It’s easy to assume that all pianos have basically the same tuning, that of a Western equal temperament scale, regardless of whether they are a ‘standard’ full-size 88 keys or a little smaller. Thing is, there have been acoustic pianos built which are not tuned to the same scale, and the Mikroton piano featured here takes that even further: the 97 key instrument is tuned so there is only a one-sixteenth of a traditional half-tone interval from one note to the next. The entire keyboard’s range is only that of an octave!
It has been built based on designs from Julián Carrillo who, in 1940, patented fifteen “metamorphoser” pianos, each tuned to scales using different, regular intervals.
The sound is unique. It doesn’t replicate the sound of a traditional piano but offers up a whole new soundscape by means of the consistently developing vibrations of individual notes.
The piano is 116cm tall, has 97 keys and 291 steel strings: three strings for each microtone. Presumably it needs a highly accurate measurement tool in order to be tuned correctly.
The following performance of “Etude pour piano en seizième de ton” gives a flavour of what this otherworldly instrument is all about.