Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident

Posted by: thetandyman

Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/05/12 08:17 PM

I had a chance today to play a brand new small Kawai grand. Boy, what a difference from my residence piano. The Kawai was pleasant to play, however, it sounded like a blanket was placed over it. I realize that these are fine machines, but how many out there like a muted versus a bright piano? I, personally, like a strident cutting tone. What say all?
Posted by: Lluís

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/05/12 08:51 PM

I personally prefeer a dark/mellow and coloured piano than a bright/strident one . I think music must sound as poetry and for me , poetry is something , dark ,mellow,delicate...
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/05/12 10:15 PM

I think I like a medium bright… not tinny or brassy, or shrill or harsh; a rich, clear bright. My Yamaha C7 might be described as both bright and mellow. Even the upper-most treble notes bark with good power or whimper with quiet reserve.

However, I do enjoy playing a mellow, European sounding piano. I had a Petrof studio upright that had a very nice, mellow, European tone… thing is, when I really wanted some power, it seemed subdued. I recon it’s all a compromise in some form or fashion.

Rick
Posted by: Singing Shortstop

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/05/12 10:55 PM

I have a Knabe grand from 1924 that measures in at 6' 4". When I first considered it, it seemed so dark and mellow. And it is. But I notice it mostly as I might compare it to today's pianos, which to me sound too bright. If I'm doing solo piano, or accompanying a vocalist, I prefer the dark, rich sound of my piano. But playing in an ensemble of any sort, a combo, or a full jazz band or rock band, I prefer a brighter sound that can cut through the mix. But for the size house I have, if I had a bright sound on my Knabe, OSHA would probably get involved and declare my house unsafe to live in.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/05/12 11:06 PM

I think it depends a lot on the kind of music you play most. I play a lot of classical, a lot of Standards (mostly ballads), and a lot of softer music, so mellow is best for me. However, if you really bop, I would think you would like a brighter sound, possibly with a singing treble.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 12:28 AM

I don't think it's that simple. You can have a warm or mellow tone without it being muffled (which is not a good thing). Similarly, you can have a brighter piano without it sounding strident (which is not a good thing). This will largely depend on the characteristics of the hammers, and the overall design of the piano.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 06:30 AM

Greetings,
The brightness has be qualified. It is easy to harden a set of hammers to glassy brilliance, or needle them into soft lumps that sound like marshmallows hitting the strings. It is difficult to get both in one hammer. However, that is what needles are for.

A great piano will be mellow and muted at the softest level and brilliant, even clangorous, at the other extreme. This is the art of voicing, to leave a palette of malleable tone, evenly across the board. When a pianist can change the tone with volume, there is another dimension to the music. Ears are more sensitive to higher frequencies, so a note with more of them will be heard more easily, even if the volume is only slightly increased. The melodic line can stand out through a more brilliant voice rather than having to rely on sheer loudness for identity.

Some pianists would rather that the range be created so that brilliance is very easily achieved, other prefer the additional control that comes with a softer beginning. How it is used is also important, what is optimum for a concerto is going to be rather aggressive for vocal accompaniment, etc.
Regards,
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 07:59 AM

If it is a new piano, I look for something totally different than I would on a piano with some mileage on it. Being able to play many different brands, and often do, I have developed expectations from different manufacturers as to what their tonal objective is for their instruments. I don't want, or expect, a Bosendorfer to sound like a Steinway.

That said, I don't want any new piano to sound "bright" as my initial response. I listen for tonal clarity, substance of the sound, and for tonal balance across the registers. Does the piano respond to different types of finger attack and finger weight with corresponding response from the instrument? I look for "brilliant singing" when I need to have melody or inner voices speak out easily. That is, the clarity of Cecilia Bartoli when needed. I also listen for a complex, basic structure and substance, which would sound more like the developed sound of Chanticleer.

I have never understood the term 'dark' when applied to pianos. To me, that is a matter of composition/key as opposed to being intrinsic in the voice of any piano.

The thing I dislike most is "ping." A piano needs to sing, not ping.

All new, high quality pianos, will develop across the first few years. The trick is listening 'into' the tonal structure of any newborn piano. The same applies to a total and fresh re-build of instruments of any age.

