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#1249757 - 08/15/09 11:54 AM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Gyro]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
It's like trying to talk to a brainwashed
cult member when you try to talk
about digitals pianos with
these "acoustic-pianos-and-
nothing-else-is-a-real-piano"
people. Nothing gets through to
them unless it's about acoustic
pianos.

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#1249760 - 08/15/09 12:04 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Gyro]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Gyro
If you can't produce "tone" on your
digital, then the fault is in your
playing, not the digital. I do
it every day on my $600 digital--and
in big-time pieces like the
Chopin op. 14. Of course, its not
exactly the same as on
an acoustic grand piano, but it's close
enough for all practical purposes,
and if I had to play an acoustic
piano, I could adjust to it with
little problem.

Again, this is why the old silent
keyboards were so popular and
why Arrau used one all his life.
They enable a pianist to develop
the strength and technique so
he can produce that great "tone,"
on any piano.


You're totally misunderstanding my point. I can produce elements of tone on my digital. It's interesting to see how much variety remains possible, when you are playing with neutral, pre-recorded sounds. However, it is not possible to contrast between ugly sounds and beautiful ones in the same way.

You can approach the keys of a digital however you like and it will still sound nice. That doesn't prepare you for real pianos.

Perhaps it's 'close enough' for you, but have you considered that this might demonstrate that you do not possess the range of sounds that thousands of professional musicians (for whom it is not 'close enough') do? Judging from your comments, it's obvious that you're not interested in terribly much beyond learning notes in the right order. Stick with the digital alone and you'll never get any closer to something beyond that.


PS. Considering how many people can consistently spot the difference in blind listening, it's pretty obvious who are the 'cult' members here. My own criteria are simply those of sound and response. The day a digital piano can match up to what I require, I'll say that they are 'equal' rather than merely a substitute.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/15/09 12:07 PM)
_________________________
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#1249770 - 08/15/09 12:19 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Geoffk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 757
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Well, to summarize your argument:

- It's possible to produce an ugly tone on an acoustic
- Nobody would take an ugly tone for a sample, so all of the tones available on a digital are "good" ones
- So a digital player on an acoustic may find himself producing ugly tones, which his digital couldn't make.
- Therefore, studying on an acoustic is better.

I can see the logic of this argument, but it certainly doesn't convince me that an acoustic is a "better" instrument. It does suggest that a student should try to get exposure to acoustics during his learning, but I never argued that was a bad idea. And your continued insistence that digitals are second-rate instruments still sounds like snobbery, rather than fact-based argument, to me.

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#1249773 - 08/15/09 12:23 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Geoffk]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Geoffk
Well, to summarize your argument:

- It's possible to produce an ugly tone on an acoustic
- Nobody would take an ugly tone for a sample, so all of the tones available on a digital are "good" ones
- So a digital player on an acoustic may find himself producing ugly tones, which his digital couldn't make.
- Therefore, studying on an acoustic is better.

I can see the logic of this argument, but it certainly doesn't convince me that an acoustic is a "better" instrument. It does suggest that a student should try to get exposure to acoustics during his learning, but I never argued that was a bad idea. And your continued insistence that digitals are second-rate instruments still sounds like snobbery, rather than fact-based argument, to me.


I attempt to exercise as much tonal snobbery as possible when I play (discriminating against ugly sounds in cantabile lines), so perhaps it's indeed snobbish of me to expect an 'equal' instrument to a piano to teach you how to do that. Also, a digital piano has quite a pleasing tone, but it won't give you the tone of a Gilels. Not a chance. Only on a real piano could you so much as hope to approach that.

Approach it however you will, the point is this: you can learn how to play any instrument well from a competent piano. You can learn how to play a digital piano well from a digital piano. What more need be said? It's not 'equal' if they are not interchangable.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1249779 - 08/15/09 12:32 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Gyro]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: Gyro
If you can't produce "tone" on your
digital, then the fault is in your
playing, not the digital. I do
it every day on my $600 digital--and
in big-time pieces like the
Chopin op. 14.

Gyro, aren't you flattering yourself by insisting on saying you play "big-time pieces like" Chopin's Op. 14, when in fact it's the only one?

Originally Posted By: Gyro
It's like trying to talk to a brainwashed
cult member when you try to talk
about digitals pianos with
these "acoustic-pianos-and-
nothing-else-is-a-real-piano"
people. Nothing gets through to
them unless it's about acoustic
pianos.

It obviously serve some agenda to depict the situation as between warring, us-versus-them factions.

I wonder what it's like trying to talk to you in real life! No one in this entire forum is as dogmatically insistent about his own version of reality, something that could be said to be a characteristic of a "brainwashed cult member." smile

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1249789 - 08/15/09 12:57 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Geoffk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 757
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Approach it however you will, the point is this: you can learn how to play any instrument well from a competent piano. You can learn how to play a digital piano well from a digital piano. What more need be said? It's not 'equal' if they are not interchangable.


