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#1428836 - 05/03/10 08:52 AM Sound muffled by music desk and music  
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Bart Kinlein Offline
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While I've noticed a significant difference in the sound of my piano when seated in the room away from the piano vs. at the keyboard, I tried something yesterday that surprised me (although I guess it shouldn't have).

If I play with the music desk down the piano sings to my at the keyboard as it does elsewhere in the room. With the music desk up (it's solid, not scroll cut) the critical mid-octaves (behind the desk) are muffled and lose their sweetness.

As obvious solution is to play everything from memory but at my age (72) that's probably impossible, certainly daunting. So the question is - would an "open" desk help much? I'd still need to have the music on it. Or does someone have other suggestions?


Steinway 1905 model A, rebuild started 2008, completed 2012
Yahama CVP-401
Will somone get my wife off the Steinway so I can play it!
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#1428845 - 05/03/10 09:14 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Bart Kinlein]  
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apple* Offline
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I've noticed that. Being short, where my ears are, is where the worst sound is acoustically. Simply moving the desk forward or backwards affects the sound significantly. when my pro friend plays, he puts the lid all the way up and takes the desk completely off.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
#1428855 - 05/03/10 09:34 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: apple*]  
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Originally Posted by Apple
when my pro friend plays, he puts the lid all the way up and takes the desk completely off.


Yes, this is when it really sings to you!

I’ve also noticed that my grand piano sounds more mellow with the main lid down and the fly-lid folded back. I like it both ways, depending on my mood. grin

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#1428865 - 05/03/10 09:46 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Bart Kinlein]  
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Originally Posted by Bart Kinlein
As obvious solution is to play everything from memory but at my age (72) that's probably impossible, certainly daunting. So the question is - would an "open" desk help much? I'd still need to have the music on it. Or does someone have other suggestions?
You could play with and open desk and punch holes in the music to let the sound through. wink

If you really feel the improvement is so great without the sound being blocked by a desk or music, maybe one of those electronic screens(don't know the name) would take up less space horizontally(if only one page is shown at a time?) on a music desk and you could combine this with an open music desk.

Maybe the rebuilder from whom you purchased your beautiful piano would be willing to lend you on open desk for a few days as long as you were very careful with it. That way you could find out if an open music desk with the music on it still gave an improvement in sound.


Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/03/10 09:54 AM.
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#1428917 - 05/03/10 10:54 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Scrubby_Jones Offline
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Nobody steal my idea... I've thought about glasses with a heads up display that could project the sheet music in front of you like a glass teleprompter. Noone would know you were reading music!!


"Practice, practice, practice... then make a left."
-Demitri Martin
#1429068 - 05/03/10 03:51 PM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Scrubby_Jones]  
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88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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Originally Posted by Scrubby_Jones
Nobody steal my idea... I've thought about glasses with a heads up display that could project the sheet music in front of you like a glass teleprompter. Noone would know you were reading music!!


But wouldn't they suspect something if your eyesight was good enough to not need glasses (like me), and you were using them (with the HUD) anyway?


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
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#1429080 - 05/03/10 04:15 PM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]  
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Horowitzian Offline
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Pushing the music desk all the way back helps, especially if the lid is down.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1429096 - 05/03/10 04:43 PM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]  
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Uncle George Offline
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You will always hear differently when sitting at the keyboard vs sitting some place away from the piano. When my technician - a very good pianist - finished working with my piano I ask him to demonstrate what he did: at a distance I then hear my piano like I never enjoy it when I am the player.

Don't pay attention to all these complicated suggestions. Learn your music by heart, age is no excuse... I memorize everything I play and I am only two years younger than you are. Of course there are some unwanted lapses every now and then but it is quckly resolved with an emergency look at the text...

Sviatoslav Richter claimed that he threw the open score on the floor, but this pianist obviously was a virtuoso in more than one sense.


U. George



#1429208 - 05/03/10 07:54 PM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Uncle George]  
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Originally Posted by Uncle George
Sviatoslav Richter claimed that he threw the open score on the floor, but this pianist obviously was a virtuoso in more than one sense.
I've read both the major Richter bios and never heard of that. He played concerts with the music on the music desk opened to the normal position in his later years.

#1429226 - 05/03/10 08:39 PM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Uncle George Offline
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It could have been in Richter the Enigma interview produced by Bruno Monsaingeon otherwise I don't remember where I got it from. It certainly was kind of strange.
Yes, he mentions that it was impossible to memorize every detail in the score and that had the stage dark because there was no point looking at his face while playing (not an exact quotation).

Sorry I cannot be more precise.


