Sound Clarity for Pianist? (hammer weight)

Wed, 12 Jun 1996 08:55:20 -0400

Larry writes:

>>It's refreshing to hear your sensible logical analysis which is born of
>>observing pianos in the real world.  I refer the light hammer tone as

Dennis writes:

>Am I reading too much into this statement if I understand you to imply that
>a "sensible, logical analysis" born of real world observations is dependent
>on the conclusion that one prefers heavy hammers?

I prefer the best strike weight for the situation.  I Personally tend toward
the medium zone or upper medium zone.   "Light" Strike Weight according to
my zone delineations is pretty extreme and more common to original hammers
on instruments over 100 years old.

>I have heard and played both full and low projection each from heavy and
>light hammers. Not infrequently, a player has complained of dull tone,
>especially in the treble, and a little weight reduction worked miracles
>(without reducing bore length).

A little voicing up can work miracles too.

>What we need is a spectrum analysis...

This would be interesting.  Extracting conclusions about "quality" may be
difficult to assess.  I would speculate that a "Full StrikeWt/Full leverage
would have more area under the graph than a Low StrikeWt/Low leverage.  I'm
thankfull that interest is turning toward this subject which is so central
to our work.

>In the meantime, I still insist that good, full tone is possible from
>either heavy or light hammers and I offer both in our hall.

Glad to hear this statement!

>However, the players that I work with seem to be more interested in the
touch and
>responsivness of the action than with ultimate projection. What they want
>is a spacial sound and a quick, responsive touch.  The one with heavy
>hammers is currently sitting backstage.

This is symptomatic of a leverage problem.  Beautiful quick responsive
action is possible with full Wt hammers if the strike ratio is low - (close
to 5.0). It would be informative for you to tell us the strike weight and
ratio levels for your piano "backstage".  The June journal will have an
article describing how to take the measurements and make the calculations.

I've been thinking that there are three catagories of sound dynamics that
may be helpful to use in our discussion in order to distinquish the multiple
qualities that we try to talk about:

VOLUME - high to low sound level relative to other notes in the piano.

TONAL PROJECTION - An illusive and difficult quality to measure define.
Relates to the ability of the sound to be heard in balance with other groups
of instruments or at greater distances from the piano.

TONAL ENERGY - The amount of physical energy that the sound has.  The area
under the spectrum analysis graph or the amount of energy that a microphone
would pick up an such.

What I used to refer to as Tonal Projection on my Strike Weight zone charts,
I now refer to as Tonal Energy - Full, medium, and Low.

David C. Stanwood

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