I was asked if that was Mrs.B playing the piano. Alas, no! The full answer is a little convoluted so please bear with me.

The music's original format was for player pianos, both modern electronic players and old player pianos that use the paper rolls.

Paper music rolls, developed in the mid 1800's thru the 1930's, used in player pianos were in danger of being lost because paper does not age well. Driven by a series of bellows and air motors, these paper rolls moved across a brass tracker bar that had 80 holes in a row corresponding to each note on a piano (well almost as pianos have 88 notes so 4 were left off each end of the keyboard). When a punched hole in the paper roll moved across a hole in the tracker bar, a note would play on the piano. The longer you wanted the note to sound, the longer you made the hole. The columns are the individual notes, and the rows show what notes are being played at that moment.

In the photo. the brass tracker bar that would be positioned behind the paper roll, has been replaced with a metal sensor bar that "reads" the holes to the computer so the data can be digitized. As you can see below, there are long columns of holes in the paper roll. Going from left to right (horizontally) you can see all the notes being played at once. This made for interesting harmonies and rhythms. It also enabled using more than 10 fingers at once to create orchestral arrangements for pianos.

During the early 1980's something like a word processor for music was invented called MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI is pure data, not digital audio. MIDI tells you what note is being played, how long it is played, how loud it is played. All these things can be edited easily. Modern electronic player pianos use MIDI to make the keys play the notes on the pianos.

Thousands upon thousands of player piano rolls have been scanned in setups like in the photo above, and the music has been preserved digitally in MIDI files.

Now remember, MIDI is just data; nothing you can hear. MIDI must be "rendered" to a digital audio file like the .m4a format that is used by iTunes. That process is fascinating in itself and I call it PFM (pure freaking magic).

Digital audio is about assigning binary values to various sounds. It is all about algorithms and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of numbers describing a single sound. This is why you need a fast computer with lots of memory to play with digital audio samples.

Garage Band, a program for Apple computers, demonstrates this process. All the instruments you hear are sampled sounds. You can find free MIDI files on the internet like www.iammp.org. Download one and drag it into the Garage Band timeline at the top after you have set it up as a piano. Watch the lower half of the screen as it plays as you can see either the piano roll version or the sheet music version. If you play around with different instruments you can hear the same file as a flute, trumpet, guitar, etc. Unfortunately Garage Band only saves files in it's own .band format and not in iTunes. You need Apples's wonderful Logic Pro X for that!

So basically, to get the piano playing files for Hitty Moonbeam, I used some of the MIDI files I use for playing my own player piano, ran them through a virtual piano in Logic, edited some of the dynamics, and rendered them to the digital audio format .m4a files for iTunes. If only I could play the piano like that!

Hitty Moonbeam loves piano music and welcomes requests!

About the Music
Back to Piano Playing
About the Music
Music credits as I know them:

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God - composed by Karen Lafferty
Wedding of the Painted Doll - composed by Nacio Herb Brown, played by Pauline Alpert
Singin' In the Rain - composed by Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed; pianist J.Lawrence Cook for Pianocorder
Tea For Two - played by Art Tatum
Nola - composed by Felix Arndt 1927
Ave Maria - recorded live for me by a friend
The Robins Return - composed by Leander Fisher
Mary's Theme from the Lincoln Suite - composed by Alan Menkin; played by Bryan Pezzone
When You Wish Upon A Star - composed by Ned Washington and Leigh Harline
Someone To Watch Over Me - composed by George Gershwin; played by Phil Ohman
I Love A Piano - composed by Irving Berlin
Music Box Dancer - composed by Frank Mills