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#2305837 - 07/23/14 09:53 AM Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ?  
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In your experience, are relative partial strengths primarily a function of hammer voicing or soundboard/bridge impedance/resonance ?

I find significant variation in the relative strengths of the lower partials in the tenor/bass section of my piano.

(Edit: Ignore, for the moment, strike point, and assume constant velocity hammer strike.)

Last edited by prout; 07/23/14 10:18 AM.
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#2305859 - 07/23/14 10:28 AM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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With wound strings, there are significant differences from string to string in spectrum balance. Plus longitudinal modes can act out in this area. But the hammer is about half the game.


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#2305912 - 07/23/14 12:05 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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A lot of older pianos have really hard hammers which emphasises the harmonics. If volume isn't the main issue, try softening the hammers.


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#2305917 - 07/23/14 12:15 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Harmonics are an artificial construct which reflect the way that a waveform is approximated by a Fourier series. The waveform depends on the initial conditions of the wave, that is, the shape the string is when it begins to move. That shape is determined by the hammer. Later, it may be modified by the impedance of the bridge and soundboard.


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#2305928 - 07/23/14 12:34 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Originally Posted by prout
In your experience, are relative partial strengths primarily a function of hammer voicing or soundboard/bridge impedance/resonance ?
In my experience, so far, relative partial strength is primarily a function of the hammer weight, strike point shape/surface-area, and hammer hardness/squishiness/resiliency.

Soundboard/bridge/rim impedance/resonance issues deal more with the system's ability to disseminate the tonal energy: the more flexible the system, the greater potential there is for louder attack sounds--but there will be less energy left over for the decay portion of the sound envelope. However, there is also a tonal influence: flexible systems allow for a boomier/bassy tone, and conversely, stiffer boards result in a thinner sound--yet have greater sustainability/singing-tone.


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#2305957 - 07/23/14 01:11 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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My ear clearly hears that some third partials partials are louder than the fourth partial. On adjacent notes, the fourth partial is louder than the third.

There is little point in choosing a 6:3 octave for A2/A3 if the fourth partial of A2 overwhelms the third partial A3. Yet, G2/G3 might be better with a 6:3 octave if the fourth partial of G2 is weak. It would seem that a talented voicer might be able to even out the differences enough that one could have a more consistent stretch.

One other point. I would think that a soundboard exhibits a variety of resonant modes, some of which might enhance the transfer of energy to the soundboard, while at other frequencies the transfer would be inhibited. This would also seem to affect perceived partial strengths.

#2306045 - 07/23/14 04:21 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Harmonics are an artificial construct which reflect the way that a waveform is approximated by a Fourier series. The waveform depends on the initial conditions of the wave, that is, the shape the string is when it begins to move. That shape is determined by the hammer. Later, it may be modified by the impedance of the bridge and soundboard.

Try as I might, I have never found a published source in the realm of physics, acoustics, music, or electronics that states harmonics are an artificial construct. Please cite at least one reference that supports your claim. I figure if I can hear them, they are real to me.

#2306050 - 07/23/14 04:29 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by BDB
Harmonics are an artificial construct which reflect the way that a waveform is approximated by a Fourier series. The waveform depends on the initial conditions of the wave, that is, the shape the string is when it begins to move. That shape is determined by the hammer. Later, it may be modified by the impedance of the bridge and soundboard.

Try as I might, I have never found a published source in the realm of physics, acoustics, music, or electronics that states harmonics are an artificial construct. Please cite at least one reference that supports your claim. I figure if I can hear them, they are real to me.


Well, I suppose the formulation was a little clumsy. If taken literally, some atheists say "I AM the harmonics !"

Prout that means you have the "Fourier on my mind" syndrome.


Last edited by Olek; 07/23/14 04:30 PM.

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#2306052 - 07/23/14 04:31 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Harmonics are an artificial construct which reflect the way that a waveform is approximated by a Fourier series. The waveform depends on the initial conditions of the wave, that is, the shape the string is when it begins to move. That shape is determined by the hammer. Later, it may be modified by the impedance of the bridge and soundboard.


Harmonics are no artificial construct.

They are identifiable and elicitable, and they are the real constituents of a complex [edit: i.e. multi-faceted, not "complex" in the mathematical sense] waveforum (including its initial state). That shape, initially determined by the hammer impact, is modified over time - not only by impedance factors, but also by the influence of wire stiffness on each harmonic's (or partial's) propagation speed. Their sum (at any point in time) determines the shape of the string (at that point in time).

Of course, I'd gladly be proved wrong.


Last edited by Mark R.; 07/23/14 04:33 PM. Reason: given in post

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#2306059 - 07/23/14 04:41 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: Olek]  
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Originally Posted by Olek
Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by BDB
Harmonics are an artificial construct which reflect the way that a waveform is approximated by a Fourier series. The waveform depends on the initial conditions of the wave, that is, the shape the string is when it begins to move. That shape is determined by the hammer. Later, it may be modified by the impedance of the bridge and soundboard.

