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Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2801223
01/12/19 11:56 AM
01/12/19 11:56 AM
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Leicester, UK
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Mark Polishook Offline
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Ed, thanks very much for that detailed answer.

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Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2801228
01/12/19 12:15 PM
01/12/19 12:15 PM
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Prout, Sanfrancisco and Mark Polishook are on the right track.

Many contemporary piano makers are using hammers so wide and with such dense felt that the shift pedal cannot be set to reliably clear one string and not have the hammers hit the next higher note. (This is one of the reasons I state that some modern piano makers do not know what they are doing. They actually do not understand how the piano is supposed to function as a musical instrument.)

The dense felt issue causes a "twang" when the edge of the hammer is still striking the third string and is set into a much more horizontal vibration that brings the string into contact with the side of the hammer ever so slightly.

These makers must set the shift so the hammers only move far enough to strike the hammer on the less grooved surface. This is only a "half-shift" position. A properly regulated shift pedal offers half-shift and full-shift for two tone color differences. But if the hammers are wrong, you are stuck with the half-shift only.

But as Mark noted, a full shift brings a complicationg issue with using the damper pedal. Since on full shift all the struck unisons vibrating contain one string 180 degrees out of phase, when you slowly release the damp pedal as the string begin to contact the dampers an "oinking" sound is produced. This is because you have "twice" as many hits between the strings and the felts. If the piano has the softest damper felts possible this is greatly reduced. Old M&H's had felt like this and slow damper release with full shift was very forgiving. But those felts are easily damaged by careless tuners and others. Pianists must in general avoid slow damper pedal release with full shift.

Multiple unison strings can "communicate" with each other when they vibrate. This "communication" is usually refered to as coupling in the physics world. Because they are linked via a moveable structure, (the bridge), the motion of one affects the motion of the other. They will try to link up and move together when the forces they carry are strong enough. This is why properly trained tone regulators go to great pains to get the hammer striking all unison strings at the same instant. This puts the unison strings in the same phase when the hammer strikes. When the unisons are precisely phased the piano sounds warmer, richer, fuller, has more sustain, (Too our musical ears when in fact it is less, but this is another story) and tunes better.

A full shift clear of one string takes advantage of the change in coupling between the three strings at the bridge. The unstruck string doesn't start to vibrate until the first half wave from the two struck strings reaches the bridge. (Well the longitudinal mode has already arrived so some bridge motion is imparted but we are going to ignore that here). The unstruck string starts moving in the opposite direction to the struck strings. (This is referred to in physics as 180 degrees phase difference.) The 180 degree out of phase string "robs" some of the hammer impact from the struck strings and this reduces the perceived impact sound. After hammer strike, the unstruck string now vibrating along with the two struck strings reduces the rate of unison coupling and this extends the decay envelope.



Now THAT was educational-thanks Ed!


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Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801247
01/12/19 01:01 PM
01/12/19 01:01 PM
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Interestingly on the few pianos I've checked specifically for the ability of "full" uc shift effect (just hitting 2 strings), the only ones I have found so far have been a few S&S Bs and Ds. I haven't listened for this on many other performance level pianos though. Anyone else's experience? Ed's post on too wide hammers sure makes a lot of sense.

Last edited by Sanfrancisco; 01/12/19 01:03 PM.
Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801315
01/12/19 03:49 PM
01/12/19 03:49 PM
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My una corda works both ways - the hammer moves and only hits 2 strings AND it's on a different part of the hammer.

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801317
01/12/19 03:53 PM
01/12/19 03:53 PM
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Pages 17 through 21 of the S&S "World-wide Technical Reference Guide" speaks of the two una corda shift methods. For normal pianos, the shift is set for clearing the leftmost string. For concert work, they suggest a partial shift only so that the hammer still contacts all strings, but in between the normal string strike positions.

I find that logical. IMO, the audience never gets to really enjoy the sound of a good grand piano the way the performer hears it. The distance is too far, so both the bass fundamentals and the upper partials are all dramatically reduced in dynamic level. It makes sense therefore, to maintain the impact noise of three strings, ignore the loss of sustain, but achieve a significantly different tone when struck on the less dense part of the hammers, which carries to the audience.

For in home use, full una corda shift makes for a very different and, IMO, superior sounding instrument.

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801336
01/12/19 04:45 PM
01/12/19 04:45 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by Pianoloverus
I would guess that in the first way the sound mostly just gets softer but the tonal quality doesn't change that much. In the second way, I would guess that not only does the tone get softer but the timbre changes a lot more since the strings are striking the less compressed felt in the hammer.

