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#2694819 - 12/06/17 03:25 PM Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos  
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Ferrucio Busoni wanted a piano that could enable him to play his transcriptions of Bach organ works, thus he would need 9 additional bass notes all the way down to C0. He approached Bosendorfer on the idea, and the 97-key, 8-octave Bosendorfer Imperial was born. The additional harmonic resonance created by those low bass strings was frosting on the cake.

The Australian piano firm Stuart & Sons makes a piano that, in addition to those extra 9 bass notes, also has 5 extra treble notes all the way up to F8. Other than extra resonance and (possible) marketing gimmickry, what is the purpose of those extra treble keys?

Last edited by Almaviva; 12/06/17 05:09 PM. Reason: grammar
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#2694822 - 12/06/17 03:38 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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Very good question. One can understand the low notes, esp. down to G or F, but the top notes I don't understand.

Karl Watson

#2694848 - 12/06/17 05:00 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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To keep Victor Borge from falling off the high end. ;-)


-- J.S.

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#2694855 - 12/06/17 05:11 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

To keep Victor Borge from falling off the high end. ;-)


LOL

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#2694856 - 12/06/17 05:12 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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Because they can and because one can play all the extra notes on both ends and they all sound clear and defined. Their pianos sound incredible.

#2694862 - 12/06/17 05:38 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Bosendorff]  
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Originally Posted by Bosendorff
Because they can and because one can play all the extra notes on both ends and they all sound clear and defined. Their pianos sound incredible.

But the top 2 or 3 notes on almost all grands, even the best ones, are usually extremely lacking in tone. I don't see how higher notes wouldn't have the same problem but to an even greater degree.

#2694886 - 12/06/17 07:13 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
But the top 2 or 3 notes on almost all grands, even the best ones, are usually extremely lacking in tone. I don't see how higher notes wouldn't have the same problem but to an even greater degree.

Go on their site and read about their agraffes. In their pianos, the strings are bent vertically instead (by these agraffes), so there is no downbearing force needed. The soundboard is thus way less restricted and can vibrate almost like a conventional speaker. So all the keys including the extra ones at both extremes sound well defined.

#2694905 - 12/06/17 08:33 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Bosendorff]  
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Originally Posted by Bosendorff
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
But the top 2 or 3 notes on almost all grands, even the best ones, are usually extremely lacking in tone. I don't see how higher notes wouldn't have the same problem but to an even greater degree.

Go on their site and read about their agraffes. In their pianos, the strings are bent vertically instead (by these agraffes), so there is no downbearing force needed. The soundboard is thus way less restricted and can vibrate almost like a conventional speaker. So all the keys including the extra ones at both extremes sound well defined.

I think Bosendorff is exactly right. I think partly they are displaying the qualities of their design (and the execution of that design). I haven't played a Stuart and Sons (I would like to), but the top notes on my Fandrich as so good, I can easily imagine a couple more notes. Conventional designs do not (IMHO) maximize the quality at the top, and some people are saying "Hey we can do more."


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2695018 - 12/07/17 07:30 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
... what is the purpose of those extra treble keys?

Since its earliest days, the development of the piano has focussed on the expansion of its ambitus. Christofori’s pianos had a four octave ambitus, and Mozart’s piano was five octaves. Pianists such as Dussek pushed John Broadwood into six and then six and a half octaves, and the development of iron-framed pianos allowed Pape, for example, to create an eight octave piano in the first half of the nineteenth century. The current convention of 88 notes is just that – a convention – but is also influenced by the (lack of) quality of sound produced by an expanded ambitus.

Many people, including some on these fora, have expressed their support for ‘innovation’ in piano design but this ‘innovation’ is restricted to tinkering around the edges of an outdated, outmoded and historically limiting design which I, and others, have called the Steinway paradigm. No matter how you improve the engine, suspension and so on, a Model T is still fundamentally a Model T. This paradigm is still all pervasive, and much more concerned with market share and politics than it is with genuine progress. As people here, other than myself, have commented, true innovation has been stifled for over 120 years.

In order to break these shackles, what is essential is a complete revamp of ‘why’ a piano – in other words the sound, the feel, the ambitus, the way sounds interact and a great range of other things besides. Stuart’s initial pianos (of which I have one) were 97-note (F0-F8) and were the first pianos in over 120 years to completely break away from the old Steinway paradigm. Of course, he didn’t stop there and produced 102-note (C0-F8) pianos which in terms of power, clarity and subtlety were, and still are, unmatched by any other piano.

