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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829235 01/21/12 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Don A. Gilmore
The system offers the option to re-tune it at any time. There is a keyswitch under the piano. When you switch it, it warms the piano to a median temperature. Then you tune it. When you switch it back, the new tuning is stored and used from then on. I have never had to use this feature.


Thanks. This clarifies things considerably.

Starting with warm (lower tension strings) during the initial technician tuning provides "headroom" for the inevitable drop in pitch of strings with time.

I must have missed that point or never thought of it.

Now it's all making sense; and I see that this could be a breakthrough in piano technology. Not that it needed any. wink

Now it comes down to cost installed and gaining acceptance. From what I can see here (and had the space/money) for a grand, it would be worth pursuing.

Glenn

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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829237 01/21/12 07:37 PM
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I already want it on all three of my pianos. Imagine never, ever to have that annoying feeling two days after a tuning when one unison goes slightly out, then four days later two more unisons go out, and again even more a week later . . . until you're just putting off having to tune the piano again, and getting less and less enjoyment out of it.

Admittedly I only get this feeling on the two less stable pianos I have (somehow the Hardman holds a tuning solidly for ages), but even on that piano, it would be nice never, ever to have to experience even a slow deterioration of the tuning again.

But I still want to see a demonstration of the fully tuned piano before I believe it's as good as claimed.

Last edited by charleslang; 01/21/12 07:38 PM.

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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829303 01/21/12 09:38 PM
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With all due respect to Don, and his self-tuning piano invention, I would have to see and hear it in person to believe that it would perfectly fine tune the piano with the push of a button... the middle C in the video sounded a little dissonant to me after it was said to be perfectly in tuned.

What the computer software says is at proper pitch may not be so in real life and to the human ear, taking inharmonisity (slight imperfections) and other factors into consideration.

I'm very particular about my pianos... I want them in tune, or at least reasonably in tune when I play (or at least try to smile ). I've learned to do that myself with a high degree of success and satisfaction that my piano is in tune… and I enjoy doing it (most of the time laugh ).

If the self-tuning piano device works as represented, it may well have monumental implications for the piano industry… but I’m not convinced by watching a YouTube video. So, I guess I’m from Missouri on this one… smile

Rick


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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829346 01/21/12 10:49 PM
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I agree with Rickster, having made similar observations to his.

While I welcome the innovation, I would need to see more.

I can understand how possibly it might help to maintain a tuning.

But as far as I'm concerned, a real tuning involves turning the tuning pins. After all, that is what they are for.


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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829379 01/21/12 11:47 PM
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Don,

If you have a chance please reply to my post above -- I posted several questions and some thoughts for you.

Additionally, how many cents total can you lower the pitch of a string? Does it depend on the diameter of the string?

My main concern is that once a string goes flat at room temperature, then there is no way to tune it without a manual tuning, right? Can you tune the piano in real-time, i.e., while it's being played to optimize the tuning of each string as the ambient temperature changes in a room/on stage or as a string slowly goes flat?

If that can be done then I can see it augmenting a proper tuning, but never really replacing it unless you have some way to raise the pitch under computer control too. I love the idea of being able to achieve various alternate tunings under computer control (e.g. pythogorean I believe is what they are called, but I don't recall the technical term). I'm wondering if someone here can expound on the benefits of such a tuning. Thanks.

Last edited by efriis; 01/22/12 12:09 AM.
Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829382 01/21/12 11:50 PM
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Or the tuning there everything is calculated and in line exactly with the harmonic series. That'd be cool.

Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829386 01/21/12 11:55 PM
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Answer me this. According to the computer screen, the pitch was lowered on one string by at least 29 cents.

But I'm pretty sure my piano will not go 29 cents flat if I heat the room to 95 degrees. (I'm pretty sure since it gets to be over 100 degrees where I live, and I don't always have the air conditioning on).

Something doesn't add up.


