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Topic: How "Innovative" are these Two Ideas?  (Read 1313 times)

Offline bachopiev

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How "Innovative" are these Two Ideas?
on: April 04, 2016, 12:25:01 AM

These two ideas have been simmering for quite some time, so I though I'd share them with you.

Idea 1: To have an electronic extension to the piano, that would extend its range down to low F - low C, somewhere in there. It would go to the left of the A, where there is the black space / no keys.

Possible Problems: If these were manufactured en masse, then if you played these notes on an electronic extension, the piano would lose its individuality. Regardless of whether the piano was a $100 Baldwin or $50000 Steinway, the extension would sound exactly the same on both pianos. This seems to be a big problem. The second problem, is that the area to the left of the low A does not seem to be standardized. If I'm mistaken PLEASE correct me.

Idea 2: To use weights on the keys.

This seems to be a very practical and easy idea. The performer would simply put weights directly onto certain notes (in the lowest octave of the piano, preferably) to make the notes in that weighted note's harmonic series ring more.

I tried this on the low D. I then proceeded to play D (the D above middle C), A, D, A, D, F#, A, C, D. These, of course, are the notes in the harmonic series of D (all the notes above are in the harmonic series except for the second note, the A). In any case, the notes rang very discernibly, as if the sostenuto pedal was applied to each note, but for a brief period of time (around 2-3 seconds).

My questions, then, are the following:

1) Is my idea of an electronic extension to a piano completely unrealistic? Is there precedent, and has any composer ever demanded notes lower than an A?
2) The idea of weighted notes on the keybed seems to have immense practical use. Is there precedent for this technique -- i.e., has a composer ever called for this in a composition? It produces a startling effect, that is unlike anything you get on a piano. I would liken in to the sustain of a harp when the string is plucked, combined with the timbre of a piano. Thus, I'd imagine a composer far greater than I would have though about this ... has someone used this? And if not, why not -- what possible drawbacks might there be?

Thanks for your time!  :)
Albeniz - Suite Espagnole
Bach - Goldberg Vars
Chopin - Ballade No 2, Barcarolle, Polonaise Op 44
Beethoven - Sonata No 31
Mozart - Sonata No 14
Schubert - Sonata No 16
Prokofiev - Sonata No 2

Offline iansinclair

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Re: How "Innovative" are these Two Ideas?
Reply #1 on: April 08, 2016, 01:38:11 AM
Intriguing thoughts there. 

I'm not sure about the bass extension, if only because the lowest notes on a piano are hard enough to produce well electronically as it stands!  Not so much a problem of the actual electronic samples, as of the speakers required.  That lowest A as it stands has a fundamental of 27.5 hz, and most woofers stop almost an octave above that.  You'd need a pretty formidable woofer to get any lower!  You might be interested, though, to know that organs sort of do that -- in a sense.  The "normal" pitch is referred to as 8 foot.  The keyboard, though, stops on the C above the low piano A. Then there is "16 foot" which is an octave lower -- and some larger instruments have "32 foot" which is two octaves lower (the lowest note being a pipe 32 feet long -- hence the name -- and having a fundamental of about 16 hz).  These longer pipes are available to the organist at will, through various stops on the instrument.  There is a very very small number of instruments -- one which I've played, Lincoln in the UK -- which have 64 foot pipes.

But I digress -- I know of no composer who has written for piano for notes lower than those available on a standard keyboard; for that matter, until the mid 1800s at the earliest, pianos didn't even go that low -- and, of course, composers wrote for what was available.

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