Thank you to those who donated to Piano Society in 2017.

Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato

Discussion in 'Technique' started by musical-md, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,927
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    To roll up the discussion, Wikipedia says that staccato is a form of musical articulation. It does not mention anything about the availability or lack of dampers. But what do they know ! Maybe that article needs to be rewritten now ... any volunteers ? :mrgreen:

    Seriously now, they have all the right references (Harvard, Oxford, grove) so I assume this article should be right. References to staccato I could find on the web are always about staccato playing, not about staccato sound.

    Now what I want to know is, and I think is a more interesting topic, why are there no dampers up there :?: Sure, the decay is pretty quick there but I still find it irritating now and then. Seems a bit lame to leave them out just to cut some costs. Maybe there are pianos with dampers all the way up ? Or does some physical law say that is not possible ?
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    8,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Last Name:
    Hart
    First Name:
    Monica
    All I know is that when a piece I am recording ends on very high notes (where there are no dampers), there is no decay at all and I can't sneeze or breathe because the tone is still ringing out a little and I don't want to cut off the recording too quickly, because then you'll hear that the recording did not get to the very end. (sorry, long sentence...)
     
  3. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    0
    Occupation:
    Church Musician, Choral Accompanist, Musical Theat
    Location:
    Illinois
    One reason that they are left undamped is to add to the color. These strings will vibrate sympathetically with the upper harmonics of the lower notes.

    It should be noted the the number of dampers vary by make and model of piano. A Steinway D has 71 (to G6), Steinway M, L, and B have 67 (to D#6). I believe Yamahas in general have 69 (to F6). There may be pianos with more or fewer dampers.

    Scott
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,927
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    Thanks Scott, that seems to make sense. For fun, I'll try out how it sounds when these strings ARE damped.
     
  5. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Physician, Chief Medical Officer
    Location:
    Biloxi, MS, USA
    Last Name:
    Del Rio
    First Name:
    Eddy
    @ Rainer: Good one about the vibrato, though I thought my version was funnier :D
    @ Chris: The reason that the Wikipedia article on staccato doesn't mention dampers, is that a bassoon has none, as rainer will attest to (or insert many other instruments). So its about the sound, not the mechanical aspect. Consider the first sound of the Beethoven Symphony No. 3, all staccato, not a damper to be seen: :wink:
     
  6. rainer

    rainer New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Messages:
    302
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Not true. Timpani (and many other percussion instruments) are similar to the piano in that their sound rings on for a considerable time unless explicitly damped. In your Eroica example, the timpanist will hit the drum head with the stick held in one hand while the other hand is hovering above the surface, poised for its fingertips to come down to kill the sound more or less as soon as the stick has bounced off it.

    String instruments also ring on, though to a much lesser extent, if you give the note a sharp attack and then lift the bow off the string. Take the Eroica's first cello note. This Eb will probably be fingered with the first finger on the D string. The finger presses the string hard against the fingerboard. The note will probably be started with the bow resting on the string but not moving (as opposed to the bow already moving while it makes contact with the string) because accelerating the bow from rest gives the note a nice sharp attack. The player will then lift the bow off the string, and at this point the sound will begin to decay, but will ring on unless the player damps it by reducing pressure on the aforementioned finger - not enough to lift the finger off the string, but enough to lift the string off the fingerboard. The finger thus acts as a damper.

    Even on woodwind instruments there is some ringing on, though much less still than on a string instrument. The note will stop if you just stop blowing, but the envelope will tend to exhibit a characteristic decay profile. If you want the profile to be a bit more square at the end, you need to use an explicit damping technique such as touching the reed with your tongue or blocking off the airflow. Listen to (and perhaps look at the waveform also) of the attached short clip in which I play the same few notes five times on my bassoon. The first is more or less tenuto, the third and fifth are ordinary staccato (the third more than the fifth) and the second and fourth are staccato with damping.
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,927
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    And the dispute goes on....... *YAWN*
     
  8. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Physician, Chief Medical Officer
    Location:
    Biloxi, MS, USA
    Last Name:
    Del Rio
    First Name:
    Eddy
    Rainer,
    Now there's an idea. That high piano passage could be played staccato with the pianist performing as a human damper with his nose, as he has no free fingers, perhaps a la Crumb. :lol:

    No one said that a Bassoon doesn't play staccato (as the score I provided proves), I said it doesn't have dampers <a noun, not a verb>. I guess you missed the point.
     
  9. rainer

    rainer New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Messages:
    302
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Forget the bassoon, just consider the timps. You said no damper is used in the Eroica's opening chord, but that's incorrect since clearly the timps must be damped. In this context the difference between noun and verb is unimportant: If you can dampen (verb) any instrument's sound with something, even if it's your hand, then that something is the damper (noun), it doesn't have to be an integral mechanical component of the instrument.

    Anyway, this is all getting a bit far from the original point, and I get the feeling Chris is wanting us to put a damper :) on this discussion, so perhaps we should call it a day since we don't seem to be converging.
     
  10. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Physician, Chief Medical Officer
    Location:
    Biloxi, MS, USA
    Last Name:
    Del Rio
    First Name:
    Eddy
    Good pun. I agree.
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,927
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    Heck no, this is all far too civilized for a moderator to put a damper one. By all means you two carry on until eternity - if you think it helps :lol: You might eventually get to discuss staccato on the glass harmonica. Now that would be interesting.
     
  12. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Physician, Chief Medical Officer
    Location:
    Biloxi, MS, USA
    Last Name:
    Del Rio
    First Name:
    Eddy
    Now you're starting to rub me the wrong way! :evil:
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,927
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    Oh dear !
     
  14. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Physician, Chief Medical Officer
    Location:
    Biloxi, MS, USA
    Last Name:
    Del Rio
    First Name:
    Eddy
    Me thinks you missed the pun. :wink:
     
  15. rainer

    rainer New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Messages:
    302
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    So did I, I'm sorry to say. But once I knew I was looking for a pun, it didn't take long for the penny to drop. It's actually quite good!
     
  16. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    9,927
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Last Name:
    Breemer
    First Name:
    Chris
    I'm known not to notice a pun until someone rubs my nose in it.
     

Share This Page