Pianos

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Pianos

Postby Brian007 » 22 Aug 2018 12:07

Brian posted this topic in the Korg section and some very interesting points have come up about 'playing a piano', so I have COPIED the topic here as this seems a good place to continue with the discussion.

PeterA has said elsewhere that when playing a keyboard it always helps to know how the 'real' instrument is played as that will have a bearing on how we play the instrument on the keyboard, and this is certainly true when playing a keyboard as a piano.

Hugh


Hi ALL,

I read a lot of posts where the keyboard player say that the pianos are not to their liking on their keyboards, I am no expert but these sound pretty good to me




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Re: Pianos

Postby dragon » 22 Aug 2018 15:11

Going back about forty years or so whenever organists met and discussed new models the first question always asked was ' What's the piano like?' That question is rarely asked these days. .. Fred
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Re: Pianos

Postby Brian007 » 22 Aug 2018 17:55

Hi Fred,

Must be honest I never really bothered that much myself until lately, but as I have grown older I have moved away from guitars and organs
and now more into Brass and Pianos, funny how things change

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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 22 Aug 2018 22:10

Brian,

There wasn't a lot of difference in the sound of those pianos and I would be happy with any of them. But to me, the most important part of playing a piano is having a 'loud' pedal, as I used to call it.

From Wikipedia:
A sustain pedal or sustaining pedal (also called damper pedal, loud pedal, or open pedal) is the most commonly used pedal in a modern piano. It is typically the rightmost of two or three pedals. When pressed, the sustain pedal "sustains" all the damped strings on the piano by moving all the dampers away from the strings and allowing them to vibrate freely. All notes played will continue to sound until the vibration naturally ceases, or until the pedal is released.

This lets the pianist sustain notes which would otherwise be out of reach, for instance in accompanying chords - and accomplish legato passages (smoothly connected notes) which would have no possible fingering otherwise. Raising the dampers with the sustain pedal also causes all the strings to vibrate sympathetically with whichever notes are being played, which greatly enriches the piano's tone.

How to use the sustain pedal is the essence of playing the piano, and without it you may have a 'piano sound' but not a piano you can play 'as a piano'. And that for me is the problem. On my AR I do have a nice sounding piano, and I can adjust the 'sustain' on it (how long the note 'holds') but this is not the same as what you get when you use the loud pedal on a real piano. And that last comment in the Wikipedia description above, the vibrating of other strings in sympathy with whichever notes are being played, will tell you that the piano is a very difficult instrument to replicate electronically. This vibrating of other strings will cease as soon as you take your foot off the 'loud' pedal and the piano will sound different in this mode.

Listening to the above YouTube DEMO it seems to me that he has just increased the 'sustain' of the notes in general and all the notes he plays just run one into the other. Sounds a bit 'messy' to me. This is not how a piano really sounds.

Hugh
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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 22 Aug 2018 22:38

Here is a recording I have done on my AR using the 'piano' voice. I'm very happy with how this sounds, but I am just playing single notes, so can hold a note down and let it fade away naturally, or lift my finger off the note which stops it sounding immediately, as in a real piano. Another effect I have is I can alter the 'attack', which basically means the harder I hit the note the louder it sounds. This is what happens when you play a real piano, but I must qualify this statement for what actually happens when you play a keyboard. It is the speed at which you play the note that makes it louder, not how hard you hit it. My local organ/keyboard engineer says he can always tell when one of his customers 'used to play a piano' before playing a keyboard as they make holes in the membrane under the keys by continually 'hammering' them, a technique that is not necessary when playing a keyboard.

Do a right-click to open this up in a new tab
https://app.box.com/s/8e13554oifoynptwn7ye8363i3gcg2jw

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Re: Pianos

Postby Brian007 » 23 Aug 2018 06:40

Hi Hugh,

That was a nice performance of that number, which I thought you played pretty well, the piano sounded good to me,

All the best, Brian007
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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 23 Aug 2018 08:33

The 'Rolls Royce' of pianos has to be the Steinway, and here is a video by Graham Fitch explaining what the 'loud' pedal actually does, and how it is used. He also demonstrates how 'raising the dampers' with the sustain pedal was used by classical composers to create the sound they wanted.



In this second more advanced video he explains how the sustain pedal can be used in an 'in between' mode ie. it is not just a question of the sustain being 'on' of 'off' .. which is what you would get with a keyboard 'sustain' pedal.



Fred (dragon) .. you said:
Going back about forty years or so whenever organists met and discussed new models the first question always asked was "What's the piano like?"

In view of the above, and the fact that a lot of organists would have started off by playing the piano, I am not surprised that they were asking this question.

