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#633444 - 04/08/02 03:15 PM Words used to describe a piano's tone
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20789
Loc: New York City
A reply by Norbert to one of my earlier posts got me thinking again about the way people try to describe a piano's tone. It certainly seems to me that people use the same words to mean different things or different words to describe the same sound. Here are some questions I have about these words used to describe tone:

(1)Two of the most common words are bright and mellow. I know the theoretical definition of these as explained in The Piano Book. To what extent do you think bright and loud overlap? Would experienced technicians and pianists tend to agree on how bright or mellow a piano was?

(2)I've heard words like muddy and nasal applied to a piano's tone(especially to the bass). What do these mean to you? Do you think these two words are always used in a negative sense?

(3) On an high quality and well voiced piano should the tone become brighter as the volume is increased?

(4)The word resonant seems to be used a lot? What does this mean?

(5)Here are some other words that I've heard used(but they seem quite vague to me): silvery, round, present.

(6)Is there a similarity in the words used to describe a piano's tone and the words used to describe the tone of the human voice?

In general,I'd say that I find the attempt to describe a piano's tone both fascinating and frustrating!

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#633445 - 04/12/02 12:07 AM Re: Words used to describe a piano's tone
CCiD Company Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/02
Posts: 12
It's a bit like wine or cigars, isn't it? "A well rounded with hints of blackberry and oak." Or, "An earthy aroma with suggestions of nutmeg, pepper, and a creamy sophisticated finish." I think I'll go taste my Petrof, and let you know.... ;\)

#633446 - 04/12/02 12:59 AM Re: Words used to describe a piano's tone
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
Cigars? There's nothing like the smell of a good cigar. 'Cept for maybe tear gas.

#633447 - 04/12/02 09:17 AM Re: Words used to describe a piano's tone
Grotius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/02
Posts: 100

I have many of the same questions, so I'm not the person to ask for answers. Heh, that doesn't stop me from using some of the same terms, though.

1. "Bright" to me means more than loud; it refers to a certain "clear" quality. Clear can be good or bad: to me, a piano that is "too bright" can sound tinny or harsh or grating. Alternatively, the term "bright" could conceivably refer to a sound that emphasizes the fundamental more than harmonics. I'm less apt to use the term mellow, but I suppose it might mean the opposite: more harmonics, less fundamental. Dunno. I've heard people use it to refer to a more muffled sound.

2. Muddy and nasal sound negative to me. I use "muddy" to refer to a lack of clarity of tone, sort of the opposite of bright. Dunno what nasal means.

3-6. No clue.

-- Grotius.


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