I have read that some piano technicians will adjust the una corda or soft pedal on a grand piano to get a more mellow/less bright tone for a while in order to delay a thorough hammer voicing. I've read pro and con about this concept.

I remember when I bought my first grand piano, my infamous Japanese made 5'10" "Tokai" (Steinway O copy); I had no idea what I was doing. I learned as I went... trial and error, if you will. Not a bad way to learn, but it can be hazardous and costly; yet, you rarely forget the lessons learned.

That said, when I first looked at the piano, which was owned by a formally trained pianist, and full-time minister of music at a Church (his personal piano), it sounded and played okay to me and seemed like a good buy, or so I thought. Well, again, I wish I had known then what little I know now (which still ain't much). I paid too much for the piano, and once I got it home and began to tinker with it I noticed that someone had put a small spacer on the far left side of the action, which is the starting point for the una corda pedal process. The hammers were basically striking mostly the two strings to the right (right and center) of the 3-string unisons before the una corda pedal was pressed.

When I realized what was happening I thought to myself, this wasn't right; I removed the spacer so the hammers would strike all 3 strings of the 3-string unisons in the center of the hammer strike point, as it should, and then I realized why someone had put the spacer there. The piano was extremely bright without the spacer.

Well, once I got over my disappointment that I didn't notice this before I bought the piano (which I didn't have inspected by a piano technician), I decided it was time to learn how to voice a hard felt hammer. I bought the proper 3-needle voicing tool and some needles, asked some questions here and did some research and study about hammer voicing, and started learning to do some hammer voicing. And, the results were impressive for a beginner, except for a little blood on the some of the hammers from stabbing my fingers a bit. smile

After some hammer reshaping and needling, I tamed the Tokai hammers to some extent; it sounded much better. Still bright, but much less bright. However, I doubt it ever sounded as good as a real Steinway O. smile

Moral of the story? Hire a real piano tech to check the set up and operation of the una corda pedal. Or, learn to do it yourself... wink

Rick


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Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801344
01/12/19 05:28 PM
01/12/19 05:28 PM
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New York City
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I never suspected when I started this thread that things were so complex haha. In fact, to be honest, I cannot understand some of the more complicated replies but that is not the fault of the posters.

Trying to summarize some of the simpler parts of what has been said, would each of the following be true or false(again I'm just talking about the trichords to keep things simple):

1. It's possible to adjust the UC so that the hammer contacts two strings in the deep grooves(meaning the grooves caused by playing without the UC) but this is usually not done.
2. The usual set up is to have either two or three strings hit the part of the hammer felt that has not compacted as much as the deep grooves.

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801349
01/12/19 05:48 PM
01/12/19 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
1. It's possible to adjust the UC so that the hammer contacts two strings in the deep grooves(meaning the grooves caused by playing without the UC) but this is usually not done.

If life were only that simple. smirk
This actually does work, especially with composite shanks and precise, even string spacing. If the tone of the piano was good with three strings, it will still be good (or better for soft sustained playing) with the hammer grooves still hitting the remaining two strings. Remember, with the exception of Horowitz, the rest of us desire to play more softly as well as changing then tone when using the una corda. Shifting the hammers so as to hit the strings on the fuzzy edges or uncompressed section of the hammers can really kill the upper partials. This may not be the nicest or clearest sound.

Quote
2. The usual set up is to have either two or three strings hit the part of the hammer felt that has not compacted as much as the deep grooves.
I don't think this is the standard approach.

Last edited by prout; 01/12/19 05:50 PM.
Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801353
01/12/19 05:59 PM
01/12/19 05:59 PM
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Southwestern Ontario
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Sorry, I meant Rubinstein.

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801357
01/12/19 06:10 PM
01/12/19 06:10 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
rying to summarize some of the simpler parts of what has been said, would each of the following be true or false(again I'm just talking about the trichords to keep things simple):

1. It's possible to adjust the UC so that the hammer contacts two strings in the deep grooves(meaning the grooves caused by playing without the UC) but this is usually not done.
2. The usual set up is to have either two or three strings hit the part of the hammer felt that has not compacted as much as the deep grooves.

I honestly don't think anything about the intricacies and mechanical workings of an acoustic piano are simple.