Try as I might, I have never found a published source in the realm of physics, acoustics, music, or electronics that states harmonics are an artificial construct. Please cite at least one reference that supports your claim. I figure if I can hear them, they are real to me.


Well, I suppose the formulation was a little clumsy. If taken literally, some atheists say "I AM the harmonics !"

Prout that means you have the "Fourier on my mind" syndrome.


If that is the case, my brain must do FFT analysis before I hear the partials. laugh I am sure I can hear more than one frequency at a time when a piano note is played. If I am not hearing that, then what am I hearing, and, more importantly, how does an aural piano tuner tune?

#2306077 - 07/23/14 05:17 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Originally Posted by prout
There is little point in choosing a 6:3 octave for A2/A3 if the fourth partial of A2 overwhelms the third partial A3. Yet, G2/G3 might be better with a 6:3 octave if the fourth partial of G2 is weak. It would seem that a talented voicer might be able to even out the differences enough that one could have a more consistent stretch.
I think I understand what you are saying, but hammer voicing isn't able to effect one partial vs. the other in terms of loudness. Let me put it a different way: the problem you describe lies not with the hammer, but with something else in the system--it sounds like a string issue to me. Hammer voicing can voice down both the 3rd/4th partials to a level where there is not such difference, but then the overall sound would probably also lose clarity.


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#2306080 - 07/23/14 05:30 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: A454.7]  
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Originally Posted by A443
Originally Posted by prout
There is little point in choosing a 6:3 octave for A2/A3 if the fourth partial of A2 overwhelms the third partial A3. Yet, G2/G3 might be better with a 6:3 octave if the fourth partial of G2 is weak. It would seem that a talented voicer might be able to even out the differences enough that one could have a more consistent stretch.
I think I understand what you are saying, but hammer voicing isn't able to effect one partial vs. the other in terms of loudness. Let me put it a different way: the problem you describe lies not with the hammer, but with something else in the system--it sounds like a string issue to me. Hammer voicing can voice down both the 3rd/4th partials to a level where there is not such difference, but then the overall sound would probably also lose clarity.


Thanks. That was what I wanted to know.

I have assumed that the sound emanating from a piano into the room is similar to the sound emanating from a speaker into the room. The system (strings, bridge, soundboard, case, lid, walls, etc.), due to the interaction of the various components, causes some reinforcement or some cancellation of the various partials (if they exist ha), much as the amplifier, speaker crossover, drivers, room interaction causes similar effects on the speaker frequency response.

#2306082 - 07/23/14 05:33 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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I would appreciate anyone who thinks that there are an infinite number of sine wave generators in a piano string to show me them. The idea is absurd to me.


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#2306083 - 07/23/14 05:36 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
I would appreciate anyone who thinks that there are an infinite number of sine wave generators in a piano string to show me them. The idea is absurd to me.


Do you hear and use partials when setting the temperament on a piano? If not, how do you tune pianos. (I assume you can tune, though you state you are a tech, not a tuner.)

#2306087 - 07/23/14 05:42 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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I tune using beats. Beats are combinatorics, not partials.


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#2306088 - 07/23/14 05:45 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
I tune using beats. Beats are combinatorics, not partials.


In order to have a specific beat rate, you need to have two specific frequencies beating against each other. Given F3/A3 M3 in ET at A4=440Hz, what are the two frequencies that are beating?

Edit: My understanding of combinatorics from ancient high school is that it deals with enumerable elements. This is not the case with beating partials.




Last edited by prout; 07/23/14 05:52 PM.
#2306091 - 07/23/14 05:55 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
I would appreciate anyone who thinks that there are an infinite number of sine wave generators in a piano string to show me them. The idea is absurd to me.
Who said anything about an infinite number of sine wave generators and piano strings? BDB, if you think it is an absurd concept, why bring it up and then argue against your own logic? Maybe you should leave the argument part to other people--who are better at it?!? 2hearts


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#2306092 - 07/23/14 05:56 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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To isolate an anomaly to a hammer/voicing you could try swapping adjacent hammers. Also, is there a difference with una-corda?

Last edited by Chris Leslie; 07/23/14 06:45 PM. Reason: Deleted a comment

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#2306106 - 07/23/14 06:42 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Originally Posted by prout
In order to have a specific beat rate, you need to have two specific frequencies beating against each other. Given F3/A3 M3 in ET at A4=440Hz, what are the two frequencies that are beating?


174.6 and 220.0, of course. What else would they be?

Beats occur as the maxima and minima of those two vibrations coincide, alternating with the coinciding of the maxima of one and the minima of the other. Pure combinatorics!


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#2306108 - 07/23/14 06:45 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Originally Posted by prout
In order to have a specific beat rate, you need to have two specific frequencies beating against each other. Given F3/A3 M3 in ET at A4=440Hz, what are the two frequencies that are beating?


174.6 and 220.0, of course. What else would they be?

Beats occur as the maxima and minima of those two vibrations coincide, alternating with the coinciding of the maxima of one and the minima of the other. Pure combinatorics!
cry wow is this a really bad joke?!?


