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Topic: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

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  1. #1

    Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    This, I modestly assert, sounds great if you don't overdo it:

    An adjustment for an interesting piano sound that just involves copying samples onto themselves, and then slightly detuning the copied sample, imitating the detuning of the 3 strings stuck in the middle of the piano by a single hammer. (But with very interesting results when applied to notes that only have one string on a real piano, since it lets me attempt (attempt, I emphasize) to duplicate duplex tuning--the extra harp of strings--on a Steinway in the upper range. Nice for pedal down samples up there, particularly.)


    The intention is NOT to create a jangly bad piano, but instead to create a piano more like one I often find myself playing:


    1. In any library, copy a single zone in a good piano sample and paste it onto itself. (At the same velocity layer, of course)
    2. Detune the new "layer" by either raising it or lowering just one cent (-1).

    (Or course, you can also do the same by selecting a range of notes.)

    Remember that you're not replacing the old sample with the copy. You want to play both the tuned and detuned note at the same time when you press the key.)

    Raising it 2 cents will make the change in sound more evident. 3 cents is probably the most you'll want to try. The result will be much brighter. You may want to try a lp filter on the notes.

    That's it. Worth trying with the spread of notes around middle C, obviously, but also all the notes.

    The resulting sound with only a + or -1 cent change is only slightly more jangly (sp?) and give the expected results: a slightly longer perceived decay and a slightly "fuller," more resonant sound. When done to several notes played in combination, the sound is very alive, without sounding like a badly out of tune piano or an overly bright piano. Sdjustments can be made, of course, by reducing the amplitude of the detuned, added samples, or applying a lp filter to just the detuned sample.

    I also tried detuning another copy of the note, also by only one cent, raising it after I'd lowered the first copy, so I was playing three notes at once, to imitate the sound of the three strings being struck, but the result sounded too clearly like a chord.

    (The untechnical theory about this: a well recorded sample of course is already recording all three of the struck strings but on a well-tuned piano tuned to classical specs, the strings are in unison. I never play on a perfectly tuned piano, so this detuning more closely resembles what I hear when I play a real piano, and I suspect what we often hear on recordings.)

    In any case, I'll eventually try creating an entire instrument from one of my piano sets with all the notes given this additional layer and see what happens. Anyone else ever try this? I'd be interested in hearing what results you got from adding specific detuned strings to specific pianos.

    The intention, here, is not to create a piano I'll use every time I sit down to play, but to give me a variation on all the pianos.

    A question, here: is there a way to control the tuning of a group of notes like this using the modwheel, set to very small increments--with a maximum range of say 1.5 cents? I haven't worked with this long enough to see what many of you may see instantly: all I want to do is to be able to slightly raise or lower JUST the detuned group of samples that I've pasted over the default samples--in other words to control how badly beat up the piano sounds using the mod wheel or another controller.

    Here's a page (not the same I linked to about creating a Joplin piano)that almost in passing gives the basics of what little theory is behind this, and a lot of other interesting things that aren't mentioned in many of the pages about the physics of the piano (speaks of interaction of strings and soundboard at some length.):

    http://www.zainea.com/piano%20sound.htm

  2. #2

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    I should add that this works much better for dry, fairly close-miced samples. Samples with a lot of room or added verb will have the reflections detuned too, and the effect is a bit too pronounced. However, it sounds good if you add a very little verb in afterwards to the dry samples. Some nice sounds can be had adding PianoVerb, too.

    Try changing the tuning very slightly over several notes before making large changes (3-4 cents) on one note and then applying that--the effect is magnified greatly when you play several notes at once, and 1-2 cents either way may be all you can stand.

    I also suggest detuning different notes and different velocity layers of the same note slightly differently, to better imitate the flaws of a piano.

    Sorry for the long post on what will seem self-evident to all you piano guys.

  3. #3

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    But won't the plug-in just shift the pitch of the note? (I'm trying to imitate the beats between the in-tune and detuned note played at the same time.)

    Sorry if I misunderstood.

  4. #4

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    I've had good results just layering two pianos, as well. They are never in perfect tune with each other and certain combinations, when the second is added in gently, will have a similar effect without creating lots of phasing problems. For instance, a tad of Sampletekk Rain Piano behind PMI's Old Lady will yield a very natural "real world" piano- nothing you'd want to play Beethoven on, but great in a mix.

  5. #5

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    I use Artvista Malmsjö for the same thing. It's overly mellow and doesn't have forte or fortissimo samples, therefore it sits well behind Bösendorfer 290.

  6. #6

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    (I wonder what the piano developers are thinking, after spending hours making sure all the notes are perfectly in tune...)

    Or do some of the pianos (other than just the Rain Piano) have intentional detunings?

  7. #7

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    A tuning that is "perfect" for our ears or for a tuner is still imperfect enough to show the deviations when stacked with another "perfect" piano. I think it's the nature of the beast, there is nothing the developers could or should do differently.

  8. #8

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    (I didn't mean to imply that developers should be doing anything differently--only wondering if they were shaking their heads because I wanted to mangle their well-tuned samples.)

    A question, here: is there a way to control the tuning of a group of notes like this using the modwheel, set to very small increments--with a maximum range of say 3 cents? I haven't worked with this long enough to see what many of you may see instantly: all I want to do is to be able to slightly raise or lower the pitch of JUST the detuned group of samples that I've pasted over the default samples--in other words to control how badly beat up the piano sounds using the mod wheel or another controller.

    Yeah, it's hell with polyphony, but if I can find a way to control it with the mod wheel, it may be worthwhile.

  9. #9

    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    Jake, please let's hear some audio samples..

  10. #10
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    Re: Basic piano edit that is giving me very good results

    Quote Originally Posted by FredProgGH
    I've had good results just layering two pianos, as well. They are never in perfect tune with each other and certain combinations, when the second is added in gently, will have a similar effect without creating lots of phasing problems.
    Its a good idea. I've tried similar combis for the same reason. It adds a natural ambience to the principal piano if, as you say, it is used subtely. I've not recorded the results though, just used used it for domestic performance.

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