The sound of the extra bass notes has to be heard to be believed. The power, clarity and almost total lack of low frequency masking makes it possible to create a clean, long lasting sustained sound involving the entire 102-note piano range.

So, the next hurdle is to expand the ambitus upwards to B8. But in this case, that is only a means to an end. Stuart has produced a nine-octave piano which completely redefines the ‘why’ or ‘raison d’etre’of the piano. This is a totally new instrument which cannot be compared in any way with those instruments still based on the old and outmoded Steinway paradigm.

The frequency range of the 108-key piano is from approximately 16 to 8,000 Hz. Subcontra and ultrasonic frequencies interact within the natural harmonic series to enhance the architecture of the soundscape. At their fundamental frequency, these pitches do not transgress the subsonic and ultrasonic threshold but are well within the normal human range (15 to 25,000 Hz) and the arm reach of most people.

These outer frequencies, that have individual harmonic weaknesses due to the limitations of the stretched string, enrich the mid-range harmonic series by adding depth or sparkle that can be easily heard even in a large concert hall through their collective coupling to the one soundboard. That means, if taken individually, the low frequencies are most effective if played softly to elicit their maximum fundamental presence or played with an octave or two above it. The very high pitches are best utilised by playing with the octave below which reinforces the upper octave. Providing the hammers are hard and the sound is brilliant, this will be most effective as the capo d’astro bar amplifies the strike of the hammer down through the soundboard.

This opens up a myriad of tonal and interpretive possibilities which, to this point in time, can only have been dreamed about. Stuart has produced more than ‘the Ultimate Piano’. It is now up to musicians to take up the challenge of this new paradigm and ‘explore the possibilities’ – not just for new music but to breathe new life into the standard repertoire which for far too long has been hidebound by an outmoded paradigm, both technical and intellectual.

Those days are past, and should be consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong.

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#2695031 - 12/07/17 08:18 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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I have always found grands of "extra broadness" being good musical instruments. Regardless if there were hammers underneath, regardless if there were strings above - in the top range and in the lowest range, the piano was good because of the "better freeness" of a broad soundboard.

So one could discuss (or analyze...) the benefits and disadvantages of pianos with "free" soundboards versus pianos with "clamped" soundboards for which Steinway i.e. Henry Jr. (lived until 1865) was a genius of.

I was thrilled when I learned that the direct precedessors of the Steinway developments, the parisian grands of Pleyel and Erard, nearly had no "bell" i.e. the evolving soundboard which contains a multiple-axis-pressure-status which is extremely difficult to calculate but which was needed to give sound & fun to the 2.500 spectators in early Steinway Hall. A Pleyel soundboard is nearly flat... And does not have such gimmicks like 1 to 2 millimeters "compression" (by the strings climbing up to the Steg...).

But a good Pleyel grand (with it's flatness, with it's seven-to-nine-layers hammers....) is an incredble vivid, brilliant, living instrument which IMHO cannot be matched by modern grands designed to "Brilliance" (for 2.500 people). ...

Chopin played for 30 to 500 people only. When I am at home, I play for max 15 people - and I own an ancient Steinway D. ...

Who owns a Steinway Hall, a Wigmore Hall, a concert venue like the Royal Albert which can seat 8.500 people, and Valentina Lisitsa plays on a Bösendorfer Imperial for them? I don't own such a venue.

Also do I think that it is annoying to be confronted with the "48 gr to 52 gr" paradigma of downweights. ... It is molesting for an amateur to have such a stiff mechanism. I dare to do a prophecy (...) that if we would invite Mr Chopin (+1849) to play on a Steinway grand (1856 to today), he would touch two or three keys, and then deny to play for us,

"because this piano does not meet my specifications";

a speech which I once heard from an english engineering colleague who was a trained concert pianist in his youth also - said not to my dragon but to a so-so-piano in a pub.

So please please give us another instrument, not as hard to play, with a maybe other sound, with a soundboard of more freeness, with a faster and lighter mechanism, and I promise to never try to play for more than 20 people.

