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#2148902 - 09/12/13 04:40 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: lizkey]
Tritium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/13
Posts: 179
Loc: Western MA, USA
Originally Posted By: lizkey
Originally Posted By: maurus
The main issue holding back DP's these days is not the action but the sound technology. Going back and forth from acoustic pianos to DPs makes this embarrasingly clear.


So true. Grand piano in house in L.A. with Kawai CA65 in San Francisco condo. Happy in SF until I am in L.A. on my grand.


You can enjoy your CA-65 either in the house in LA, or a condo in San Francisco. However,you most likely can't enjoy an acoustic Grand Piano in the condo. Now, in this sense, which one has the limitation?

Again, my point is not which is the optimum solution given no constraints. I wish I was driving around in a shiny new Aston Martin Vanquish...but my Volvo S60 gets me from point "A" to point "B" in not only respectable comfort and safety, but with a satisfactory driving experience.


Edited by Tritium (09/12/13 04:45 PM)

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#2148907 - 09/12/13 04:41 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: dire tonic]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1022
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger


There is a thread on the beginners forum about a person with a relatively new digital, very excited about getting a used acoustic upright. ...


If you're talking about Sinophilia, I think she used to use a Casio PX-135, not really a good example of the better of todays DP offerings, i.e. no contest.


Well there are different ways to compare. Entry-level to entry-level or by dollar cost. The PX-135 is an entry level digital, or was two years ago. The used upright might be considered an entry level upright, a used one.

By straight cost, digitals are going to win most head-to-head comparisons. Add in twice a year tunings for acoustics at $100 to $150 per, and it quickly becomes a runaway for digitals when a comparison is based only on cost.

Rule #1 is that no one wins an argument on the Internet, so I see it as a waste of time to argue. I have told my stories and hopefully they have added to a calm discussion. Digitals and acoustics are different, both have their fans and detractors. Many would like to have both an acoustic and a digital or perhaps several of each.
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#2148957 - 09/12/13 05:50 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
Vid Offline
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Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 833
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Starving Lion is back!

here
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#2148995 - 09/12/13 07:03 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Vid]
Tritium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/13
Posts: 179
Loc: Western MA, USA
Originally Posted By: Vid
Starving Lion is back!

here


Shhhhhh....

If you say his name three times, he will be summoned


Edited by Tritium (09/12/13 07:06 PM)

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#2149197 - 09/13/13 04:57 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
Bogs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/10
Posts: 133
Sorry, but I'm in the 'good enough' camp.

Quote from your first post 'I argue that if one has adequate training and experience playing classical piano, on either traditional upright or grand style acoustic pianos...one should not have a particular issue or trouble in adjusting to these new DP pianos with quality actions'. I agree with this, but you need to have the proper training with a classical piano! My piano teacher can handle all digitals, from a Thomann DP with its awful action to my Kawai and still phrase the music as one should (of course the results are different from instrument to instrument, but far superior to what I can get).

The problem is with the learning part. Learning and practicing on an acoustic (the higher the quality, the better, as it has been said by previous members) can get you further and faster to where we all want to be than learning on a digital. That's not to say that people that learned piano on a digital cannot play an acoustic! Of course they can, but likely won't be able to take advantage of the acoustic at its fullest.

Here's my take on why this happens. I'm in the 'piano sound is influenced only by key velocity' camp. If correctly programmed, a robot could play the same as a concert pianist, without the extraneous hand movements and face gestures. However, because we're human, we need to learn 'tricks' to assure us we get the sound that we want out of the piano. We don't have the fineness to control the velocity of the key, especially at higher tempos, so we learn certain gestures that guarantee a better accuracy of the effect we want from the piano. For instance finger staccato (the whip-like movement), playing with forearm weight at pianissimo to be able to better control the sound, learning how to come down on a chord to play ff, etc.

On a digital piano these gestures are not required because it's far easier to control a digital (the sound generator is far more forgiving that the acoustic palette of the acoustic). For instance I can play pianissimo just by lightly pressing the key on my DP, but that would produce no sound on an acoustic, or produce missed notes in a passage on the acoustic. Or I can hear the thumb being louder on the acoustic, especially at turns, but not so much on the digital.