Just my opinion, nothing more.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 08:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
A great piano will be mellow and muted at the softest level and brilliant, even clangorous, at the other extreme.


I'd like to add each note should retain traces of its brilliance when mellow and muted.

Rick said "I do enjoy playing a mellow, European sounding piano". Do you find these pianos, all played by the same pianist, to be mellow, bright or European?

Bosendorfer 225
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQmMVFfwk3I&feature=channel&list=UL

Steingraeber 212
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsprahP8ddM&feature=channel&list=UL

Estonia 168
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvpdSTZO25E&feature=channel&list=UL

Bechstein A190
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGFKgUHGCOo&feature=plcp

Bechstein A208
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AIg4Qs2pBg&feature=plcp
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 08:36 AM

This thread shows the difficulty in describing piano tone because there's little agreement on the meanings of words used to describe tone and every person hears things differently. It's kind of a shame there isn't more standardization of terminology although this would be difficult to achieve.

For starters, I'd say that it's not just a choice between mellow or bright but there's a continuum in terms of possible sound in that area. But depending on one's definitions and experience with different pianos, one person's medium bright could be another person's very bright or even mellow.

IMO some of the worst but commonly used words to describe tone are "rich"(who wouldn't want this, whatever it means), "deep bass"(of course, the bass is deep), "bell like"(here the problems is this term seems to be used so many ways). Even "sustain" seems to be used differently by different people.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 09:18 AM

Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Greetings,
The brightness has be qualified. It is easy to harden a set of hammers to glassy brilliance, or needle them into soft lumps that sound like marshmallows hitting the strings. It is difficult to get both in one hammer. However, that is what needles are for.

A great piano will be mellow and muted at the softest level and brilliant, even clangorous, at the other extreme. This is the art of voicing, to leave a palette of malleable tone, evenly across the board. When a pianist can change the tone with volume, there is another dimension to the music. Ears are more sensitive to higher frequencies, so a note with more of them will be heard more easily, even if the volume is only slightly increased. The melodic line can stand out through a more brilliant voice rather than having to rely on sheer loudness for identity.

Some pianists would rather that the range be created so that brilliance is very easily achieved, other prefer the additional control that comes with a softer beginning. How it is used is also important, what is optimum for a concerto is going to be rather aggressive for vocal accompaniment, etc.
Regards,


As usual, Ed does a great job in concisely describing the situation.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 09:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Withindale
Rick said "I do enjoy playing a mellow, European sounding piano". Do you find these pianos, all played by the same pianist, to be mellow, bright or European?

Wow, all those pianos sound fabulous!

I found the Bosendorfer to sound the birghtest... as well as the larger C Bechstine (A208). The Steingraeber 212 sounded the mellowest/warmest. The Estonia sounded the most balanced between bright and mellow, at least to me.

All those pianos sounded superb! Best of all, they were in tune. smile

Rick
Posted by: Del

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 10:56 AM

Originally Posted By: thetandyman
I had a chance today to play a brand new small Kawai grand. Boy, what a difference from my residence piano. The Kawai was pleasant to play, however, it sounded like a blanket was placed over it. I realize that these are fine machines, but how many out there like a muted versus a bright piano? I, personally, like a strident cutting tone. What say all?

There is a lot we're not being told here.

What was the room like? How large was the room in which the piano was located? Was it a "soft" room or a "hard" room?

What are you used to? If you are used to hearing a hard-sounding piano--one with a "strident, cutting tone"--then a normal-sounding piano might well sound like it had a blanket placed over it.

How is your hearing? Not just your personal opinion of your hearing but have you had it actually tested lately? I rebuilt a very nice Conover grand for a woman in her mid-60s some time back. The technicians and musicians who played the piano in our shop loved it; it had a great sound. The owner, however, thought we had "ruined her piano." It wasn't until we had hardened the hammers and brought the tone up to a level that was painful to our hearing that she pronounced the piano "perfect!" And, "Just like it sounded when it was new." Well, its voice was nothing at all like it had been when the piano was new but with her deteriorating hearing--which she was not about ready to acknowledge--she could once again hear the thing.

ddf
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 01:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Del

How is your hearing? Not just your personal opinion of your hearing but have you had it actually tested lately? I rebuilt a very nice Conover grand for a woman in her mid-60s some time back. The technicians and musicians who played the piano in our shop loved it; it had a great sound. The owner, however, thought we had "ruined her piano." It wasn't until we had hardened the hammers and brought the tone up to a level that was painful to our hearing that she pronounced the piano "perfect!" And, "Just like it sounded when it was new." Well, its voice was nothing at all like it had been when the piano was new but with her deteriorating hearing--which she was not about ready to acknowledge--she could once again hear the thing.
And even common wax buildup can significantly affect how loud a piano sounds.

