AI makes time visible

AI can detect whether a piano is fresh from the factory or already has a year of concerts behind it. The instrument develops its own particular sound over time – influenced by the tension of the strings, the action of the keys and the felt on the hammers, which is “pricked” when the piano is played, making the material more elastic so that a softer sound is produced. AI can render visible how different groups of tones sound on a virgin instrument versus one that has been played, and how over the months the sound evens out across the entire keyboard. This not only allows AI to determine the age of the instrument but also, if properly trained, to distinguish between different sound properties.

A grand piano in the time machine

Experience the difference in the sound of a grand piano after one year in a concert hall! Use the slider to blend between the sound of a brand-new piano and a well-tuned one. Play notes on the keyboard and observe where they are sorted on the projected Kohonen map. Listen carefully! Can you distinguish the differences? Is the mapping comprehensible? Have you noticed that the pitches of the sounds produced by a one-year-old piano are more evenly distributed?


Plath, N. (2019). From Workshop to Concert Hall: Acoustic Observations on a Grand Piano under Construction. PhD-Thesis , University of Hamburg.