Of course, if you already have the technique, then it's easy to control a digital keyboard. But if you don't, the keyboard (+ sound generating system) is only 'good enough'.
_________________________
old Gaveau upright & Kawai CA63; previously Korg SP250

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#2149253 - 09/13/13 07:31 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
Doritos Flavoured Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/12
Posts: 98
Loc: Brazil
Bogs, you talk like as if a DP player will ever play an acoustic. or as if Beethoven, Chopin and a career in concert halls is the only reason people should play a piano.

you guys should drop that bone


Edited by Doritos Flavoured (09/13/13 07:32 AM)
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#2149261 - 09/13/13 07:42 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Bogs]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: Bogs

On a digital piano these gestures are not required because it's far easier to control a digital (the sound generator is far more forgiving that the acoustic palette of the acoustic). For instance I can play pianissimo just by lightly pressing the key on my DP, but that would produce no sound on an acoustic, or produce missed notes in a passage on the acoustic. Or I can hear the thumb being louder on the acoustic, especially at turns, but not so much on the digital.


I recognise the AP problem of ppp notes that don't sound - which is surely something that would be better designed out of an instrument than remain an essential part of it. And once achieved, no point in developing a skill that is no longer required. Oddly enough, the VPC1 is authentically unreliable; it will fail to sound if you're too stealthy, just like an AP.

As to getting the full palette out of the DP being easier, that certainly hasn't been my experience. For sure you can set it up for a nice easy-to-play range between ppp and mf/f. Ditto for the upper half (2/3 even). But try and set it up for the full ppp to fff and it's another story, a nightmare to keep disciplined in the middle range (although of course that depends on the curve, it's usually hard to control in some part of the range - not necessarily the middle). IOW, to play a DP well requires considerable skill in velocity control. Skills are required but they're of a slightly different nature from those demanded in playing an AP.

The thumb response too, I don't sense any shortcomings here.

My DP sits immediately next to a Knight k15 upright - very average but maintained as well as it might be by a technician BIL. I don't touch the AP now. It's unpleasant to play and the results are inferior, musically, in every respect to those I can coax out of the DP. The delivery of sound, of course, is another story. The Knight has a great sound stage and a terrible tone.

Whatever shortcomings might fairly be associated with DPs we could also justfiably say that an AP's action often isn't good enough. Surprisingly often, perhaps.

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#2149276 - 09/13/13 08:15 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11769
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I grew up playing on a terrible spinet that couldn't hold its tune (not that it was ever tuned). The frustration at playing such a sub-standard instrument would drive me mad sometimes, wanting to give up playing piano altogether. I resisted practicing despite loving the instrument. Any chance I would get to play a decent acoustic I would grab onto, even to the annoyance of others around me (digitals back then were abhorrent). It wasn't until I was an adult and purchased a decent grand piano that I really began to improve at the rate I should have. I've upgraded since then, and my playing continued to improve with the improved instruments, plus my pleasure at getting a response was increased.

This summer I was forced to practice on my FP-7. While not top-of-the-line, it's still a decent digital. Playing advance classical repertoire on it for 3 months straight, however, was painful. A lot of tension creeped into my playing that I had to undo when I returned to my Petrof this month. Not to mention that the lack of expressive capabilities when compared with the AP made me play with less expression - why try something when you won't get any different response?

Yes, when I play any instrument I can coax out of it sounds that hopefully are close to what I want. The better the instrument, the closer to the actual sound I hear in my head. However, to constantly play something like that deadens the desire for those sounds, because no matter how much you coax, it's not going to do it.

So is an inferior AP a good instrument to play at your best? No. Is a DP a good instrument to play at your best? I don't think so, but I admittedly have not played any of the top-of-the-line models, so know my opinion is based on models in the $2k range and lower (I've played Casios, Yamahas, and Rolands in this price range). Are either of these instruments going to prevent someone from enjoying piano? Perhaps to some extent, but not completely. My piano growing up was frustrating, but I still loved playing. My DP was great to have this summer, otherwise I'd have no instrument at all. I still practiced and loved playing. Both instruments affected how I played in a negative way, however. That's all I'm saying.
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#2149344 - 09/13/13 10:52 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
lizkey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 30
Originally Posted By: Tritium
Originally Posted By: lizkey
Originally Posted By: maurus
The main issue holding back DP's these days is not the action but the sound technology. Going back and forth from acoustic pianos to DPs makes this embarrasingly clear.


So true. Grand piano in house in L.A. with Kawai CA65 in San Francisco condo. Happy in SF until I am in L.A. on my grand.