Based on my simple logic, adjusting the una corda pedal so the hammers strike the two tri-chord note strings out of the normal string groves is standard because the una corda pedal is not used continuously, as a general rule. This is what causes the quieter/mellower tone while using the una corda pedal.

On the other hand, and this is what I've read, but it does corroborate my simple logic and my first hand experience, if the una corda pedal and shifting of the action to the right is adjusted so that the hammer face strikes the strings out of the normal string wear groves, whether temporary or long term, this can cause stress on the hammer flange pins and pin bushings due to the hammer flanges twisting during their travel while impacting the strings out of alignment with the normal string groves. In other words, the hammer face with the string groves will likely try to slide down into the string groves when the hammer strikes the strings, although slightly out of alignment with the normal string groves.

Of course, the harmful affects of this phenomenon, or whether or not it is harmful at all, depends entirely on how deep the string grooves actually are in the hammer strike point.

Moral of the story? It depends on who you ask... smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: prout] #2801406
01/12/19 09:01 PM
01/12/19 09:01 PM
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Prout, Horowitz always wanted both half and full-shift. He was the master of controlling the tonal options this offers. A good portion of the recognizable "Horowitz" sound was his use of the shift pedal.


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Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2801426
01/12/19 10:36 PM
01/12/19 10:36 PM
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Yes, I have heard Horowitz play live.

I was thinking of Rubenstein, who, when asked about his unique tone, siad "I mash my foot on the soft pedal and play Forté!

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801429
01/12/19 11:00 PM
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I've seen a YouTube of Horowitz using all three pedals in various combinations (including all 3 at once!). He of course was wearing thin dress shoes so to activate the uc and sostenuto in combinations he rotated his left heal outward with the toe on the sostenuto and ball of his foot on the uc. He then would rock his foot back and forth, looked real uncomfortable. With a wider light hiking boot you can work both straight on.

Last edited by Sanfrancisco; 01/12/19 11:01 PM.
Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: Sanfrancisco] #2801444
01/13/19 01:34 AM
01/13/19 01:34 AM
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Victoria, BC
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Originally Posted by Sanfrancisco
[...]Horowitz using all three pedals [...] hiking boot you can work both straight on.


Somehow, the image of Horowitz in hiking boots ....

Cheers!


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Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: BruceD] #2801472
01/13/19 07:13 AM
01/13/19 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Sanfrancisco
[...]Horowitz using all three pedals [...] hiking boot you can work both straight on.


Somehow, the image of Horowitz in hiking boots ....

Cheers!
HAHAHAHA

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: Sanfrancisco] #2801506
01/13/19 09:25 AM
01/13/19 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Sanfrancisco
I've seen a YouTube of Horowitz using all three pedals in various combinations (including all 3 at once!). He of course was wearing thin dress shoes so to activate the uc and sostenuto in combinations he rotated his left heal outward with the toe on the sostenuto and ball of his foot on the uc. He then would rock his foot back and forth, looked real uncomfortable. With a wider light hiking boot you can work both straight on.
I often use all three pedals at once, especially in transcriptions where orchestral type voicing and sustain is required. I once tried using my clunky Dockers and it was a disaster. My performance shoes are thin, leather soled Patent Leather Dance shoes - the same that I have used for organ pedalling for over 50 years.

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801516
01/13/19 10:38 AM
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Interesting! I don’t ever “perform” outside my home anymore. I use my black zip on slippers with a light supple heel and sole when I practice and it makes peddle work way easier. If I wear dark socks, nobody knows that they’re slippers. It’s interesting that Prout can use the same patent leather shoes for 50 years.😮 My shoe size sadly keeps growing as I age. But then I can depress the una corda and sostenuto pedal at the same time more easily 😃. Bigger hands and bigger feet makes playing piano easier, or at least that’s how I console myself.


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Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: j&j] #2801531
01/13/19 11:32 AM
01/13/19 11:32 AM
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Not quite 50 years. I started organ at the age of 12 at university and my teacher gave me a pair of his old patent leathers, already some 20-30 years old, and I used them until I was 42 when they finally gave out completely, so 50-60 years of use. I bought a new pair of patent leathers which, at this point after 27 years, still look brand new. I never wear them except to walk out onto stage or touch the organ pedals, so no damage to the soles, which would make sliding difficult.

Re: Sound with the una corda pedal depressed [Re: pianoloverus] #2801552
01/13/19 12:59 PM
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My men's dancing shoes with their suede soles are equally useful.

Ian


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