Influence of Long-Term Playing on the Tonal Characteristics of a Concert Piano - an Observational Study

Niko Plath

Institute of Systematic Musicology, University of Hamburg

Monday, September 16, 2019 from 19:00 to 19:20

in Summer Theater

Abstract :
Well-maintained pianos are said to "mature" and to "change to the better" over the first years. When auditioning concert pianos for purchase, technicians do often not choose the best sounding instrument but the one with the greatest potential for future development. The present work addresses the following questions: Are structural changes measurable on a piano after one year of operation in a concert house? Are these changes perceivable by listeners? Measurements are performed on two occasions: First, on a brand new instrument prepared for sale. Second, on the same piano after having been played for one year in a concert hall. Single notes are recorded with dummy-head-microphones in player position in an anechoic chamber. An extended ABX listening test engaging approx. 100 players, tuners, and builders, addresses the questions whether a variation in tonal quality is audible and if so, what sound properties could lead to a perceived difference. Semantic sub-grouping allows for indication on the vocabulary listeners of varying expertise use to verbalize their sensation. The statements give hints on what could have changed over the year and are used as a basis for the analysis of corresponding physical properties and psychoacoustic parameters related to the described sensations.

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