Ólafur Arnalds' MIDI Generative effects and Pianos that go Bleep Bloop

10571410-16x9-large Ólafur Arnalds at the Sydney Opera House Image: Prudence Upton

Ólafur Arnalds didn't start out playing keyboards. He started out as a drummer in hard rock bands. He is not alone. Yoshiki from the legendary Japanese hard rock band X Japan comes to mind. Many people forget that the piano is classified as a percussion instrument along with marimbas and vibraphones. 

He has unique approach to music that combines technology and a traditional almost classical approach to composition. He also is one of the few people still using the MOOG Piano bar, a product developed by Bob Moog and Don Buchla (now discontinued) to turn any piano into a MIDI device. 

Photo: Richard Ecclestone

What's behind bleep bloop pianos

In many interviews, Ólafur says that his acoustic pianos bleep and bloop. 

In these two Youtube video, he explains how MIDI technology is a core part of his creative process. What is is interesting is how organic and emotional the resulting music is.  The technology nevers get in the way of the art and only compliments it. 

This video explains how the three acoustic pianos are connected by MIDI. 

I am in constant search of new ways to approach art with technology, interaction and creativity.

by Halldór Eldjárn

Halldór Eldjárn is another Icelandic artist who worked on the All Strings Attached project and developed some robotic MIDI instruments for the project. 


Ólafur Arnalds​ on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts 

​To see a complete performance of this unique use of MIDI processing,  listen to this performance on NPR Music Tiny Desk Concerts. 


How to Bleep (and Bloop) yourself

Arnalds has released a library of sounds for Spitfire Audio recorded at his studio on his  'felted' grand piano along with added content in the Composers Toolkit. 

Recently MIDI Manufacturer Association member Blokas released the Midihub, a MIDI router and processor.  In our article on the MIDIhub, Loopop explains how to use the Midihub to create some Olafur Arnalds inspired MIDI effects of your own. 

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