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Re: Tone Production [Re: JohnSprung] #2771403
10/11/18 10:09 AM
10/11/18 10:09 AM
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prout Offline
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John, yes the strike point could change if the shank is bent either backward or forward at the point of the strike, and the tone (partial structure) would be slightly modified. I switched out my wood shanks earlier this year for stiff composite WNG shanks. The difference is significant in that the stike point, both vertically and especially horzontally is now much more tightly controlled and can be felt and heard by me. The big change is the predictability of the strike when doing fast note repetitions.

Yes, action saturation occurs as Del says. Adjusting the regulation and, more importantly, the hammer type and voicing, can sometimes delay the saturation beyond the point that a concert pianist can reasonably be expected to reach.

My guess is that audience can hear the key strikes a little, but they certainly imagine the sound if they are watching.

Last edited by prout; 10/11/18 10:15 AM.
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Re: Tone Production [Re: GoldmanT] #2771404
10/11/18 10:11 AM
10/11/18 10:11 AM
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I want to give credit to the writers of the research paper cited above.

Touch and temporal behavior of grand piano actions
Werner Goebl
Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (OFAI), Freyung 6/6, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Roberto Bresin
Department of Speech, Music, and Hearing (TMH), Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Lindstedtsvägen 24, 10044 Stockholm, Sweden
Alexander Galembo
Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, M. Toreza av. 44, St. Petersburg 194223, Russia

􏰀Received 18 January 2005; revised 10 May 2005; accepted 10 May 2005􏰁
This study investigated the temporal behavior of grand piano actions from different manufacturers under different touch conditions and dynamic levels. An experimental setup consisting of accelerometers and a calibrated microphone was used to capture key and hammer movements, as well as the sound signal. Five selected keys were played by pianists with two types of touch 􏰀“pressed touch” versus “struck touch”􏰁 over the entire dynamic range. Discrete measurements were extracted from the accelerometer data for each of the over 2300 recorded tones 􏰀e.g., finger-key, hammer-string, and key bottom contact times, maximum hammer velocity􏰁. Travel times of the hammer 􏰀from finger-key to hammer-string􏰁 as a function of maximum hammer velocity varied clearly between the two types of touch, but only slightly between pianos. A travel time approximation used in earlier work 􏰂Goebl W., 􏰀2001􏰁. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 110, 563–572􏰃 derived from a computer-controlled piano was verified. Constant temporal behavior over type of touch and low compression properties of the parts of the action 􏰀reflected in key bottom contact times􏰁 were hypothesized to be indicators for instrumental quality. © 2005 Acoustical Society of America. 􏰂DOI: 10.1121/1.1944648􏰃

Re: Tone Production [Re: GoldmanT] #2771411
10/11/18 10:28 AM
10/11/18 10:28 AM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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The noises peoples fingers and feet make at a piano in a resonant hall are easily heard. And they can disrupt the musical intelligibility. Skilled, sensitive pianists learn to control how a piano sounds by controlling "noises".


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Tone Production [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2771419
10/11/18 10:55 AM
10/11/18 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
The noises peoples fingers and feet make at a piano in a resonant hall are easily heard. And they can disrupt the musical intelligibility. Skilled, sensitive pianists learn to control how a piano sounds by controlling "noises".
Yes, quite true, and very useful for recording.

However, the real learning should be by the audience. They should learn how to not open their velcro purses, unwrap cellophane wrapped candies, cough or talk. All this easily overwhelms the sensitive pianist.

I must say though, that, for me, the best, most intimate recordings are those close miked of cellists and guitarists. The noises of the fingers moving on or plucking the strings and the sound of the bow, for me adds immeasurably to the musical experience.

Re: Tone Production [Re: GoldmanT] #2771701
10/12/18 02:09 AM
10/12/18 02:09 AM
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This discussion is really informative. Prout, thank you very much for posting these figures. I was struck by the fact that, in the quiet end of the scale, as much as 30 ms elapses between when the hammer hits the strings and when the key reaches the bottom; but then it's not surprising really, because in quiet playing you can get the tone without pressing the key all the way down. So the upper limit of kbt is indefinite.

That gets me to think about the other action that the key is involved in: Lifting the damper. How much control does the player have on the timing of the hammer strike relative to that? I'm pretty sure that, on my old Yamaha U3, I could get the hammer to strike before the damper totally clears the strings by carefully pressing the key - thereby affecting the tone quality.


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Re: Tone Production [Re: RubberFingers] #2771716
10/12/18 04:35 AM
10/12/18 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by RubberFingers
I think the speed you hit the key makes a difference. So some of the techniques mentioned affect the speed. You can get the same volume with different speeds. The kinematic action on a grand is very complex with flexible parts, some damping of the parts, and sometimes the string can be hit at a very slight different part of the stroke. The parts are not 100% rigid with perfect spring back. Well, them's my thoughts as a former mechanism designer.


I agree. There is one pianist I listen to on CD who is technically very good, but to me that person 'bangs' the piano.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Tone Production [Re: Colin Miles] #2771753
10/12/18 07:43 AM
10/12/18 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by RubberFingers
I think the speed you hit the key makes a difference. So some of the techniques mentioned affect the speed. You can get the same volume with different speeds. The kinematic action on a grand is very complex with flexible parts, some damping of the parts, and sometimes the string can be hit at a very slight different part of the stroke. The parts are not 100% rigid with perfect spring back. Well, them's my thoughts as a former mechanism designer.


I agree. There is one pianist I listen to on CD who is technically very good, but to me that person 'bangs' the piano.
Well, here we go again. People are offering opinions with no data to support that opinion. How can we have a rational disagreement when we cannot compare data sets?

