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SECOND GENERATION YAMAHA DISKLAVIER PIANOS PLAY IN UNITED STATES TO THE TUNE OF $6 MILLION BACKLOG

 BUENA PARK, Calif., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- What do you get when you build a computer into a traditional acoustic piano? An unprecedented $6 million backlog in sales, says Yamaha Corporation of America.
 The Buena Park, California-based company reports that, since it began shipping second generation models of its popular Disklavier computerized piano this past month, sales backorders are playing in the millions of dollars - a remarkable event for a traditional musical instrument that represents the third largest single household investment many consumers make, next to their home and automobile.
 Moreover, the rising interest in the instrument has provided Yamaha with a foothold in an emerging segment of the recording industry -- one that relies on floppy disk recordings -- playable on the Disklavier - instead of CD or cassette.
 "This is a landmark occasion for Yamaha - a historical milestone that is serving to fuel sales for the entire piano industry," said Terry Lewis, vice president and general manager, Keyboard Division of Yamaha Corporation of America. "We are stunned by the number of people who are flocking to the Disklavier, to the point that we have had to boost our factory production significantly to try to meet demand. But since the heart of The Disklavier is a finely crafted piano, production is a meticulous, time-intensive process. We simply can't churn out these instruments quickly, but we are working around the clock to meet the needs of our dealers and their customers."
 A 300 Year Legacy
 While the traditional piano has served as the centerpiece of homes nationwide, the instrument has experienced very little basic change for nearly 300 years, with the exception of the immensely popular paper roll player pianos of the early 1900s.
 The year 1988 marked the arrival in the United States of the Disklavier, a hybrid acoustic piano - strings and hammers coupled with a built-in computer and sophisticated playback system that can precisely replicate piano performances - either ones that you create, or those previously recorded by a growing number of top artists. The same 3.5- inch floppy disk used in personal computers is being used to store the information that serves to activate the Disklavier's keys and pedals. Once recorded, performances can then be slowed down, speeded up, or put into a different key altogether -- and all by remote control.
 The most significant changes in the new generation Disklavier pianos can be found in the instruments' onboard computer systems. Both grands and upright models boast greatly-expanded recording, editing and computer interface capability. And thanks to advances in Yamaha microelectronics, the Mark II Disklavier grands no longer require the stand-alone computer control wagon that previously had been standard equipment for the instruments. Instead, this control unit is now the size of a cable TV tuner box, and can be mounted beneath the keyboard or next to the piano on a stand or bookshelf.
 Also, there is a more affordable, "entry level" collection of Yamaha grand pianos, as well as a new "tone generator" - called the TG100 - that can be tethered between the Disklavier and a stereo system. When activated by the by the Disklavier, the TG100 can be made to recreate an entire orchestra of sounds, while the Disklavier plays the piano accompaniment.
 Today, the Disklavier, which bears a price tag of $10,000 to $40,000 depending on the model, has come to represent more than 28 percent of Yamaha's acoustic piano sales - a significant statistic, particularly since Yamaha is the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the world.
 Yamaha attributes the Disklavier's recent explosive to two main factors: Its strong appeal to an entirely new piano buyer - the non player - and to the rapidly growing library of pre-recorded floppy disks that can play back performances and teaching methods right on the instrument. By virtue of its onboard computer that plays the instrument as if by magic, the Disklavier overcomes customers' main objection to buying a traditional piano in the first place; that they need to know how to play the piano to enjoy "live" music right in their living room. In fact, a recent survey has revealed that more than 50 percent of the people who already own Disklaviers do not play.
 But the instrument also has broad appeal to those who can play and, increasingly, to those who want to learn. Recently, Yamaha introduced software featuring the Alfred Method, one of the most respected teaching methods for the piano. The company is also putting considerable emphases on its "You Are The Artist" series -- software which enables the Disklavier to play the left-hand part of a song, while you practice the right. In both instances, the Disklavier creates an educational interactive environment for piano students.
 Perhaps the most compelling reason people have for owning a Disklavier is its ability to recreate one of more than 200 floppy disk "albums" -- called PianoSoft -- which feature note-for-note performances made by such top artists as Liberace, Chick Corea, David Benoit, Roger Williams, Steve Allen, Peter Nero, Dick Hyman, and Floyd Cramer.
 The interest shown in the Disklavier by individual recording artists is increasingly being shared by major recording companies. Windham Hill, the most recognized adult instrumental recording label, will become the first record company to have several of its artists represented on a PianoSoft "Sampler" in addition to CD and cassette. Also, the Nonesuch label plans to introduce a CD of rare piano roll recordings made by George Gershwin, many of which have been heard only by roll collectors. The CD release is made possible through a process which involved transferring musical information encoded on the original paper rolls to a floppy disk, then playing the disk back on the Disklavier and so that the performance could be captured on compact disc.
 "People are discovering that the Disklavier is much more than simply a fine instrument - they are beginning to recognize its value as a serious home entertainment option, much like a CD player or stereo system," concludes Lewis. "While Yamaha remains strongly committed to the traditional piano market, the Disklavier reaches a huge untapped audience of people who love piano music but wished they knew how to play. The Disklavier offers them their grand performance and, in many instances, gets them excited about learning, regardless of age."
 -0- 01/12/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Photo available./
 /CONTACT: Peter Giles of Giles Communications, 914-337-9355, for Yamaha Corporation of America/


CO: Yamaha Corporation of America ST: California IN: LEI SU:

LR-AH -- NYFNS1 -- 3801 01/12/93 07:31 EST
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Date:Jan 12, 1993
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