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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
efriis #1829389 01/22/12 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by efriis


My main concern is that once a string gos flat at room temperature, then there is no way to tune it without a manual tuning, right? Can yoy tune the piano in real-time, i.e., while it's being played to optimize the tuning of each string as the ambient temperature changes in a room/on stage or as a string slowly goes flat?

If that can be done then I can see it augmenting a proper tuning, but never really replacing it unless you have some way to raise the pitch under computer control too.


I'm not going to try to speak for Don, but the idea is clearly that the piano is tuned a little sharp at room temperature. When the system heats up, the pitches fall and the piano is tuned to, say A=440. If some strings lose some tension, the system simply puts less current through those strings, and the piano is still up to pitch when the system is on.

Don has already said that during the last six years, none of the pitches has fallen low enough that the system cannot compensate. (It's not clear whether he meant that the piano still goes to A440, though, from what I understand.)


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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829397 01/22/12 12:24 AM
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Charles, Thanks, that makes sense, though the sooner after the manual (slightly sharp) tuning the more current he's going to need to run through the strings. I wonder if he's measured what effect the regular expansion and contraction of the strings does to their life span and whether they are affected at all. I don't know what the duty cycle is of a typical piano string or how often they break or need to be replaced.

Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
rocket88 #1829413 01/22/12 12:52 AM
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"First, folks who do it the old way will fight it, just like the medical establishment fought the discovery of penicillin back in the 1930's."

Well put. smile


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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
PaintedPostDave #1829428 01/22/12 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by PaintedPostDave

"First, folks who do it the old way will fight it, just like the medical establishment fought the discovery of penicillin back in the 1930's."

Well put. smile


It's very possible. But, hard to tell from the present point of view. Just to provide the opposite possibility, consider the Aurora Safety Car from 1957. It was built in order to reduce pedestrian injuries from collisions. Yes, those bulbous areas are relatively soft and are supposed to act like pillows. It may sound silly now, but it was forward-looking at the time, no doubt (view is of the front end).

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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
charleslang #1829440 01/22/12 02:26 AM
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Originally Posted by charleslang
Answer me this. According to the computer screen, the pitch was lowered on one string by at least 29 cents.

But I'm pretty sure my piano will not go 29 cents flat if I heat the room to 95 degrees. (I'm pretty sure since it gets to be over 100 degrees where I live, and I don't always have the air conditioning on).

Something doesn't add up.


Perhaps what's missing is that with the room at a higher temperature, the cast iron frame will also warm up and expand which compensates for the expanding strings. As the frame gets longer, it stretches the strings. While there is a difference in thermal coefficient of expansion between iron and steel, it's not terribly significant.

Glenn

Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Glenn NK #1829446 01/22/12 02:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Glenn NK
Originally Posted by charleslang
Answer me this. According to the computer screen, the pitch was lowered on one string by at least 29 cents.

But I'm pretty sure my piano will not go 29 cents flat if I heat the room to 95 degrees. (I'm pretty sure since it gets to be over 100 degrees where I live, and I don't always have the air conditioning on).

Something doesn't add up.


Perhaps what's missing is that with the room at a higher temperature, the cast iron frame will also warm up and expand which compensates for the expanding strings. As the frame gets longer, it stretches the strings. While there is a difference in thermal coefficient of expansion between iron and steel, it's not terribly significant.

Glenn


It's an interesting proposal, but the strings will warm much faster than the cast iron, since they have such a small diameter. On a hot day, the air might go from 75 to 100 degrees in three hours. I think the cast iron would lag considerably behind the strings in reaching that temperature.


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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
charleslang #1829447 01/22/12 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by charleslang
Originally Posted by efriis


My main concern is that once a string goes flat at room temperature, then there is no way to tune it without a manual tuning, right? Can you tune the piano in real-time, i.e., while it's being played to optimize the tuning of each string as the ambient temperature changes in a room/on stage or as a string slowly goes flat?

If that can be done then I can see it augmenting a proper tuning, but never really replacing it unless you have some way to raise the pitch under computer control too.


