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Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
#2928305 12/30/19 03:04 PM
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Would it be possible to create some sort of piano string where the overtones go flat and the piano would need a reverse stretch tuning?

I wonder how weird it would sound to ears so accustomed to the imperfection of piano string overtones going sharp.

Maybe this is only possible electronically?

Last edited by TimM_980; 12/30/19 03:06 PM.
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Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928309 12/30/19 03:13 PM
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Short answer: NO

Inharmonicity is a result of material stiffness.
Negative inharmonicity would have to come from a material with negative stiffness -- which doesn't exist.
Closest you get is the almost perfect flexibility of the vibrating air column in pipe organs resulting in effectively zero inharmonicity.

Also, it's not so much a matter of "becoming accustomed". Pianos have always been tuned by ear to sound "normal" -- i.e. clean octaves. The term "stretch" was introduced by users of the first machine tuners which failed to account for inharmonicity and provided an "organ tuning" for the piano. They said the aural tuners "stretched" their tunings -- which is a machine-centric perspective.

So, if you want something that sounds weird, you could just tune a piano without accounting for inharmonicity. It would be actually be "compressed" compared to "normal". When the first machine tuners did that it did sound "weird".


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928312 12/30/19 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by TimM_980
Would it be possible to create some sort of piano string where the overtones go flat and the piano would need a reverse stretch tuning?

I wonder how weird it would sound to ears so accustomed to the imperfection of piano string overtones going sharp.

Maybe this is only possible electronically?

Sharp harmonics are caused by bending stiffness of the string which you can reduce by making the string thinner as on a harpsichord which has no noticeable inharmonicity. A string with negative diameter would perhaps have negative stiffness but I think it can only exist in the imagination.

You don't really hear the inharmonicity of a piano directly, it just has a subtle effect on tuning mainly through stretch. I've synthesized negative inharmonicity strings but unless you make IH unrealistically large (negative or positive) didn't hear anything unusual.

Kees

Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928315 12/30/19 03:24 PM
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I did a quick search of negative stiffness material and it does exist. This article is interesting and the science might lead to advances in piano technology one day.

https://physics.aps.org/story/v7/st13

Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928326 12/30/19 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by TimM_980
I did a quick search of negative stiffness material and it does exist. This article is interesting and the science might lead to advances in piano technology one day.

https://physics.aps.org/story/v7/st13

Interesting link. The negative stiffness material ("silicone rubber tubes are buckled like partially squished soda cans") is a bit like the "oilcanned soundboard" discussed recently on this forum.

Imagining a string made out of that it seems you could strike it only once before having to rebuckle it. Somewhat impractial for most music.

Kees

Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928329 12/30/19 03:54 PM
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Piano (or better pianoforte) instrument has a history. There is vast repertoire of music composed for piano. That is what counts IMO.

Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928398 12/30/19 06:05 PM
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I wonder if there are any materials that a bridge could be made of to correct inharmonicity before reaching the soundboard. Seems like it might take 100s of years before a material could be so precisely developed to cover all the variations and complexities of strings on a piano. Hopefully the piano will still be around by then.

Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928410 12/30/19 06:26 PM
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It is in fact this inharmonicity that gives the piano it's truly unique sound...virtually impossible to duplicate without sampling.

Years ago Dr. Al Sanderson (inventor of the Accutuner) said that when he was measuring partials in an Astin Weight piano he found that some of them had negative inharmonicity. His opinion was that: "This is one weird piano." This was the only make that he ever found this in. It is also true that they do have a different sound, not one that was wildly popular.

Pwg


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Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928421 12/30/19 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TimM_980
I wonder if there are any materials that a bridge could be made of to correct inharmonicity before reaching the soundboard. Seems like it might take 100s of years before a material could be so precisely developed to cover all the variations and complexities of strings on a piano. Hopefully the piano will still be around by then.

Basic false assumption.
Inharmonicity doesn't need to be "corrected". Not in the sense that it's an inherent problem in pianos that is best gotten rid of.
As PW Grey said, it is what gives the piano its unique sound -- and why there are difficulties playing pianos with organs.

Yes, we try to control inharmonicity in the scale design process in order for it to be even and consistent -- but not to get rid of it.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928422 12/30/19 07:06 PM
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Fwiw, I believe if you have the right amount of negative inharmonicity you can have pure 4ths, pure 5ths and pure octaves. It's something I goofed around with mathematically a while back but have no way to synthesize it. Wonder how Bach's Prelude in C would sound...

Also, since nothing is perfectly flexible, wouldn't everything have iH?


Jeff Deutschle
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Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928489 12/30/19 10:18 PM
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My simulator has adjustable iH. It just needs a few tweaks in the code to make it negative. But you can't play Bach's prelude in C on it!


Chris Leslie
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Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928639 12/31/19 10:45 AM
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If we were to go back to low tension, thin wire (think harpsichord, etc.) inharmonicity would be functionally non-existent. What we call a piano today is the result of many decades of redesign with the purpose of increasing volume, projection and sustain. Inharmonicity (in varying degrees) is a collateral result of this. Many of us think of it as a sort of "seasoning". Some is good, too much is distasteful, none is just plain blah.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928793 12/31/19 04:26 PM
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Find a material that has the tensile strength, mass, and ductility of high quality spring steel, but without its high stiffness, and you'll get a piano with lower inharmonicity. The latest attempt of this that I know of was "Pure Sound" wire which uses a more flexible stainless steel. (Unfortunately it's also more likely to break because it doesn't have the tensile strength of the regular piano wire.)


Anthony Willey, RPT
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Re: Reverse stretch tuning- theoretical question
TimM_980 #2928799 12/31/19 04:50 PM
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Anthony,

I was a big proponent of Puresound wire starting back around 2000-2001 or so. In fact I still have a lot of it left. I liked it very much, except when it started breaking on me. This of course was due to the maker essentially overstating it's intended use. It was configured for instruments in the 1860-1880 range, but that probably did not produce enough revenue, and at the time I knew next to nothing about scaling and just took his word for it, that it would work on modern instruments.

At any rate, I really loved the sound of it, and the stability of it once settled in. Stability was unbelievable! Rock solid...until the strings begin breaking...😓. Certainly not reverse inharmonicity, but it definitely was less, being that it was more flexible.

I still use the larger sizes to solve nasty scaling issues at the bass/tenor break, in conjunction with Paulello wire. Too bad it wasn't a success. Perfectly good though for lower tension scales from the 1800's though.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8

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