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#2306111 - 07/23/14 06:52 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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You don't actually believe that the two frequencies (e.g., 174.6Hz and 220Hz) combine to form beats (i.e., that you tune to), do you?!?!?!? crazy


Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
--Klavierbaukuenstler des Erwachens--
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#2306146 - 07/23/14 07:41 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
I tune using beats. Beats are combinatorics, not partials.


Good evening again BDB. I approach partials as if they were a result of a "partial theory". This "partial theory", which may be totally wrong (if there is such a thing as truth), is sufficient to model and predict the motion of piano strings sufficiently well to tune a piano - by ear, or by ETD. It is important to understand that the "partial theory" is not "truth", nor does it need to be. It is, however, a convenient, common, theory that allows us to talk about tuning, temperaments, measurement of partials, and the like.

I hope you understand that I don't concern myself about whether or not partials exist. Until the theory fails and is replaced by a better theory, it works well enough for me.

On that basis, this discussion, regarding relative partial intensities, is valid.

#2306159 - 07/23/14 08:21 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Sure, I understand. There are several ways of looking at things. Partials are an abstraction that come from the Fourier series approximation of a periodic function. My only objection is to those people who think there are harmonic fairies magically making sine waves of all different frequencies hiding in a vibrating string, and they are what give a piano its characteristic sound.


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#2306217 - 07/23/14 11:07 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Aside from the acoustic transmission of sound, one cannot forget that variations in the ear will color our perception. I have one ear more sensitive to hi frequency harmonics than another thanks to an MD rupturing one as a child. It can be helpful or frustrating in some tuning situations.


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#2306233 - 07/23/14 11:45 PM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
I would appreciate anyone who thinks that there are an infinite number of sine wave generators in a piano string to show me them. The idea is absurd to me.


That's ok. You're not an aural tuner (I assume or you wouldn't be making these comments), so the idea is absurd to you. We, aural tuners, on the other hand, use these everyday to tune pianos. Of course we are going to choke on our coffee when reading comments like yours. Don't take it personally.

If you want to talk absurd, what exactly is gravity? I stick to the world? That just doesn't make sense to me, but I deal with it and use it every day to help me do stuff.

Have you seen my video on the harmonic series? You might find it interesting:

http://howtotunepianos.com/podcast-6/

Last edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT; 07/23/14 11:47 PM.

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#2306245 - 07/24/14 12:18 AM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: Mark Cerisano]  
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It is not that I am not an aural tuner, it is that I came from a different tradition from most of you. My background was in mathematics, not the lore of piano tuning, which, all too often, is not very well integrated with physics and mathematics, nor with the relationship between the two.

Incidentally, I said an infinite number of sine wave generators because that is how many are needed to come arbitrarily close to most periodic functions. But two would do.



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#2306281 - 07/24/14 03:40 AM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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For the sake of a productive discussion, I'd start to remove the fairies from the picture.


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#2306312 - 07/24/14 06:49 AM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: Mark R.]  
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Originally Posted by Mark R.
For the sake of a productive discussion, I'd start to remove the fairies from the picture.


I think that some form of "beat" or fluctuation can be noticed based only on one frequency by note, with fundamental also. But it is very faint. I doubt it can be mistaken with the stronger combination activity obtained with partials.

May be your comment, BDB, goes in line with my impression you tune mostly at fundamental level (unison, beat perception) which is possible but a little dull or "closed" in my opinion.


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#2306315 - 07/24/14 06:53 AM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
It is not that I am not an aural tuner, it is that I came from a different tradition from most of you. My background was in mathematics, not the lore of piano tuning, which, all too often, is not very well integrated with physics and mathematics, nor with the relationship between the two.

Incidentally, I said an infinite number of sine wave generators because that is how many are needed to come arbitrarily close to most periodic functions. But two would do.



Your mathematics isn't necessarily well integrated with the physics of piano strings. Mathematics = physics. The assumptions and axioms you start from on the physics side determine the mathematics you use to quantify it.

There is nothing absurd about simultaneous sinusoidal periodic movements within the same string - your total bewilderment about it is in itself bewildering to most of us. Surely you can stretch your imagination far enough to see that it might be possible, even if you have an alternative theory? Certainly there is no justification for your persistent outrage at the mere idea.

#2306318 - 07/24/14 07:37 AM Re: Partial strength - hammer voicing or soundboard ? [Re: prout]  
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Science is not nature, it mearly tries to describe it in useful terms so we can predict its behaviour.

Did you watch the video? There are four examples that show partials are not imagined, and string vibration can be thought of as a combination of sine waves.

I think I know what you may be getting at though.

If string vibration was indeed produced directly from individual sine tone generation, then the synthesizer algorithms of the 80's should have been able to accurately reproduce authentic sounds that could not be distinguished from the real acoustic.instrument, which of course is not true.


Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng), Dip.Ed.(Music)
www.howtotunepianos.com
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