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Topic: Steinway demo - Grainger's Irish Tune

  1. #1

    Steinway demo - Grainger's "Irish Tune"

    Irish Tune from County Derry*, 3:21, 7.7Mb

    Arranger .... Percy Aldridge Grainger
    Arranged .... October 1902-July 1911 (took a while!)
    Samples ..... Garritan Authorized Steinway-D
    Perspective . Player
    Sequencer ... Overture (manual entry from printed score)
    Reverb ...... Ambience (Parlor)
    EQ .......... Aria (+2 mid, +4 high)
    Monitors .... Dynaudio Acoustics BM5

    Nothing technically flashy here, but rather an exploration of the piano’s tone. In years past, I played this to demo acoustic pianos, so I thought we’d apply it to Gary’s new software Steinway to see how it fares.

    This is from the “player” perspective, perhaps as how the composer may have heard it and I personally prefer.

    Aside from the melody being a tune most everyone is familiar with, this particular arrangement has the following specific “demo” points of interest:
    Wide pitch range, from Bb0 to C6. Are all parts of the range convincing, natural, and without artificial coloring or random artifacts?

    Continuous use of sustain pedal, full-pedal, half-pedal, plus multiple sections including the sostenuto pedal. Does the pedaling connect chords and passages in a convincing and natural way? Is there at least a hint of sympathetic resonance when pedaling? Are the gradations in pedaling effective, or do they all sound the same? Does the sostenuto work correctly?

    Wide dynamics, from pppp to fff. Is the velocity progression even and natural, without noticeable “bumps” between levels? Are even the softest dynamics detailed and expressive or are they dull or lost? Are the loudest dynamics solid and powerful without being harsh or clipped? Do the velocity levels have a tone quality commensurate with the dynamics, or does the tone seem vaguely mezzo-forte regardless of volume?

    Multiple simultaneous dynamic levels, including predominant lines embedded within the harmonic structure. Much of this arrangement has three simultaneous dynamic levels (four if you count balancing everything against the bass line). Also, this particular piece is unusual in that the melody is largely embedded within the harmonic structure, i.e., it is often an inner voice as opposed to one of the outer voices. Furthermore, there are frequent countermelodies that are sometimes louder or sometimes softer than the main melody. Do these interior lines come through clearly and expressively? Are the competing lines intelligible or an undifferentiated, mushy racket?
    Yet considering all these points, I would ultimately be looking for an endearing warmth with a clear, singing tone throughout—the standard when judging the piece when played on steel, wood, felt, and ivory.

    Technical Comments

    Mech noise 33, polyphony 64, sustain resonance 44, sympathetic resonance 48, straight velocity, velocity range in use: 33-110

    I’ve not seen it written down anywhere, but I seem to hear seven apparent velocity levels, with break points around 35, 50, 65, 80, 95, 115. The velocity transitions are quite good overall. 115 is the most noticeable, while 95 and 80 much less so. The 35 point actually drops a little in volume when coming up from lower velocity. I find the top velocity level extremely hard, but it’s there if anyone needs to break virtual strings.

    The onboard 3-band EQ is a most welcome inclusion, but it would be of greater benefit to be able to vary the frequency and Q.


    I love it! The midrange is gangbusters good!! Sampled and synthesized “acoustic pianos” routinely fall flat on their face in the midrange, so it’s a real technical achievement to get this right, while the resonance features are a dream come true. The impressive packaging, beautiful design, intelligent interface, flawless performance, and great sound are an unbeatable total package. This first chapter in the new Aria platform portends many good things forthcoming from Garritan and Co.

    *Historical note:

    The melody that is the basis of this arrangement is said to be “very old”. So old, that no one knew its name anymore. It was first published in a Dublin collection dated 1855 with the title “Name unknown”, with an added note as to its general location. And it was from this collection that Mr. Grainger lovingly set his beautiful arrangement.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bigears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Central Illinois

    Re: Steinway demo - Grainger's Irish Tune

    Hi, I enjoyed the "tune", I have been a Grainger fan for about 40 years. I just wanted to let you know that I have a CD of some of his arrangements performed by a male vocal group, and your rendition ( with the care you have taken on the inner voices ) holds up very well against the singers.
    The players perspective sounds pretty bold and up front, as I guess it should. I have mostly been experimenting with some of the other settings and will have to get more familiar with the sound "from the bench."
    Thanks for sharing this! John (bigears)

  3. #3

    Re: Steinway demo - Grainger's Irish Tune

    Beautiful melody, beautifully performed on this fantastic instrument. The only thing that did bother me after a few seconds is the sound of the pedal. At least I think that is what it is that I am hearing. I understand that is what one probably hears when sitting directly in front of the piano, but in a recording for a listener it becomes really distracting. Anyway, that's just my personal feeling. The dynamic range sounds wonderfully rich. I can't wait to lay my own claws on this piano one day.....
    Kind Regards

    Louis Dekker
    My Music Site

    Pour être grand, il faut avoir été petit.

  4. #4

    Re: Steinway demo - Grainger's Irish Tune


    An awesome Irish Melody very beautifully played.

    Thanks for sharing this and all of the great information
    about the new Steinway. This will be most helpful
    to many before listening to your beautiful rendition of
    one of my favorite Irish Melodies.

    (a Scotch-Irish-native American.......lol)
    Jack Cannon--Toshiba laptop, 2.8 GHz CPU, 1.5 GB RAM, GPO4-JABB3-Auth. STEINWAY-Gofriller CELLO-Stradivari VIOLIN-COMB2-WORLD, FINALE 2009/11, RME Digiface, Cardbus, V-Stack---Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 8, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express.--MacBook Pro 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  5. #5

    Re: Steinway demo - Grainger's Irish Tune

    You don't hear nearly enough of Percy Grainger; which
    is a shame. I've been an admirer for as long as I can

    Very nice job on this, Darwin. Thank you for it!

    My best,


  6. #6

    Re: Steinway demo - Grainger's Irish Tune

    Thanks, everyone, for giving a listen and leaving a note. It's gratifying to read each of you enjoy this as much as I.


    As one might read from my ramblings above, the mechanical level is only at 33, so any pedal racket is barely discernible, if at all at a normalized eq setting (even with I can't hear it at all). However, if I crank the treble all the way up, I can most definitely hear it, especially on the softest passages. Perhaps it is best left out altogether. I know the tendency is to crank the treble a bit on some of these Authorized Steinway renderings, and I did just that a little on this mix. But if I do it and you do it as well, the results may well be additive and none to pleasant on your end, vis-à-vis the mechanical noise.

    I've played more than a few new showroom Steinways (post technician), and to me they routinely sound rather muffled in the top three octaves, unless played rather forcefully, i.e., really pressing the hammers into the strings. The hammer felt is just too new. For a sampling project, I would start with a model D that has at least a few years of regular daily play, so it's well broken in, and then have a technician come in and go through it, fixing up any problems, and use that instrument as the sample base. Not sure if Gary's team considered this or not, but there's always v2.0 or maybe one or more of the other planned models.


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