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#2304507 - 07/20/14 06:38 PM What a difference a good piano makes!
Roland The Beagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 256
Loc: California
Today I had the first opportunity in my life to record some stuff in a teacher's apartment where he has an artist's piano and great recording equipment. I feel like it's a such load off of my shoulders - I absolutely do not feel bad anymore at all about how I sound on inferior pianos. I came in with very little practice, 6 pieces that are unpolished, and played average at best for me from memory with only 1-3 takes each. And with no effort I sound amazing - or at least, vastly better than I've ever heard myself. I know that with focus and polish, and some more experience on that piano, and a bit more technique to handle tricky areas, my tone will be amazing! Phew.

In addition, he also had a golden ribbon microphone and I actually heard what my voice sounds like also. Up until now I assumed it was much worse than what I was hearing myself - now I know that it's actually more or less what I hear myself singing.

Of course, I know you can learn to coax a decent sound out of even the worst pianos, and I'm not saying I absolve myself of such a responsibility. But it's such a night and day difference it's both alleviating and frustrating. Frustrating, because now I'm a bit irked that I can't practice all the time with such a setup so I can learn to exploit it to the maximum smirk

Anyone else have this eureka moment before?
_________________________
Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2304514 - 07/20/14 06:49 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
I play a 1977 Yamaha. I suspect it hasn't been regulated for 5-10 years, and I can definitely feel it when I'm trying to play quietly/evenly. It's also not as responsive when playing fast passages. When I go to my local piano shop and play the perfectly regulated/voiced Steinways, they play themselves. It's like my technique doubles. Quick passages and soft playing feel effortless. It really makes a world of difference.

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#2304518 - 07/20/14 07:02 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
I'm thinking you haven't played on some of the worst pianos! wink

I once played on a Fazioli grand, the largest one with four pedals, that was used for piano recitals by famous pianists. This piano had extensive use that the hammers sounded metallic, tinny. The humidity in the room caused the action to swell so that repetition was sluggish and uneven. Now, for a $200,000 piano, it sounded and played terribly. On the contrary, the Kawai RX-2 day sounded great and repetition was faster and was 10x less expensive.

Maintaining a piano in excellent condition takes a lot of money. Hammers wear down and become bright, humidity increases friction and slows the action, felt bushings become compressed and increases key travel, etc. And it's all a slow process that it isn't consciously registered in the mind. And some pianos are terrible for maintenance because the hammers are of such low quality that it can't be voiced properly, pin blocks so loose that it can't maintain a tuning for more than 15 minutes, etc.

But yes, the best maintained piano usually has the best touch and sound.

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#2304520 - 07/20/14 07:08 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
Roland The Beagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 256
Loc: California
I learned that pianos that are tuned perfectly stay in tune for literally like 20-30 minutes, and in professional recording studios they are re-tuned for every session. The piano there was like 99% in tune. My teacher told me that when it's perfectly in tune it sounds even more noticeably amazing.
_________________________
Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2304526 - 07/20/14 07:28 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18291
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Roland The Beagle
Today I had the first opportunity in my life to record some stuff in a teacher's apartment where he has an artist's piano and great recording equipment. ^...ç


An artist's piano? What make and model is it?

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2304551 - 07/20/14 09:05 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
Roland The Beagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 256
Loc: California
Yamaha C7 of some kind. It has a little golden plate inscription on the inside, which my teacher told me means it was specially crafted as an artist's piano.
_________________________
Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2304555 - 07/20/14 09:20 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Philadelphia
Quote:
Frustrating, because now I'm a bit irked that I can't practice all the time with such a setup so I can learn to exploit it to the maximum

I know this feeling very well. I spent the better part of 6 years on a 9' Steinway grand, and made leaps and bounds during that time. For the last 8 years, I've had a keyboard, and I can count on one hand the number of real pianos I've had the opportunity to touch in those 8 years. It can be very frustrating. My best advice: never go more than 80% when practicing on inferior equipment. You'll sacrifice technique to try and get that extra 20%, and it isn't worth it. (This is from trial and experience..) wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2304566 - 07/20/14 09:51 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
Roland The Beagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 256
Loc: California
By the way, in case y'all are interested, here is the track with my recordings. All 5 pieces are on one track.

The pieces are:

Prelude in C Major (Shostakovich)
Prelude and Fugue in G Major (Bach, WTC 2)
Prelude in E Major (Bach, WTC 2)
Prelude in A Major (Shostakovich)
Prelude Op. 10 No. 4 (Scriabin)

Track here:
https://soundcloud.com/cowoncrack-1/byron-challoner

There are a smattering little flubs here and there, especially in the E Major prelude which I've made monstrously tricky for myself with insane finger substitutions and legato fingerings, and rarely goes well in one take. There are also very noticeable musical imperfections here and there, especially my novice pedaling (I've started with Bach Bach Bach for my first 1-2 years) but I feel like if anything this piano helps you see these flaws more clearly and thus teaches you what you need to polish. And the overall sound is quite pleasing and expressive.

