The Refractor Piano™ Story


The genesis of The Refractor Piano™ began 10 years ago while Peter was scoring films and television. As more people incorporated synths, samplers, and other electronics into their music, Peter asked: “What if the only sound was live instruments that only he played? How could these be modified or morphed into a unique music?”

He then built a large setup with his piano, breath controller, and other instruments into a console and called it “The P-Mod”.  While capable of creating beautiful music, it was unwieldy to move and difficult to control in live performance.

One day, Peter showed his invention to his friend, Klaus Hoch. (Peter and Klaus had collaborated on the music for Klaus’s feature film “Flypaper”.)  Klaus suggested condensing all the elements of the P-Mod into a single, responsive instrument that Peter could play and control using only his Steinway piano.

Thus they began a six year odyssey of experimentation and development that resulted in The Refractor Piano™: a combination of hardware and software that allows Peter to create a whole new way of playing and composing music live with just his acoustic piano. Transducers attached to the piano allow the instrument to become “refracted” live through a series of software and hardware chambers and channels. There are no pre-recorded tracks, synths, virtual instruments or triggered samples, just an acoustic piano. Peter then creates “environments” or the unique alga-rhythms and sonic pathways that give each piece it’s distinct signature. He then controls the flow with pedals and the acoustic piano itself.

The musical sounds build, morph, and interact with each other to create a unique tapestry. Although there are always distinct motifs and compositional development, no two performances of a piece are ever the same. The music assumes a life of its own, controlled and refracted by Peter. The instrument itself forces him to approach his music in new ways and in the process, creates a distinct, new genre: Refractor Music.

Klaus is also immersed in the process. As co-developer of The Refractor Piano™  he worked  with Peter to create the initial environments used to construct the music and develop ways to control and manipulate flow of the "refractions".  In the visual realm, he creates the single-take morphed videos, the artwork/graphics/photos and directs the visual imagery, the storylines, of the shows. He  also directs and produces the concerts.


Performing live with his newly created The Refractor Piano ™, Peter plays a new style of music called “Refracted Music”. Without prerecorded tracks, triggered samples, external sounds or MIDI instruments, he creates innovative music that combines classical and jazz composition and improvisation and is acoustically refracted during live performances to create a transcendent musical experience.

He has performed and recorded with such jazz greats as Ernie Watts, Phil Woods, and Freddie Hubbard and composed for Film and TV (credits include: “Without A Trace, “The Crow”).

His orchestral works have been recorded by members of The London Philharmonic MusicaNova, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

His solo work has been described as: 

"Brilliant" by Michael Cuscuna of Record World magazine
"an alchemist's experiment" and "futuristic, mysticalby Philippe Oreille of Dauphine France  
Phil Cohen, director of Advanced performance Studies at Concordia University wrote:  "Some of the most original music since Olivier Messiaen. The listener is assaulted, disturbed, enveloped, given new life".
Titus Levi of Contemporary Keyboard commented, "With Lisztian abandon, Robinson is obviously at home in free-form atonal music while maintaining both his classical and his jazz roots".


To see all of Peter’s Film and TV credits please visit IMDB.