You can enjoy your CA-65 either in the house in LA, or a condo in San Francisco. However,you most likely can't enjoy an acoustic Grand Piano in the condo. Now, in this sense, which one has the limitation?

Again, my point is not which is the optimum solution given no constraints. I wish I was driving around in a shiny new Aston Martin Vanquish...but my Volvo S60 gets me from point "A" to point "B" in not only respectable comfort and safety, but with a satisfactory driving experience.


I'm with you, Tritium, I'm with you.

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#2149545 - 09/13/13 03:17 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: dire tonic]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5034
Originally Posted By: dire tonic

I recognise the AP problem of ppp notes that don't sound - which is surely something that would be better designed out of an instrument than remain an essential part of it. And once achieved, no point in developing a skill that is no longer required. Oddly enough, the VPC1 is authentically unreliable; it will fail to sound if you're too stealthy, just like an AP.

.... an AP's action often isn't good enough. Surprisingly often, perhaps.


I'd have thought that good DPs should allow you to play notes without them sounding by pressing down gently, just like APs. I certainly have no trouble doing it on my V-Piano, so, presumably, all Rolands using the same PHA-III should have the same attributes.

And in case you're wondering why anyone would want to play keys without the notes sounding, it is required for special effects in some classical music, like in Schumann's Carnaval, to pick up on sympathetic vibration generated by other notes to give a ghostly sound. That of course requires that the DP can also do that.... grin

As for whether playing on a DP is "good enough", I can say that I've spent long periods (months) over the past three years without touching anything other than my V, and have absolutely no problems when I then go to a showroom to play their big grands. Nothing missing or difficult to reproduce in terms of expression, nuances, dynamics, articulation etc. As I mentioned several times before, I've frequently found more differences in action between different acoustic pianos than between my DP and some grands that I've played. But as the action is intimately linked with tone production (e.g. a bright-sounding piano feels lighter and sounds louder), I can't generalize and say that I'd find the same attributes for all other Rolands using the PHA-III.

For the past year, I've been giving a mini-recital once a month to a group of people, playing on an old but well-maintained six-foot C.Bechstein. Its key action is notably shallow, and though I love playing on it, I need a few minutes to adapt my touch to it every time. It also feels rather light, certainly lighter than my V. One day, I might bring a stack of coins to measure its key weight accurately.......

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#2149576 - 09/13/13 04:13 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3549
Loc: Northern England.
"And in case you're wondering why anyone would want to play keys without the notes sounding, it is required for special effects in some classical music, like in Schumann's Carnaval, to pick up on sympathetic vibration generated by other notes to give a ghostly sound. That of course requires that the DP can also do that.... grin"

Gordon Bennett, man . . . how many here would be bothered about the finer finer finer points of this stuff? Speaking as a typical Neanderthal (watch the insults, there are many of us around) I`m just glad to clonk out the right notes in nearly the right order . . . and have a lot o` fun doin` it . . .
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"I'm playing all the right notes — but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2149705 - 09/13/13 09:10 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
xorbe Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/12
Posts: 572
Loc: Mt View, CA
Originally Posted By: bennevis
And in case you're wondering why anyone would want to play keys without the notes sounding, it is required for special effects in some classical music, like in Schumann's Carnaval, to pick up on sympathetic vibration generated by other notes to give a ghostly sound. That of course requires that the DP can also do that.... grin

I noticed right away that Yamaha CP5 has a bug here -- if I hold the damper, whack a key, then quickly and gently press that key again, and release the damper ... boom note gets damped!

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#2149764 - 09/13/13 11:53 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: bennevis

And in case you're wondering why anyone would want to play keys without the notes sounding, it is required for special effects in some classical music, like in Schumann's Carnaval, to pick up on sympathetic vibration generated by other notes to give a ghostly sound. That of course requires that the DP can also do that.... grin


You’ve reminded me of one of Oscar Peterson’s party tricks – I’m sure others have done it too – where he’d play a silent chord, hold it, then lightly strum across all the strings in the undamped region – usually a final chord at the end of a ballad. Like a harp, it’s a nice effect but somewhat gimmicky. I wasn't aware of the effect you mention in the Schumann.

Do you find let-off adds to the risk of producing a silent note when trying to play ppp?