I'm sorry, but I still don't see the ability to sound bad as a big advantage for the acoustic side. I guess you'll argue next that acoustics are better because they can be out of tune (and frequently are...)

Yes, a student should try to study acoustic as well as digital. But either one is fine to play and is a valid musical instrument.

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#1249820 - 08/15/09 01:50 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Geoffk]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I'm always amazed that when these debate come up, the biggest difference seems to get neglected:

The sound from a digital piano comes out of *speakers*

The sound from an acoustic does *not*

That's pretty much all I care about.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1249824 - 08/15/09 02:01 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Susan K. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/03/09
Posts: 192
Loc: Central California
It seems as if there are soooo many factors that make the acoustic vs. digital argument such a convolution.

- Age of pianist
- Ability of pianist
- Financial means of the pianist
- Cultural background of the pianist

Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
However, the reality is that most students have pretty cr***y pianos. They get them for $500 in the newspaper, Craigslist, from Grandma, at yard sales, even off the side of the road for free (as one of my students bragged about... ughh:( ). How many teachers actually know what kind of piano their students practice on at home?

I grew up with piano lessons but we were pretty poor. My mother saved for the $5 weekly lesson from the grocery budget. My father found a $300 spinet. It was by far the most expensive piece of furniture in the house. It was never tuned (I played for 8 years) and I never knew that it wasn't tuned and after 8 years of lessons, I always thought that I was a terrible player because NOTHING I played sounded any good.

Fastforward 30 years, my mother buys me a Yamaha digital piano (space issues) and I am SHOCKED how beautiful my playing sounds. My teacher says I play too well to play on digital, for precisely all the reasons stated before, touch, finesse. I love playing on her grand. BUT, we would need to move in order to go acoustic AND I am aware of how much upkeep an acoustic piano requires. I can budget in the tunings and I can save for a quality acoustic. But do I think that I'm hampered by the digital? Not at all. So much of the conversation on this thread is laced with privilege -- educated parents who know about music and understand the investment value in their children's music education. My cousin paid 2K for his daughter's beginning flute -- she stuck with it for three months before moving onto the oboe.

Unfortunately MOST families don't have that kind of cash . I understand acoustic preference, but I'm of the mind that these preferences (acoustic or digital) should never be imposed on anyone else. They are highly personal and THAT'S where it should stay. Obviously the original poster wants to give his son the very best and can afford it.

But most folks don't have the option. And while we lament that music and art are the first things to be cut in hard budgetary times, the fact of the matter is that all those things COST MONEY. And if digital pianos open up that love of music for a child, then it's worth it's weight in GOLD. I'm the kid that couldn't do most things because of equipment costs and was often told, you won't be any good because you don't have the "best" fill in the blank. In my parents' mind, they had bought me the BEST piano.

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#1249825 - 08/15/09 02:05 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

Yeah, I think the OP was the one who said he'd been recommended to keep it on the heavy touch for normal playing. I'd be really careful about using that setting very much. I can certainly see your point on sometimes using the light touch as a practise method for control of loud passages. Sounds like very good idea for honing sensitivity, but I don't quite follow the other way around though. Surely playing on the heavy setting would simply increase the margin for error- as well as possibly encouraging thumping? I don't think that having to hit a really light action hard, simply to bring any sound out, is terribly conducive towards added sensitivty.

You can't make any blanket statement about touch settings, because each DP is different. I own an old Clavinova, and NO setting works. Medium will not produce ff without hitting the damned thing with a hammer, and you still can't control the other end. Nothing works on it. "Light" allows very "powerful sounds", but they still aren't under control, and trying to play softly, with control, simply results in some notes not sounding at all.

The heavy setting makes it possible to control rought pp through mf, but there you have to exaggerate. You have to change everything you do to "adjust" to the totally artificial feel of a totally insensitive keyboard.

On the other hand, I have played at least one Yamaha that played rather nicely on the "heavy" setting. The reason is that the default was so exaggerated that it was much too easy to play loud passages (no effort), while control in soft passages was poor. The heavy made me work roughly the way I would on a good grand, meaning that I had to use some "effort", but then I also found it rather easy to get much better control on the other end.

I'm being very sloppy with my descriptions and terminology. My point is that if a teacher gets to play an individual DP, I would trust the teacher to make a good judgment about which setting is better. It is different on different DPs.