I would dare to tell negative stuff... that the piano industry, in the search for acceptance and recommendations of concert pianists, produces instruments which go far far away from the REAL needs of private music lovers.

Liberate the soundboard.
Liberate the stiff mechanism.
Create musical fun and pleasure and a deep love for the hobbyist at the piano ... with light hammers, with light downweights, and with a non-clamped soundboard. ... ?...
Some ideas only...


Pls excuse any bad english.

D 1877 satin black plain
#2695065 - 12/07/17 10:37 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: BerndAB]  
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Originally Posted by BerndAB
So please please give us another instrument, not as hard to play, with a maybe other sound, with a soundboard of more freeness, with a faster and lighter mechanism, and I promise to never try to play for more than 20 people.
Liberate the stiff mechanism.
Create musical fun and pleasure and a deep love for the hobbyist at the piano ... with light hammers, with light downweights...
I think it is a well accepted idea that a piano with too light an action is just as difficult to play as one where the action is too heavy. And i think most pianists feel that the high quality grands of today with a regulated action falls in the sweet spot for touch.

#2695072 - 12/07/17 10:55 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: CJM]  
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Originally Posted by CJM

The frequency range of the 108-key piano is from approximately 16 to 8,000 Hz. Subcontra and ultrasonic frequencies interact within the natural harmonic series to enhance the architecture of the soundscape. At their fundamental frequency, these pitches do not transgress the subsonic and ultrasonic threshold but are well within the normal human range (15 to 25,000 Hz) and the arm reach of most people.


Well, I don't think there are many humans (and even fewer adults) that can hear above 20kHz...
This actually brings me to a question and a statement, since you're more familiar with the designs: I notice some pianos are easier than others to tune in the high treble (the presence or absence of false beats, duplex and hammer noise, strike point, etc.). Is the high treble tone markedly different for the Stuart vs other fine pianos? Also, it has been my observation with pianos I play on stages and in teaching studios that a good number of technicians have trouble tuning the high treble (either it gets ignored, is badly tuned, or has an absurd amount of stretch that doesn't sound "in tune" at all)-- how does a piano with an even higher compass make sense when many who service them already have trouble up there?


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#2695082 - 12/07/17 11:28 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[]I think it is a well accepted idea that a piano with too light an action is just as difficult to play as one where the action is too heavy.


Yes, if not more so. This is easily demonstrated using an unweighted digital.


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#2695171 - 12/07/17 05:52 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: terminaldegree]  
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
This actually brings me to a question and a statement, since you're more familiar with the designs: I notice some pianos are easier than others to tune in the high treble (the presence or absence of false beats, duplex and hammer noise, strike point, etc.). Is the high treble tone markedly different for the Stuart vs other fine pianos? Also, it has been my observation with pianos I play on stages and in teaching studios that a good number of technicians have trouble tuning the high treble (either it gets ignored, is badly tuned, or has an absurd amount of stretch that doesn't sound "in tune" at all)-- how does a piano with an even higher compass make sense when many who service them already have trouble up there?

Good question.

The poor tuning ability of many tuners referred to is more about their training than their actual hearing ability.

Tuning is not about frequency but rather about the interference position between intervals which is commonly called beats. This means that there is no real difference between how low, mid-range and high pitched frequencies are tuned. So long as the sound can be heard and the beats are audible the strings should be pretty easy to tune or match.

Historically, it has been a superstition that if high frequencies are sharp they sound better. This is to confuse the issue of tuning over brilliance. Out of this convention grew a nonsense that the upper octaves of the piano should be sharpened to sound right. The increased stiffness and shrillness of the out of tune-ness gave the impression of brilliance. Brilliance is attained by hammer hardness/voicing, regulation and design not by tuning sharp. Poor training and understanding of these principles have led to a distorted practice in tuning craft to over stretch the upper octaves to the point where they are blatantly out of tune. This is unacceptable both musically and theoretically but the practice is so entrenched it’s almost impossible to stamp out.

So, the tuning of the upper octaves is neither difficult nor impossible but, rather, requires a sound training in the art and craft of piano tuning and not a reliance on electronic tuning to do the work of a properly trained ear.