I once went to an ear doctor for some pain in my ear. I don't remember what he did except that he did remove quite a lot of wax. When I got home my piano sounded much louder than before(now it sounds fine). My bedroom air conditioner that had previously been very quiet sounded like an airplane taking off.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 03:57 PM

"... its voice was nothing at all like it had been when the piano was new but with her deteriorating hearing--which she was not about ready to acknowledge--she could once again hear the thing."

In fact, the piano could have been contributing to her hearing loss. A shrill and strident tone, whacked out for hours at triple forte (which is what a person might do, if their hearing is already impaired), in a very live room... sure, it could collect a toll every time she drives that way.

There must be some ever-so-tactful way to frame that, and when that fails, offer her a good trade-up deal toward a bigger and much louder model. If the customer is always wrong, let her be wrong at top volume.
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 08:56 PM

A full demo of the Roland "V-piano" shows most of the mellow to strident spectrum.
Posted by: Lluís

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 09:10 PM

This is a mellow sounding piano: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwGBeveXems&feature=relmfu
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 09:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Lluís
Or a dead, lifeless, no sound piano depending on one's point of view. If that's your ideal, I think you're in a very small minority.
Posted by: SBP

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 10:09 PM

Has there been any scientific investigations into this? I mean stuff like frequency response/range, decay time, waveform analysis, etc.? Obviously, this would require a multitude of pianos, so are there any dealers/collectors/fabulously wealthy people out there with a good knowledge of acoustic science and access to high quality recording/analysis equipment. I know Adobe Audition has features that allow you to view the frequency range (most recordings will be clumped around 50-5000k, and most mics cut out frequencies about 15k-16k, which is usually just hiss or noise), and a spectral (colored) frequency view. There are also dedicated scientific programs just for this, as well.

Here's what I've done using audio samples from two pianos I saw at a dealership a few weeks back, and recorded with my iPhone (huge image warning). Both are cropped just to show the D natural below middle C. Granted, there's a difference in touch, and were placed at different locations relative to the hammers/soundboard, so bear with me.

Brand new Weber console piano:
A brand new, straight off the assembly line, probably voiced piano. Unusually mellow for a console.
Click to reveal..

[/URL]

http://www.mediafire.com/?7osodwbb8663k4i

1940s Baldwin Acrosonic Spinet:
The defacto bright piano. That loud spinet sound plus 70 odd years of hardening.
Click to reveal..

http://www.mediafire.com/?3nca71nu8j8dncu

Right off the bat, you can tell that the Weber has a longer sustain time (.005 seconds longer). There's also a lot more attack on the Acrosonic, shown by the peak in the waveform, while the Weber's waveform is much smoother and more uniform.
Posted by: thetandyman

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/06/12 11:43 PM

Thank you all for the detailed responses. Del, my hearing is acute. My eyesight not so much as twenty years ago. This little Kawai was in a large (approx 60X35) foot room with walls of concrete, or plaster. It was a very old building. I know that my Yamaha is a little brighter than even my tech likes, but as a lover of classic jazz, It pleases me. The Kawai had a very muted tone, not unpleasant at all, but not at all what I would be looking for. BTW, this retailer sells about five brands, and I get the impression that they don't think Yams are even anywhere near the Kawai product. I also know, from years ago, that they think Steinway pianos are famous only for their price, nothing else. Kind of opinionated, but friendly folks, but since the only pianos I have ever owned were a Steinway, and a Yamaha, they seemed a little smug. Many years ago, in Indianapolis, I had a chance to play Yamaha and Kawai grands side by side. It seemed that all the Kawais were more "conservatory" voiced. I have always been attracted to large Yamahas in churches and performing venues, but I attribute that to my tune preferences. I am not a classical pianist at all. More of a stride player, which, I realize may not be the taste of many here. Once again, I certainly respect your input, and always learn from the great comments of the PW contributors.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 07:12 AM

