Legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea recently took Yamaha’s newly launched AvantGrand N3 hybrid piano for a “test drive.” Initially skeptical about the world’s first stringless piano to feature the sound, touch and action of a concert grand, the 67-year-old jazz superstar was quickly won over.
“My standard of comparison is the Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano with a gorgeous, beautiful sound, so I was a little apprehensive when I first saw the AvantGrand,” says the Yamaha Artist, who was recently named JazzTimes’ 2008 Artist of the Year.
“I thought, ‘look at this little thing, what’s it going to do?’ It blew me away,” recalls Corea. “I sat down and adjusted the volume to make it sound like a big piano and immediately went into reverence at the R&D department and how they pulled it off, because it’s quite an accomplishment.”
Priced at a fraction of the cost of a concert grand, the N3 features the exquisite sound of the acclaimed Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano in a stunning grand piano style cabinet.
Currently on tour as a member of the Five Peace Band, also featuring John McLaughlin, Corea will be making select solo appearances, including the Nice Jazz Festival in Nice, France and the Detroit Jazz Festival in Detroit, Michigan. He will also perform with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White for several dates in September.
“Once I started playing the AvantGrand and getting into the musical flow of it, I could lose myself in the music just like I like to do. I could certainly envision using this instrument in my louder bands, my electric bands.”
Fusing 21st century music technology with Yamaha’s century-long heritage of piano craftsmanship, the N3 features highly advanced sound reproduction and sampling technology, without the tuning, cost or footprint of a comparable stringed instrument.
One of the greatest challenges in creating a true acoustic piano experience electronically is to accurately re-create the vibrations integral to the playing experience. The AvantGrand Series are the first pianos to actualise the physical connection with their instrument that pianists could only experience – until now – with an acoustic grand.
Its innovative Tactile Response System transmits “string” vibrations through the keys to player’s hands. Even the foot pedal action became subject to Yamaha’s demanding criteria. In traditional pianos, resistance is created in proportion to how deep the pedal is depressed. To replicate this, Yamaha created a new, specialized grand piano pedal for AvantGrand that reproduces the finesse of acoustic pedals, duplicating the spring, friction and inertia of traditional pedals.
The placement of the four-channel, three-way Spatial Acoustic Speaker System mimics the points where the original grand piano samples were taken, while the Soundboard Resonator create a non-directional sound dispersion directly in front of the player, duplicating the subtle reproduction of the buildup of sound felt by concert pianists. These technologies combine to authentically re-create the depth of tone of the Yamaha nine-foot CFIIIS grand piano, the choice instrument of many of the world’s top musicians and performance venues.
In addition to the remarkable grand piano sound sample, the N3 also features electronic piano and harpsichord voices.
The AvantGrand N3 is slated to ship in July 2009. The AvantGrand N2 upright model will be available in September 2009. Both include a matching padded bench.