[LAU] Piano composition - Lost Isle (& LV2 plugins)

Will Godfrey willgodfrey at musically.me.uk
Fri Jun 24 06:24:50 UTC 2016

On Thu, 23 Jun 2016 14:31:42 -0600
S D <stephen.doonan at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Jun 23, 2016 6:41 AM, "fred" <f.rech at yahoo.fr> wrote:
> > Thanks for this acoustic & physics piano lesson :)
> > I'm pretty sure than am not alone on the list to have a very little  
> understanding of how & why a real grand piano is built.
> > Cool to reconnect to physical instruments in this sampled world!
> > Greets,
> > --
> > Fred,  
> ---
> :-) An acoustic piano is far from an ideal sound generator. In fact, it is
> a complex collection of imperfections striving for an unattainable ideal.
> If we wanted a pure sound, we would use a source that produced only pure
> waveforms like a sine-wave generator, and perhaps added the various pure,
> in-tune harmonic frequencies at various (and diminished) volumes to the
> fundamental tone.
> A piano has 88 keys and string collections (most notes have 3 strings per
> note, bass strings only one wire string with a copper-wire coil wrapped
> around it, per note). The strings for any particular note (tone frequency)
> are often slightly detuned, so that only the middle string is more or less
> perfectly in tune, while the two strings to either side are detuned
> slightly in order to make the note's sound richer and fuller, with beat
> frequencies and other out-of-tune artifacts introduced.
> In addition, most pianos are "stretch tuned," which means that the bass
> notes are intentionally and progressively tuned flatter and flatter by a
> small incremental amount, while the treble (high) notes are tuned
> incrementally sharper and sharper. This is because the bass notes have such
> a low tone that it is their harmonic frequencies that are heard more
> clearly by the human ear, and those harmonic frequencies are often sharp (a
> higher frequency than they should be if perfectly in tune). So the bass
> notes are tuned so that the harmonic frequencies are heard more in tune
> while the fundamental frequency is slightly flat (lower frequency than it
> should be if it were perfectly in tune).
> Meanwhile, the treble strings, because they are stretched so tightly in
> order to produce such a high pitch (frequency, tone), immediately decay
> flat (become lower in frequency and out of tune immediately after they are
> struck by the piano hammer activated by the key pressed by the performer.
> So the treble notes are tuned a little sharp, so that the decay (the sound
> as it becomes softer immediately after it is produced) sounds more in tune.
> Add to those out-of-tune compromises the fact that the scale we now nearly
> universally use, the equal-tempered 12-tone scale that allows for playing
> in any key, is a compromise between the pure tunings of any specific key,
> so that nearly every note in the scale of any key is at least a little out
> of tune. The intervals of perfect fifths and perfect fourths, derived from
> strict mathematical relationships, are all altered, so that the fourths are
> stretched (tuned sharper than they should be) and the fifths are flattened
> (tuned closer to each of the two tones than they should be), which means
> that nearly all music that we hear, and nearly all instruments that play
> together in an ensembles, are ALL out of tune to one degree or another.
> In addition to all of that, people usually intentionally introduce other
> imperfections into their sounds or music, such as the distortion frequently
> used with electric guitar.
> Music is a vast collection of imperfections. Regarding modeled pianos, if
> the model is too pure and perfect, people complain that it doesn't sound
> realistic or authentic. If it models the actual acoustic instrument's
> imperfections too well, they complain that it sounds too "muddy,"
> distorted, not clear or pure enough, etc.
> All of this means that it is literally impossible to please a
> perfectionist, because there is almost nothing perfect about music or the
> production of sound, and also because a perfectionist, if he tries very
> hard, can always find something, even the smallest thing, that he considers
> imperfect or not ideal. :-) Life must be very hard for the perfectionist!
> However, all that said, our very precisely out-of-tune 12-tone equal
> temperament scale, in use for pianos and most orchestral or band
> instruments, actually allows for an incredible amount of extremely complex
> and beautiful frequency and harmonic relationships that are impossible when
> using a completely mathematically pure single-key scale. Without this
> "imperfect" tuning, modern music since the time of Bach, including the
> beautiful Classical, Romantic, Impressionist and modern music of Mozart,
> Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Debussy, Ravel and hundreds of
> other composers would not be possible.
> OK-- I apologize for such a long-winded response! :-)
> Best wishes,
> Steve

Fascinating info. I know just a small amount of the detune info, but not
*exactly* what was done, and had no idea of why - although like many things
once it's explained it seem perfectly obvious! :)

Thanks very much.

Will J Godfrey
Say you have a poem and I have a tune.
Exchange them and we can both have a poem, a tune, and a song.

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