In September 2018, I wrote about the Culprit Sonata Bento Piano created by Eku Zhong and Yure4u Sosa (see The Culprit Sonata Bento piano in Second Life). At that time, I noted that Eko and Yure4u were working on a baby grand edition, and on March 13th, 2019 they graciously sent me a copy.
As I noted in that piece, as a pianist, I have a leaning towards the grand (concert or baby), as I appreciate the more rounded richness of its note. As having one in the physical world is impractical (although I do have a Yamaha N1), I enjoy having them in-world, and have been looking forward to the opportunity to try this particular baby grand and seeing how the Bento animations work with such an instrument.
Unlike the upright variant, the Culprit Baby Grand is supplied in one size, and follows the accepted shape of a grand, with a sweeping case built around a horizontal plate and pin block / action. In this, the Culprit Baby Ground might appear little different to other grand pianos in SL. However, it is fair to say that it is the play mechanism in this piano that is one of the aspects that sets it apart from others, even without the Bento play capability.
Where others might in part reproduce the mechanism – some strings, the plate and sound board – or offer a texture of a grand’s “innards”, the Culprit Baby Grand goes much further. A peek under the raised lid reveals the cast iron plate with soundboard below – and a beautiful pin block and hammer set, with strings neatly positioned, presenting one of the best facsimiles of a grand I’ve yet witnessed.
Play-wise the Culprit Baby Grand is similar in nature to the Sonata upright: sit at the piano and you’ll be placed in an “idle” pose – and moving your arms as if conducting – or perhaps warming-up in readiness to play. While mentioning this pose, note that as playing the piano can result in your avatar’s eyes rolling up into the head and flicking back to this option – available from the Muted option (see below) before standing will avoid this. Sitting will also display the piano’s menu, which has the following options:
- Texture: allows the piano body and the stool’s cushion to be textured to suit your preferences.
- Muted: presents a total of 12 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.
- Songs: offers 54 solo pieces to play, all public domain, representing a good cross-reference of music.
- Duets: offers 11 duet pieces of public domain music to be enjoyed with a friend of partner playing with you.
The menu also includes options to adjust the seated position on the stool, and to swap positions when playing duets, all of which makes for a pretty comprehensive set-up.
Selecting a piece of music from the Songs or Duets menus 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 and watch yourself play (note that non-Bento users can still play the piano, it will just be minus the finger movements). The animations appear to be those used in the Culprit Sonata Upright, so just like that piano, they are fluid and natural, if with a slightly dramatic flair in a couple of styles – although even the fact this is a grand, they are perhaps more in keeping with playing classical pieces than might be the case with the upright version.
For those who like their in-world pianos to autoplay without being physically seated at it, the Culprit Baby Grand is perhaps not an ideal choice, simply because it does require and avatar to be seated (you can set rights to control who can). But then, this is a piano that is all about the Bento playing actions. On a personal note, I found the Culprit Baby Grand a little larger than I was expecting; the width of the piano means the reaching the extremes of the keyboard is a stretch for an avatar proportioned close to a physical world build, like mine. However, this is a minor point when compared to the “interior” modelling of the piano, its music selection and playing animations mean, all of which make it an ideal addition to any home – and it is now the preferred piano at Isla Pey, replacing the slightly smaller Lisp Persimmon grand.
With a total LI of 11, the Culprit Baby Grand will début at the Boardwalk shopping event from March 15th, 2019, at a price of L$995. It will be generally available, including via the Culprit store, from April 15th.