Look at the second set of graphs I posted. It clearly shows that, except for the noise of the finger hitting the key, there is no difference in the tone of the struck piano strings.

You, and others, are missing the essential point about perceived tone from a piano. The piano is a percussive instrument. You can not make music with one note (You can on a cello.) It is the relationship amongst the notes - dynamic level, voicing, agogic timing - that create the variations in tone we think we hear from a single note.

This is really becoming a tiresome, repetitive discussion that crops up regularly here at PW. Think what you will, but do some research on the hundreds of papers published that provide data sets showing velocity is the only determinant of partial structure in a struck string.

Please cite one paper that has a contrary dataset. Then we can have a discussion.

Re: Tone Production [Re: Alohaneko] #2771765
10/12/18 08:04 AM
10/12/18 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Alohaneko
This discussion is really informative. Prout, thank you very much for posting these figures. I was struck by the fact that, in the quiet end of the scale, as much as 30 ms elapses between when the hammer hits the strings and when the key reaches the bottom; but then it's not surprising really, because in quiet playing you can get the tone without pressing the key all the way down. So the upper limit of kbt is indefinite.

That gets me to think about the other action that the key is involved in: Lifting the damper. How much control does the player have on the timing of the hammer strike relative to that? I'm pretty sure that, on my old Yamaha U3, I could get the hammer to strike before the damper totally clears the strings by carefully pressing the key - thereby affecting the tone quality.
To answer your question. The damper on a grand piano is set to start to rise at one-half the key depress - about 4.5-5mm. This means that the timing of the hammer strike and damper rise could interfere. That is very interesting. I am not knowledgeable regarding uprights, so am unable to respond, though it appears that you could create that interference as well.

I am going to recheck some of the papers I have to see if the damper is removed from the testing. Also, it is well known amongst pianists how to control the overall tone of the piano when a single note is struck through the use of finely gradated damper pedal.

Last edited by prout; 10/12/18 08:05 AM.
Re: Tone Production [Re: GoldmanT] #2771773
10/12/18 08:24 AM
10/12/18 08:24 AM
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Prout - as a scientist I totally understand where you are coming from. But as an erstwhile engineer, like Rubberfingers, I will doubtless argue in considering the mechanics involved. Also I thought there were sufficient differences in the graphs - I apologise if I am reading them wrongly. And yes these kind of arguments date back a long time - in my case more than 50 years!


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Tone Production [Re: GoldmanT] #2771775
10/12/18 08:25 AM
10/12/18 08:25 AM
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We clearly hear the difference in the sound of pianists who bang the piano and those who actually play the piano. The difference is twofold:

The piano banger’s ‘tone’ - first the noise of the fingers and action responding to the stress imposed due to the short impulse - and the second is the constant reaching of the saturation limit of the piano, where the partial structure of the strings is constant.

The pianist’s ‘tone’ - first the lack of noise of the fingers and action except when desired to create a percussive accent to add to the partial structure - second is rarely reaching the saturation limit of the piano, thereby allowing for a huge variation in partial structure with velocity. This is the real tone of a single note.

Re: Tone Production [Re: Colin Miles] #2771778
10/12/18 08:35 AM
10/12/18 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Prout - as a scientist I totally understand where you are coming from. But as an erstwhile engineer, like Rubberfingers, I will doubtless argue in considering the mechanics involved. Also I thought there were sufficient differences in the graphs - I apologise if I am reading them wrongly. And yes these kind of arguments date back a long time - in my case more than 50 years!
I appreciate your comments. Thanks.

If you look closely at the second set of graphs and compare the left and right graphs of each of the three measured parameters from the instant of hammer/string (hs) contact, you will see that the post contact key and hammer velocities are nearly the same and that the waveform is essentially identical, in spite of the left graph set showing a pressed key and the right graph set showing a struck key.

Note that the final velocities of the key and hammer at string contact and the amplitude and partial structure of the resulting waveform are the same left to right as well. It clearly shows that the whatever happens with the action prior to the hammer strike, the result is the same.

Re: Tone Production [Re: prout] #2771825
10/12/18 11:34 AM
10/12/18 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Prout - as a scientist I totally understand where you are coming from. But as an erstwhile engineer, like Rubberfingers, I will doubtless argue in considering the mechanics involved. Also I thought there were sufficient differences in the graphs - I apologise if I am reading them wrongly. And yes these kind of arguments date back a long time - in my case more than 50 years!
I appreciate your comments. Thanks.

If you look closely at the second set of graphs and compare the left and right graphs of each of the three measured parameters from the instant of hammer/string (hs) contact, you will see that the post contact key and hammer velocities are nearly the same and that the waveform is essentially identical, in spite of the left graph set showing a pressed key and the right graph set showing a struck key.

Note that the final velocities of the key and hammer at string contact and the amplitude and partial structure of the resulting waveform are the same left to right as well. It clearly shows that the whatever happens with the action prior to the hammer strike, the result is the same.


So it possibly comes down to a question of whether these very minor differences can be detected by us humans!


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Tone Production [Re: GoldmanT] #2771993
10/12/18 09:43 PM
10/12/18 09:43 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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If a hammer is striking the string before the damper is clear, the action is not properly regulated and any pianistic techniques to somehow mitigate this mechanical issue are not ones that would find a more general application.

There are some technicians who in an effort to "lighten" the touch they place the damper lift later in the key stroke. This creates many issues. One you may notice is when escapement and damper lift occur simultaneously instead of damper lift preceding the escapement point which is the norm, is that playing soft and even becomes impossible.

The most productive way to lighten and action is to reduce the weight of the hammers. A small amount of reduction has a profound effect on control. Even if the down weight is reduced by only 1-2 grams; becuase the hammer is the predominant factor in the inertia of the action, you will notice a big difference when you play.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
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