Originally Posted By: SBP

Right off the bat, you can tell that the Weber has a longer sustain time (.005 seconds longer).
I can't conceive how that small a difference would mean anything. What definition of sustain where you using to come up with that figure? If you were measuring sustain on the D below middle C, I don't think that's particularly meaningful. In my experience no pianos have a sustain issue that low.
Posted by: rlinkt

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 08:27 AM



I am lousy at figuring out how good a piano sounds from these sound clips. Too many variables -- the recording setup used, the quality of the monitors connected to my computer ...

They all sound lovely. From what I can hear, I agree with the comment that the Bosendorfer and the Steingraeber sound like the two opposite ends among these. The smaller Bechstein sounds closer to the Steigraeber to me, while the larger one's recording sounds distorted on my computer. Out of these, the Steingraeber is the one that would be my favorite sound, especially, the way the bass / tenor sounds on that piano is a sound that I love. The bosendorfer has the high end shimmer that's also very attractive. My perception only ...
Posted by: Lluís

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 08:38 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Lluís
Or a dead, lifeless, no sound piano depending on one's point of view. If that's your ideal, I think you're in a very small minority.


Maybe we have different conception about sound.

PD: This is Natalia d'Obreskoff personal piano , played by Chopin many times its value is about 300.000 U$ dollars. It represents another time, thats why maybe you don't understand it.
Posted by: acortot

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 08:41 AM

I'll just add that it is a LOT easier to build and maintain a piano with a bright, hard sound than to build one which is rich and mellow, in 'focus' without sounding like marshmellows or old wool socks hitting the strings..

the push towards brightness is also because some pianos, when voiced soft sound very, very boring.. having little or no musical-sounding resonances in the soundboard and having hammers made of cheap felt..
Posted by: acortot

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 08:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Lluís
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Lluís
Or a dead, lifeless, no sound piano depending on one's point of view. If that's your ideal, I think you're in a very small minority.


Maybe we have different conception about sound.

PD: This is Natalia d'Obreskoff personal piano , played by Chopin many times its value is about 300.000 U$ dollars. It represents another time, thats why maybe you don't understand it.


I think that to represent that kind of sound this piano came-out better.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...AzPbdkFio#t=21s

you can't really expect people to understand a Chopin piano if they've played on modern ones all their lives.
Posted by: acortot

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 09:00 AM

Originally Posted By: rlinkt
[quote=Withindale]


Out of these, the Steingraeber is the one that would be my favorite sound, especially, the way the bass / tenor sounds on that piano is a sound that I love.



mine too, and closer to how pianos were originally built years ago when the designs were created...

the treble, especially in the mid-bass, on that bosendorfer is so strong that it covers-up the harmonic relationships between the fundamentals of the notes..

I could see that piano being useful as a recording piano for pop-rock music

I believe that some people think volume and a percussive sound are the best sound, but harmony suffers as well as play between light and shade.. which is important for making music.. especially classical.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 09:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Lluís
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Lluís
Or a dead, lifeless, no sound piano depending on one's point of view. If that's your ideal, I think you're in a very small minority.


Maybe we have different conception about sound.

PD: This is Natalia d'Obreskoff personal piano , played by Chopin many times its value is about 300.000 U$ dollars. It represents another time, thats why maybe you don't understand it.


Perhaps this recording of Chopin's Nocturne Op 15 No 3 in G Minor, played on an 1842 Pleyel from the Edwin Beunk Collection, sounds more like Chopin's piano.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 09:08 AM

Originally Posted By: acortot
I think that to represent that kind of sound this piano came-out better.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...AzPbdkFio#t=21s
you can't really expect people to understand a Chopin piano if they've played on modern ones all their lives.
Although that piano at least has some sound coming out of it and doesn't sound dead and lifeless, I would still take the sound of many small consumer grade grands over that piano. I am only basing this on what I hear as I cannot take into account tonal problems that really might be recording or performance problems.

