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Topic: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

  1. #1

    Sympathetic resonance in the Steinway?

    Hi all, Hi Gary,

    A quick question just to see I got this right (being Greek does not help some times with terms, even with 4 years in the UK!)

    The Steinway, which sounds FABULOUS btw, mentions 1-2 things that I want to crosscheck.

    1. Sympathetic resonance. This basically means that the strings that are open (not by pedalling, but because you have the keys pressed) ring when you play another note, right? That would mean that if I press silently the C3 and hit hard C4 staccato, that would leave the harmonic ringing, right? Just checking that THIS is what happens.
    2. proportional pedaling. Hmmm? This means half pedal, that the pedal closes little by little, etc? Like a real piano? If so, how would that work in... Cubase for example, where the sustain control is 127 or 0, open or close, on or off, only?

    I hope these have not been answered. In all honesty I'm working on a piece and hope for a Steinway performance, so I would like to know, in order to work on the piece differently if so...

    Thank you for your time, as always.


  2. #2

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

    I may not be the best person to answer this but I can start off.

    In the normal state the strings of a piano are damped by a set of felt pads. When played the hammer hits the string and the pad is lifted. The pedal lifts all the pads off of the strings, (some grand pianos have an additional pedal the damps only one string of the group). The other pedal moves the hammers nearer the string.

    When a note is played and released, the string continues to vibrate until it is stopped by the pad on release

    When a note is played and held, the string vibrates until the energy of the impact is spent.

    Because all of the strings are connected to single frame, when one string vibrates, the frame also vibrates and this will be transmitted to the other strings. These do not vibrate because they are damped by the pads. If a note is played silently and held the string can vibrate in resonance when another note is played. By how much depends on the ratio of the notes, octaves resonate a lot, minor 2nds hardly at all (at least within hearing range). Trouble is the dont necessarily resonate at their rigth pitch.

    So a c2 might sound faint c2 when c3 is played but might sound a different tone when g3 is played. I can't remember the maths here, so I cant tell which tone it sounds.

    This effect is probably one of the reasons that sampled instruments don't sound quite like real ones. When any note is played you should in theory check whether any other key is pressed down and calculate the effect of that keys strings resonating in sympathy.

    That would eat up computer time and the effect is only very subtle.

    I'm not sure about the effect of the other pedal, it definitely moves the hammers forward on my piano, I've checked by removing the front panel, but again the effect is subtle, I only play at 2 levels, loud and very loud - both of them poorly

  3. #3

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

    I believe Nikolas is a more than competant pianist, if I recall correctly?
    I think his question was not for an explanation of sympathetic resonance on a real piano, but rather how it works with the Garritan Steinway.

  4. #4

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

    Thanks buckshead. This is an excellent description of what happens as far as I know.

    sorry that I wasn't more clear, but it's what Michel mentions. I'm looking into what Steinway can do (and btw, add a third question if I may :S)

    1. About the sympathetic resonance, here is 1 bar of a score.

    and here is an mp3 of the 1st 4 beats (the staccato notes only), and then the staccato without the silent depressed keys: www.nikolas-sideris.com/AGS/silent.mp3. Notice that there is a harmonic pitch (more than one actually) relatively loudly heard in the first instance which is not there the second.

    I reckon this is possible in Steinway?

    2. "Proportional sustain pedal system". In other words more than on/off?

    And the new question pretty please.

    3. "soft pedal" is what pianist refer to as "una corda"? Or something else in Steinway?

    And thanks for the compliment, Michel, that I'm more than competent pianist. I wish I still am. I've not played piano for 3-4 years now due to lack of space, so I fear that I've lost at least 50% of my abilities... I'm so angry at myself, but there was no way to have a piano, or find time and practice with two kids around...

  5. #5

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...


    If you use the search function of Northernsounds forum, you should
    find my explanations about sympathetic resonance.

    Remember : few months ago i've explained that with a video.

    i was the first that i tell about this feature and show Kontakt script examples.

    And i'm sure it had given idea at some developpers....

    Now my knowdledge about this is more developped, and my script too !

    Several sampled piano have and others will have this feature in a near future.


  6. #6

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in Steinway?

    Hi Olivier,

    Thank you for posting.

    Probably the subject of the thread is a bit misleading... I'm looking on what Steinway can do, more than what it actually is (since I know what it is).

    Thank you for your pointers.


  7. #7

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

    I thought that "una corda" meant one string and on some more expensive pianos is just that, the strings are moved so that the hammer strikes only one string of the three (or two).

    The soft pedal moves the action towards the strings

  8. #8

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

    Quote Originally Posted by buckshead View Post
    I thought that "una corda" meant one string and on some more expensive pianos is just that, the strings are moved so that the hammer strikes only one string of the three (or two).

    The soft pedal moves the action towards the strings
    You're quite right, at the same time as not being. Una Corda does mean one string, and on a good piano the soft pedal moves all the hammers to the right (not the strings) so that only one string is struck. It's only on cheaper pianos (and uprights) that this is simulated by moving the hammers closer to the strings.

  9. #9

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

    ...unless you were talking about the practise pedal that is fitted as a third pedal on some uprights. They have a damper, and una corda and a very-very-very-soft pedal, which I believe does move the hammers very close to the strings, to the point that you can practise with other people in the room. Quite often this middle pedal can also be locked in place.

  10. #10

    Re: Sympathetic resonance in simple terms...

    My piano has got this feature, when the pedal is pressed down a felt strip is lowered between the hammers and the strings. Doesn't sound good but allow practice without annoying everyone else in the house.

    I'm sure that I read that the strings were moved but moving to one side is more sense.

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