Conjuring the Recorded Pianist

Playing the piano as a child, I was always entranced by the reflection of my hands on the lacquered surface behind the keys. A few years ago, I had a thought of how lovely it would be to play a duet with this reflection—a pianist from afar or from another time, illustrious virtuoso or simply my own childhood self. By augmenting a Yamaha Disklavier player piano with life-sized projections, MirrorFugue evokes the illusion of the a pianist playing the physically moving keys.

Allen Toussaint from exhibit at The Historic New Orleans Collection, December 2014

For most of human history, music could only have been experienced live, channeled through the bodies of performers, felt in the bodies of audiences. Due to the proliferation of audio recording, today's music comes most often as disembodied sound severed from physical origins. We experience music more through devices than live, the human dimension increasingly filtered away. When learning, we have become obsessed with hitting the right notes, the expressive dimensions of playing music falling by the wayside.

Alisa Ishii (age 8) plays a duet with herself

Musical expression is rooted in the human body. The physicality of a musical performance bears undeniable potency and poignance—as audience, we feel the energy in the performer's every breath and gesture. When learning to play, knowledge of the body is indispensable for both expression and technique.

MirrorFugue returns the human dimension in how music is captured and re-experienced, enabling rich musical experiences for both learning and enjoyment—whether watching a master play right in your living room or playing a duet with your favorite improviser (and maybe learn a riff or two).  

Herbie Hancock improvises with virtual reflection of Donal Fox
Ryuichi Sakamoto improvising on MirrorFugue
Malala Yousafzai interacting with MirrorFugue