I'm not going to try to speak for Don, but the idea is clearly that the piano is tuned a little sharp at room temperature. When the system heats up, the pitches fall and the piano is tuned to, say A=440. If some strings lose some tension, the system simply puts less current through those strings, and the piano is still up to pitch when the system is on.

Don has already said that during the last six years, none of the pitches has fallen low enough that the system cannot compensate. (It's not clear whether he meant that the piano still goes to A440, though, from what I understand.)


My understanding:

I think he said the strings (only) are warmed up during the initial manual tuning. Then when the manual tuning is complete, the warming system is turned off, the strings cool, get shorter, and will rise in pitch (they will all be sharper than A440 when cool).

If a string or two slip and go flat, the system is turned on, all the strings warm up, lowering the tension of all the strings, and also their pitch.

Of course, the strings that slipped are still flatter than the others, but then the system takes over and warms up each individual string to a temperature that matches it to the tuning of the strings that slipped.

Of course one cannot possibly warm up a flat string to match the pitch of strings that didn't slip (elementary physics). So the system starts the entire piano at a higher overall pitch, allowing the system "headroom" to adjust to slippage of some strings.

Glenn

Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829496 01/22/12 06:03 AM
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I'm guessing the heater is turned on before regulation and voicing?


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829560 01/22/12 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Rockett88
"First, folks who do it the old way will fight it, just like the medical establishment fought the discovery of penicillin back in the 1930's."


For the record, it was Rocket88 who said it first...

Credit where credit is due... smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
charleslang #1829565 01/22/12 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by charleslang
...On a hot day, the air might go from 75 to 100 degrees in three hours....


Not in my house! I keep it cold enough to use the down comforter in July.

I'm happy to see Don's progress. I've followed his journey with this for many years. I remain convinced it's an elegant idea that *will* ultimately succeed. And maybe make our old classics a little more obsolete.

Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
rocket88 #1829581 01/22/12 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by rocket88
First, folks who do it the old way will fight it, just like the medical establishment fought the discovery of penicillin back in the 1930's.


Well Put. smile

Maybe now. mad


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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829645 01/22/12 12:50 PM
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Wow! That's what I get for going out on Saturday night. I'll try to answer some more questions before you guys guess the whole thing into oblivion.

There is almost no limit to how far you can pull a string flat. While experimenting I have flattened strings more than 100 cents. The problem is they can get pretty hot. 95 F is an approximate *average* temperature. Obviously the strings are all at different temperatures depending on how far they have been tuned. They're not all at 95 F.

I deliberately tuned the three strings in the video to exaggerate and make the unison sound awful to better demonstrate the capability of the system. Normally all three strings go about the same degree sharp when the system is off and the unisons don't sound too bad. In fact the piano as a whole doesn't sound too bad. If you didn't know it was sharp, it sounds like a piano that was tuned maybe a few months ago. That's why it's hard to do a demo, since the difference is not that pronounced, especially with a crude recording like the one I made with my little digital camera.

As for the tension of the strings, an in-tune string always has the same tension regardless of its temperature. The tension and length are what decides the pitch. I am controlling that tension by controlling the temperature. The tension doesn't vary much more than when you're out of tune and your tech tunes it now.

Remember that this is simply copying a "recorded" tuning. The piano is manually tuned when warm. At that time the tech takes all of the technical aspects of the tuning into mind (stretching, inharmonicity, etc.). When he's done, each string is at a given fundamental frequency. That's what is stored and repeated. All the harmonics of that string follow that fundamental, so returning to that exact frequency always produces the same result.

Here is a radio interview I did a couple of years ago on NPR that might explain some more:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=878091

Last edited by Don A. Gilmore; 01/22/12 12:52 PM.

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Re: The Self-Tuning Piano
Don A. Gilmore #1829664 01/22/12 01:13 PM
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Okay, that explains it a little better... the piano is tuned to theoretical perfection by a real piano technician first, and this tuning is used as a bench-mark for subsequent electronic tunings.

That makes more sense.

Wishing you all the best with your fascinating invention, Don.

Rick

Last edited by Rickster; 01/22/12 01:14 PM.

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