Now, about your link to Cyprien Katsaris. I don't know how much time you've spent working with different DPs, but it's very important to make a differentiation between action (which varies greatly from instrument to instrument, for obvious reasons) and the programmed sounds. I thought this ultra-expensive instrument sounded absolutely horrendous. To me it was shockingly bad, thin, one-dimensional, lifeless, and CKs playing sounded so glib that I couldn't help but think he was playing too fast and distorting things to attempt to mask the obvious shortcomings of the instrument.

So if I used this recording to make a blanket judgment about DPs, my conclusion would be much like yours. However, I have heard DPs for well under $1000 that sounded no worse than that over-priced (and badly adjusted???) instrument. I could not believe how thin and lifeless the sound was. Listening on my cheap laptop speakers, I can't always tell, in a matter of seconds, the difference between a DP and an acoustic. Usually it is the "too-perfect" sound that gives it away (no false beats in the treble, everything is too smooth in a way that is not natural), but in this awful recording I was aware of it in about three seconds.


Edited by Gary D. (08/15/09 02:08 PM)
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Piano Teacher

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#1249830 - 08/15/09 02:11 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Susan K.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Susan K.
Unfortunately MOST families don't have that kind of cash . I understand acoustic preference, but I'm of the mind that these preferences (acoustic or digital) should never be imposed on anyone else. They are highly personal and THAT'S where it should stay. Obviously the original poster wants to give his son the very best and can afford it.

But most folks don't have the option. And while we lament that music and art are the first things to be cut in hard budgetary times, the fact of the matter is that all those things COST MONEY. And if digital pianos open up that love of music for a child, then it's worth it's weight in GOLD. I'm the kid that couldn't do most things because of equipment costs and was often told, you won't be any good because you don't have the "best" fill in the blank. In my parents' mind, they had bought me the BEST piano.


Two thumbs up!!! You summed up the bottom line very nicely smile smile
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1249844 - 08/15/09 02:45 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Susan K.]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
Susan, I loved what you wrote!
Originally Posted By: Susan K.
It seems as if there are soooo many factors that make the acoustic vs. digital argument such a convolution.

- Age of pianist
- Ability of pianist
- Financial means of the pianist
- Cultural background of the pianist

Don't forget kind of music played. Ask any pianist who has to "gig" if he (or she) would prefer to play on whatever acoustic is available rather than use his own DP, and I'd wager most would prefer the DP.

The exception would be a "steady gig" where a good piano IS available and in tune.

Another factor is turning. An out of tune instrument drives me absolutely insane. I actually destroyed the pinblock of my second upright by fine tuning it daily (the unisons), which I admit is extreme. (It is also a good way to make sure that eventually the pins will be too loose to hold at all.)

My learning to tune my own instrument was the only way I could stand to make recordings, since when we hear recordings of excellent players, their pianos are always tuned to near perfection.
Quote:

Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
However, the reality is that most students have pretty cr***y pianos. They get them for $500 in the newspaper, Craigslist, from Grandma, at yard sales, even off the side of the road for free (as one of my students bragged about... ughh:( ). How many teachers actually know what kind of piano their students practice on at home?


That matches my own experience as a teacher…
Originally Posted By: Susan K.

I grew up with piano lessons but we were pretty poor. My mother saved for the $5 weekly lesson from the grocery budget. My father found a $300 spinet. It was by far the most expensive piece of furniture in the house. It was never tuned (I played for 8 years) and I never knew that it wasn't tuned and after 8 years of lessons, I always thought that I was a terrible player because NOTHING I played sounded any good.

Isn't it horrible? frown But most likely there were equally bad things going on. If the piano was never tuned, it was most likely out of regulation. I have played on student instruments that were so bad, I was embarrassed by the sounds I was making and afraid that people listening would think that I actually played that way.
Quote:

Fastforward 30 years, my mother buys me a Yamaha digital piano (space issues) and I am SHOCKED how beautiful my playing sounds. My teacher says I play too well to play on digital, for precisely all the reasons stated before, touch, finesse. I love playing on her grand. BUT, we would need to move in order to go acoustic AND I am aware of how much upkeep an acoustic piano requires. I can budget in the tunings and I can save for a quality acoustic.

The number one issue is privacy. People who have it will never understand that others live in places that prevent practicing on anything other than a DP with earphones. The freedom to play a good acoustic without bothering neighbors is a luxury that some people take for granted.
Quote:

But do I think that I'm hampered by the digital? Not at all. So much of the conversation on this thread is laced with privilege -- educated parents who know about music and understand the investment value in their children's music education. My cousin paid 2K for his daughter's beginning flute -- she stuck with it for three months before moving onto the oboe.

I agree. Ultimately the parents of talented young pianists will usually be able to find a way to buy a good acoustic IF they live in a place where it will not disturb others, but some of my parents have found weighted keyboards, 88 keys, for under $500, and there is no way I am going to tell them that they have made a wrong choice. IF the children of these children really advance—and I still think that is more to do with will, desire and hard work than in having a "perfect instrument"—then these same parents will usually consider an acoustic within a reasonable amount of time. But getting to that "second step" is taking longer in the current economy.
Quote:

Unfortunately MOST families don't have that kind of cash . I understand acoustic preference, but I'm of the mind that these preferences (acoustic or digital) should never be imposed on anyone else. They are highly personal and THAT'S where it should stay. Obviously the original poster wants to give his son the very best and can afford it.

I think parents are wise to listen to us (the teachers) when we recommend choice A over choice B, when both choices involve about the same amount of money AND when other problems (such as privacy) do not make one choice "not doable". In other words, if a family is about to consider a DP that costs almost $2000 and I, as a teacher, play on an acoustic that I think is going to be better, I think that family is foolish not to listen to me. However, I am also USED to adults not listening to me. frown
Quote:

But most folks don't have the option. And while we lament that music and art are the first things to be cut in hard budgetary times, the fact of the matter is that all those things COST MONEY. And if digital pianos open up that love of music for a child, then it's worth it's weight in GOLD. I'm the kid that couldn't do most things because of equipment costs and was often told, you won't be any good because you don't have the "best" fill in the blank. In my parents' mind, they had bought me the BEST piano.

And I have quite a few young students who I feel are just like you. Without a DP, to "get them in the ball game", they would not even have a chance. So yes, I think a lot of this is about people with money and advantages not fully understanding what it is like for people who have less and who have to make sacrifices.

HOWEVER: if you read many posts here, you will also read about families who have a ton of money who refuse to invest in anything better than a cheeap 61 key DP, so there is another side to this story.

[/quote]
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1249850 - 08/15/09 03:07 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Kreisler]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I'm always amazed that when these debate come up, the biggest difference seems to get neglected:

The sound from a digital piano comes out of *speakers*

The sound from an acoustic does *not*

That's pretty much all I care about.


Good point. Although the more relevant statement for most of us who use digital pianos because they allow us to practice when we are able to practice is that the digital piano sound comes out of *** headphones *** bothering no one, while the acoustic piano does not and is therefore completely unusable during at least half of the 24 hours in a day.

That's pretty much all that matters when you want to play but an acoustic is impractical.

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#1249871 - 08/15/09 04:14 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

The point is that they are not equal. Anyone who learns on a competent piano can transfer to a digital with no problems. Anyone who learns on a digital will bring the limitations of their learning to the piano.


You've left yourself an enormous amount of wiggle room, haven't you? And invoked the "no true Scotsman" argument?

You haven't defined competent piano.

And acoustics vary enormously. I used to do my practice for Sunday services on a digital. Sunday morning I had no trouble with transfer to the grand we used in services. But the clunky old upright in the rehearsal room downstairs? No transfer, and if I warmed up on that one I was facing a shock on the grand upstairs.

We have to reword your sentence a bit. Anyone who practices on the average unmaintained home acoustic piano can transfer to a digital with no problems.

Let's face it, the average beginning piano student has access to an acoustic that is levels of magnitude worse than a modern digital.

If we compared high quality acoustic to equivalent quality digital, I'd give the edge to the acoustic. But we're not going to do that. In the average seven year old piano student world, we're going to compare the acoustic that they can afford with the digital they can afford. And now I think the edge goes to the digital.
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gotta go practice

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#1249920 - 08/15/09 05:51 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: theJourney]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: theJourney

Good point. Although the more relevant statement for most of us who use digital pianos because they allow us to practice when we are able to practice is that the digital piano sound comes out of *** headphones *** bothering no one, while the acoustic piano does not and is therefore completely unusable during at least half of the 24 hours in a day.

That's pretty much all that matters when you want to play but an acoustic is impractical.

In fact, playing on an acoustic is more than impractical when it simply can't be used. It is IMPOSSIBLE.

Case in point is wanting or needing to practice at hours when other people are asleep, which where I live not only includes my own family but also neighbors.
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Piano Teacher

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#1249939 - 08/15/09 06:25 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Gary D.]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I agree, and I use my digital for the same - when work must be done silently or when an acoustic is not available. When I've done gigs that require keyboard work, I'd practice it on it to get acclimated to the feel.

Also, I occasionally use my DP to record my students. We'll use backing tracks and I can plug the DP directly into the mix without the need for all the microphones and cables. It can be a lot of fun, and the students enjoy the change of pace.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1249950 - 08/15/09 06:41 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: TimR]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: TimR

Let's face it, the average beginning piano student has access to an acoustic that is levels of magnitude worse than a modern digital.

If we compared high quality acoustic to equivalent quality digital, I'd give the edge to the acoustic. But we're not going to do that. In the average seven year old piano student world, we're going to compare the acoustic that they can afford with the digital they can afford. And now I think the edge goes to the digital.



I agree!
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Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
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#1249951 - 08/15/09 06:42 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Kreisler]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
Yes, and midi can be an excellent tool to show people, visually, what is actually happening.

For one thing, as you mentioned, recording is simple and instant. No setting up. In addition, and I do this a lot, you can PROVE that what is too slow now is actually correct and will result in a good effect by simply speeding up the playback.

It's also incredible, for showing what really happens, by playing (real-time) something that goes very fast in the sound equivalent of "slo-mo".

Things that sound very accurate at full speed prove to be much more uneven, at 1/4 speed. What is most impressive to students is to have the opportunity to hear that the unevenness that shows up when things are slowed down simply can't be heard when full-speed is resumed.

It's much like "seeing is believing", only in this case it is "hearing is believing".
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#1249958 - 08/15/09 06:52 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Geoffk]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Geoffk
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Approach it however you will, the point is this: you can learn how to play any instrument well from a competent piano. You can learn how to play a digital piano well from a digital piano. What more need be said? It's not 'equal' if they are not interchangable.


I'm sorry, but I still don't see the ability to sound bad as a big advantage for the acoustic side. I guess you'll argue next that acoustics are better because they can be out of tune (and frequently are...)

Yes, a student should try to study acoustic as well as digital. But either one is fine to play and is a valid musical instrument.


Not for anyone who wants to play in public. Keyboards do not sound good in a hall- regardless of whether a pianist is good or mediocre. That's without even mentioning the limitations to expression and dynamics.

Essentially, a keyboard makes a poor pianist sound better and a great pianist sound worse. That's why it's not 'equal' to a piano. If someone wants to limit themself to 5 tonal varities (if they own a top of the range- more likely no more than 3) and 128 different volumes, they are going to be limited to the limitations of that instrument. Again, that serves to illustrate that there is no 'equality'. Digitals ARE a simulation- just like flight simulators. It's quite similar- a flight simulator is a useful way to train, without having to have a commercial airliner at your disposal 24/7. But I would never trust a pilot who had never previously flown a real plane to the highest possible standard.

As I already stated, learn to play a piano well and you can play ANY digital to a high standard. Learn to play a digital well and you will likely sound awful on a real piano (unless you stumbled on the technique required for sound-production by pure luck). Even if there were little importance in the other various factors mentioned (which is not the case) this alone would be of paramount importance. If you refuse to acknowledge both the pros and cons, you're simply trying to will a dream into reality. Technology may one day get there, but there is no hint of equivalence between a top of the range keyboard and a similarly priced upright. Not in our current times.

Let's come back to the golf analogy. Would indoor golf alone equip a young golfer to win a professional tournament on real turf? If anyone seriously thinks they can reach the highest standards of playing an acoustic grand (via practising solely with the limitations of an electric), they can forget it. Both can be useful. I stress that as much as anyone. But only the acoustic trains that which makes a real pianist.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/15/09 07:27 PM)
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#1249985 - 08/15/09 07:44 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Keyboards do not sound good in a hall- regardless of whether a pianist is good or mediocre. That's without even mentioning the limitations to expression and dynamics.

A spinet doesn't sound good in a hall either, especially one that is out of tune and needs other work. smile

Let me make clear that the last time I played in public, in a situation that was important to me, I played on a first class concert grand. We all know that the best pianos around are "the best", for that reason. However, few people have such pianos to practice on daily, and some of us who live in cramped conditions have to make huge compromises.
Quote:

Essentially, a keyboard makes a poor pianist sound better and a great pianist sound worse.

I agree with the second part, not the first. I think a poor pianist sounds just about as bad either way. smile
Quote:

But only the acoustic trains that which makes a real pianist.

Only a GOOD acoustic trains a pianist the right way. That's the problem. There are poor kids, trying to learn to play well, who are stuck on "beasts" at home. For some a good DP is a step up. Not where we would like them to get to, ideally, but at least the action is relatively even, no missing strings, no keys that stick down, etc., and the blasted thing is not a half step below pitch. A lot of these pieces of junk are in such bad shape that no technicain on the planet could make them work or sound right, but the parents don't yet have the money to buy another instrument.

For any student who has serious ambitions (plans to major in piano performance and so on), my goal will always be to help the family, when they are able, to find a grand. For others with less talent and less lofty goals, I don't think the instrument matters nearly as much.
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#1249988 - 08/15/09 07:51 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Gary D.]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I prefer my Steinway B greatly, but my Clavinova CLP 240 got me started and I still like playing with non-piano voices and instant recording. Both have a place, but I did notice a lot of improvement in my playing after a month or two of practicing exclusively on the grand. There is a difference. But I agree with Gary, I'll take a good DP any day over a crapola acoustic that's better off in a landfill.
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#1249994 - 08/15/09 08:03 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Geoffk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 757
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Not for anyone who wants to play in public. Keyboards do not sound good in a hall- regardless of whether a pianist is good or mediocre. That's without even mentioning the limitations to expression and dynamics.


Well this is just silly. With he right sound system, a digital can fill a stadium. And it will sound better than a miked acoustic would.

As for these "limits on expression" you keep banging on, I'd really like to hear you distinguish between volume level 66 and volume level 67 on a digital. I'm sure that you couldn't--it's such a fine shading that it might as well be continuous. That fact that there are discrete levels is irrelevant. If the shading is fine enough to capture all of your nuance, than it's fine.

But, again, I don't expect to convince you. You've decided that every digital is not worth playing by a "serious" player like yourself. Congratulations on closing your mind and throwing away the key.

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#1250001 - 08/15/09 08:17 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
daro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 168
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi


As I already stated, learn to play a piano well and you can play ANY digital to a high standard.


I don't think anyone has argued that.

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Learn to play a digital well and you will likely sound awful on a real piano (unless you stumbled on the technique required for sound-production by pure luck).


This, however, is not so cut-and-dried. I would expect that anyone who can play a high-end digital well will have no problem adapting to an acoustic, especially an upright.

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Technology may one day get there, but there is no hint of equivalence between a top of the range keyboard and a similarly priced upright. Not in our current times.


That's simply false. For example, I love playing my beautiful, old Mason & Hamlin console, and given a choice, if I was just futzing around, I'd choose an acoustic over a digital any day of the week. However, if I'm working seriously on a piece that I know I'm going to be playing later on a grand, my old Korg digital translates a lot better. Just the size of the keys makes an enormous difference, especially when practicing tricky fingerings and shifts in hand position. Since the console's keys are shorter and narrower, translating to a grand would require constant adjustments on the fly. Working on the digital makes that unnecessary.

Also, and more importantly when it comes to the production of your "Gilelsian tone", is the whole issue of una corda. A well-designed implementation on a digital is always going to be superior than an upright, simply because it's physically impossible on an upright. As I said, I love my M&H, but depressing the una corda pedal does nothing but throw the whole action out of whack. If you know of any acoustic uprights that have a true una corda function, please let me know.

And BTW, as Geoffk noted, if you can consistently and distinctly produce over 128 recognizably different volume levels in a real-world environment in any one piece on any given acoustic, then you must have a technique that makes Gilels look like a third-rate hack.

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#1250015 - 08/15/09 08:53 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Gary D.]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"A spinet doesn't sound good in a hall either, especially one that is out of tune and needs other work. :)"

Fair point, but I would honestly sooner take a bad upright than a keyboard. I've given a recital on a digital (which I will never do again- aside from dynamic limitations it echoed in a way that sounded AWFUL in the church). I've also played a recital on a very old untuned upright (that featured the Liszt Sonata, of all things to play on such a piano). In the ambience of the acoustic, it actually didn't sound too bad on the recording I took. It took a lot of effort to soften the lumps for cantabile and to draw a serious fortissimo from such a dead piano. However, I would sooner have had that to face than any digital. It simply does not offer the variety of dynamics or the character. If you know how to push a big sound out of a piano, you might be surprised how much will come out of a battered old upright. Look what Sofronitsky achieved on crappy pianos in Russia. Not uprights, but I'd sooner hear him make his own cantabile despite those awful pianos- than Sofronitsky MIDI files.


"I agree with the second part, not the first. I think a poor pianist sounds just about as bad either way. :)"

True, but at least their tone quality would simply be too loud- rather than inherently lumpy. A digital can really tone down 'fast' attacks in cantabile etc.



"Only a GOOD acoustic trains a pianist the right way. That's the problem. There are poor kids, trying to learn to play well, who are stuck on "beasts" at home. For some a good DP is a step up. Not where we would like them to get to, ideally, but at least the action is relatively even, no missing strings, no keys that stick down, etc., and the blasted thing is not a half step below pitch. A lot of these pieces of junk are in such bad shape that no technicain on the planet could make them work or sound right, but the parents don't yet have the money to buy another instrument."