U George

#1429244 - 05/03/10 09:11 PM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Uncle George]  
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Originally Posted by Uncle George
It could have been in Richter the Enigma interview produced by Bruno Monsaingeon otherwise I don't remember where I got it from. It certainly was kind of strange.
Yes, he mentions that it was impossible to memorize every detail in the score and that had the stage dark because there was no point looking at his face while playing (not an exact quotation).

Sorry I cannot be more precise.


U George
Richter only had memory problems late in life, That's when he started using the score on the music desk during performances(and, I would assume, during practice sessions).

#1429280 - 05/03/10 10:26 PM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: pianoloverus]  
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masaki Offline
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Bart,
A japanese pianist(highly reputed as an accompanist) and a college professor, Akira Imai, has a portable his private music desk for pianos. It is made of punched light-weight wood. He carries it to his classes in the college and even to concert halls. He had someone build it, because the conventional music desks muffle the sound.
I wanted to show you some pictures of his music desk and searched on the web, but I could not find any.
He carries his own tuning hammer too and sometimes demonstrates his ability in tuning to his students. An interesting pianist - isn't he?

--
an amateur

#1429321 - 05/04/10 12:09 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: masaki]  
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Pianolance Offline
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I agree that the sound is muffled with the music rack up. I always like to open the lid and fold down the music rack when playing the piano. Many times I put the bench all the way up (nice to have an adjustable bench) and put the book down flat on the flat music desk. It's not as easy to see that way, but if I'm very familiar with the music I can use the music to "cheat" and play it semi-memorized. It helps to be a little taller. I'm not really tall at 5'10" but I'm not short either. It might work for you. If you don't have an adjustable bench try sitting on a thick cushion. Another thing I have done that works pretty good is push the music rack all the way back and if your music is stiff like in a book, put the bottom edge of the music down inside the piano (where the gap is that you just opened up by pushing back the desk - in front of the tuning pins) and just read it like that. There are a few down sides to that method because you have to have a stiff book and you can't really turn pages very well, but it works great with a hymn book which is mostly what I use when doing it that way.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
#1429492 - 05/04/10 10:58 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Pianolance]  
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Scrubby_Jones Offline
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88_Key, I don't wear glasses either. I'm not trying to be deceitful, just trying to allow eye contact with my audience. Besides, the majority of the people I perform for don't know me well enough to know whether I can see without glasses. It's more or less a costume piece, anyway, a la Elton John. Also, it would save a ton of space (I have 3 stacks of sheet music waist high from the floor). It would also avoid having that music desk in the way of the sound.

On second thought, I hope someone DOES steal my idea. I just wanna get my hands on a pair!!!


"Practice, practice, practice... then make a left."
-Demitri Martin
#1429510 - 05/04/10 11:37 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Scrubby_Jones]  
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Bart Kinlein Offline
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Quote
Richter ...played concerts with the music on the music desk opened to the normal position in his later years.


My role model. I use him as my excuse whenever I'm asked to memorize. When I play as well as Richter grin I don't think anyone will care if I memorized the piece or not. Actually I can, fairly well - except for Bach!

Thanks all for the suggestions - I'm getting my drill out!

Last edited by Bart Kinlein; 05/04/10 11:40 AM.

Steinway 1905 model A, rebuild started 2008, completed 2012
Yahama CVP-401
Will somone get my wife off the Steinway so I can play it!
#1429980 - 05/05/10 11:59 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: Bart Kinlein]  
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EltonRach Offline
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Singapore
I too find that the music rack changes the sound.

It's quite amazing that after all the effort spent building a fine quality instrument to produce a nice sound - the piano makers allow something like a rack to interfere with the sound.

I also find that the music rack on a grand piano is positioned much too high - particularly for children learning the piano. On an upright - the music is nicely positioned quite near the level of the fingers - much easier for the children to read the music and find their fingering on the keyboard.

#1431314 - 05/07/10 09:17 AM Re: Sound muffled by music desk and music [Re: EltonRach]  
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I'll be a little careful since I was annoyed on a different thread by folks saying "It's a feature! not a problem!" BUT since I tend to memorize music, and since my Baldwin has a large rectangular music desk, I use it to regulate the sound I get at the bench. I pull it forward to cut off some of the higher freq like from the duplexes or dampers, or push it back for a brighter sound.

I notice many performers take the music desk off altogether. I can't imagine the audience can tell the difference but I'm sure the player can.

I've also seen some brands with ornate music desks cut into patterns (i.e. holes!). It seems these would affect the sound less. But if you have a music book up there then that's another story...

Look around, they do make glasses with a heads-up display (i.e. for watching DVD's from your computer on an airplane, etc.) It would be pretty cool if someone combined them with one of those PC sheet music page-turning systems.


-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008

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