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#2149868 - 09/14/13 05:43 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
Just as a side note, but the Kawai (at least C65 and C95 but maybe other recent models) have the silent key feature (and of course you can get that too with Ivory and probably some other software pianos) smile
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Jean-Luc

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#2149888 - 09/14/13 07:08 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
All the major DPs have silent key stroke, don't they? Certainly the Rolands and Yamahas do. Regarding software, of the ones I have, Pianoteq has it, Native Instruments' Kontakt Berlin, Vienna & New York do not - presumably you can fix that if you want to, but the default setting sounds the note from /01/.

For me, a piano that cannot have the keys pressed silently is no good. It is not just the Schumann effect with sympathetic resonance, though that is worth having. It is probably pure sentimentality . But then, I am very sentimental.
_________________________
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 .

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#2149938 - 09/14/13 09:31 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Jean-Luc]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
Originally Posted By: Jean-Luc

A lot of very arrogant people in the teacher thread, who seems to forget that you are entitled to want to learn music even if you are not wealthy


Yes! And it's not only arrogant, it is also so narrow minded as to approach idiocy.

First of all, the greatest composers, Bach and Beethoven, wrote for keyboards which do not even remotely resemble the kind of 20-plus thousand dollar pianos that these teachers insist are obligatory. Neither the great piano composers Schubert, Schumann & Chopin. You have to come as far forward as Debussy & Ravel to find composers using pianos similar in power and facility to ours.

A lot of the wonderful piano literature of the 19th century was written because of the potential for a single composer/musician to be able to play, unaided, an entire piece expressively. This appealed to the Romantic world view - the individual pitted against the world, the ascendance of self-expression.

Today, these composers (Schumann, Liszt and the rest) would be using VSTs and midi.

But that is not the main point, which is that the finer points of the articulation of Schubert impromptus or Chopin studies is not the be-all and end-all of music. For those people for whom those things are of supreme importance: great! You are privileged and fortunate.

Some other people may wish to learn enough piano to play Elton John's or Randy Newman's song book - or to write their own. Or they might want to do Herbie Hancock solos - or learn how to improvise themselves.

A while back, I read a diatribe on a blog which said that all music produced by trained musicians reading the notes of DWMs was of no value - merely a tired re-enactment of outdated concepts. The only truly valid expression in his view was rock music or similar.

Well, that bloke was speaking out of his arse just as loudly as some of these snobby piano teachers - only they are aiming in opposite directions.


Edited by toddy (09/14/13 09:39 AM)
_________________________
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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#2149940 - 09/14/13 09:38 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: dire tonic]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5034
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
I wasn't aware of the effect you mention in the Schumann.

Do you find let-off adds to the risk of producing a silent note when trying to play ppp?


It's at the end of Paganini, leading back to the reprise of Valse allemande. The furious (Presto) virtuosic display of Paganini (as befits the violinist himself) ends in pounding sf F minor chords, then the sustain pedal is released, revealing the ghostly E flat major 7th chord out of the pedal mist....

The 'let-off' feel (on my V-Piano at least) reduces the risk of inadvertent 'silent notes', because it allows you to play sotto voce from partially depressed position without pressing too softly for safety - just like on a real grand with its double escapement system.

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#2150338 - 09/15/13 01:58 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: bennevis

The 'let-off' feel (on my V-Piano at least) reduces the risk of inadvertent 'silent notes', because it allows you to play sotto voce from partially depressed position without pressing too softly for safety - just like on a real grand with its double escapement system.


Do you happen to know if the V-piano uses a similar means of simulating let-off to the VPC1? I've read it described as a notch, a slight extra resistance against depressing the key. I'm meeting the resistance at about 75% the way through the travel.

This might simply be a matter of my getting used to it but at the moment I'm finding there's still the risk - and I'm talking here about playing at the extreme end of sensitivity, it's not an issue for 'everyday playing' - that when playing softly enough and from a partially depressed position, that notch will either result in a final velocity low enough to produce either the silent note (when you don't want it!) and/or a troublesome delay in the sounding of the note whenever there's an unreliable gauge of what's required to overcome it.

IOW there's still the risk of a silent note but there's the added hazard of a risk of delay.

