Project image
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£12,986
pledged of £40,000pledged of £40,000 goal
82
backers
28days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, October 15 2019 4:12 PM UTC +00:00.

The Standing Grand - a new light, portable, acoustic piano

The sound of a grand piano in the space of an upright. Your piano can now go with you, anywhere, anytime.

The Standing Grand - a new light, portable, acoustic piano

The sound of a grand piano in the space of an upright. Your piano can now go with you, anywhere, anytime.

£12,986
pledged of £40,000pledged of £40,000 goal
82
backers
28days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, October 15 2019 4:12 PM UTC +00:00.

About

The Standing Grand will be light and compact enough to bring the fullness of a grand piano’s sound into modern homes, practise rooms and small venues.  With this crowd-fund money, the Future Piano team are aiming to reduce the total piano weight to 82kg (less than half the weight of a grand piano). 

Our aim is to considerably reduce the weight of a standard grand piano.
Our aim is to considerably reduce the weight of a standard grand piano.

 The Future Piano team comprises risk-taking experts at the top of their very different disciplines. Sarah Nicolls is a pioneering pianist, labelled an 'edgy Brit' by The Guardian and regularly featured on BBC Radio. Tim Evans & Chris Vaissière have 53 years combined experience of work in aerospace engineering, including high performance structural components, advanced composite materials, laminar flow technologies and structural analysis for AIRBUS. David Klavins is a world-leading innovator in piano building, with two of his own outstanding designs already in production: the UC piano and the M450. 

We worked closely with Keechdesign UK, whose particular specialisms are in musical equipment and human centred innovation, to develop the future piano. We have now undertaken as much design work as we can and are now ready to build our first prototype from scratch. This will be a hybrid piano using traditional and advanced materials (composites) for the optimum sound, cost and weight ratio. You can read more and see our project map here: https://www.futurepiano.co.uk/the-piano.

A note about action: Although we recognise that our action will be vertical, we will be using bespoke solutions to increase repetition, to be as like a grand piano as possible. These solutions can't be detailed in the public domain but rest assured we are taking every technological step towards the best results, in every regard.

If we build this next piano, we’ll be a significant step closer to making acoustic grand pianos much more accessible. Help make our plans a reality and revolutionise pianos for the future! Please donate and share with others.

READ ON FOR SARAH'S STORY OR SIMPLY DONATE NOW! Thank you.

Back in 2007, pianist Sarah Nicolls was performing new classical piano music around the world. Increasingly, composers were asking her to play ‘inside’ the piano: to pluck strings, find harmonics, strum or knock. The sounds were extraordinary but they were uncomfortable to perform and invisible to the audience. 

L: Inside-Out Piano I (2008)                                   R: Inside-Out Piano II (2014)
L: Inside-Out Piano I (2008) R: Inside-Out Piano II (2014)

Sarah decided to design a piano where the strings went vertically up from the keys and made a rough prototype in 2008 by spinning the strings of an upright piano through 180 degrees. Sarah could begin to really explore the sonic potential of the piano’s guts and audiences loved seeing everything she was doing. In 2014 she commissioned a better version, this time from a straight strung, under-damped 1900 Erard grand piano – with a new action designed and built by Pierre Malbos. The new version overcame the problems of the first, it’s a sonic revelation and Sarah has been composing and performing with it ever since.

Anyone who has ever had to move a grand piano, will know that it is not something you want to do very often. And as for fitting one in an average sized living room, well, it’s enough to say that as a student, Sarah spent a year sleeping under hers.

So, by now focusing on reducing the logistical impact of the piano, Sarah hopes that one day it will be much easier for future generations of pianists to play real, strung pianos. The piano has an educational benefit in that players can see the hammers move as they play and of course, it is also great for musical explorations using the strings. 

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Risks and challenges

We are confident to have found the best team to carry out this next phase. We are constantly minimising our risks by drawing up detailed designs and discussing all the possible permutations in materials use and design between team members. We feel confident that we can build the piano that we're planning and that it will weigh this amount but of course there are risks associated with an innovation of this complexity. The discoveries will be in how the different materials act and hold together once the piano is strung and how the instrument holds it tuning. We will mitigate in advance as much as possible and our innovative design itself also carries much of the necessary mitigation. The other challenge will be the design of the support structure on such a tight budget, as it most likely will have to be simplified from the images currently drawn up.

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Environmental commitments

Visit our Environmental Resources Center to learn how Kickstarter encourages sustainable practices.

Long-lasting design

The piano should last 50-100 years.

Reusability and recyclability

Pianos are handed down from generation to generation.

Sustainable materials

We are committed to seeking out the best composite materials we can find, relating to the environment, including recyclable thermoplastics.

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Make a pledge without a reward

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    Thank you on Twitter or Facebook

    Support our project and spread the news wider! We are extremely grateful for all sizes of donation, so here's our entry-level amount for those just dipping a toe in to piano re-building!

