Some Remarks on the Acoustics of the Piano



Much has been written about the piano. There are a number of excellent books and research articles that discuss the history, evolution, and acoustics of the instrument (Fletcher and Rossing 1991; Pollens 1995; Suzuki and Nakamura 1990; Conklin 1996a, b, c; Good 2001). However, most of these sources are either at a very qualitative level or aimed at the dedicated acoustician. Our goal in this chapter is to bridge these two extremes and to show how some elementary knowledge of physics and acoustics in general, and of the piano in particular, give interesting insight to the nature and composition of a piano tone. We hope that the next few pages will be of interest to scientists and nonscientists alike.


Fundamental Frequency Standing Wave Harmonic Series Tone Color Short String 
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The author is deeply grateful to many students who have collaborated in work on the physics of the piano and other musical instruments, including A. Korty, J. Winans, J. Jourdan, S. Dietz, J. Roberts, L. Reuff, J. Millis, M. Jiang, K. Lie, J. Skodrack, and C. McKinney. I also thank A. Askenfelt, A. Chaigne, T. Rossing, A. Tubis, and G. Weinreich for patient and very instructive discussions. This work has been supported by NSF.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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