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#2150372 - 09/15/13 03:46 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: dire tonic]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3549
Loc: Northern England.
Well, isn`t that just like an acoustic? An imperfect one, mind . . . unless they all do it!
_________________________
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""

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#2150387 - 09/15/13 05:08 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: dire tonic]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5034
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: bennevis

The 'let-off' feel (on my V-Piano at least) reduces the risk of inadvertent 'silent notes', because it allows you to play sotto voce from partially depressed position without pressing too softly for safety - just like on a real grand with its double escapement system.


Do you happen to know if the V-piano uses a similar means of simulating let-off to the VPC1? I've read it described as a notch, a slight extra resistance against depressing the key. I'm meeting the resistance at about 75% the way through the travel.

This might simply be a matter of my getting used to it but at the moment I'm finding there's still the risk - and I'm talking here about playing at the extreme end of sensitivity, it's not an issue for 'everyday playing' - that when playing softly enough and from a partially depressed position, that notch will either result in a final velocity low enough to produce either the silent note (when you don't want it!) and/or a troublesome delay in the sounding of the note whenever there's an unreliable gauge of what's required to overcome it.

IOW there's still the risk of a silent note but there's the added hazard of a risk of delay.


Experienced (classical) pianists use the 'notch' to gauge from how far down the key can be played and still get the note to sound. That way (often in conjunction with the una corda pedal), one can obtain a myriad of tonal nuances between pp and ppp without risking 'silent notes', because you play the keys with firm pressure 'into the keybed'.

Try that for yourself (assuming your DP allows it) - feel your finger pressing right to the bottom from just after the 'notch'. If you do it right, there should be no delay (because you didn't 'hesitate' - you'd prepared the key from that position), and the note will sound. BTW, the position of that notch varies enormously between different acoustics.

I've never seen a VPC-1, and don't know anything about its action.

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#2150489 - 09/15/13 10:43 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Try that for yourself (assuming your DP allows it) - feel your finger pressing right to the bottom from just after the 'notch'. If you do it right, there should be no delay (because you didn't 'hesitate' - you'd prepared the key from that position), and the note will sound. BTW, the position of that notch varies enormously between different acoustics.


So, if I've understood; let's say the notch is at 75% depth, you're starting at e.g. 50%-60% and pushing with measured force through the notch, using it to reduce velocity? I'd be right in assuming this can never work for a passage with fast movement of notes or chords?

Quote:

I've never seen a VPC-1, and don't know anything about its action.


Very little resemblance to an AP action!

If you're interested.

http://www.kawaivpc.com/

- under the heading 'FEATURES', about 1/3 down the page, there's a little animation. The let-off is the little flange which 'strokes' the hanging appendage on the way up (almost unavoidable double entendre).

In fact, the vpc-1 let-off feels very similar to that on the Knight upright.

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#2150513 - 09/15/13 11:44 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: dire tonic]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5034
Originally Posted By: dire tonic

So, if I've understood; let's say the notch is at 75% depth, you're starting at e.g. 50%-60% and pushing with measured force through the notch, using it to reduce velocity? I'd be right in assuming this can never work for a passage with fast or even medium paced movement of notes?


You can only use this method of 'playing from partially depressed position' in slow music. But of course you can employ this, say, in a slow-moving RH melody over a fast-moving arpeggiated LH accompaniment, e.g. in "Chopin" from Schumann's Carnaval, or in some Chopin Nocturnes. However, it's only an adjunct to getting the quality of sound you seek, not an alternative to developing proper finger control when playing pianissimo! Many good pianists never use this feature at all.

But you don't specifically actually use the notch to reduce velocity, though (in effect) that does occur. In an acoustic grand, playing the note from a partially depressed position means that the hammer travels a shorter distance before striking the strings and that's what results in the controlled softer, gentler sound, which is reproduced in good DPs. (On my V-Piano, playing this way gives a less brilliant sound as well as being softer, i.e. the tonal quality is altered. I have no idea whether this occurs in software pianos). On good uprights, that's what happens when you press on the 'soft pedal' (which isn't actually 'una corda'): the hammers are brought forward nearer to the strings. (On cheap, bad uprights, like the one I grew up with at home, a felt strip is interpolated between the hammer and the strings....). On grands, only the Fazioli F308 with the fourth pedal does this, as using the normal 'soft pedal' (i.e. una corda) shifts the keyboard sideways so that the hammer strikes only one rather than three strings (hence 'una corda')

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#2151002 - 09/16/13 01:13 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1243
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Many good pianists never use this feature at all.


Well that let's me off the hook a bit. I'll explore it and may try and adapt.

