Posts tagged attack
Ever wonder what makes one piano sound bright and strident while another more mellow and warm? Well my son plays the drums (and piano of course!) and i find it interesting that it’s the attack point that determines frequencies. So… let’s say for example a drummer pulls out a pair of brushes to do a jazz number. Next song he uses sticks for a rock song. Finally, let’s think of soft mallets. Now think about the fact that the drums themselves didn’t change. The rims, the skins – all remained the same. What changed however was the attack point – more specifically the density of the surface. So the brushes have many fibers put together. They ‘swish’ the drums more than hit in part too because the fibres are flexible. The sticks have a very defined strike point but also a firmness to them. The mallets on the other hand are ‘felty’. Each of these accentuate – now this is key – different frequencies that already exist within the drum. The harder the strike point, the more the drum will accelerate the frequencies akin to the mallet. Now in pianos, the hammers are the mallets are they not? They strike the strings – they present the tone. It is at that strike point the tone is established. So if you want different sound, simply change the hammers then right? Well…. sort of. 50% of your tone will be in that strike point and 50% will be the frequencies accelerated within the piano itself. Back to the drum analogy – the mallet can change and produce varying degrees of brilliance but the drum still embodies all of the frequencies… whether you enjoy them or not. So are you stuck with the tone that’s in your piano? No. In the words of the Germans “Vee haf vays unt makink dem talk!” – There are methods to alter the sound – by manipulating the strike point – to change the perceived tone. That’s called voicing.