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#1510481 - 09/06/10 10:56 PM Alternative tunings  
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 6
ericmthompson Offline
Junior Member
ericmthompson  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 6
Harrisburg, PA
I have a question that I am having a difficult time finding an answer to.

A note on a piano is made by the hammer striking sometimes more than one string. Is there any alternative tuning where these strings are not tuned in unison, but, say, an octave (or more) above/below? I realize this would take a different gauge of string, but it seems like it should be possible. Even more experimental, could these strings be tuned harmoniously, say, one a fifth above the other. You may get a drawbar organ-like sound, hearing the partial above the note.

Am I way out of line thinking this or is this an actual technique? If so, I'd like to hear some examples!

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#1510550 - 09/07/10 01:14 AM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 48
Chicago Tuning Offline
Full Member
Chicago Tuning  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 48
you probably are making your assumption by example of 12 string guitar ... but guitar is a much limited instrument in comparesing to a piano. In pianos you can find all twelve notes of musical spectrum repeated in 6 different octaves. you can play your octaves and all kinds of harmonies, using even one hand. by playing chords with both hands you can achieve the most complicated mix of sounds. use of sustain pedal improves it even more. biggest composers and pianists found a piano complete enough for writing and expressing their music. in a way, piano is the perfect musical instrument. it has been developing for centuries, but in its main principal staid the same for last 150 years...
adding some new strings would be overdoing it. plus, there are some other technical problems with applying your theory to reality. for example, thickness of those strings for one note must be different, and hammer will not strike them with the same power. and many other engineering difficulties will accure. i hope, i answered your question for you.


piano tuner-technician in chicago and chicagoland
http://www.chicago-piano-tuning.com
#1510623 - 09/07/10 06:58 AM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 332
Robert Scott Offline
Full Member
Robert Scott  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 332
Minnesota
You could not get the octave above by changing string gauge. A thinner string will produce about the same pitch as a thicker string if tuned to the same percentage of its breaking point (unless we are talking about wound strings). To get such a substantial change in pitch, you would have to alter the length of the string.


Robert Scott
Hopkins, Minnesota
http://www.tunelab-world.com
#1510721 - 09/07/10 10:24 AM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,731
UnrightTooner Offline
5000 Post Club Member
UnrightTooner  Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,731
Bradford County, PA
Eric:

I have thought about giving tuning a string on each note down an octave (where possible) on a project piano just to see. One technique I use to rejuvenate bass strings involves tuning a string down an octave and playing it loudly a number of times before bringing it back up to pitch. It is quite a sound!

Doing this on an entire piano would make it a “prepared” piano and would not sound like a normal one. Fifths would not work very well except for music written especially for such a tuning.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
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#1510921 - 09/07/10 04:57 PM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 6
ericmthompson Offline
Junior Member
ericmthompson  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 6
Harrisburg, PA
Thanks guys! You bring up a lot of points that I didn't think about; in order to get one of the strings down an octave, it would have to be a different string all together (whether that be string length or string tension) and that would cause problems with the overal construction of the piano or the hammer itself, respectively. I guess I am viewing it from the standpoint of a 12-string guitar, but moreover, I'm looking at it as a novelty sound, much like a tack piano or a piano with a mandolin pedal (that produces an echoing effect by bouncing hammers off the strings). I realize you can just play the octave and be done with it, but I thought this concept would be an embellishing effect more than a practical design hahaha I've messed around using some sampled pianos to get the octave sound (just layering two instruments, one down an octave from the other) and it sounds bold and raspy, pretty cool. I'm more about acoustic instrumentation, but I guess to design an instrument like this wouldn't be worth the effort; you could more easily just double track a recording haha Thanks for the insight though! If you ever come across something in real life like this, please do tell, I'd be highly interested to hear the results!


#1510988 - 09/07/10 06:10 PM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada


This is probably not what you are looking for but maybe you should have a chat with this guy. He seems to find unique uses for music instruments.

Maybe you two could come up with something…….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhp6P9Ygsoc&feature=player_embedded


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
#1510996 - 09/07/10 06:25 PM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,372
DoelKees Offline
2000 Post Club Member
DoelKees  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,372
Vancouver, Canada
One way might be to clamp an object to the string at one of the nodes to get the effect of harmonics (as on a guitar). If you put it in the middle the string should play an octave higher.

Kees

#1511725 - 09/08/10 08:04 PM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 6
ericmthompson Offline
Junior Member
ericmthompson  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 6
Harrisburg, PA
@Silverwood: Oh that video is too cool! I love unique instrument-creation like that!

@Kees: Yes! That sounds like a viable, non-destructive way to test out the sound. Now I just need to snag a free upright from somewhere hahah

#1512026 - 09/09/10 07:08 AM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,731
UnrightTooner Offline
5000 Post Club Member
UnrightTooner  Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,731
Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted by ericmthompson
@Silverwood: Oh that video is too cool! I love unique instrument-creation like that!

@Kees: Yes! That sounds like a viable, non-destructive way to test out the sound. Now I just need to snag a free upright from somewhere hahah


They aren't hard to find: Free Kimball Piano. I mention this because you are close enough that you may come up this way, and far enough that I won't be called to tune it. laugh laugh laugh


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#1512576 - 09/09/10 11:41 PM Re: Alternative tunings [Re: ericmthompson]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,372
DoelKees Offline
2000 Post Club Member
DoelKees  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,372
Vancouver, Canada
It will not damage the piano, so you don't need a throw-away piano for it. Search for "prepared piano" for more info.

Kees


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