The Culprit Sonata Bento piano in Second Life

 

The Culprit Sonata upright (l) with my Lisp grand (r) at our home in SL

It’s no secret I play the piano; I’ve mentioned it a fair few times; I can sometimes be heard playing arrangements on my You Tube videos, and I’ve reviewed the various pianos I’ve had in SL through these pages.

By-and-large, I prefer to go for grand (concert or baby) pianos in SL, simply because a) the comparative sizes of houses in SL tend to mean a grand can be installed easily and not lost against a wall; b) I have a Yamaha N1 in the physical world, that nicely reproduces the sound of a grand (but only takes up as much space as an upright!), so I’m naturally more accustomed to the more rounded sound of a grand, and heaving on in SL puts me in mind of that roundedness.

Thus, finding me writing about an upright piano now might seem a little strange. But the upright in question is a little special: it is the first playable Bento piano I’ve been introduced to.

The keyboard is finished with a very natural looking ageing to the keys

The piano in question is the Culprit Sonata, created by Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa – and it is a delight.  Two versions of the piano are offered in the pack: “large” (for larger sized human avatars) and “small” (for more “normally” proportioned human avatars (the “small” should not be seen as indicative of the piano being suitable for Tinies). I found the “small” variant ideal for my avatar.

The design follows the standard upright piano look, while the menu system (active once seated) offers four main option sets: Texture, Muted, and Songs, together with an [Adjust] option for setting your seating position at the keyboard.

  • Texture provides a choice of eight Themes by which to  texture / colour the entire piano and its stool; and a Custom option, allowing you to mix and match the textures used on different parts of the piano to suit your individual taste.
  • Muted presents a total of eight different playing styles without any associated music – so you can set a style in keeping with the music you’re listening to out world, or on your parcel stream. As one of the streams we have on the home parcel is a pure piano stream, I found this option a nice touch.
  • Songs, as might be expected, offers a total of 32 pieces to play, all public domain, and offering a good cross-reference of music.
Three of the menu-driven Theme finishes to the piano, and one variant of a Custom finish (l)

Sitting at the piano immediately puts you in the “idle” pose (also available from the Muted menu as a ninth option). This has you sitting and moving your arms as if conducting – or perhaps warming-up in readiness to play :).

Selecting a piece of music from the Songs menu will display sheet music on the piano and move your avatar into a matching playing animation. It is here where the Bento element comes in. If you have Bento hands,  turn off any animation option you may be using with them so as to avoid possible conflict with the piano, then watch yourself play.

The Culprit Sonata was, at the time this review was written, on display outdoors at the Culprit store

Rather than the traditional single pose hand movements we’re all familiar with when playing SL pianos, the Culprit Sonata will animate fingers and wrists to reproduce a range of playing styles, from the subtle to the quite effusive. Most fit the included music extremely well, and I found a couple of the Muted animations options particularly well suited to “playing along” with some of my favourite tracks on the Westworld TV series soundtrack (such as Sweetwater, No Surprises, Dr. Ford, and The Forest) that was playing on the stereo as I took the Culprit for a test drive – or test play, if you prefer 🙂 .

The finger and hand movements are fluid throughout – and I was impressed to see a thumb-led descending glissando in one of the animations; I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a Second Life piano animation before, and you can catch it in the video below. Yure4u, Eku’s SL partner, modelled the animations on her own playing style, adding further depth to them, and while I did find a couple a little more dramatic than my own style of playing, they in no way put me off.

Bento hand movements in three of the playing styles built into the Culprit Sonata piano

At 7 LI, including the stool, the Culprit Sonata isn’t going to break the land impact bank, and the texture options offer sufficient variety in finish for the piano to fit almost any environment. Pricing-wise, it is placed at L$995, which perhaps puts it at the upper range of playable piano (I’m excluding those that come as Adult rated or with a host of non-playing animations). However, when you consider this is a Bento piano, offering some very fine finger / hand / wrist motions, and the effort put into producing these, the price doesn’t feel excessive.

The Sonata has some nice attention to detail around the keyboard and the brass fittings, and while I’m still naturally biased towards having a grand piano in SL (and Eku and Yure4u are apparently working on one), the upright version is now gracing the saloon at Caitinara Bar 🙂 .

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