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Robot piano plays black MIDI file Rush E - “the world’s hardest piano song” - then goes up in smoke

Created by Sheet Music Boss in 2018 (opens in new tab), Rush E is a black MIDI (opens in new tab) track that’s been called ‘the world’s hardest piano song’, in that it’s considered to be impossible for a single human to play.

Black MIDI songs typically use huge numbers of notes - far more than can be played simultaneously by just two hands - but what if a piano could play Rush E itself? That was the question posed by YouTuber Mark Rober - who previously worked at NASA - and the results are something to behold.

Rober fed the Rush E MIDI file into Chopstix, a modified Edelweiss piano that can also speak (sort of), causing the instrument to appear to start smoking under the strain as it attempted to play it. Thankfully, we’re assured that “No Chopstix were hurt in the filming of this video (ie, he didn’t ACTUALLY catch fire).” 

Before we get to that, there’s a nice explanation of how an upright piano works - and why it’s considered a percussion instrument rather than a string one - and how Chopstix was made.

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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