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    Exclusive album digital download

    Get an exclusive album of music made on Sarah's current piano, otherwise known as the #insideoutpiano, a re-worked 1900 Erard grand piano. Rescued from its way to the skip, we sawed off the keyboard and put it back on at 90 degrees, so Sarah can reach every part of every string. Sarah's music aims to be simple melodies shrouded in strange sounds, often with hypnotic beats to cradle the listener in the resonant cavern of the piano's insides.

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    Invitation to a one-off private concert

    This will be a special event held for purchasers of this reward only, featuring Sarah in concert on the new piano once it is built and ready for performance.

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    Webcast Q&A with the Future Piano team

    This is a 2-hour session, starting with a presentation and following with discussion of the project from both musical and engineering perspectives, including the collaborative process. Price is per connection for individuals.

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    Pledge £100 or more About US$ 125

    1-2-1 piano lesson with Sarah

    Inside-Out Piano lesson: 1-2-1 session (90 minutes max) with Sarah and her existing piano. Learn extended techniques, repertoire or develop your own compositional ideas. ‘Normal’ grand piano also available and we can also look at existing/standard repertoire. From Nov 2019 onwards.

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    Engineers and Artists Day

    Engineers & artists day: come to meet the team and others interested in the meeting of disciplines in making the piano; present your own instrument inventions and meet expert builders, coders and musical inventors.

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    Your name on a piano key

    Have your name printed on a key, receive a photo of your named key, be part of the Keyboard Map and see your name whenever the piano is exhibited.

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    Webcast for student class

    Webcast with Q&A for a class of students: 2 hour session with the Future Piano team looking at the musical and engineering detail of the project, combining perspectives and the collaborative process, the research and funding journey and methods used in developing the new instrument.

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    Educational workshops on inside piano

    Educational workshop or presentation for any age, with Sarah teaching 'inside piano' playing for groups up to 10 at a time. Sarah has experience teaching from 5 to 85 year olds, including 10 years' university music performance teaching

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    A day with Sarah and her piano

    A day with Sarah for pianists and composers: playing her existing 'Inside-Out Piano', learning techniques, repertoire and sharing compositional ideas (can be shared by up to 3 pianists but you will need to coordinate yourselves, thanks!). See, touch and hear this radically-shaped piano up close. From Nov 2019 onwards.

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    Name a future piece of music

    Name a future piece of music: Choose a title for Sarah to compose a personalised track under. Enter into the artistic process with Sarah by imagining the starting point for a whole new piece of 'inside piano' music.

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    Exclusive day with Future Piano team

    Have a whole exclusive day with the piano and the Future Piano team in Bristol or Brighton. During the team you will be allowed to see and play the piano, ask questions, hear the sound up close, and talk to the whole Future Piano team about the journey of making the piano and next steps.

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    Pledge £2,000 or more About US$ 2,483

    Become a Future Piano Benefactor

    Become a benefactor with the reward of knowing that you have played a crucial part in our journey. This reward includes detailed bi-monthly updates on the project as we build the new piano and an invitation to an exclusive concert with the new piano in early 2021. Your name, if you wish, will be included in the official book of thanks created once the piano build is underway. We are enormously grateful in advance for you believing in this project to support us so generously.

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    Bespoke performance on the new piano

    Have the new piano performed at your event. A company event, a party - whatever it is, Sarah will bring the piano to you and play a bespoke musical set. If you are at an educational establishment, you can add an educational workshop to this. Sarah is also happy to introduce the piano and answer questions. Price includes travel, within Scotland, England & Wales. Feb 2021 onwards.

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    Pledge £4,000 or more About US$ 4,965

    Super 4000: invitation to Klavins Pianos

    This reward is a 'Super Benefactor' donation. Added at this level is a special invitation to spend a day with David Klavins at the workshop of Klavins Pianos in Vaz, Hungary.

    This reward also includes detailed bi-monthly updates on the project as we build the new piano and an invitation to an exclusive concert with the new piano in early 2021. Your name, if you wish, will be included in the official book of thanks created once the piano build is underway.

    We are enormously grateful in advance for you believing in this project to support us so generously.

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    Pledge £8,000 About US$ 9,930

    Sponsor the piano with your logo

    Sponsor the piano and have your logo on it. Please contact us if you are considering this, prior to purchase. The piano will be built through a combination of engineering and piano building and this is an opportunity to put your stamp and backing in pride of place on the instrument, backing a really pioneering innovation. The piano is anticipated to be performed across the world. Design discussions will commence in March 2020, with the piano expected to be completed by November 2020.

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    Pledge £8,000 About US$ 9,930

    Supra-Benefactor: make Future Piano real

    This reward is a 'Supra Benefactor' donation. Added at this level is a special invitation to spend a day with David Klavins at the workshop of Klavins Pianos in Vaz, Hungary. You will also be invited to an exclusive concert with the new piano in early 2021 and a social event with the Future Piano team.

    This reward also includes detailed bi-monthly updates on the project as we build the new piano and your name, if you wish, will be included in the official book of thanks created once the piano build is underway.

    We are enormously grateful in advance for you believing in this project to support us so generously, thank you.

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