This thesis discusses the technical implementation and consequent performance characteristics of acoustic pianos under automatic control. The three principal divisions of the text present a historical view of the player piano in this context, an introduction and overview of relevant microcomputer technology topics, and finally, a detailed discussion of three original composition and performance systems for the pianos.

The thesis begins with a brief history of the use of the player piano as an extended performance instrument from the beginning of this century through to today (chapter 1). Such composers as Stravinsky, Antheil, Hindemith, Toch, Cowell, Schaaf, Nancarrow and Tenney are briefly considered in terms of their contribution to the field of automatic music. These composers worked with traditional player pianos.

By way of preparation to the later technical chapters, chapter 2 presents a brief discussion of the potential of the microcomputer in today's music. This in turn leads to a description and explanation of the microcomputer controlled piano system used to produce the compositions from the various software systems. The discussion covers both the instruments and the digital controlling hardware. Chapter 2 concludes with a consideration of both contemporary composers working in the same area, and alternative digital piano systems.

The final section of the thesis (chapters 3, 4, and 5) concentrates on three original composition and performance systems developed for the microcomputer-controlled pianos. The evolution of these systems tended to parallel developments in the computer music community so reference is made where applicable to prominent trends, composers and systems. In each of the three chapters the function, software and musical results are discussed. Software and (data) scores are listed in the appendices and the compositions referenced at the end of each chapter can be found on the accompanying cassette.

Title Page | Acknowledgements | Abstract | Summary | Contents | Examples
Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Conclusion
Bibliography | Discography | Appendices