Quote:

But you don't specifically actually use the notch to reduce velocity, though (in effect) that does occur. In an acoustic grand, playing the note from a partially depressed position means that the hammer travels a shorter distance before striking the strings and that's what results in the controlled softer, gentler sound, which is reproduced in good DPs. (On my V-Piano, playing this way gives a less brilliant sound as well as being softer, i.e. the tonal quality is altered. I have no idea whether this occurs in software pianos). On good uprights, that's what happens when you press on the 'soft pedal' (which isn't actually 'una corda'): the hammers are brought forward nearer to the strings. (On cheap, bad uprights, like the one I grew up with at home, a felt strip is interpolated between the hammer and the strings....). On grands, only the Fazioli F308 with the fourth pedal does this, as using the normal 'soft pedal' (i.e. una corda) shifts the keyboard sideways so that the hammer strikes only one rather than three strings (hence 'una corda')


Over the years I've peeped into pianos' workings and am reasonably familiar with what happens at the hammer end (after the action). The Knight has both the shorter travel soft pedal and a lever under the keyboard to the right which drops the felt strip. I think they give it a name - celeste, maybe.

Thanks for the detail on the letoff.

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#2151307 - 09/16/13 01:24 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
Tritium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/13
Posts: 179
Loc: Western MA, USA
Originally Posted By: bennevis


Experienced (classical) pianists use the 'notch' to gauge from how far down the key can be played and still get the note to sound. That way (often in conjunction with the una corda pedal), one can obtain a myriad of tonal nuances between pp and pop without risking 'silent notes', because you play the keys with firm pressure 'into the keybed'.

Try that for yourself (assuming your DP allows it) - feel your finger pressing right to the bottom from just after the 'notch'. If you do it right, there should be no delay (because you didn't 'hesitate' - you'd prepared the key from that position), and the note will sound. BTW, the position of that notch varies enormously between different acoustics.

I've never seen a VPC-1, and don't know anything about its action.


Hi Bennevis:

I agree with your technical description of the "Let-off" notch...however, I cordially disagree that professional pianists are, in reality, actually using this "feature" (which is actually a design drawback/quirk), in any way, to execute subtle passages.

Even very slow phrases are still to fast for a human to discriminate the very faint feedback of this effect, and continuously modulate and adjust the momentum of their finger strikes (in real time), to "play off the jack".

What I believe is really happening (despite any claims to the contrary), is that an advanced/expert pianists are using their vast experience and muscle memory to adjust their touch, in order to maintain the necessary force to accomplish the pianissimo/sotto voce phrasing. Furthermore, it has a lot to do with their proficiency and practice of the particular composition in question.

In other words, they are not actively "feeling" for the notch/let-off...but rather intuitively know how far they need to allow the key to rise (without a full reset), in order to accomplish this effect. On a familiar piano, this becomes second nature. On a completely new piano, they most likely need to first rehearse and practice for a few hours, so they can gauge and adjust their technique to a new, and previously unfamiliar keyboard action.

And, to make a long story short...that is why this exact same technique can be accomplished by an advanced pianist on a good DP which has a 3-contact sensor keyboard -- even if it doesn't mechanically simulate the notch/let-off.

Of course, I reserve the right to be completely wrong in this matter.


Edited by Tritium (09/16/13 01:26 PM)

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#2151550 - 09/16/13 07:07 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: Tritium]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5034
Originally Posted By: Tritium

Hi Bennevis:

I agree with your technical description of the "Let-off" notch...however, I cordially disagree that professional pianists are, in reality, actually using this "feature" (which is actually a design drawback/quirk), in any way, to execute subtle passages.

Even very slow phrases are still to fast for a human to discriminate the very faint feedback of this effect, and continuously modulate and adjust the momentum of their finger strikes (in real time), to "play off the jack".

Like many techniques used in piano playing, classical concert pianists will use whatever 'feature' that is available on the piano at their disposal to achieve their goals, whether it is a special tonal quality in pppppppp or a tinnitus-inducing ffffffff (both dynamics have been used by György Ligeti); and not all pianists will use all of them.

For instance, many pianists never use the sostenuto pedal, ever (preferring to flutter-pedal or 'half-pedal' instead, e.g. in Rachmaninoff's Prélude in C# minor); while others will happily use all three pedals simultaneously, and smoothly move/slide from one to the other using the same foot (which requires very flexible ankle joints...).