For starters there seems to be very little sustain in the treble of that piano even though the piece is not one where poor sustain would usually be evident. I do love the cases of the pianos on these videos. If i could afford it, I would buy one just for the case.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 09:21 AM

Originally Posted By: Lluís
This is Natalia d'Obreskoff personal piano , played by Chopin many times its value is about 300.000 U$ dollars. It represents another time, that's why maybe you don't understand it.
If the piano has a high value I think it's because of its case, historical significance, or because it was played by Chopin and not so much because of its musical qualities.

It's present sound might or might not be like the way Chopin heard it, depending on if it was restored and what work was done on it. The piano sounds like it would be inaudible except in a small living room.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 09:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Withindale
Perhaps this recording of Chopin's Nocturne Op 15 No 3 in G Minor, played on an 1842 Pleyel from the Edwin Beunk Collection, sounds more like Chopin's piano.
It would be nice to know what Chopin's pianos really sounded like. But I think this is very difficult to know in an accurate way. Of course, we have some idea based on the surviving pianos form his time but (A)if no restoration work is done these piano would generally be in poor condition and (B)if restored I don't think it's easy to know how faithful they are to the original sound. Even if the hammers were somehow exact duplicates of the ones used on pianos of that period, are they voiced the way hammers of that time were voiced? If the soundboard is original, how much has 150+ years changed its impact on the sound?

I think we can perhaps know in an approximate way what Chopin's pianos sounded like. The one's I've heard(not that many)don't have much appeal for me personally.
Posted by: Lluís

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 10:01 AM

Withindale: I like very much the recordings of Bart van Oort, anyway would be good to listen to Fadini's restorations in a good recording, because for me the EB Collection fortepianos have some kind of hardness in the hammers that Fadini's one doesn't.

Pianoloverus

Ofcourse, the price of that pianino is because of the historical value, but let me know you the prices of PaulMcNulty Replicas:

CC - f4 after I.Pleyel op.1555, 1830 : 120.000 € ( 156.3840 U$)

AAA - a4 after Boisselot 1846 op.2800 : 147.000 € ( 191.5704 U$ )

Is really impossible to keep in the market with this prices, there are pianos of another times but the sound produced is in my opinion a better approach than the tipical modern piano wich is built in order to fit the market demands (A multyuse instrument able for playing everything, jazz, rock , classical, romantic) this is nosense and looses the quality of a particular kind of music. This is in my opinion incorrect. If you as a costumer think that modern pianos sounds better or more adequate wouldn't it be because you listened always that way , not because some people (composers etc) decided it sound 'better' but because it fits all the market necesities?
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 10:20 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Perhaps this recording of Chopin's Nocturne Op 15 No 3 in G Minor, played on an 1842 Pleyel from the Edwin Beunk Collection, sounds more like Chopin's piano.
It would be nice to know what Chopin's pianos really sounded like. But I think this is very difficult to know in an accurate way.


We are going OT here, but this Chopin Rondo played on an 1826 Graf fortepiano could be a better representative of the actual sound of instruments of the day.

From the notes I've read Chopin seems to have preferred mellow to bright, and he did not much like the Broadwoods he played in England and Scotland in 1848.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 10:46 AM

All of these pianos sound very beautiful, but comparing one to another is not an easy task: different songs, different size pianos, possibly different mike setup? Since none of these songs offered a variety of dynamics, really loud, really fast, whatever, it is also hard to determine if they become strident upon fierce playing. Still, I would not be unhappy owning any of them. To me, they all sound like they have a fairly complex tone range and none of them were overly bright. Mellow? Maybe because the songs were fairly mellow, they all sounded a bit mellow to me. Symantics. On another post I heard piano comparisons and liked the Steingraeber and Sons best, but on this set, I couldn't choose between it and the Bosie. The Bechsteins were ok, but would have liked to hear a C. Bechstein instead of two Academy models. I think we spin our wheels doing this. In person one might hear things better anyway. Fun topic, though.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 10:53 AM

