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#577338 - 09/09/07 02:09 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I would love to explore and discuss the role of brain chemistry in piano playing. The problem is few posters can even agree on the physics! Which is really quite straightforward.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577339 - 09/09/07 06:05 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
TheJourney-Yes, as a matter of fact, I AM based in reality. I am what you might call a "reality based pianist". Where are you based in... some bizarre fantasy land where physics has nothing to do with sound?

I never got past grade 11 physics in high school. But even that is enough to know that the laws of physics govern most everything. Even something as artsy as the piano and the sounds that it can produce.

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#577340 - 09/09/07 07:56 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mr_Kitty:
TheJourney-Yes, as a matter of fact, I AM based in reality. I am what you might call a "reality based pianist". Where are you based in... some bizarre fantasy land where physics has nothing to do with sound?

I never got past grade 11 physics in high school. But even that is enough to know that the laws of physics govern most everything. Even something as artsy as the piano and the sounds that it can produce. [/b]
Hiya MrK, my comment was actually addressed to keyboardklutz, sorry for any confusion! too bad there is not an IRONY font we can switch on and off...

I think you have had as much formal schooling in physics as many of us here. However, I don't have as much faith as you do in the ability of physics to explain everything. Using physics to describe psychology or neuroscience is a bit too deconstructionist and round-a-bout for my taste. You would have to create your own custom made formal systems to get from physics to consciousness instead of standing on the shoulders of existing disciplines.

Actually, the thing I most like about physicists is how they keep discovering how little they know and keep changing their world view. I would bet that if you put three physicists in a room with a grand piano and handed them this thread that they wouldn't be in as much in agreement as keyboardklutz would have us believe...

Personally I think physics has everything to do with sound wave production but less to do (directly) with what we understand colloquially as hearing and with subjective judgments of sound perceptions & certainly with such nebulous concepts as pianist-touch-influenced piano tone quality... How about you? How about your girlfriend's Dad, any news on that front?

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#577341 - 09/09/07 08:23 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
I realize physics cannot explain a great deal about the beauty of music. It can, however, explain everything about sound production.

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#577342 - 09/09/07 08:27 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
 Quote:
Are you suggesting we limit the discussion only to a discussion of varying degrees of weight and the relative physical merits of so called arm dropping?
Yes or - qualify your posts. [/b]
One problem causing difficulties for discussion in this thread is that most of us are not aware exactly what we are doing at the keyboard. We think we are doing one thing, but are doing another. We hear with our eyes and see with our fingers. We vary tension yet don't know how much tension we actually carry. We drop our arm weight, yet don't.

When it comes to judging piano tone quality, we may think that the indirect stroke caused by for example "a perfectly flop-rotated wrist combined with arm weight attack and squiggly be-bung reminiscing finger movement after touch" are the reason, when in fact our (listeners') perception of piano tone quality may in fact be influenced sub-consciously by factors we poorly appreciate or understand such as the way we connect the notes, or bring out inner voices in succcessive chords or micro variations in timing.

This is the reason most studies done on the physical side of player-induced tone production use mechanical devices such as pendulums to apply a known and consistent force. It is why they use graphs to view any concrete changes in frequency, amplitude, sustain, etc. However, even these studies are not conclusive as to the impact of player touch.

As long as we want to discuss physical effects, yet are faced with unknown, unmeasured, subjective inputs resulting in unmeasured, subjective, individually perceived outputs, the physics of individual note productions in between get lost and miss relevance.

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#577343 - 09/09/07 08:38 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Someone read what I said above.

Also, acceleration, how does that affect the sound??
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#577344 - 09/09/07 08:42 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:
Butting in sorry . . . .
Some notes seem to have a nicer tone, simply because of a part they play in a melody, and also, if you delay playing a note by a fraction of a second, that note can seem extremely beautiful, but only if not over-used and used in the wrong places. [/b]
Yes. Certainly. These perceptions are familiar.

How do you see this in relation to the original topic of varying arm weight? Can the way you depress the key cause the action of the piano to create a different sound other than in amplitude (loud / soft) irrespective of the timing chosen?

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#577345 - 09/09/07 08:48 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
hopinmad Offline
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Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
No I don't believe so, but one might imagine it does so, which sounds silly but I'm sure it's perfectly true.
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#577346 - 09/09/07 08:55 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:
No I don't believe so, but one might imagine it does so, which sounds silly but I'm sure it's perfectly true. [/b]
:)
This reminds me of one of the master classes being held by Daniel Barenboim who exhorted Lang Lang to "create a crescendo on one note".