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#2695193 - 12/07/17 07:46 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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I am surprised that no one who is participating in this discussion has mentions Stephen Paulello's Opus 102 concert grand piano, which was finished about 2 years ago. It has 102 notes, no ribs, a barless plate, a single continuous bridge, a bridge agraffe of his own patented design, nickel plated soft iron bass strings, Paulello hybrid stringing. Both Paulello and Stuart use hybrid stringing and Paulello wire, including type XM. The extended compasses on these instruments would not be possible without the super strong XM wire. The story that I have heard is that Wayne Stuart badgered Stephen until he made the XM wire so that the strings would not break at the top notes for the piano he wanted to build.

What has also not been mentioned is that there is no "end of bridge effect" on the inside 88, as the extreme notes are far from the rim, and not at the end of the bridge. Paulello's agraffe has no side bearing and no down bearing, I think one of the reasons the string vibrates so freely.

Will Truitt


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#2695296 - 12/08/17 07:03 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: WilliamTruitt]  
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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
I am surprised that no one who is participating in this discussion has mentions Stephen Paulello's Opus 102 concert grand piano, which was finished about 2 years ago.

Hi Will,

I personally have a very high opinion of Stephen Paulello, and I suspect the Opus102 is a stepping stone to something even better. With regard to the agraffe, I would suggest that you obtain a copy of Kevin Hunt's PhD thesis, which goes into agraffe design in some detail. For those who are not aware, Kevin is one of Australia's foremost jazz pianists, and his thesis focusses on Stuart pianos. It's well worth a read if only to appreciate the enormous amount of work that went into it smile

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#2695307 - 12/08/17 08:34 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: WilliamTruitt]  
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William:

This sounds truly ground-breaking.

Has anyone heard this piano ?

Karl

#2695331 - 12/08/17 10:52 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: CJM]  
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Originally Posted by CJM
I personally have a very high opinion of Stephen Paulello, and I suspect the Opus102 is a stepping stone to something even better.
+1

Originally Posted by CJM
With regard to the agraffe, I would suggest that you obtain a copy of Kevin Hunt's PhD thesis, which goes into agraffe design in some detail. For those who are not aware, Kevin is one of Australia's foremost jazz pianists, and his thesis focusses on Stuart pianos. It's well worth a read if only to appreciate the enormous amount of work that went into it smile

Chris, thank you for that link. A fascinating read.

I strolled to page 60 where the design principle of the Stuart agraffe is shown. I immediately stopped to think about my own ideas... He yet built what I was thinking of.

Your signature tells that you own a Stuart & Sons parlor grand. Is it with a conventional wooden soundboard, or with a board made of glass?


Pls excuse any bad english.

D 1877 satin black plain
#2695391 - 12/08/17 03:06 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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Following this thread with some fascination. What are the physical dimensions of these pianos? Can shorter people play them? Maybe the ends have some sort of curvature?


Roland LX7

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#2695403 - 12/08/17 04:12 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: BerndAB]  
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Originally Posted by BerndAB
Your signature tells that you own a Stuart & Sons parlor grand. Is it with a conventional wooden soundboard, or with a board made of glass?
Mine is a conventional wooden soundboard, but I believe the optimum soundboard is cardboard smile

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#2695405 - 12/08/17 04:17 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Colin Miles]  
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
What are the physical dimensions of these pianos?
The 108-note piano is 2.9 metres, the width is commensurate with the number of notes.
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Can shorter people play them? Maybe the ends have some sort of curvature?
Of course they can. I'm no expert on anatomy, but arm spam is similar between differing heights and other dimensions of the human body.

The keyboard is perfectly straight - there is no curvature.

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#2695437 - 12/08/17 07:08 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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Guys, I think that you are missing the point of my original question.

Busoni wanted a piano that would enable him to play Bach organ works on the piano, thus Bosendorfer built a 97-key piano that went all the way down to C0, the notes corresponding to the 32-foot pipes of a pipe organ. The Bosendorfer Imperial has an 8-octave range, from C0 to C8.

Stuart & Sons wants to build a 108-key piano, incorporating not only the Imperial's 9 extra bass notes, but also with 11 extra treble keys that go all the way up to B8 - just one note short of a full 9-octave range.

If Busoni needed 9 additional bass notes to meet his musical needs, what is the musical need of that extra octave at the top?

#2695441 - 12/08/17 07:29 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
Guys, I think that you are missing the point of my original question.

