Ghosts in the Machine: Free player-piano conference

Player-pianos, instruments able to play “by themselves” via complex mechanisms attached to or built inside acoustic pianos, had their heyday in the early 20th century.

Their sounds were ubiquitous across public and private realms, from theatres to domestic parlors, and they revolutionized how people made and listened to music.

The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies and the Cornell University Department of Music host “Ghosts in the Machine,” a three-day conference on player-pianos taking place at Cornell, May 4-6.

The conference features lectures, roundtable discussions, and demonstrations of actual instruments. Participants and scholars come from a multi-disciplinary range of expertise and perspectives (technological, cultural and musical histories, media and sound archives, instrument preservation), and performances include newly-commissioned music for player-piano and piano.

Events take place at Lincoln and Barnes Halls, and at the A.D. White House. All events are free and open to the public. The complete schedule is available online at http://westfield.org/conferences/pianola .