I think we all would agree on this thread that physics and piano design all conspire against this being a possibility. But the suggestion of a crescendo in the listener's ear? That is another matter altogether. Enter the pianist as illusionist.

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#577347 - 09/09/07 09:18 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
...and watch as the study of piano gets set back 100 years.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577348 - 09/09/07 09:27 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
We all know the piano cannot crescendo on one note. However, a skillful pianist can create the illusion of a crescendo using the power of suggestion. In the same way many pianists "vibrate" on a single note. Placebo effect is powerful stuff. I realize that any physicist would deny any possibility of the one-note crescendo.
I have done blind tests on many of my friends. They turn to face the other way, close their eyes, and I play a note the "regular" way, then I play it using the "crescendo" technique, and vice versa.
People tend to hear the difference 75% of the time.

This thread is supposed to be about using weight. Let's get back on topic. \:\)

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#577349 - 09/10/07 12:03 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
PassionatePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 61
Loc: New Jersey
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mr_Kitty:
jazzwee-why not just play with your head, shoulders, knees AND toes?

PassionatePianist-did you say I was never taught how to achieve good tone on the piano? Did I read that correctly?

I too know many great pianists who play using arm weight. They playing will never be as efficient. They will always have to work much harder to create a dynamic pallete which is not as extensive.
Ultimately how you play is up to you. I'm just telling you how Horowitz, Michelangeli, and Rubinstein played.

Cheers! [/b]
No, I was not directing that at you Mr. Kitty.

Interesting thread...carry on..
_________________________
"Simplicity is the final achievement." - Chopin

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#577350 - 09/10/07 12:11 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
I know you were talking to Keyboardklutz.
I was talking to you \:D

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#577351 - 09/10/07 03:39 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1520
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mr_Kitty:
We all know the piano cannot crescendo on one note. However, a skillful pianist can create the illusion of a crescendo using the power of suggestion. In the same way many pianists "vibrate" on a single note. Placebo effect is powerful stuff. I realize that any physicist would deny any possibility of the one-note crescendo.
I have done blind tests on many of my friends. They turn to face the other way, close their eyes, and I play a note the "regular" way, then I play it using the "crescendo" technique, and vice versa.
People tend to hear the difference 75% of the time.

This thread is supposed to be about using weight. Let's get back on topic. \:\) [/b]
What's the single note "crescendo" technique you use?
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#577352 - 09/10/07 12:17 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
This topic is very complex, and numerous similar dicussions about the influnence of touch on sound has been held during the years.

Did anyone mention psycho-physical feed back from your arm and finger, creating the illusion of rounder, softer, or harder tone?

And that you tend to hear what you want to hear?

The only evidence of touch influencing sound are experiments where a listener that does not see the pianist still notices the differences.

And then the pianist should not play any piece, but merely hit single notes - with and wihout using the sustain. Musical preformance will include too many onterferring factors like balance, melody emphasis etc.

The results must be statistically significant, with more than one listener involved.

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#577353 - 09/10/07 01:21 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
Cultor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/07
Posts: 342
Loc: BsAs
 Quote:
Originally posted by tomasino:
I'm gonna go have a glass right now, just to prove my point.

Tomasino [/b]
I'm drinking a glass of wine right now in order to prove Tomasino's point.

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#577354 - 09/10/07 06:08 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I am not biased or think the phenomenon of 'tone' doesn't exist. I have heard 12 pianists all play their own composition on the same piano, one after each other. What was interesting was that only two had a 'nice tone'. The others sounded like they were playing from inside a tin can (i.e. there are huge differences in 'tone'). But NONE BROKE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577355 - 09/10/07 06:39 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
I am not biased or think the phenomenon of 'tone' doesn't exist. I have heard 12 pianists all play their own composition on the same piano, one after each other. What was interesting was that only two had a 'nice tone'. The others sounded like they were playing from inside a tin can (i.e. there are huge differences in 'tone'). But NONE BROKE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS. [/b]
I don't know if to respond "that's great!" or "who cares?". Knowing whether or not they 'broke' any laws of physics is less important than understanding if and how they were able to exploit any laws of physics in their quest to reward you with an experience of 'nice tone'. If not we can ignore physics and move on to something with more explanatory power.

