In 1999 I wrote a call for innovation of the pianomechanism, see pianomechanisme (in Dutch). The article describes how the ‘wooden’ solution of Christofori of 1720 has hardly evolved over the centuries. It proposes to find a mechatronics solution for actuating the strings, maintaining the finesse of the best mechanical action. Why? Because mechatronics might pave the way for an ergonomically curved keyboard, and the repetition might be faster, and the pianos might be more piano, and and and.
Then, in the Musical Instruments Museum (M.I.M.) in Brussels, Belgium, there was the piano as is in the photo: a ‘curved’ piano-keyboard of 1882 by Walter Neuhaus Söhne !
Il n’y a rien de nouveau, sauf ce qui a été oublié, as the late lamented Frans Span used to say. Was he right after all?
Not yet, since this piano uses the traditional mechanical solution, it even uses three of them, simulating a curved keyboard.
So the challenge still stands, and as in 1999 I hope for a response from mechatronics community.
Howver, today I came to appreciate one aspect of the mechanical solution: you do not need to plug it in, switch it on and wait for it to boot. My black piano of 1925 sits in its corner silently and waits patiently, for me to make it sound. I do the mechanics, it does the sound. It is nothing much what we play, but we’re both happy.