From the New York Times © by Ian Austen, 01/02/03
(more about the infamous self-tuning piano).
AS the author of a book about piano technology and the co-curator of an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution celebrating the 300th anniversary of the instrument's invention, Edwin M. Good has examined and played just about every kind of piano there is. They all share at least one trait, he said.
"All pianos are always out of tune," said Dr. Good, a professor emeritus of religious studies at Stanford University. "A piano is by definition not in tune."
That sweeping statement is true: the most common piano tuning, based on what is known as the equal-tempered scale, deliberately alters the pitch of some notes to improve the instrument's overall harmonics.
But if all pianos are indeed out of tune, some are more out of tune than others. With temperature and humidity changes, it does not take long for the 88 tones of an acoustic piano to get out of whack. "A very large part of the piano is wood, and wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity," Dr. Good said.
While concert pianists can have their instruments tuned shortly before a performance, most pianists just put up with the problem. At best, they might have their pianos tuned once or twice a year.
Don A. Gilmore, an amateur piano player and professional engineer from Kansas City, Mo., however, has developed an electronic system that he says could allow pianists to tune their own instruments at the touch of a button.
The rest of the story is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/02/technology/circuits/02next.html
- Frank B.