Your post raises more questions than it answers:
- What do you mean by a nice tone?
- Was there a correlation between players exhibiting 'nice tone' and those demonstrating 'sensitive musicianship"?
- How do you explain the differences you witnessed between nice and not so nice tone in terms of sound and in terms of the physical manipulations observed or claimed by the players (both "visible and invisible", to quote a compatriot of yours long deceased)?
- How would you as a teacher help the other ten to obtain a nice tone?
- Does this have anything to do with arm weight?

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#577356 - 09/10/07 07:00 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
They (the two) played as 'a compatriot of mine long deceased' would have observed and taught. I would teach the ten what 'a compatriot of mine long deceased' would have taught them. Accept, sadly, the bit where he believed he could break the laws of physics.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577357 - 09/11/07 01:48 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
.

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#577358 - 09/11/07 06:38 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
When the key was played in a percussive manner by the pianist, the hammer was sharply accelerated at the beginning of its flight and then continued under its own momentum. In the non-percussive case, the hammer was accelerated continuously throughout its flight until its final release. It seems reasonable to assume that the percussive case generates much more vibration of hammer-and-arm than the non-percussive and, in consequence, much more prompt sound and less after sound.
This is practically what Tobias Matthay said and is just as wrong now as then. The writer makes it clear it is only a theory (and I think a poor one).

Interestingly I pulled out Matthay's last word on the topic and after a life time of erroneous view seems to modify his stance
 Quote:
It does not matter whether you call the result a better quality [his italics] of tone, or merely a better controlled tone. - Epitome
The point being (and made by Otto Ortmann) that you lose control of the hammer (and therefore it's dynamic (call it tone if you like)) unless you start from the key surface and accelerate as you depress.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577359 - 09/11/07 07:25 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
For those that are interested here's another 'take' on 'tone' from The Piano Quarterly Fall 1979:
 Quote:
In other words, the piano is a doubly percussive instrument. Not only is there the percussion of the hammer against the strings, where the speed of the hammer determines the basic tone "color," but as well the percussion of the key upon the keybed, where the energy level of the impact determines the tone "value."
What's next alien interference?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577360 - 09/11/07 09:38 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
They (the two) played as 'a compatriot of mine long deceased' would have observed and taught. I would teach the ten what 'a compatriot of mine long deceased' would have taught them. Accept, sadly, the bit where he believed he could break the laws of physics. [/b]
With all due respect, I do understand the rhetorical technique to keep repeating a trite phrase such as "break the laws of physics". This way of communicating is used ad nauseum by both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, was often employed in old Soviet era propaganda films and can be heard today on school playgrounds. However, in my opinion, it doesn't lend itself to any kind of reasonable discussion.

The exhortation of the OP to "discuss" is a wise one. Preferably with specifics and arguments that can be supported by facts.

If the mutual objective is one of discussion, your last posts leave me with a number of questions:

- What do you mean by break the laws of physics?
- What observations can you share of those who believe that they are violating the laws of physics while playing?
- What do you mean by a nice tone?
- Was there a correlation between players exhibiting 'nice tone' and those demonstrating 'sensitive musicianship"?
- How do you explain (specifically) the differences you witnessed between nice and not so nice tone in terms of sound and in terms of the physical manipulations observed or claimed by the players (both "visible and invisible", to quote a compatriot of yours long deceased)?
- How would you as a teacher help the other ten to obtain a nice tone?
- Does this have anything to do with arm weight?

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#577361 - 09/11/07 10:27 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I hope your not asking for an essay re: your questions. I'd have thought reference to Matthay answers most of them.

On the matter of physics - those who think they can alter the 'tone' (but keep the same dynamic) of a note are either in ignorance of the laws of physics OR claiming said laws do not apply to themselves.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577362 - 09/11/07 02:39 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
Just read the essays I posted links to.

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#577363 - 09/11/07 03:03 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Mr_Kitty, I posted a quote from the essays under your URL of them.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577364 - 09/11/07 03:06 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
lol what's wrong with it... does it "break the laws of physics"?

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#577365 - 09/11/07 03:17 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
No, it breaks the laws of sensible.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#577366 - 09/14/07 07:18 AM Re: The "weight of attack"
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
I hope your not asking for an essay re: your questions. [/b]
No. I have lowered my expectations. I no longer expect intelligent discourse on the subject here.

Best of luck with your one liners. If nothing else they are at least easy.

Cheers.

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#577367 - 09/14/07 05:26 PM Re: The "weight of attack"
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Best of luck with your one liners. If nothing else they are at least easy.
Easy? A good one liner's worth 1,000 words (of effort)!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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