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Classical 101

Harvey Friedman's Digitally Sculpted Piano Performance

ADAM: THERE'S AUDIO ON THIS PIECE... Dr. Harvey Friedman is Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics, Computer Science, Philosophy and Music at The Ohio State University. Dr. Friedman uses a technique he calls Digital Sculpting to reproduce piano performances available at first only to him, in his head. Dr. Friedman uses his magnificent concert Bosendorfer and a Yamaha Clavinova, playing these performances as best he can, ("I have physical limitations--small hands!"), then perfecting them with sophisticated digital editing. One six-minute performance can take hours of painstaking digital editing. The point is to reproduce note exact performances that play in his brain, thus guaranteeing a completely original interpretation. Harvey Friedman is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Youngest University Professor (1967). As reported recently in the Columbus Dispatch, "...he was able to enroll at MIT at age 15. Then, Ph.D in hand, he landed a job teaching at Stanford in Palo Alto, CA, shortly before he turned 19." His wife of sixteen years, psychotherapist Judith Schwartz reports, "On our first date he talked non stop for four hours...," but she was soon won over by his piano playing and skills at the chess board. Dr. Friedman's living room has cathedral ceilings and a magnificent Bosendorfer concert grand, but next to this imposing instrument is a tiny piano, "for our sixteen month old grandson," says Dr. Schwartz, who likes to sit close by and play piano with Grandpa. Here's a recent interview with Harvey Friedman, including his digitally sculpted performance of an Ohio State favorite: [audio:harvey.mp3] --Christopher Purdy