The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
piano theory
Old 23rd August 2006
  #1
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
piano theory

Hey, Bruce,

First of all, thanks for taking the time to do this. I think this has the potential to be an amazing learning experience for a lot of folks.

Here's my question for you. A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of being a "fly on the wall" during one of your sessions. I actually got to assist you on a Saturday when the regular engineer didn't show up. I gotta say it was a pretty huge experience for me as up to that point I'd only made coffee and zeroed consoles after sessions! Anyway, one day, during a break in the session, the engineer asked you something to the effect of, "What's it take to be a great engineer?"

Your answer blew me away and is something I still try to figure out to this day! I'm sure I'm paraphrasing here, but you answered him, "Learn to play the piano." While I think I have a vauge idea of what you mean by that, presented with this rare chance to follow-up with you 7-8 years later, would you mind discussing this?

p.s. the engineer told me you discussed it further with him but wouldn't give me any details! And he DID, in fact, immediately start taking piano lessons!!! Ha!
Old 23rd August 2006
  #2
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

You'll find it very interesting...

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbox View Post
Hey, Bruce,

First of all, thanks for taking the time to do this. I think this has the potential to be an amazing learning experience for a lot of folks.

Here's my question for you. A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of being a "fly on the wall" during one of your sessions. I actually got to assist you on a Saturday when the regular engineer didn't show up. I gotta say it was a pretty huge experience for me as up to that point I'd only made coffee and zeroed consoles after sessions! Anyway, one day, during a break in the session, the engineer asked you something to the effect of, "What's it take to be a great engineer?"

Your answer blew me away and is something I still try to figure out to this day! I'm sure I'm paraphrasing here, but you answered him, "Learn to play the piano." While I think I have a vauge idea of what you mean by that, presented with this rare chance to follow-up with you 7-8 years later, would you mind discussing this?

p.s. the engineer told me you discussed it further with him but wouldn't give me any details! And he DID, in fact, immediately start taking piano lessons!!! Ha!
Brucie sez--------------->It's true. A good understanding of the piano is absolutely of the utmost importance when it comes to recording music.... And mixing music...

For instance - C1 on the piano is - 32.7 hertz - C2 on the piano is - 65.4 htz...
And so on... Your knowledge of those pitches is very impportant when it comes time to EQ sound sources and then again when you come to the mix stage.

I have made up an illustration of the keyboard and the frequencies that are represented there. I'll look for it..... I'll scan it.... You'll find it very interesting...

Bruce Swedien

Old 24th August 2006
  #3
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
awesome and thanks. a couple of years ago i saw a chart, maybe the same kind as the one your referring to, in an ebay auction that had the black and white keys spread out with freqhencies noted. It struck me that "a-ha! that's what Bruce meant!"
Old 24th August 2006
  #4
Lives for gear
 
goldphinga's Avatar
 

Old 25th August 2006
  #5
Gear Head
 
dissolva's Avatar
 

Old 5th September 2006
  #6
BoW
Gear interested
 
BoW's Avatar
 

classi chassy

Hi, folks,

Here’s some information for you, that’s definitely not available at every corner..

Yes, studying piano is a very good tool developing musical abilities and a good ear. Speaking about sharpening your ears, combined with a keyboard, there is one instrument to favor: the harpsichord or the virginal.

The overtone-spectrum on a harpsichord is much richer compared to a piano. A piano is a percussion instrument, whereas the strings on a harpsichord are plucked by a keel. Because of the huge tension, combined with a relatively short length in the upper range of the keyboard, the strings respond in the same way like the metal bars on a Xylophone or Vibraphone do to the striking hammer. For the reason, that the piano strings are struck by a (felt-) hammer, the instrument produces entirely different attack-transients compared to a plugged string.

A feeling for transients is from utmost importance in sound engineering. More than this, the attack transient phase is the most important in recognizing different acoustical instruments.

The evolution of construction of the piano has undergone dramatic changes in the 19th century. In order to produce a huger sound, which had become necessary to acoustically fill the - then new - larger concert halls (i.e. the ‘Concertgebouw’ Amsterdam, completed in 1888), which were built in the second half of the nineteenth century, a lot of ‘design-improving’ techniques were applied to the piano. These were heavy-duty cast iron frames, larger soundboard and a piano action that could transmit larger forces from the hands of the performer to the strings. Also, the piano had to compete with the sound of an entire orchestra, to be well heard when performing a piano-concert in those halls.

As a result, the modern piano in his current form is rather a machine and not a very intimate instrument (like a violin). In comparison to may other instruments, it has a quit ‘brute’ and mechanical tone (compared to a violin i.e.).

A little anecdote: When J.S. Bach (the famous composer) was asked for his opinion about the first Fortepiano, when presented to him of one of the most prominent makers of church-organs and harpsichords in that time, he complained about the ‘heavy action’ (which was very light and responsive compared to later Broadwood and Steinway actions) and the “lack of tone”. Well, in response to that, the piano was chopped into pieces by the maker.

To set things straight: Bach could be described as the first audio-consultant in history. His opinion was greatly appreciated because of his meticulous ear and sense for timbre. In addition, he knew a great deal about the workings and technologies behind the musical instruments of that time.

The musicians and composers of that period had a capability of hearing, which most people – sound engineers included – today can only dream about.

As training for your traditional musical skills, try to play the Inventions of Bach. The “Notenbuechlein for Anna Magdalena Bach” and the “Clavierbuechlein fuer Wilhelm Friedemann Bach” may give you a choice of pieces, which are not too hard to play, and, compared to some dry piano study literature, are simply wonderful music.
He wrote those small pieces for his wife and for the musical education of and his children, which – too - became very prominent musicians and composers of their time.
If you’ve progressed, go for the Preludes of his “Well Temperated Piano”.

If you like to figure out more, try to get hand on the book “Modus Novus” from – also a great Swedish guy - Lars Edlund. This book was developed to train you listening abilities for Contemporary music, which relies very much on the perception of the colour of sound, rather than to traditional harmonic structure.

With Edlund, you’ll discover the magic of overtones, with Bach, you’ll discover the tonal universe of music while improving musical feeling and your piano-skills.
Saying this, I’ll guaranty you that this true for ANY music in your own favour and your favours, you didn’t discover, yet.

Have fun: Boris

Old 7th September 2006
  #7
Gear Head
 
Eliosound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
For instance - C1 on the piano is - 32.7 hertz - C2 on the piano is - 65.4 htz...
And so on... Your knowledge of those pitches is very impportant when it comes time to EQ sound sources and then again when you come to the mix stage.
Knowing piano frequencies is so important when it comes to piano equalization !

I remenber the "Conference de presse" album which is a duo concert with Michel Petrucciani and Eddy Louis : all along the recording, there is one single note of the piano which is always louder than the others, probably due to miking resonnances.

How a sound engineer could not hear that ?

Rather simple to correct if you know the frequency of the note ! (and that is the reason why I implemented the frequency as notes display in AirEQ heh )

But what about the "notes" for drums ?
Especially the snare ?
In "Thriller", we may have the impression that snares are almost pitched, and I beleive that this is why they are so punchy.

Bruce, if you read, could you tell us more about the snare drum "note" ?

Fabrice,
Eliosound
Old 21st September 2006
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Renie's Avatar
 

Great thread thanks

Would love to hear more about the snare tones...



Rene Coffey
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
no ssl yet / Gear free zone - shoot the breeze!
28
no ssl yet / Gear free zone - shoot the breeze!
5
ISedlacek / High end
94
stuartdixon / Gear free zone - shoot the breeze!
10
Screws / So much gear, so little time!
21

Forum Jump