Busoni wanted a piano that would enable him to play Bach organ works on the piano, thus Bosendorfer built a 97-key piano that went all the way down to C0, the notes corresponding to the 32-foot pipes of a pipe organ. The Bosendorfer Imperial has an 8-octave range, from C0 to C8.

Stuart & Sons wants to build a 108-key piano, incorporating not only the Imperial's 9 extra bass notes, but also with 11 extra treble keys that go all the way up to B8 - just one note short of a full 9-octave range.

If Busoni needed 9 additional bass notes to meet his musical needs, what is the musical need of that extra octave at the top?

I think the short answer is that Mr Stuart is not making his decisions based on Busoni.

The longer answer is that he is convinced that the piano's range can be larger - and musically useful. Previously, the construction of the piano was such that the highest notes of the piano were not very satisfying - being more "knock" than note and almost no duration. But if he's been able to address that such that we hear a clear ringing tone that has musical utility, who's to say that he shouldn't?

I don't think it means that every piano he makes will have this extra treble range, but he's putting it out there for people to try - and judge.

#2695443 - 12/08/17 08:00 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: ando]  
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Originally Posted by ando
The longer answer is that he is convinced that the piano's range can be larger - and musically useful. Previously, the construction of the piano was such that the highest notes of the piano were not very satisfying - being more "knock" than note and almost no duration. But if he's been able to address that such that we hear a clear ringing tone that has musical utility, who's to say that he shouldn't?
I listened to a few videos of the Stuart piano and wasn't convinced the added treble notes did have much of a clear ringing tone or satisfying musical quality. More, perhaps, than one would expect but nothing particularly musical. Can anyone point me to a recording that shows these qualities?

#2695457 - 12/08/17 09:06 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
Busoni wanted a piano that would enable him to play Bach organ works on the piano, thus Bosendorfer built a 97-key piano that went all the way down to C0, the notes corresponding to the 32-foot pipes of a pipe organ. The Bosendorfer Imperial has an 8-octave range, from C0 to C8. Stuart & Sons wants to build a 108-key piano, incorporating not only the Imperial's 9 extra bass notes, but also with 11 extra treble keys that go all the way up to B8 - just one note short of a full 9-octave range. If Busoni needed 9 additional bass notes to meet his musical needs, what is the musical need of that extra octave at the top?

Again, why not. If one wants to emulate the 32' register, why omit the 1' register ? Since decades, Hammond organ 91-wheel tone generators can reach F#8. Mr Hammond and other innovators didn't limit themselves to the goals of Busoni when creating new musical instruments. Church organs go up to C9. Why should the modern pianos stay limited to centuries-old designs stopping at C8, if technology and innovations can now make them reach pitches as high as a pipe organ. Beethoven and other great composers would have been thrilled to play and compose for wider range instruments like the Stuart and Sons pianos.

#2695460 - 12/08/17 09:31 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: pianoloverus]  
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CJM Offline
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I listened to a few videos of the Stuart piano and wasn't convinced the added treble notes did have much of a clear ringing tone or satisfying musical quality. More, perhaps, than one would expect but nothing particularly musical. Can anyone point me to a recording that shows these qualities?

It should be noted that sites such as YouTube compress the sound considerably, and thus the quality of what you hear is very much compromised. Kevin's thesis (www.kevinhunt.com/thesis) contains a great deal of information on and recordings of the 102-note Stuart & Sons piano. However, even so, there is nothing like listening to the piano live, since virtually all speakers are unable to reproduce the full sound spectrum of these pianos. And that, of course, presumes that the piano is being recorded properly, which in a vast majority of cases just doesn't happen.

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#2695521 - 12/09/17 06:48 AM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Almaviva]  
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CJM Offline
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
Stuart & Sons wants to build a 108-key piano, incorporating not only the Imperial's 9 extra bass notes, but also with 11 extra treble keys that go all the way up to B8 - just one note short of a full 9-octave range.

1) ...is building...
2) in fact, 108 keys (C0-B8) is a full 9-octave piano since each octave is 12 notes and 9x12=108. If you add the extra note (to make 109) this is technically the 10th octave.