The comment about the Pleyel video being dead and lifeless doesn't seem right to me. Understand that rebuilding or restoring these pianos is nearly impossible without changing their very nature since the materials needed cannot be had. I read a long, informative post about the problem a while back. You can probably find it if you do a search here. In that piano's early days it probably sounded very different, but even if it doesn't project like a grand or a bigger upright, I thought it was very sweet. The tone is a little hollow and certainly it was intended only for performance in small room groups (I have read that Chopin preferred an upright and usually only performed in small salons for friends and students--this piano would appeal to him.) I was blown away by how well this 170 year old piano played. The performer was very capable and I enjoyed the music. Would it sound more robust on a Bosie Imperial? Sure, but there is room in my world for both.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 10:56 AM

I agree that this 1839 grand has more sound projection and a brighter tone than the upright posted earlier. Again, small upright, larger grand, probably different restoration materials, and so on. Is this what Chopin would have heard if he played it in 1839? Who knows? Nice piano, though, whether it sounds authentic, or not.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 10:59 AM

Very nice sounding piano. However, again, we do not know what materials were used to restore this, how it was voiced, miked, etc. I seriously doubt that they would have been happy using a weak-sounding piano on a cd recording, so I suspect the piano was worked over quite a bit. They cannot assume their listeners are well-informed PW posters. The average person goes away with the impression that pianos in Chopin's time sounded almost exactly the same as modern ones. I don't think so.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 11:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Withindale

I'd like to add each note should retain traces of its brilliance when mellow and muted.....

Do you find these pianos, all played by the same pianist, to be mellow, bright or European?



IMO, references to the European sound are pretty much meaningless, used mostly (and mistakenly) as a verbal counterpoint to the perceived shortcomings of the Asian sound. In reality, some of the brightest purest most-forward sounds to come out of new pianos come from some high-priced European pianos -- Hamburg Steinway being a leader who some others either consciously or subconsciously seem to emulate.

In listening to your samples, it seemed to my ears that the main difference among your linked pianos was in the attack: the percussive edge. In that respect, your Steingraeber sample sounded to my ears as if some of irs edge had been intentionally taken off (at least compared to the very few Steingraeger pianos I've heard live and played).

Listening a second time, I was reminded of something Michael Spreeman (designer of the Ravenscroft piano) posted here a while back. I'll quote Mr. Spreeman here.

Originally Posted By: Michael Spreeman on PW
There is a very interesting study about the sound of musical instruments. Several very different instruments are recorded and then the attack is removed in mastering and sustain is looped so all one hears is the long sustain. Then the recordings play between a violin and a trombone, a flute and piano, and several other unique sounding instruments. Without the attack, identifying the instrument is nearly impossible. (This study was given to me by a friend in Utah who was a band teacher working on his Master’s. I no longer have the recordings and don’t know where he obtained them.) So, much of what identifies a piano is the attack and much of what differentiates one manufacturer’s sound from another has to do with the attack.


Mr. Spreeman went on to say....

Quote:
This is not to say that the duration and sustain cannot be manipulated. It’s merely to point out that one of the greatest effects a technician can have on the sound of your piano is in the attack.

Much of the feedback we receive has to do with comparing our sound with that of other pianos the artists have played. I hesitate to share the specific comparisons because I don’t really like to compare our sound in relation to others. I didn’t decide to build pianos in order to compete with other manufacturers and win the “best piano in the world” competition because there is no “best piano in the world”. It’s way too subjective for any one piano to be the best. The “best for you” ….maybe. And maybe you’ll have a few people agree with you. But there will never be one sound that’s best for everyone.

Thankfully!
Posted by: Lluís

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 11:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
However, again, we do not know what materials were used to restore this, how it was voiced, miked, etc.


I know well the materials and procedures used for both restorations because the person who restored that piano is a good friend and all I know is that he has been investigating for many years and the research is absolutly rigorous.

