Robert Estrin - piano expert

Are There Different Pianos Made for Different Types of Music?

An interesting question with a surprising answer

In this video, Robert discusses the different kind of pianos and how they can best be tailored to different styles of music.

Released on October 20, 2021

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to livingspianos.com. Robert Estrin here with a question. Are there are rock pianos, classical pianos, jazz pianos, new age, pianos, rag time pianos? Are there different pianos made for different types of music? Sometimes you'll talk to people and say, "Oh, I want a Yamaha piano for rock to be able to get that. Get that bright sound that cuts through. Yeah.

And can you do that on a Steinway? Well, I just played that on the same piano I always play, that you've heard me play. A beautiful, slow mood of Beethoven's Pathitique Sonata. Same piano, same sound. So it can be done.

Let me give you a parallel. Computers. Are there computers made for business, computers made for photography, computers made for music, computers made for video? To some degree, yes. However, any high powered computer can accomplish any of those. Sure, a gaming computer might have a beefier graphics card, but any computer can do any job. Some might be a little bit better suited and some types of applications require more processing power of one sort or another.

Well, to a certain degree, the same is true with pianos. However, a great deal depends upon the voicing and regulation of the instrument. So you could take a piano like a Steinway, which you think of having a rich warm sound that maybe gets a little bit of that growl when you really lay into it? Well, harden those hammers, and guess what? You're going to have a really aggressive sounding piano, which might be appropriate for some classical pieces. You want brilliant treble and list, but it also could be great for rag time or rock.

So there aren't necessarily pianos that are built for different styles of music. I will say, however, the voicing of a piano has a lot to do with how appropriate they may be for a certain style or a certain player. For example, Vladimir Horowitz played on a super bright piano and, of course, he was a classical pianist. You might wonder why did he want to a bright piano? Well, his unique technique sitting low and playing very delicately, he could control that very bright piano and get all different colors from warm to bright, just from the amazing control he had, whereas other people might prefer a piano. My father, for example, always liked to have his piano's voiced on the warm side so that he could play powerfully and never overdrive the piano into a harsh sound, and yet get that beautiful, warm tone in his playing when he was playing delicate pianissimo.

So any piano can be voiced one way or another. There could be some pianos that are more appropriate for certain styles. For example, sometimes European pianos with their bell-like clear tone can be just wonderful for a Mozart concerto, a nice, clear, crisp sound, where an American piano like a Mason Allen, or even a Steinway, may be a bit thick for that sort of music. If you've ever heard, the original piano fortes or forte pianos from Mozart's era, it's a dramatically different sound from a modern piano, particularly a fat sound of a Steinway. So there is some validity to choosing pianos for certain styles of music, but the voicing and more importantly, the playing will determine which pianos will be appropriate for your music.

Thanks again for joining me. Robert Estrin here, livingpianos.com, your online piano resource. Thanks for subscribing. Spread the word about piano if you love piano as much as I do. See you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Jan VanDenBerg on October 23, 2021 @11:27 am PST
I'm a fairly new viewer of your videos and am not sure if you've answered the following question. What is your opinion of digital pianos that play different authentic "voices?" These digital pianos can play various grands such as the Bosendorfer, pop grands, rock grands, ballad grands, jazz grands, etc. In addition, digital pianos can play various organs, strings, flutes, trumpets, etc. How do the digital piano sounds and touch compare to the physical piano sounds and touch?
reply
Robert - host, on October 24, 2021 @11:05 am PST
Being able to produce a variety of keyboard and other instruments sounds is one of the great benefits of digital pianos!
G Gleeson * VSM MEMBER * on October 20, 2021 @9:14 pm PST
Many thanks, Robert - for taking the time to reply. It was interesting to learn that you base your sound on the K2. May I ask a piano playing question - how to play softly (especially in one hand) on an upright piano. I know Grands are easier in this respect, and I understand the principles about arm weight and slow key descent. But do you have any further tips about how to do this on an upright, where it does seem harder to achieve a softer sound? Maybe a video!! Many thanks, again, Gerry
reply
Robert - host, on October 21, 2021 @8:57 am PST
You should be able to control dynamics on a well regulated upright using the same techniques as on a grand piano. The biggest weakness on upright actions is the speed of repetition due to the hammers traveling sideways instead of up and down.
G Gleeson * VSM MEMBER * on October 21, 2021 @5:58 pm PST
Thanks again, Robert. I will keep practicing!
Ronald Beattie * VSM MEMBER * on October 20, 2021 @3:51 pm PST
what is that piano your playing?
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Robert - host, on October 21, 2021 @10:10 am PST
The piano you see in many of my videos is one of 2 prototype modular pianos systems I have developed which provide a virtual concert grand playing experience.
G Gleeson * VSM MEMBER * on October 20, 2021 @3:45 am PST
Thanks Robert,
I think you are using Pianoteq - would you tell us which piano sound you are using?
Please keep the videos coming, thanks - Gerry
reply
Robert - host, on October 20, 2021 @8:00 am PST
Yes, I use Pianoteq physical modeling piano software which is incredibly expressive, and rock solid. I use a modified K2 piano model which is the one they created (not from any one particular piano).
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