Enjoy!


Edited by Roland The Beagle (07/20/14 09:51 PM)
_________________________
Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2304602 - 07/20/14 11:43 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
joonsang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 68
haha i literally made a thread about this and yes it is so true about the eurek moment. unfortunately i seem to take this in a negative way as i know what i want my sound to be like, but cannot achieve to an inferior piano. but better some piano than none.

i think i'm going to have to take the advice about not going for the extra 20%
Although it is so frustrating!! i think the worst fate is to be robbed of our truest potential frown

brb saving for a steinway

edit: just listened to some of your bach. first off, bravo is sounded very nice. i could tell in your playing that you knew exactly how to make the good use of dynamics, and if you were to be able to practice on that you would no doubt make it sing brilliantly


Edited by joonsang (07/20/14 11:48 PM)

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#2304624 - 07/21/14 12:59 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Derulux]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Derulux
My best advice: never go more than 80% when practicing on inferior equipment. You'll sacrifice technique to try and get that extra 20%, and it isn't worth it. (This is from trial and experience..) wink



I've been thinking about this a lot recently...because this is how I feel... I come home from my lessons, spend the whole week trying to get out from my piano what happened on my teacher's grand...and cannot quite reach it... Then I go to the lesson and realize I am doing things that I shouldn't...

Maybe I should just accept the sound as it is now and wait until I get a nice grand of my own.

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#2305107 - 07/21/14 10:18 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: outo]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: outo
Originally Posted By: Derulux
My best advice: never go more than 80% when practicing on inferior equipment. You'll sacrifice technique to try and get that extra 20%, and it isn't worth it. (This is from trial and experience..) wink



I've been thinking about this a lot recently...because this is how I feel... I come home from my lessons, spend the whole week trying to get out from my piano what happened on my teacher's grand...and cannot quite reach it... Then I go to the lesson and realize I am doing things that I shouldn't...

Maybe I should just accept the sound as it is now and wait until I get a nice grand of my own.




I struggled with this for years, myself. In my coping process, I've drawn parallels from other things I've done and/or do, but the basic premise is that you can only do the best you can do with the tools you have to work with.

It would be like hitting a Titleist ProV-1 300 yards, and then wondering why you can't do that with a wiffle ball. It's not you, it's the ball. The wiffle ball wasn't built to do what a ProV-1 does. Same for the piano.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2305150 - 07/22/14 12:28 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Derulux]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Derulux

It would be like hitting a Titleist ProV-1 300 yards, and then wondering why you can't do that with a wiffle ball. It's not you, it's the ball. The wiffle ball wasn't built to do what a ProV-1 does. Same for the piano.


I really have no idea what you are talking about grin

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#2305159 - 07/22/14 12:55 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: outo]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
Originally Posted By: outo
I really have no idea what you are talking about grin


It would be like hitting a golf ball 300 yards, and then wondering why you can't do that with a wiffle ball. It's not you, it's the ball. The wiffle ball wasn't built to do what a golf ball does. Same for the piano.

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#2305167 - 07/22/14 01:13 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3630
>Anyone else have this eureka moment before?

LOL yes that's why I have a good grand at home. After all I hear myself playing everyday and it better sounds good anyway grin
_________________________

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#2305168 - 07/22/14 01:13 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: faulty_Damper]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Originally Posted By: outo
I really have no idea what you are talking about grin


It would be like hitting a golf ball 300 yards, and then wondering why you can't do that with a wiffle ball. It's not you, it's the ball. The wiffle ball wasn't built to do what a golf ball does. Same for the piano.


Thanks for the translation (got it after google told me what a whiffle ball is).

BTW: I just wonder why golf is so often brought up when discussing playing the piano. After all what counts in golf is what happens at the END of one's act (where the ball ends) and in that sense the piano is sligthly different. And quite complex. There are so many variables in a performance, that trying to reduce them for meaningful analysis is difficult. It isn't easy for golf either, but it makes more sense to use physics to explain the ball's trajectory...

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#2305202 - 07/22/14 04:01 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
It's only brought up by those who play golf since they seem to think the analogy apt. The motion of the body is very important to hit that ball correctly. If you mess up the technique, you mess up where the ball lands (ignoring wind and other environmental influences.) That's why the analogy is used, even though most people can't relate to golf. I certainly can't watch it but I'm sure playing is much more interesting.

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#2305203 - 07/22/14 04:07 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: faulty_Damper]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
I certainly can't watch it but I'm sure playing is much more interesting.


In my case that applies to every sport...

