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.
KeywordsFundamental Frequency Standing Wave Harmonic Series Tone Color Short String
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.
- Bader R (2005) Computational Mechanics of the Classical Guitar. Springer, New York.Google Scholar
- Bensa J, Bilbao S, Kronland-Martinet R, Smith JO, and Voinier T (2005) Computational modeling of stiff piano strings using digital waveguides and finite differences. Acustica/Acta Acustica 91, 289.Google Scholar
- Giordano NJ (2010) Physics of the Piano. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
- Giordano N and Nakanishi H (2006) Computational Physics, 2nd ed. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.Google Scholar
- Good EM (2001) Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos, 2nd ed. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.Google Scholar
- Helmholtz HLF (1954) On the Sensations of Tone. Dover, New York.Google Scholar
- Peterson D (2010) The Science of String Instruments. Springer, New York.Google Scholar
- Pollens S (1995) The Early Pianoforte. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Ripin EM, Schott H, Barnes J, O’Brien GG, Dowd W, Wraight D, Ferguson H, and Caldwell J, eds (1989) Early Keyboard Instruments. W.W. Norton, New York.Google Scholar