Hugh
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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 23 Aug 2018 09:17

Now we come to having a 'sustain' pedal on a keyboard. This is basically an 'on/off' switch so does not have the functionality of the sustain pedal on a real piano. But this video demonstrates very well how it should be used.



And here's another video on using the sustain pedal on a keyboard.



When you have a keyboard you can add a 'sustain pedal' to make playing a piano more authentic, and if you have a digital piano you would have a sustain pedal anyway. But there's no hope for me with the AR organ as I have an 'expression pedal' on my organ which is used by the whole foot. And there are bass pedals running across at my feet, so nowhere to even put another 'pedal'. What they do on the AR is to have a 'drop-down' knee lever to do the sustain for the piano. So this involves 'pushing the knee to the right' every time you want to use it, which is not easy. But I suppose 'practice makes perfect'.

If any of you have played a piece on your keyboard or digital piano specifically using a 'sustain pedal' please, please post it here. Just click on POSTREPLY and put in the usual Box LINK.

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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 29 Sep 2018 23:59

So now, with loads of practice I have a little DEMO here illustrating the use of the 'Loud' pedal (Sustain pedal) for that 'Charlie Kunz dropped 10th' I was on about.

With the left hand (I haven't used the organ pedals at all here) I have played a single bass note on the first beat of the bar, and at the same time activated the 'loud' pedal. This holds the bass note while I take my hand off and play a chord higher up. And at the same time release the loud pedal so the bass note stops .. and the chord is 'staccato' ie. stops when you lift your hand off.

Then the 10th, which is the E (as the first chord is C), is played just before the first beat of the second bar. The loud pedal must be activated with the E (just before the first beat of he bar). This then 'holds' that E so you can play the bass note on the first beat of the bar.

Here is a little DEMO of what I am on about. First, I have played the left hand without any melody .. and then done it again with the melody. Click the below:

Do a right-click to open up in a New Tab, or press the 'backbutton' afterwards
Piano 10th DEMO using the LOUD Pedal (MP3)

Love that 'dropped 10th' on a piano. The technique of doing it is a bit strange at first .. to press the loud pedal just before the first beat of the bar. I wish my piano teacher had told me all this when I had piano lessons at 11 years old. I would have picked the technique up no trouble at all at that age.

Can anybody tell me what the melody is? It just seemed appropriate for the DEMO. I know the tune well, but don't know what it's called. I would like to play the rest of the tune, but can only do that if I know what it is!

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Re: Pianos

Postby mikeg » 30 Sep 2018 15:24

Hi Hugh the tune is called Trudie by Joe Piano Henderson BEST Regards mikeG.
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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 03 Oct 2018 21:48

Thanks for that Mike. Here is a YouTube video of it played by Phillip Sear. You can see (and hear) quite clearly that 10th 'skip' when he plays it. There is a lot more to this tune than I had remembered, but now I have heard it again I may very well have another go at it. Has anyone got the music score for it?



This is what appears under thevideo:
Joe "Mr. Piano" Henderson (1920-80) was a Scottish dance band pianist, who found fame in the 1950s through his work with Petula Clark, and later through his own songs. This piece was one of the most popular pieces of sheet music published in Britain in 1958, and I can remember hearing it on the radio frequently in the early '60s. The recording of it is identical to the piano solo played here from the score, except that there is some rather cheesy singing in the introductory bars and at the end - just the word 'Trudie'. Henderson's piano playing is quite deadpan and measured.

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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 26 Oct 2018 23:42

As I have an 'organ' and not a piano I don't have a 'loud' pedal (or sustain pedal) I can use with my foot. Only an 'Expression Pedal' which controls the Volume. But I do have that 'Knee Lever' which controls the 'sustain' for the piano. But don't think I can keep that up for more than a few bars!

I'm sure that I don't have a ready made STYLE with a 'dropped 10th' in the bass, so I am wondering if I can create my own STYLE to do this. I have started off with a 'default' Quickstep Style, slowed it down to the Tempo I want it, gone into the Programming aspect of a STYLE, DELETED the Bass PART and put in my own .. with that little 'skip' dropping down a tenth. Not every first beat of the bar, but for the third bar. And I haven't used a 'piano' voice as that didn't sound right for the bass. Have used a voice called 'Acoustic Bass'. And then have programmed in the piano 'off beat'. So now my 'style' is doing the 'dropped 10th' for me I just have to play and hold a chord in my left hand to get that dropped tenth. And of course when using a STYLE I can use other voices on the Lower. For this tune I have used some STRINGS.

