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OFAI-TR-2005-01 ( 182kB g-zipped PostScript file,  466kB PDF file)

Touch and temporal behavior of grand piano actions

Werner Goebl, Roberto Bresin, Alexander Galembo

This study investigated the temporal behavior of grand piano actions from different manufacturers under different touch conditions and dynamic levels. An experimental setup consisting of accelerometers and a calibrated microphone was used to capture key and hammer movements, as well as the sound signal. Five selected keys were played by pianists with two types of touch (``pressed touch'' versus ``struck touch'') over the entire dynamic range. Discrete measurements were extracted from the accelerometer data for each of the over 2300 recorded tones (e.g., finger--key, hammer--string, and key bottom contact times, maximum hammer velocity, MHV). Travel times of the hammer (from finger--key to hammer--string) as a function of MHV varied clearly between the two types of touch, but only slightly between pianos. A travel time versus MHV function found in earlier work [W. Goebl, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 110(1), 563--572 (2001)] derived from a computer-controlled piano was replicated. Constant temporal behavior over type of touch and low compression properties of the parts of the action (reflected in key bottom contact times) were hypothesized to be indicators for instrumental quality.

Keywords: Piano action, Expressive Performance, Temporal behavior, Accelerometer

Citation: Goebl W., Bresin R., Galembo A.: Touch and temporal behavior of grand piano actions. Technical Report, Österreichisches Forschungsinstitut für Artificial Intelligence, Wien, TR-2005-01, 2005