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#2305285 - 07/22/14 10:46 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Roland The Beagle]
doctor S Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 152
Loc: Western PA
I've been thinking about a golf analogy: Ben Hogan said he loved huge galleries behind the green; he could fire at the pin with impunity and the gallery would stop any overshoot! My 5th fingers are so tiny I could use them to pick old-fashioned locks, so I double 4th and 5th fingers whenever I can, especially on black keys. No point missing when you can have a back-up!

Another weird idea on "good" pianos: Michaelangeli's personal piano was supposedly an old Petrof. Could wrestling with a bear of a practice piano have contributed to his preternatural accuracy in performance?

Roland: very nice playing...wonderful recording!


Edited by doctor S (07/22/14 02:59 PM)
_________________________
"I will hear in Heaven." Beethoven

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#2305609 - 07/22/14 08:23 PM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: outo]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: outo
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Originally Posted By: outo
I really have no idea what you are talking about grin


It would be like hitting a golf ball 300 yards, and then wondering why you can't do that with a wiffle ball. It's not you, it's the ball. The wiffle ball wasn't built to do what a golf ball does. Same for the piano.


Thanks for the translation (got it after google told me what a whiffle ball is).

BTW: I just wonder why golf is so often brought up when discussing playing the piano. After all what counts in golf is what happens at the END of one's act (where the ball ends) and in that sense the piano is sligthly different. And quite complex. There are so many variables in a performance, that trying to reduce them for meaningful analysis is difficult. It isn't easy for golf either, but it makes more sense to use physics to explain the ball's trajectory...

Thanks for clearing up the golf analogy. I use it a lot because I find many of the concepts to be similar and easily describable. Obviously, I should have just used "golf ball" here instead of choosing a specific brand. lol my bad. smile

One of the reasons I like to use the golf analogy is for exactly what you brought up here -- the end result of the golf swing is to get the ball to land in a certain spot (often while flying a particular trajectory). But how you get there happens way before you ever strike the ball. Same with the piano. The end result is to hear a particular sound, but how you get there happens before you strike the key. wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2305745 - 07/23/14 03:39 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: doctor S]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1651
Loc: Reseda, California
There are some of us who know very little about golf. For instance, the only thing I know about it is that Lee Trevino has been hit by lightning twice while playing golf. His advice now is to grab a one iron and head for the clubhouse at the first sign of a storm -- because "Even God can't hit a one iron." ;-)
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2306323 - 07/24/14 08:01 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Derulux]
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1244
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: Derulux
My best advice: never go more than 80% when practicing on inferior equipment. You'll sacrifice technique to try and get that extra 20%, and it isn't worth it. (This is from trial and experience..) wink
That is a very interesting observation! Thank you.

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#2306423 - 07/24/14 11:21 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: doctor S]
Michael Sayers Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 1280
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
Originally Posted By: doctor S
Michaelangeli's personal piano was supposedly an old Petrof. Could wrestling with a bear of a practice piano have contributed to his preternatural accuracy in performance?

My piano here in Sweden is a pre-Soviet Petrof. It has a very warm sound though the tone is a bit boxed in.

Practicing on lower grade pianos might be a good thing vs. pianos that do too much of the work for the pianist. Going from a lower grade piano in practicing to a higher grade one in performing is easier than the other way around, just as going from a piano with a heavier action in practice to a piano with a lighter action in performance is far more comfortable than the other way around. In a performance the piano used might be anything. At a Bach Festival in 1999 the piano I played was an upright, and that was at a big church too and just outside of N.Y.C.

Maybe Michelangeli just was very much of a perfectionist in the repertoire he played? Perhaps the Petrof had some issues which required him to always really concentrate for accuracy, and then with a fine piano in a performance he hardly had to focus on that aspect.

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#2306428 - 07/24/14 11:29 AM Re: What a difference a good piano makes! [Re: Derulux]
Michael Sayers Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 1280
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Quote:
Frustrating, because now I'm a bit irked that I can't practice all the time with such a setup so I can learn to exploit it to the maximum

I know this feeling very well. I spent the better part of 6 years on a 9' Steinway grand, and made leaps and bounds during that time. For the last 8 years, I've had a keyboard, and I can count on one hand the number of real pianos I've had the opportunity to touch in those 8 years. It can be very frustrating. My best advice: never go more than 80% when practicing on inferior equipment. You'll sacrifice technique to try and get that extra 20%, and it isn't worth it. (This is from trial and experience..) wink

Hi Derulux, I know someone in the U.S. who lost much of his hearing and had to start practicing on a digital with headphones. Suddenly his playing on a real piano became much more expressive, maybe from trying to get the digital to "work". So perhaps, though frustrating, there is that benefit?

I have a Roland F-110 here and when I go from it to the Petrof, it seems like a lot of the intensity of concentration in playing expressively suddenly has been taken care of.

Maybe when us pianists have to do such things, whether to accommodate neighbors during some hours as I do or for other reasons, it is a blessing in disguise?

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