to produce various musical effects. Most sound cards will act, in conjunction with the host computer, to produce music from MIDI sources as well as many others. Sound cards may generate musical tones by electronic means, similar to those of a synthesizer as well as by playing samples from their own or the computer's memory.

Sound Font
  A term, copyrighted by Creative Labs, referring to a series of scaled music samples used for the generation of music. Samples recorded at various loudness level may be contained in one font. This allows for the production of varying tone quality at different loudness levels. For the piano, this produces a more realistic simulation.

Sound Module 
A stand alone electronic device that produces audio output under the control of an input signal. Most sound modules are controlled by a MIDI signal. The source of sound is generally sampled.

An electronic device that produces music by various means. Oscillators, filters,  gates and recorded samples are used in combinations to produce an almost limitless variety of sounds.

The term used to refer to volume or loudness in the context of the MIDI standard.

  Computer software, developed by Richard Brandle for the purpose of playing a wide variety of recorded piano roll music on pneumatic and electronic pianos as well as sound modules and computers.