Music & Tech & Posts by José Luis Miralles

Cygnet & Houseboat (BITKLAVIER)


The Pieces performed in the video are:

Performed live by José Luis Miralles Bono with the bitklavier; and live images, projected and controlled during performance, by: Lluna Llunera

I also used an Eventide H9 Max (reverb & shimmer algos) in order to bring more life to the piano samples of bitklavier.

The video features two fantastic compositions with a new musical instruments, blending tradition and modernity: the bitklavier.


Like the prepared piano, the prepared digital piano feels just like a piano under the hands and often sounds like one, but it is full of surprises; instead of bolts and screws stuck between the piano strings, virtual machines of various sorts adorn the virtual strings of the digital piano, transforming it into an instrument that pushes back, sometimes like a metronome, other times like a recording played backwards. The virtual strings also tighten and loosen on the fly, dynamically tuning in response to what is played.

Bitklavier web

The bitklavier is a musical instrument created by Dan Trueman

Bitklavier in action


Cygnet, from Nate May is a Mikroetude for Bitklavier (you can buy the score here).

incipit of Cygnet

The score have a clever use of the bitklavier’s nostalgic preparation and the piano’s right pedal to achieve a curious effect. From 00:03 to 00:04 (from above videoclip) you can listen the first time this effect appears in the music. The pianist (or bitklavierist) plays all the notes of the score, but the ones with a x notehead doesn’t sound until the right pedal is changed; so at that moment they return like reverse long dyads (or chords, later in the score).

There is also a very beatiful moment in the music when this effect increases in a sort-of-recapitulation at 1:57 in the video. The images of Lluna Llunera also bear resemblance to that.


Houseboat, from Van Stiefel is a Mikroetude for Bitklavier (you can buy the score here).

incipit of Houseboat

If you live near a port you will recognize this kind of repetitive noises from the sea (the tides rocking the boats, or the patter of halyards on the stick); with the bitklavier’s preparation this effect is achieved in the music. In the videoclip, at 2:38 starts Houseboat and you can hear the effect from the very beginning and among all the rest of the score.

At 3:28, there is also a very special moment, when the bitklavier parameters change a little bit and increases the intensity of the emotion; with more deep sound and more lasting resonances. Here is crucial the calibration of the effects pedal I use (the H9) for bringing more life the sampled sounds. A shimmer algorithm brings out a more evolving nature of the sound. Also the images of Lluna Llunera follow the sections of the score.


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