Ofcourse, the research is not yet finished (Maybe it will never end...) But all I know is that many old fortepianos have been explored, also documents and other stuff that helped to obtain a very very similar material for the hammers.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 11:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Lluís
If you as a costumer think that modern pianos sounds better or more adequate wouldn't it be because you listened always that way , not because some people (composers etc) decided it sound 'better' but because it fits all the market necesities?
It's impossible to know whether I like the sound of a modern piano better mostly because I am more used to it or mostly because I find it inherently superior. My feeling is that no matter how much I'd listen to pianos like the ones posted on this thread...no matter how much more I became accustomed to their tone....I would still far prefer the sound of a modern piano.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 12:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Withindale
We are going OT here, but this Chopin Rondo played on an 1826 Graf fortepiano could be a better representative of the actual sound of instruments of the day.
Do you know what restoration work, if any, was done on that particular piano? If not, I don't see how one could have any idea how close it sounded to Chopin's piano?
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 12:15 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
In that respect, your Steingraeber sample sounded to my ears as if some of irs edge had been intentionally taken off (at least compared to the very few Steingraeber pianos I've heard live and played).


Yes, the samples seem to vary, which is why I posted the two Bechstein Academy clips. This Steingraeber 138 sample seems to have more edge to its attack.

The Steingraeber has an immediate appeal to me, perhaps its tone reminds me of my old Schiedmayer. Mine is mellower on the attack and I feel no urge to replace it with any of the Steingraebers I played the other day.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 12:24 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Withindale
We are going OT here, but this Chopin Rondo played on an 1826 Graf fortepiano could be a better representative of the actual sound of instruments of the day.
Do you know what restoration work, if any, was done on that particular piano? If not, I don't see how one could have any idea how close it sounded to Chopin's piano?


No, I wondered that. Please see my post about Paul McNulty's fortepianos on the Chopin thread Ed Foote has just started.

I'd guess faithful reproductions are as close as we are likely to get to the original sound. As Lluis says there has been a lot of research into materials and methods.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 12:41 PM

Originally Posted By: thetandyman
I am not a classical pianist at all. More of a stride player, which, I realize may not be the taste of many here.


Coming back to the OP, you might like to decide whether you'd add mellowness or brightness to this MIDI version of Earl Hines playing "The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else".

Stanley Dance wrote, on 22 September 1977, "Hines, Iike Art Tatum, has an astonishing ability to make a poor piano sound good, but he is naturally happier on a good piano, and on a superb piano Ilke the Schiedmeyer he radiates euphoria of a most infectious kind. Since he was in the middie of a six-week engagement at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, it was a fairly logical idea for me to walk him a few blocks and confront him with the glittering instrument. He sat down and ran his fingers up and down the keyboard Then he grinned widely, lit his pipe, and asked for some coffee. Three hours later, an album-and-a-half had been completed. The six selections here are all standards that evoked memories for him of other days and other artists in Chicago. The One l Love Belongs to Somebody EIse, for example, was the first number he ever played with Louis Armstrong." [http://herve.delboy.perso.sfr.fr/earl_hines_2.html]
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 01:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Withindale
Originally Posted By: thetandyman
I am not a classical pianist at all. More of a stride player, which, I realize may not be the taste of many here.


Coming back to the OP, you might like to listen to Earl Hines playing "The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else".

Stanley Dance wrote, on 22 September 1977, "Hines, Iike Art Tatum, has an astonishing ability to make a poor piano sound good, but he is naturally happier on a good piano, and on a superb piano Ilke the Schiedmeyer he radiates euphoria of a most infectious kind. Since he was in the middie of a six-week engagement at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, it was a fairly logical idea for me to walk him a few blocks and confront him with the glittering instrument. He sat down and ran his fingers up and down the keyboard Then he grinned widely, lit his pipe, and asked for some coffee. Three hours later, an album-and-a-half had been completed. The six selections here are all standards that evoked memories for him of other days and other artists in Chicago. The One l Love Belongs to Somebody EIse, for example, was the first number he ever played with Louis Armstrong." [http://herve.delboy.perso.sfr.fr/earl_hines_2.html]

I think that the qualities necessary for a piano to be good for classical music of the Romantic era(and probably the classical and post Romantic eras also) are different from the qualities that might be best for a pianist who plays stride or who plays in the style of Gershwin. For example, a singing tone doe not seem crucial for music played n those styles.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 02:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Withindale


Yes, the samples seem to vary, which is why I posted the two Bechstein Academy clips. This Steingraeber 138 sample seems to have more edge to its attack.



