Apparently the double keyboard is not just for harpsichords and organs anymore…
He’s played concert halls around the globe, but today, Christopher Taylor, UW-Madison’s superstar pianist, is like a kid who’s unwrapping a new toy.
There’s barely an inch to spare in Taylor’s music department office, where he’s giving a sneak preview of his new invention, a double keyboard instrument that controls two concert grand pianos — he calls it the hyper-piano.
Taylor — a musical savant who holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Harvard and an MFA from the New England Conservatory — has combined the wonders of modern electronics with the centuries-old artisanship of piano building.
The modest and soft-spoken Taylor, whom The New York Times called “frighteningly talented,” sits on a piano bench to demonstrate. “It’s supposed to feel as much like playing a real piano as possible,” he says.
That feel comes from the fact that Taylor’s master keyboard has actual hammers inside. “Here the hammers are basically just dummies,” says Taylor. “They’re only there to make it feel like a regular instrument.”
What might feel normal looks quite space age: Hundreds of wires and visible electronic components snake around his office from the double keyboard console to the keyboards of two grand pianos. Atop the keys are myriad circuit boards linked to “artificial fingers” that play the concert grands — which Taylor calls the “slave instruments.”
Taylor is a double keyboard specialist. He’s lauded for performing complex works, including Bach’s famously difficult Goldberg Variations, on a one-of a kind “double manual piano” built by Steinway & Sons in 1929 and rescued after World War II. When Taylor joined the UW faculty in 2000, he began performing on it — and studying it. read more at isthmus.com