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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: pianoloverus] #2860420 06/19/19 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by piqué
That's what we called it. But it's just a tuning Marc created for me when I told him I thought my piano would be perfect for Schubert. How on earth would he communicate to another tech what that was? It's something that only exists in his ear, in mine, and in the ears of the very few people who have actually heard it on my piano. It's not like he or Carl could have called up the local tech and said "Just put a Schubert concert tuning on it." That's what's so hilarious about your post. And none of had a clue which thing it was that made that piano special for me. None of us. It was a long process of discovery.

Your comment seems to suggest you didn't really read the book or you would know this.
I certainly read the book but that was a long time ago and the presentation at Beethoven Pianos with you and Marc was also a long time ago. But I have some other questions/comments:
1. Can't any tuning be described accurately in words(maybe not words that a layman would understand but that a tech would understand) or even more precisely by using one of those electronic tuners to exactly record how each note is tuned?
2. Was the piano tuned with the special tuning when you first played it in the showroom?
3. If this tuning is superior does Marc tune all his pianos this way or is this just a tuning that you personally prefer? Have any other techs adopted this tuning approach?
4. If the tuning was unusual and special, it would seem like that would be the first thing that Marc would have thought of in terms of what made the piano sound so special for you. It seems like the only other thing would be the inherent sound of the make you bought but that would have meant that any good tuner who tuned the piano is the standard way could have made the piano sound the way you liked it.


1. Tuning is art as well as as science and the personality of the artist is indelibly stamped on it. It's a qualia so no, it's not so simple.

2. We don't know the answer to this question. Probably. The answer to this is in the book.

3. This also is in the book.

4. This also is in the book.

Seems like maybe you should re-read the book. wink


piqué

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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: P W Grey] #2860467 06/19/19 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Currently I am a little better than halfway through the book and enjoying it quite a bit. For a non-tech I am impressed with the author's highly accurate descriptions of piano technical matters (about 98%). As I am not only a 40 plus year piano technician, I am also a musician. I have been able to identify (often with tears) a number of her experiences noted in the book.

As I was reading through this thread I said to myseif: "I'll bet this guy simply made it up (the tuning) to affect her emotionally. He seems like quite a character, one that obviously knows his stuff and does it well. I agree with much of what (virtually all) he is quoted as saying. It is true that the piano is always changing and maturing just like a person. However, it is also possible that he is applying a slight alteration of equal temperament that mimics some of the qualities of "well temperament" theory and practice. If done intelligently (as in Bill Bremmer's EBVT) a sensitive pianist will react to this (not realizing that it is not ET) very pleasantly because the music they are playing was composed with this in mind.

I have changed over to tuning this style almost universally as well as tuning my own piano this way. It could accurately be referred to as a "Schubert" tuning since it is constructed to enhance the simpler keys and put a "shimmer" into the more remote keys, but not so much as to shock someone used to equal temperament. I used to reserve this for my classical only clients but have found that it makes all pianos sound better, can only be done properly by ear (different on each piano), and SOMEHOW seen a to improve the resonance overall.

I am impressed with Perri's writing style and technical comprehension. I personally know some of the people mentioned in the book, including Lucien Hut from whom I learned many years ago about the fact that a person's bone (and particularly skull) structure has a big impact on how they are affected by the vibrational energy in a piano, and why a sensitive pianist can be repulsed by one instrument and fall in love with another. It is truly vibrational. Yes. I had an A3 that affected me that way.

Good book tech or no tech.

Pwg


I haven’t read the book, but may one day. Currently working on A Gentleman in Moscow. Regardless, the A3 comment caught my eye - is that the piano in question here? Just wondering as a new owner of one.


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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: cmb13] #2860492 06/19/19 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Regardless, the A3 comment caught my eye - is that the piano in question here? Just wondering as a new owner of one.

piqué's "Marlene" is a Grotrian-Steinweg, according to the book.


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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2860527 06/19/19 03:33 PM
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The A3 is one I bought, rebuilt over the course of about 15 years (intending to keep it as my own piano), but when a piano teacher happened to inquire as to what I might have available and that he had a student looking for something like an A3...I said: "Well, I happen to have a an A3 here and it's almost done...you can come and check it out..."

Well, the rest is history. He loved it, she loved it, she bought it.

This is another example of how important a good, fresh tuning is, because this instrument sparkles like a diamond when it is perfectly in tune. The bass is huge and the treble clean and bright. A few notes in the mid-treble have always given a little trouble but are overshadowed by the gorgeous sustaining tone and coloration in the rest of it. Everyone without exception that has played it has had the same reaction...WOW!

I would have loved to hear it when it was in its formative years. I imagine it was just as stunning then too...perhaps even more so. People have said I did a great job on it, but I really don't think there is anything in particular that I did to elicit this sound. I believe it was there to begin with. All I did was to apply everything I know about rebuilding pianos to it (maybe a few tweaks here and there and I did get my baptism into the use of Fandrich riblets on the soundboard with this one) and it came out that way.

That's the basic story on my comment about the A3.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2860532 06/19/19 03:40 PM
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Nice story, pwg, sorry you gave it up though!