I don't know how representative that sample is. There are so many variables. Other than the usual ones found in recording pianos in general, there's the problem of recording ambient sound coming from a tall box Then you have to consider the skill level of the player, his heavy right foot, and whether the material is good enough to provide any kind of meaningful basis of evaluation. Personally, I think that sample sells Steinbraeber short and would be dismissed by most listeners as ho-hum stuff if the brand of the piano were not known to them.

The most intriguing sample I've listened to on a contemporary Steingraeber comes from Shaun Tirrell of Pianocraft.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...azurkas%20.html

Keith Kerman, Shaun's business partner ( who posts here occasionally), put this one up for consideration here a while back. I think it's a perfect example of how taking off a bit of the percussive edge doesn't necessarily obscure what a piano is or is not. Neither does minimal pedaling if the player's skill level is up to ti.

The Steinbraeber qualities are most apparent to my ears in the second Mazurka played.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 03:13 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think that the qualities necessary for a piano to be good for classical music of the Romantic era(and probably the classical and post Romantic eras also) are different from the qualities that might be best for a pianist who plays stride or who plays in the style of Gershwin. For example, a singing tone doe not seem crucial for music played n those styles.


Do pianos for stride have to be strident?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 03:26 PM

That Earl Hines link is to a MIDI file, I believe. The sound you get from it is the piano sound of whatever your MIDI interpreter uses.

I tuned for him not long before he died. I did not talk to him much, but he liked the piano, a Steinway which I just tuned the other day. I think it is different from when he played it, though.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 04:38 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
That Earl Hines link is to a MIDI file, I believe. The sound you get from it is the piano sound of whatever your MIDI interpreter uses.

Oh well, that explains a lot! Still, it's a good story. The website goes into converting vinyl to MIDI at length.

Will have to seek out the record: Earl 'Fatha' Hines: The Father of Modern Jazz Piano (five LPs boxed): three LPs solo (on Schiedmeyer grand) and two LPs with Budd Johnson, Bill Pemberton, Oliver Jackson: MF Productions 1977

Posted by: RJ10

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/07/12 05:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Withindale
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
A great piano will be mellow and muted at the softest level and brilliant, even clangorous, at the other extreme.


I'd like to add each note should retain traces of its brilliance when mellow and muted.

Rick said "I do enjoy playing a mellow, European sounding piano". Do you find these pianos, all played by the same pianist, to be mellow, bright or European?

Bosendorfer 225
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQmMVFfwk3I&feature=channel&list=UL

Steingraeber 212
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsprahP8ddM&feature=channel&list=UL

Estonia 168
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvpdSTZO25E&feature=channel&list=UL

Bechstein A190
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGFKgUHGCOo&feature=plcp

Bechstein A208
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AIg4Qs2pBg&feature=plcp


Thanks for posting these comparisons. Really interesting to hear the differences - even within a brand.

Based on these videos, I liked best the sound of the Steingraeber and Bosendorfer. They really stood out for the quality of the tone that I would describe as more rounded, which means they had what I heard as more balance across the spectrum. The Steingraeber stood out for me as particularly beautiful. I haven't fully formed a language to describe what I'm hearing yet, which is, I think, a common issue in describing the tone of a piano.

Dark/Mellow vs. Bright/Strident. To which I answer, Yes! I want it all at my fingertips.
Posted by: acortot

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/08/12 10:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Withindale


Perhaps this recording of Chopin's Nocturne Op 15 No 3 in G Minor, played on an 1842 Pleyel from the Edwin Beunk Collection, sounds more like Chopin's piano.


I think I am not mistaken when I say it is impossible that Chopin's hammers sounded like the 1842 Pleyel above, and I can back that up with information.

I have posted an article relative to this discussion, including photos of original hammers, period articles etc. on Ed Foote's thread ' What would Chopin play? (was bright vs dark)'


regarding the 'recording' of the 1839 Pleyel it was my iphone 4 with it's built-in mic..

Posted by: Withindale

Re: Dark/mellow vs. bright/strident - 10/08/12 10:55 AM

Originally Posted By: acortot
I have posted information relative to this discussion, including photos of original hammers, period articles etc. on Ed Foote's thread ' What would Chopin play? (was bright vs dark)'

Yes, I've seen your post and it's most interesting.