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Topic: The musician's ear  (Read 2408 times)

Kapellmeister27

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The musician's ear
on: January 22, 2005, 02:33:14 AM
Okay, listen to this:


Today, in my psychology class we were learning about the senses and their different sensitivities and thresholds, etc.  Anyway, my instructor gave a little quiz to see what people thought on different subjects.  One of the questions was:

"True or false... threre exists a simple 500$ dollar piece of machinery could recreate the sound of a piano so well that a trained musican could not tell the difference between it and an acoustic."

I, of course, said false.
But he said it was true according to the book

Anyway, i tried to argue... overtones, ressonance, loss od sound through digital replay etc but I could sway no one.

Anyway, what do you think?

Is this BS or is it valid?

Offline Altazor

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #1 on: January 22, 2005, 02:58:22 AM
Well, some digital pianos use "sampled" sounds of real pianos, so when you play a key in a digital the sound that plays is a very high quality recording of a real piano with all the overtones and resonance, and I think the loss of sound of the digital recordings using the current technology is almost imperceptible for the human ear.

I still prefer any "acoustic" piano over a digital.

Offline abe

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #2 on: January 22, 2005, 03:38:09 AM
That might be true, but it's hard to beleive an electronic machine could fool someone who's been listening to the sounds of an accoustic piano all his life.
--Abe

Offline Derek

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #3 on: January 22, 2005, 05:00:45 PM
I wouldn't find it hard to believe if someone invented an electric piano which did indeed sound exactly like an acoustic piano, such that the sounds even came out of the right places of the sound board. It would still be an approximation, but I can imagine it.

However, for me, no matter how good this electronic approximation gets, I will always prefer acoustic pianos.

It mainly has to do with the fact that I know when playing an electric piano I feel that the sound that comes out is fake. Where is the energy in the sound coming from? A coal power plant tens of miles away.

However when I play an acoustic piano, the energy in the sound originated entirely in my own body. I decided to move my fingers in such a way, they push the keys down, and the hammers are thrown at the strings. There's something much more exhilirating about music truly coming from WITHIN, in a literal physical way AND in the more obvious psychological way.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #4 on: January 23, 2005, 03:19:58 AM
Did your teacher play this digital piano?  And for $500, which digital instrument was it?  It's a simple way to test the claim, no?

Offline Brian Healey

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #5 on: January 23, 2005, 05:12:37 AM
The teacher only said it was a "$500 dollar piece of machinery". Who's to say that we're talking about a keyboard? It sounds almost like a riddle to me, some sort of trick statement.......



Hold it now, hit it,
Bri

Offline timothy42b

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #6 on: January 23, 2005, 10:55:18 AM
If I'd heard that question the way it was stated I'd probably have answered the same as you did.

That doesn't mean I agree the senses are better than equipment in many cases.

For example, some of the experiments with trombone bells of different thicknesses or alloys found they vibrated slightly differently, as determined by laboratory measurements, even though highly trained ears couldn't detect any difference.  It is a myth that the ear is always or even usually superior to the measurement.  Give me a FFT any day. 
Tim

Offline DarkWind

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #7 on: January 23, 2005, 08:29:58 PM
I bought one of my (acoustic) pianos for $500. And the piano is basically a machine... Hmm...


Also, I prefer acoustics over digitals always, since acoustics let me play modern pieces, like, say, George Crumb's Makrokosmos.

Offline richard w

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #8 on: January 24, 2005, 09:29:04 PM
Quote
"True or false... threre exists a simple 500$ dollar piece of machinery could recreate the sound of a piano so well that a trained musican could not tell the difference between it and an acoustic."

I'm fairly sure that I could pick the sound of a digital piano out in a line up of pianos, even given that I was only allowed to use my ears. (The visual clues might make it an easier task.) That said, I've never tried, so who is to say I'd succeed. I think it would be much harder to identify from a CD what was digital and what was real - especially seeing as even the real piano would now be digital.

I'm quite sure you would never fool for even one moment a pianist playing the instrument for himself.


Richard.

Offline puma

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #9 on: January 25, 2005, 06:06:48 AM
Was he talking about a keyboard in a rather convoluted manner?  Could be...
Even from an expensive 2000 digital, I can always tell the difference.  Things like reverb, pedal, and delay - touch response.  How the tone sounds about 2 seconds after it is played  - usually give it away to me.  The problem that I have with digitals, sound wise, is that they sound fake.  The other problem, play-wise, is that even with weighted keys the response is just not the same as with an acoustic piano.  Not that digitals don't have their place - let's say you have a gig at someone's home in a few days and they don't have a piano.  The cost of renting one or buying one within such a short time v.s. bringing a digital is something to consider.  But I still wonder if that psychologist was referring to something other than a digital piano?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #10 on: January 27, 2005, 02:01:04 PM
I honestly reckon it depends what piece is being played. If it is very strict music like Bach for instance, then it might be hard to tell the difference. But i think if you listened to lets say, Debussy's Prelude Bk2no12 Feux d'artifice for an example, you would be able to detect the difference between a body of a full grand piano resonating and an electrical speaker especially in sections where the sustain pedal is just stuck down and the notes shake the entire piano in the Incisif sections or the last ff section leading to the Plus lent ending. There are tonns of more music where you could tell the difference, especially pieces which have long sustained sounds. I just have never heard an electrical reproduction which can sustain the sound of a full grand accurately enough.

Although i do remember seeing on television a test to see if music students could tell the difference between a real church pipe organ or an electical one. It was rather split 50/50 which was interesting i thought. I am sure more of these tests have been done.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline mound

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #11 on: January 27, 2005, 02:26:26 PM
I doubt this is what he was referring to, but it's interesting regardless. If you got some high quality small condensor mics and mounted them in your ears (like those in-ear headphones) attached to a good preamp, and you sat at a grand piano and played, all the while recording these two mics to two tracks, panned hard-left and hard-right, what you have created is a "binaural recording" (google it)

If you then play back this recording through stereo headphones, you will be SHOCKED at how "3D" is sounds,  as if you are literally right there.

Put some stereo headphones on, close your eyes and listen to this:
https://www.noogenesis.com/binaural/dogs.mp2

It's really quite stunning.

-Paul

Offline Ed Marlo

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #12 on: January 27, 2005, 08:19:14 PM
That is absolutely astonishing.  Nothing more to say..

Offline mound

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Re: The musician's ear
Reply #13 on: January 27, 2005, 08:59:42 PM
Isn't that cool? Who needs tons of mics and surround sound systems, all you have to do  is mimic our ears and the mass of bones and goo between them and you have a more realistic recording than you've ever heard.

Neumann even makes a "head" specifically for this type of recording (though I can't see how the expense would ever be justified, you can literally make a binaural recording setup for < $50)

https://www.neumann.com/infopool/mics/produkte.php?ProdID=ku100

-Paul
 

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