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Piano Tuning » Piano Tone Quality

Piano Tone Quality

The three essentials to a good piano are tone, touch and durability. The average ear may distinguish tone and know when the instrument pleases. Tone is the medium of the pianist's art. It is to the musician what color is to the painter, language to the poet. Hence it is all important that the tone you produce should be beautiful in quality, and as far as possible overcome the one great inherent defect of the piano by cultivating a good singing tone. Yet the majority of people are curiously vague on this subject; if asked how they set about getting tone, few can give a clear or rational explanation.

To begin with, each key, or note on a piano can be played or expressed in twenty-five degrees of touch or volume if you wish. Otherwise the sound of the piano would be expressionless, with no degree of loud or soft, an absolute contradiction to the purpose of the instrument. In the following remarks, therefore, I intend to examine the theoretical as well as the practical aspects of tone reproduction. It will not matter if anyone fails to accept my views; I shall be fully satisfied if only they inspire reflections of their own on the subject.

I cannot emphasize enough the impossibility of learning to play piano unless you have a piano to practice on. My reasons for this are based on the fact that strong muscles in the finger can only be developed through exercise on the piano. When playing the twelve major scales and twenty-four minor scales through five octaves ten times, which can be accomplished by a good pianist in about forty minutes, the thumb is used 7,200 times, the second finger is used 7,440 times, the third finger 7,200 times, the forth finger 3,460 times, and the little finger only 180 times. The purpose of playing the scales in this manner is to strengthen the fingers through exercise, in no case can the amount of weight it takes to depress each key be duplicated on any electronic keyboard.

While the electronic keyboards and digital pianos have made great strides into tone and touch duplication with sampling and weighted actions, but the "luster" is still missing.

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