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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2860533 06/19/19 03:44 PM
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Perri,

I am just about to start chapter 17 "Hammers", but I'm the middle of a bathroom renovation amongst everything else in life. Eager to back to it.

I have a number of clients who I know will appreciate this book, but I want to finish it before I start recommending it (if you know what I mean). 😁

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: P W Grey] #2860578 06/19/19 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Perri,

I have a number of clients who I know will appreciate this book, but I want to finish it before I start recommending it (if you know what I mean). 😁

Pwg


By all means. I believe the PTG journal has a review of the book out currently.


piqué

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Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: P W Grey] #2860581 06/19/19 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Perri,

I am just about to start chapter 17 "Hammers"


i'm sorry. possibly the most excruciating chapter in the book. i promise it will get better.


piqué

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Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: piqué] #2860636 06/19/19 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by piqué
Originally Posted by huaidongxi
count myself among the many readers who found Grand Obsession informative and entertaining. quite a feat of non fiction in a specialized realm, made very accessible and vivid. the notion of 'schubert tuning' has intrigued me since. the tuner who worked on our vintage (pre-aeolian) mason & hamlin tunes solely by ear, not devices, and it's among the most colorful equal temperament tunings in my limited experience. schubert strikes me as potentially benefitting from a temperament that enhances his constant modulations. peace + namaste, Ms.Knize



Thanks so much for your kind words.

Marc came out to visit me for a week nearly 2 years ago, worked on the piano nearly every day, refined and refined the tuning, and then we threw a piano party for local musicians and music lovers. We wondered--will anyone else hear what we hear? Will it affect them the way it affects us? It was a kind of experiment. There were non musicians at the party, too, and my husband, who is nearly deaf.

EVERYONE heard it, immediately. An opera singer who studied in Berlin said to Marc: "thank you for ruining for me every other piano I will ever hear for the rest of my life." A trio that was in town to perform rehearsed on the piano the rest of the next day. The pianist couldnt tear herself away from it. Everyone in that room--including my husband--was struck and mystified by what they were hearing.

I asked Marc to explain what we were experiencing--What I called, in the book, "The Marlene Experience"-- He said what we experienced is "vibrational coherence."

Now we know it is real, and not subjective. It is a matter of art and physics.
And I personally do not know of any other techs who know how to do this to a piano. Though there may be, certainly. But most techs think there is only one way to tune a piano, so I have my doubts.


I'm looking forward to the publication of a peer reviewed paper on "vibrational coherence." Since it is a matter of physics, there is surely a mathematical demonstration.


Learner
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2860641 06/19/19 09:04 PM
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The review in the journal was what made me get it.

When I reached the end of 16 I said to myself: "Oh no...I know where this is going!" I'm ready for it. Bathroom work didn't end up going so well today. I'm beat. Maybe tomorrow morning. 😓

Looking forward to it.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2860990 06/20/19 04:27 PM
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Ah...page 248! You already knew about the bone structure! Ha!

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: malkin] #2861081 06/20/19 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by piqué
Originally Posted by huaidongxi
count myself among the many readers who found Grand Obsession informative and entertaining. quite a feat of non fiction in a specialized realm, made very accessible and vivid. the notion of 'schubert tuning' has intrigued me since. the tuner who worked on our vintage (pre-aeolian) mason & hamlin tunes solely by ear, not devices, and it's among the most colorful equal temperament tunings in my limited experience. schubert strikes me as potentially benefitting from a temperament that enhances his constant modulations. peace + namaste, Ms.Knize



Thanks so much for your kind words.

Marc came out to visit me for a week nearly 2 years ago, worked on the piano nearly every day, refined and refined the tuning, and then we threw a piano party for local musicians and music lovers. We wondered--will anyone else hear what we hear? Will it affect them the way it affects us? It was a kind of experiment. There were non musicians at the party, too, and my husband, who is nearly deaf.

EVERYONE heard it, immediately. An opera singer who studied in Berlin said to Marc: "thank you for ruining for me every other piano I will ever hear for the rest of my life." A trio that was in town to perform rehearsed on the piano the rest of the next day. The pianist couldnt tear herself away from it. Everyone in that room--including my husband--was struck and mystified by what they were hearing.

I asked Marc to explain what we were experiencing--What I called, in the book, "The Marlene Experience"-- He said what we experienced is "vibrational coherence."

Now we know it is real, and not subjective. It is a matter of art and physics.
And I personally do not know of any other techs who know how to do this to a piano. Though there may be, certainly. But most techs think there is only one way to tune a piano, so I have my doubts.


I'm looking forward to the publication of a peer reviewed paper on "vibrational coherence." Since it is a matter of physics, there is surely a mathematical demonstration.


Read the chapter "Revelation". Michael Harrison explains the mathematics.


piqué

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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2861261 06/21/19 11:28 AM
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Michael also briefly touches on how an "orchestra" can be heard in a piano and although very brief, it is highly accurate.

