Physics of the Piano by Nicholas J. Giordano | 9780199546022 | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Physics of the Piano

Physics of the Piano

by Nicholas J. Giordano
     
 

ISBN-10: 0199546029

ISBN-13: 9780199546022

Pub. Date: 08/20/2010

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Why does a piano sound like a piano? A similar question can be asked of virtually all musical instruments. A particular note - such as middle C - can be produced by a piano, a violin, a clarinet, and many other instruments, yet it is easy for even a musically untrained listener to distinguish between these different instruments. A central quest in the study of

Overview

Why does a piano sound like a piano? A similar question can be asked of virtually all musical instruments. A particular note - such as middle C - can be produced by a piano, a violin, a clarinet, and many other instruments, yet it is easy for even a musically untrained listener to distinguish between these different instruments. A central quest in the study of musical instruments is to understand why the sound of the "same" note depends greatly on the instrument, and to elucidate which aspects of an instrument are most critical in producing its characteristic musical tones. The primary goal of this book is to investigate these questions for the piano. The explanations in this book use a minimum of mathematics, and are intended for anyone who is interested in music and musical instruments. At the same time, there are many insights relating physics and the piano that may be interesting, and perhaps surprising, for many physicists.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199546022
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/20/2010
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.70(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1

1.1 The goals of this book 1

1.2 What exactly is a piano? 3

1.3 The way a physicist thinks 5

1.4 Organization of this book 6

2 A brief introduction to waves and sound 9

2.1 What is a wave? 9

2.2 Sound as a wave 10

2.3 The spectrum of a sound 12

2.4 Spectrum of a real musical tone 14

2.5 Pitch 17

2.6 How the ear detects sound 19

2.7 Combining two waves: Beats 20

3 Making a musical scale 23

3.1 It all starts with the octave 23

3.2 Using a logarithmic scale for frequency and pitch 25

3.3 Pythagoras and the importance of musical intervals 26

3.4 Constructing a musical scale 28

3.5 Measuring the distance between notes: Cents 33

4 Why the piano was invented: A little history 35

4.1 The harpsichord 35

4.2 The clavichord 38

4.3 Hitting strings with hammers: The pantaleon 41

4.4 The invention of the piano 42

4.5 Acceptance of the piano 44

4.6 The evolutionary road ahead 45

5 Making music with a vibrating string 47

5.1 The ideal string and some of its properties 47

5.2 Standing waves 50

5.3 The shape of a grand piano 52

5.4 Designing the strings 53

5.5 Waves on real strings: The effect of string stiffness 57

5.6 Real strings: What have we learned and where do we go next? 62

6 Hitting strings with hammers 65

6.1 What happens when a hammer hits a string? 65

6.2 The design of piano hammers 66

6.3 The hammer-string collision and the importance of contact time 69

6.4 The hammer-string collision and the importance of nonlinearity 73

6.5 Where should the hammer hit the string? 76

6.6 Longitudinal string vibrations 79

6.7 Holding the string in place: The agraffe and capo tasto bar 80

6.8 Connecting the key to the hammer: Design of the piano action 81

6.9 The Viennese action: An example of an evolutionary dead end 85

7 The soundboard: Turning string vibrations into sound 89

7.1 Design of the soundboard 89

7.2 Vibration of the soundboard 92

7.3 The soundboard as a speaker 98

7.4 The rest of the piano: Contributions of the rim, lid, and plate 103

8 Connecting the strings to the soundboard 105

8.1 Decay of a piano tone 105

8.2 Damping of a piano tone part 1: Motion of a single string and the effect of polarization 107

8.3 Damping of a piano tone part 2: How the strings act on each other through the bridge 110

8.4 Making sound from longitudinal string motion 113

8.5 Motion of the bridge and its effect on the frequencies of string partials 113

9 Evolution of the piano 115

9.1 In the beginning: Key features of the first pianos 115

9.2 Why did the piano need to evolve? 117

9.3 The piano industry on the move 119

9.4 The industrial revolution and its impact on the piano 121

9.5 The shape of a piano: Fitting everything into the case 123

9.6 On the nature of evolutionary change 124

10 Psychoacoustics: How we perceive musical tones 127

10.1 Physics and human senses: The difficulties in putting them together 127

10.2 Hermann von Helmholtz and his long shadow 128

10.3 Range of human hearing and the range of a piano 129

10.4 Pitch perception and the missing fundamental 130

10.5 Consonance and dissonance of musical tones: Implications for piano design 133

11 The magic of Steinway 137

11.1 The piano in our culture 137

11.2 The Steinway family and the rise of the company 139

11.3 Steinway and Sons' role in the development of the piano 141

11.4 Marketing and the Steinway legend 145

11.5 Rise and fall of the family business 146

11.6 The Steinway brand today 148

11.7 Why is a Steinway piano special? 149

12 What physics can and cannot teach us about pianos 151

12.1 Physics lessons 151

12.2 Perceptual lessons 152

12.3 The evolutionary future of the piano 153

12.4 Finding the right piano 155

Definitions of common terms 157

References 163

Index 169

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >