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#2134509 - 08/17/13 07:50 PM The Pianist and the touch
Todd Bellows Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/14/13
Posts: 9
Is this what is missing from modeled digital pianos and why they sound artificial?

http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/askenflt/pianist.html

Various sound examples
http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/sounds/sounds.html

First of all it is important to realize that the term "touch" probably is used with several different meanings. If a pianist is said to have a "beautiful touch," it may refer to the way a melody part is lifted above an accompaniment, or how certain notes in a chord are emphasized. This seems mainly to be a question of the timing and strength of certain notes relative to other notes, factors which have been shown to separate the artist from the amateur. But in certain connections, a "beautiful" or a "bad" touch can refer to the character of a single note at a given dynamic level, a topic which has interested prominent pedagogues and even created tensions between pianists of different schools.

Surprisingly, a strong candidate for part of the answer has nothing to do with the normal string motion. It is probably so that a characteristic percussive component ("thump") at the onset of the note plays a decisive role for the character of the piano tone. This "thump" is generated by the key as it hits the stop rail on the key frame. The impact shock excites the keybed (the supporting surface under the action), and partly also the soundboard and iron frame.

The significance of the "thump" sound is illustrated in sound example 8, in which the normal airborne sound of a grand piano and the sound of the string vibrations in isolation can be compared. The listener will probably agree that the normal piano sound as recorded in the room has a certain resemblance with the sounds in a blacksmith's shop. The string sound component on the other hand, lacks something of the interesting piano character, resembling a plucked string more closely than a struck one.
Once these components have been identified, they are usually easy to distinguish in all piano tones.

The "thump-component" is undoubtedly excited differently depending on the touch and could be assumed to be characteristic of a pianist's way of playing. The importance of this component of the piano sound is further illustrated by knowing that the recognized piano manufacturers select the wood for the keybed with great care in order to achieve the right "thump" quality.


Edited by Todd Bellows (08/17/13 08:07 PM)

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#2134654 - 08/18/13 03:12 AM Re: The Pianist and the touch [Re: Todd Bellows]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2580
Originally Posted By: Todd Bellows
The "thump-component"[...]


[...]is something that none of us want in our digitals.

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#2134688 - 08/18/13 06:32 AM Re: The Pianist and the touch [Re: Todd Bellows]
Petro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/13
Posts: 33
Loc: North Land
Thanks for the topic, really interesting approach.

Something like that crossed my mind after having some experience with my new Roland FP-80. One of its features/flaws is the very special "thump" sound which more resembles the "click" from a computer keyboard in fact. I think it has been especially designed by Roland to produce the quieter keybed.
The result is that strange - if you don't turn the sound on it feels quite unnatural both the touch and these "clicks". Although it'll come comfortable enough as soon as you turn the piano sound on.
It is further from acoustic than other "thumping" keybeds but still quite good for me because of that great emphasis (which is different from acoustic though)....
So, maybe Rolands are right in their way of stopping acoustic imitating competition by producing SN sounds and "clicking" keybeds? And put all the efforts on better emphasis and nuances reproduction even if different from acoustic? DP will never become AP to replace it on professional scene anyway. Especially for the lack of the right "thump" quality indeed.


Edited by Petro (08/18/13 09:18 AM)

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#2134709 - 08/18/13 07:44 AM Re: The Pianist and the touch [Re: Todd Bellows]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Todd Bellows , I have read your post, here:

Is this what is missing from modeled digital pianos and why they sound artificial?

http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/askenflt/pianist.html

Various sound examples
http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/sounds/sounds.html

First of all it is important to realize that the term "touch" probably is used with several different meanings. If a pianist is said to have a "beautiful touch," it may refer to the way a melody part is lifted above an accompaniment, or how certain notes in a chord are emphasized. This seems mainly to be a question of the timing and strength of certain notes relative to other notes, factors which have been shown to separate the artist from the amateur. But in certain connections, a "beautiful" or a "bad" touch can refer to the character of a single note at a given dynamic level, a topic which has interested prominent pedagogues and even created tensions between pianists of different schools.

Surprisingly, a strong candidate for part of the answer has nothing to do with the normal string motion. It is probably so that a characteristic percussive component ("thump") at the onset of the note plays a decisive role for the character of the piano tone. This "thump" is generated by the key as it hits the stop rail on the key frame. The impact shock excites the keybed (the supporting surface under the action), and partly also the soundboard and iron frame.

The significance of the "thump" sound is illustrated in sound example 8, in which the normal airborne sound of a grand piano and the sound of the string vibrations in isolation can be compared. The listener will probably agree that the normal piano sound as recorded in the room has a certain resemblance with the sounds in a blacksmith's shop. The string sound component on the other hand, lacks something of the interesting piano character, resembling a plucked string more closely than a struck one. Once these components have been identified, they are usually easy to distinguish in all piano tones.

The "thump-component" is undoubtedly excited differently depending on the touch and could be assumed to be characteristic of a pianist's way of playing. The importance of this component of the piano sound is further illustrated by knowing that the recognized piano manufacturers select the wood for the keybed with great care in order to achieve the right "thump" quality.

______________________________________________

I found the post very interesting. My computer does not allow me to hear any sounds or observe any youtube stuff as it is a linux operating system, but I played my Yamaha P95 digital and the Yamaha acoustic 3 legged piano so quietly that neither piano sounded a note - nor was there a thump played from either piano as I played so quietly but the acoustic piano had a slightly gentler action than the digital piano.

Acoustic pianos and digital pianos are not remotely similar but both the acoustic piano and the digital piano are awesome for what they are.




Edited by Michael_99 (08/18/13 07:50 AM)

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#2134712 - 08/18/13 07:47 AM Re: The Pianist and the touch [Re: pv88]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1532
Loc: Portugal
Originally Posted By: pv88
Originally Posted By: Todd Bellows
The "thump-component"[...]


[...]is something that none of us want in our digitals.


The message of the lecture above seems to be exactly the opposite: The importance of this component of the piano sound is further illustrated by knowing that the recognized piano manufacturers select the wood for the keybed with great care in order to achieve the right "thump" quality.

The piano is a percussion instrument like a gong or an Gamelan gambang. The question is: do we want it to be?
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2134776 - 08/18/13 10:46 AM Re: The Pianist and the touch [Re: Petro]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Originally Posted By: Petro
Thanks for the topic, really interesting approach.

Something like that crossed my mind after having some experience with my new Roland FP-80. One of its features/flaws is the very special "thump" sound which more resembles the "click" from a computer keyboard in fact.



Funny you should say that. My house mate can't distinguish typing on my lappy and playing on my DP. The thump sounds the same through walls apparently.

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