Something to think about: The fundamental and all the other partials of ANY sound of ANY kind all sound EXACTLY the same. I saw and heard this demonstrated last summer at the national PTG convention in Lancaster, PA. It blew my mind. The one and only thing that differentiates one sound from another is the relative amplitudes of the partials generated. No matter if it's an elephant's blast, a cello, an oboe, or a barking dog...when the partials of each are separated, they sound exactly the same. What makes the sound identifiable to the brain (remember it's the brain that hears, not the ears) is the combination of, and different amplitudes of, all the partials.

So, the piano has the unique capability of synthesizing other sounds (under certain circumstances) in conjunction with a brain that is receptive to it. (Not all brains will do this ☺).

As Perri quoted Michael on the last page of the chapter: "It's physics".

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2861288 06/21/19 12:49 PM
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Ok, ok. I have ordered a copy from Amazon.



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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2861782 06/22/19 04:21 PM
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Funny this should come up this week. I tuned my piano on Wednesday using the entropy piano tuner which mathematically calculates a tuning curve for the recorded piano. There are many possible curves and it presents one at random. While random it is nevertheless distinct to the recorded piano (you record the 88 notes individually to determine the overtone amplitudes).

I was very upset that the curve made me break the equal temperament of my prior tuning. "A=440" is just about the only note truly on pitch.

My piano ended up very warm and approachable after breaking strict equal temperament. When I read Pique's book last year I knew from her description of Marlene's tuning that i should try a stretched tuning curve. Took me exactly 1 year to actually do it. Very glad I did.

My piano has been called "it" for 24 years. After this tuning I may start calling it "Baldwin." It is an SF-10 so maybe "Sophie." Decisions, decisions...


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Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: Fidel] #2861800 06/22/19 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Fidel


I was very upset that the curve made me break the equal temperament of my prior tuning. "A=440" is just about the only note truly on pitch..


Fidel,

Perhaps you already know by now...that is true no matter WHAT tuning you put on the piano, with the possible exception of a Pythagorean tuning which would put the key of C in near perfect tune, but that's it, and at least 1/3 of keys would be entirely unplayable.

Any "temperament" of any kind renders "the lie" spoken of in the book. Think of "tampering with" when you read "temperament". That is really what we are doing.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2861936 06/23/19 08:43 AM
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Finished the book!

Very, very good. Parts of it could serve as a technical presentation at a PTG meeting. I wish more people appreciated the effect of a GOOD tuning.

Nice job, Perri!

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2862131 06/23/19 08:26 PM
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Perri,

Ask Marc please if he is familiar with "The Dynamic Scale", by R. Feaster. I would be most interested.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: sue_deutscher] #2862246 06/24/19 06:45 AM
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The discussion here piqued my interest, so I bought the kindle version, and I'm halfway through it now. I must say I'm impressed and thrilled. Very well-written, engaging and informative.

If you don't read it like a piano bible, but more as a personal essay, there is also less stuff to become riled up about... As for me, there are several things I see differently from the author. The book throughout is very "grand-centric", like much of the mainstream piano culture in the US has been for many years. The possibilities of the upright are not given serious attention, even though the author visits the Fandrich factory and is impressed by their action. I believe the best European uprights available - from Sauter and Steingraeber and Bösendorfer and Bechstein, possibly from Fandrich & Sons as well - rival quite a lot of grands, both in their sound and their action.

I also don't think personally that the "break" between bass and tenor strings is such a big deal. Obsessing about this break is a fairly new and modern phenomenon. Older manufacturers often voiced their pianos with a deliberate break, in order to get a more orchestral sound - with a warm and enveloping bass, and a more clear and distinct midrange and treble. A few manufacturers still do this kind of voicing, btw. I prefer that kind of voicing myself.

But these disagreements or differences in perspective don't make it into a lesser book. Many other things in the book align very much with my own experience. And there are things which were completely new to me, which I read with great interest. The one thing I didn't much care for is the less than flattering descriptions of some of the salesmen etc she mentions. I really hope those characters have been somewhat fictionalized. Otherwise they would be easily recognizable, and that would really be an uncool thing to do to them in such a widely read book.

It's very interesting to read about the piano world forum back in the old days, btw!

Some further thoughts: How things have changed in 20 years! The "piano renaissance" the author describes in the years before 9/11 seems like a faint memory now, effectively killed by smartphones and distractions and social media and financial downturns.

And concerning the very particular wood that is harvested for high-end soundboards, which is described so incredibly well in the book... It just dawned on me that high-end pianos might become one more victim of climate change. We usually think about crops, food, coffee, chocolate, etc when we think about how climate change is starting to impact vegetation and farming. But the kind of climatic stability that is required for the particular wood that is used in the most expensive pianos seems to be a thing of the past. Alas, piano civilization is a fragile thing, it seems.

Anyway, thanks to pianoworld for bringing this wonderful book to my attention!

Last edited by oivavoi; 06/24/19 06:55 AM.
Re: "Grand Obsession" by Perri Knize (a book) [Re: oivavoi] #2862267 06/24/19 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by oivavoi
I also don't think personally that the "break" between bass and tenor strings is such a big deal. Obsessing about this break is a fairly new and modern phenomenon.
On almost any piano, even the best ones, if one plays the notes around the break back and forth one will hear some tonal change, The more important question is how much one hears any tonal change when actually playing music.

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