People talk as though it's impossible to get a good piano for peanuts. A fried bought one of ebay for £500 that was marvellous. My own Bluther upright cost about a grand. Add that to my keyboard and we're talking about £2500. Not for every 7 year old beginner of course, but we're hardly talking a life-changing sum for anyone who can afford to own anything beyond a scrap-heap of a car. I would never insist that a young student must not start on a digital. The point is simply that people must ACKNOWLEDGE potential limitations and think seriously about them- not pretned that they don't exist. When people claim it's like having a grand piano for a fraction of the price, I wonder what planet they're on.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/15/09 09:15 PM)
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#1250017 - 08/15/09 09:02 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: daro]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"Also, and more importantly when it comes to the production of your "Gilelsian tone", is the whole issue of una corda. A well-designed implementation on a digital is always going to be superior than an upright, simply because it's physically impossible on an upright. As I said, I love my M&H, but depressing the una corda pedal does nothing but throw the whole action out of whack. If you know of any acoustic uprights that have a true una corda function, please let me know."

Great, so next time I perform the Vocalise, I'll simply put down the soft pedal. Thanks for the tip. The critics will be hailing my 'golden age' tone in no time. I'm aware of the benefits of playing into the soft pedal with a full tone, but if you seriously think that explains the Gilels tone, think again. In any case, if that's the trick and digitals do not take anything away- why does putting the soft pedal down on a digital not enable the Gilels tone? Or do you sincerely believe that Gilels could have sounded so distinctive on a keyboard?

"And BTW, as Geoffk noted, if you can consistently and distinctly produce over 128 recognizably different volume levels in a real-world environment in any one piece on any given acoustic, then you must have a technique that makes Gilels look like a third-rate hack."

Well, seeing as my own dynamic range is drastically reduced by playing on a high-end digital, thanks for the compliment. However, I'm am afraid that I'm going to have to refuse it on the ground that's I'm never going to make gilels look like a third rate hack.

Seriously what planet are you on? You don't believe a great master has more than 5 different tone qualities- at 128 different volumes? It can't contain my own range of dynamics, never mind that of Gilels.

I really don't follow why you based your argument for keyboards on the fact that they are useful for note learning. So's mine, and that's what I use it for. The problem is how responds, when practising tone-quality and cantabile and resonant fortissimos, rather than lumpy ones etc. No use, sorry. My upright was cheaper than my digital but gives vastly more feedback.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/15/09 09:06 PM)
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#1250024 - 08/15/09 09:13 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Geoffk]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Geoffk
As for these "limits on expression" you keep banging on, I'd really like to hear you distinguish between volume level 66 and volume level 67 on a digital.


Considering how one is literally an identical sound played with marginally greater amplitude, indeed, I probably could not distinguish which is which- which perhaps explains why performances on digitals sound so mind-numbingly bland, compared to the infinite variety of soundwaves which can emerge from a single note on a real piano?


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/15/09 09:20 PM)
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#1250027 - 08/15/09 09:16 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Gyro]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Gyro
and
in big-time pieces like the
Chopin op. 14. Of course, its not
exactly the same as on
an acoustic grand piano, but it's close
enough for all practical purposes,


What???? Digitals are "close enough". I actually agree with you. Digitals are close enough for practical purposes. For their midi' and earphone jacks but not "exactly the same" when playing big-time pieces.
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#1250037 - 08/15/09 09:40 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
daro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 168
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

Seriously what planet are you on?


I guess your habit of consistently leaping to completely erroneous conclusions about the meaning of fairly straightforward and simple remarks is one of those things that makes your planet different from mine, but feel free to stop by any time.

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#1250039 - 08/15/09 09:48 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: daro]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: daro
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

Seriously what planet are you on?


I guess your habit of consistently leaping to completely erroneous conclusions about the meaning of fairly straightforward and simple remarks is one of those things that makes your planet different from mine, but feel free to stop by any time.


If you are not joking when you tell me that 5 different piano tones and 128 different volumes could put Gilels to shame, you really ought to ask that question of yourself. If it's all very well enjoying the positives of something. Being willfully blind towards its limitations (to the point of making such a comical suggestion) is a whole different matter.
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#1250049 - 08/15/09 10:06 PM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

Fair point, but I would honestly sooner take a bad upright than a keyboard.

I don't want to perform on one either. I became a teacher and stuck to teaching so that I would never again have to suffer such an experience.
Quote:

I've given a recital on a digital (which I will never do again- aside from dynamic limitations it echoed in a way that sounded AWFUL in the church).

The amplification of ANY instrument is a touchy thing and introduces a whole new set of problems. If done right, the end result should be much the same as playing a recording of a piano in a large area, and I think we have all experienced how horrible that can sound.

There is one point you keep hammering away at that I fully agree with you about. There are too few "steps" involved. 128 levels of volume is enough to fool the human ear, even when some of those "levels" are not usable (they would be inhumanly soft and represent sounds we can't make and don't want to.) I've done a good bit of recording on DPs, and where they let me down, where they make me want to SCREAM in frustration is the lack of difference in the samples. We don't know where the technology is heading, and it may eventually be possible to sample a fine grand with so many "steps" that we will hear that harsh edge that is sometimes so ugly, at other times necessary and appopropriate (Horowitz's really sharp attacks), or the velvet tones of pp passages, with and without una corda.