Here is another DEMO so you can hear how my STYLE has worked out. Again, a few bars of just the STYLE; and then with the melody. Click the below:

Do a right-click to open up in a New Tab, or press the 'backbutton' afterwards
Trudie DEMO using a STYLE (MP3)

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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 27 Oct 2018 09:15

I have just listened again to that YouTube clip above .. and that 'dropped 10th' is on the 4th bar, not the third. Back to the drawing board!
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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 27 Oct 2018 18:13

I have done that STYLE again, this time putting the 'dropped 10th' leading up to the 4th bar. Have also done it with a 'straight' bass (C and G) as the 'dropped 10th' isn't used all the time. So by having both Styles available in two different Registration Memories I can switch from one to the other as the music requires it.

Trudie - DEMO 2 (MP3)

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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 28 Oct 2018 13:58

Now then. Not happy with the sound of that! This is a piano piece and that 'dropped 10th' just doesn't sound as it should when inserted into a STYLE. The only way I am going to manage to play Trudie is by doing it the same way I did Amarillo.
First record the 'accompaniment piano part' using both hands on the Lower manual of my Yamaha AR80 organ; then as I 'play that back' record the melody over the top by playing on the Upper manual. This is something I can do on the AR .. make a 'double recording' by playing the Upper and Lower separately; listening to the one while you 'play' on the other. This is not as easy as it looks as you initially have to play the 'accompaniment' right through from beginning to end without hearing any of the song while you are doing it. I usually sing a melody out loud as I'm playing it so I know where I am in the song (glad none of you will hear that!).

Below is a DEMO of how I intend to play this .. once I have got my head round the rest of the tune.

Trudie - DEMO 3 (MP3)

I would think that you could do the same on a keyboard, and reckon you would call this 'multi-tracking'.

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Re: Pianos

Postby andyg » 28 Oct 2018 18:38

Worth remembering that not all sustain pedals are created equal. Some are indeed on/off switches, but some are graduated pedals. If the piano it's plugged into supports it, then the pianist will be able to use half-pedal techniques. It has to be said that most pianists probably never master this, and either use the pedal (on a real piano or a higher end digital) as on/off, or use half pedal unintentionally by not letting the pedal up cleanly!

Oh, re Steinway being the Rolls-Royce of pianos. I know what you mean and it's an oft-said thing, but I suspect that the likes of Bosendorfer, Bluthner, Bechstein, Fazioli and even Yamaha and Kawai (in respect of their CFX and Shigeru Kawai models only) might like to claim that moniker! Me, my first choice actually would not be Brand S, not even second or third! Personal taste should decide, but the name alone often does!
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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 29 Oct 2018 00:21

Andy,

There was a Kawai Grand Piano in the holiday bungalow on the Isle of Wight which we rented for our summer holiday. It a very good piano,and I was able to check out for myself what the 'three' pedals were for:

Do a right-click to open this up in a New Tab
http://www.tierce-de-picardie.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=323&t=6354

Another thing I never knew about the piano, although I played one myself in a couple of bands when I was younger. I didn't know that the 'dampers' on a piano only function as far as the E two octaves above middle C. The notes F and upwards had no dampers on them at all so could not be played 'staccato' as they continued sounding until they faded away naturally. Mind you, with the strings being so short and high up they did not continue to vibrate for very long. Is this the case with an 'upright piano' too?

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Re: Pianos

Postby Rev Tony Newnham » 29 Oct 2018 07:34

Hi

In reply to Hugh's question, the high treble notes on pianos both upright and grand rarely have dampers, as the notes don't sustain for very long anyway.

As to Andy's post - I agree, Steinway is not the best IMHO. My favourites are Bosendorfer (the Imperial Grand which has an extra half-octave of bass notes, and is a big beast, stretching into the distance when you sit at it) and Bluthner.

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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 29 Oct 2018 10:06

Andy and Tony,

I love the sound of Peter Skellern's piano. Do you know what make of piano he had? He came to Weston-super-Mare a number of years ago and had his own Grand Piano up on stage. It had such rich bass notes. Just wonderful!



At the end of the show I managed to get to speak to him and ask him about his piano. He said that he had to take his own piano with him wherever he went as it was 'electronically enhanced' so no ordinary piano would give him the sound he wanted.

I love the sound of his 'heavenly choir' too. And his 'brass band'.

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Re: Pianos

Postby dentyr » 18 May 2019 06:33

Hello, Almost the first post.
Going back about forty years or so whenever organists met and discussed new models the first question always asked was ' What's the piano like?' That question is rarely asked these days. .. Fred

Sorry Fred, almost every demo of keyboards I look at on YouTube come in with "Hear how good the piano sound is" and then continues with about 80% of the demo showing just how good a piano player he is. I often reply "If I wanted a piano I would buy a Steinway not an arranger workstation". Regards, Den.
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Re: Pianos

Postby Hugh-AR » 18 May 2019 09:36

Getting back to 'electronic pianos' as opposed to 'real pianos', here is a demonstration of the Yamaha CVP709 Digital Piano.



Hugh
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