As for me, I never used to use the 'let-off' sensation to play sotto voce, until I bought my V-Piano and discovered that it allowed me to use this feature very reliably (- until I bought it, I was playing on all sorts of acoustics with all sorts of actions, so could never rely on practising for long on one particular piano). Since then I always use it in some music, like the middle section of Chopin's Marche funèbre (Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor): it allows me to voice the RH tune clearly above the flowing LH accompaniment, yet still sound 'muted'.

On most pianos, the 'let-off notch' is obvious and consistent enough to be a reliable guide to how far down the keys are before you play the notes. And know that they will still sound.

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#2151564 - 09/16/13 07:51 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2625
Originally Posted By: bennevis
On most pianos, the 'let-off notch' is obvious and consistent enough to be a reliable guide to how far down the keys are before you play the notes. And know that they will still sound.


Yes, it appears the V-Piano and several other upper end digitals have the escapement simulation, including the older Clavinova CLP-990M, which happens to replicate it very well.

Most pianists will probably never implement the feature into their playing although it is there as needed.

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#2151667 - 09/16/13 10:17 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: bennevis]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3564
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: bennevis

On most pianos, the 'let-off notch' is obvious and consistent enough to be a reliable guide to how far down the keys are before you play the notes. And know that they will still sound.


It's a consistent pattern that the people who discount the possibility of the notch being useful are always the DP guys. They just can't stretch themselves to imagine it being useful, or even how it can be incorporated into their technique and certain pieces. They dismiss it as an undesirable artefact of the action. Now it is an artefact, but those who play real grand pianos are aware of its value.

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#2151752 - 09/17/13 12:52 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: ando]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: ando
It's a consistent pattern that the people who discount the possibility of the notch being useful are always the DP guys. They just can't stretch themselves to imagine it being useful, or even how it can be incorporated into their technique and certain pieces. They dismiss it as an undesirable artefact of the action. Now it is an artefact, but those who play real grand pianos are aware of its value.


I question whether anyone reading this isn't a "DP guy" by your definition.

I certainly wouldn't consider myself a DP guy. I practice on one now because my kids won't let me do otherwise. But I always perform on acoustics and I grew up playing acoustics exclusively. I have far more experience playing them than playing digitals. Am I a DP guy by your definition? To me it sounds more like you are referring to people with little or no experience with acoustics or who learned on digitals. Digitals haven't been around long enough for this type of person to be very common.

I can imagine the notch being useful to someone, but I know it to be annoying to me. It's an extra bit of resistance to get through at the worst point in the stroke. It makes playing pianissimo more difficult. Also it's much more pronounced on some pianos than others and adds yet another dimension of variation across pianos. All things considered I agree that it's a shortcoming of acoustics, not a feature, despite the fact that some people can use it in some circumstances.

Whether it makes sense for DP's to emulate the shortcomings of acoustics (graded weighting being another example) so that adjusting to an acoustic after practicing on a DP isn't difficult is a different question. It probably does make sense to do so as long as a reasonable possibility of playing acoustics exists. And that will be the case for a long time.

I guess you could say I'm a DP guy in the sense that I don't think acoustics are perfect and I'm open to DP's having real advantages over acoustics. That must be nearly all people in this forum, though.


Edited by gvfarns (09/17/13 01:06 AM)

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#2151762 - 09/17/13 01:12 AM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: gvfarns]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3564
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I would say you grew up not being aware of how you could use the notch, therefore now you regard it as an irritation rather than a benefit. Please note that nowhere in my post did I denigrate DP players - I merely pointed out a difference between them and acoustic players. DP players just don't seem to appreciate this "feature", nor learn the technique that goes with it. Most teachers who teach on a grand piano will instruct on this technique of playing softly at some point if the student is of sufficient level. Whether or not you can be classed as a DP guy or not is hard to say - you are more DP than some, especially since one of the things you like about DPs is the lack of this notch in the action. That's your prerogative.

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#2152518 - 09/17/13 09:17 PM Re: Damning with faint praise--DP action is only "good enough"?? [Re: ando]
Marcos Daniel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/13
Posts: 158
Loc: Punta Alta, Buenos Aires, Arge...
Am I very abnormal if I grew up playing uprights and grands and never noticed the notch's utility?
My pianissimo is as impressive as horowitz's was :P

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