That's not even close. This is the one element that I believe compromises the sound the most, and to me it is most noticeable in the big Romantic works that demand huge contrasts and big effects.
Quote:

I've also played a recital on a very old untuned upright (that featured the Liszt Sonata, of all things to play on such a piano). In the ambience of the acoustic, it actually didn't sound too bad on the recording I took.

I guarantee that I would hate it. I would be so disgusted with the out-of-tuneness and obvious inferiority of the instrument that my mind would turn off, telling me that maybe in the future I'd get to hear you play on a decent instrument.

I wouldn't care to hear your Liszt on a DP either. Point is that I don't want to hear a fine musician playing on an instrument that does not allow him to show all that he can do.
Quote:

It took a lot of effort to soften the lumps for cantabile and to draw a serious fortissimo from such a dead piano.

I've never heard anything that sounds like a serious fortissimo from anything smaller than the so-called "conservatory uprights". At least those have enough string length to sound good. But the action is lacking. No one can play as softly or as loud on an upright as on a really fine grand, and that is without using the pretend una corda that simply pushes the hammers forward and makes a mess of the action, introducing lost motion that is never even equal across the whole keyboard.
Quote:

However, I would sooner have had that to face than any digital. It simply does not offer the variety of dynamics or the character. If you know how to push a big sound out of a piano, you might be surprised how much will come out of a battered old upright.

If you're talking to me, I would not be surprised how much ugly, out of tune, out of balance totally UN-satisfying noise can come out of those beasts. I hate them, and I've hated them ever since I got used to performing on fine grands and found out how many things can be done on them and ONLY on them.
Quote:

Look what Sofronitsky achieved on crappy pianos in Russia. Not uprights, but I'd sooner hear him make his own cantabile despite those awful pianos- than Sofronitsky MIDI files.

I don't want to hear Sofronitsky playing either DPs or crappy pianos. I also suspect that the worst of what you have heard him play on is far better than the kind of crap pianos others of us are talking about, which God Alimighty could not make sound like anything other than crap.
Quote:

A digital can really tone down 'fast' attacks in cantabile etc.

It's a trade-off. It tones down things that are important, that should be heard too, that the good pianist is actually producing, with the hands/fingers but that simply will not "register" due to tonal aspects that are lacking.
Quote:

People talk as though it's impossible to get a good piano for peanuts.

It is very close to impossible for people who buy used pianos without expert help. You have contacts. I have contacts. If I need to get the best possible instrument for whatever amount of money I have, I can do it. But God help anyone who buys a piano without having it looked at by a tech, unless the "someone" who is buying, even if an excellent player, is ALSO a tech.
Quote:

My own Bluther upright cost about a grand.

If you are "Mr. John Q. Public", with no musicians to help you, you are much more likely to get a complete piece of junk for a "grand". As I have clearly stated, I will always help a serious student get a first class instrument. That's an ideal situation. Usually students who come to me already have a piano at home, and if it's been tuned in the last few years, that's unusual.


Edited by Gary D. (08/15/09 10:10 PM)
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#1250623 - 08/17/09 06:53 AM Re: Weak fingers & digital piano [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: daro
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

Seriously what planet are you on?


I guess your habit of consistently leaping to completely erroneous conclusions about the meaning of fairly straightforward and simple remarks is one of those things that makes your planet different from mine, but feel free to stop by any time.


If you are not joking when you tell me that 5 different piano tones and 128 different volumes could put Gilels to shame, you really ought to ask that question of yourself. If it's all very well enjoying the positives of something. Being willfully blind towards its limitations (to the point of making such a comical suggestion) is a whole different matter.


Maybe we ought to dispel another myth here.

The tone of a piano note varies slightly with volume. By tone, or timbre, of course I mean the combination of fundamental plus overtones. This variation is slight, but it means we cannot simply sample one note and ramp the volume up and down. No matter how many steps of volume are available, it won't sound realistic unless the timbre varies as well. That is why digital pianos sample several tones per key. Because the variation is small (and differs from acoustic piano to piano) there is no need for 128 samples. There is a limit to what the ear can hear. I would be surprised if 5 samples were not enough for the average ear; I'd be surprised if there were not a few ears much better than average.

The myth that I suspect somebody is dancing around is that we can produce timbre differences independent of volume. We cannot. We can only play the note louder or softer, and the timbre changes happen out of our control. Probably some people listen more to the timbre to guide their volume, others the other way around.

Certainly nobody can hear 128 steps. I'm not sure what the studies show we can hear.
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