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#2695641 - 12/09/17 03:48 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: CJM]  
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Almaviva Offline
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Almaviva  Offline
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Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted by CJM
Originally Posted by Almaviva
Stuart & Sons wants to build a 108-key piano, incorporating not only the Imperial's 9 extra bass notes, but also with 11 extra treble keys that go all the way up to B8 - just one note short of a full 9-octave range.

1) ...is building...
2) in fact, 108 keys (C0-B8) is a full 9-octave piano since each octave is 12 notes and 9x12=108. If you add the extra note (to make 109) this is technically the 10th octave.

Regards
Chris

That depends. Some people say that you would have to reach C9 , the first note of the ninth octave, in order to have a full 9-octave range (C0-C9). Stuart & Sons acknowledges on their own website that their 108-key piano would be one note short of a full 9-octave range.

It reminds me of the debate of when the 21st century began - was it January 1, 2000 or January 1, 2001?

Last edited by Almaviva; 12/09/17 03:56 PM.
#2695651 - 12/09/17 04:26 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Bosendorff]  
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Almaviva Offline
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Almaviva  Offline
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Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted by Bosendorff
Originally Posted by Almaviva
Busoni wanted a piano that would enable him to play Bach organ works on the piano, thus Bosendorfer built a 97-key piano that went all the way down to C0, the notes corresponding to the 32-foot pipes of a pipe organ. The Bosendorfer Imperial has an 8-octave range, from C0 to C8. Stuart & Sons wants to build a 108-key piano, incorporating not only the Imperial's 9 extra bass notes, but also with 11 extra treble keys that go all the way up to B8 - just one note short of a full 9-octave range. If Busoni needed 9 additional bass notes to meet his musical needs, what is the musical need of that extra octave at the top?

Again, why not. If one wants to emulate the 32' register, why omit the 1' register ? Since decades, Hammond organ 91-wheel tone generators can reach F#8. Mr Hammond and other innovators didn't limit themselves to the goals of Busoni when creating new musical instruments. Church organs go up to C9. Why should the modern pianos stay limited to centuries-old designs stopping at C8, if technology and innovations can now make them reach pitches as high as a pipe organ. Beethoven and other great composers would have been thrilled to play and compose for wider range instruments like the Stuart and Sons pianos.


You do have a point. However, the 97-key Bosendorfer Imperial has been around for 117 years, and only a handful of compositons have been written that use those extra 9 bass notes - a few pieces by Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, Busoni (who envisioned the Imperial in the first place), and a few others. Bosendorfer has a very small share of the piano market, and Stuart & Sons has an even smaller share; I don't envision scores of composers writing works that use those 11 extra treble notes if a tiny boutique firm like Stuart is the only firm that makes such an instrument..

If a major pianist like Martha Argerich, Lang Lang, Leif Ove Andnses, Yuja Wang, etc. commissioned a major composer to write a substantial work for a 9-octave piano, and the work proved to be a hit, I could see the 9-octave piano becoming a commercial reality.

An alternative scenario could be the following: a major piano manufacturer like Steinway or Yamaha would build a 9-octave piano, commission a 9-octave compositon, and persuade one of its star pianists to play it. Are you listening, Messrs. Paulson and Nakata?

Last edited by Almaviva; 12/09/17 04:33 PM.
#2695672 - 12/09/17 06:53 PM Re: Why the extra treble keys in Stuart & Sons pianos [Re: Karl Watson]  
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New Hampshire
Hi Karl:

Only in recordings, off the internet. There is a recently released recording "Beethoven et ses Maitres" by pianist David Bismuth. It includes many well known pieces by Beethoven, Hayden, and Handel.

https://open.spotify.com/album/54sz7fviL7crhh4nNyHyPi

You will have to join Spotify to listen, but it is free and only takes about 30 seconds. The original recording seems of high quality, and Spotify sounds better than YouTube. The recording, the piano, and the pianist deserve a listen on decent equipment, not your tin can computer speakers.

David Bismuth's playing is wonderful, and his interaction with the instrument remarkable at times. The piano has a unique set of strengths, which he puts to advantage in his playing. The first piece I listened to was the 32 Variations by Beethoven. I had to pick myself up off the floor when it was done. The only other thing I will say is that this recording rewards multiple listenings.

I would be greatly interested in the reactions of others to the music and the piano, it certainly had a powerful effect on me.

Will


fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner
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