Secrets of Piano Action Revealed
Many folks think that playing the piano is like using a typewriter: press a key, you get a note. But on a typewriter, there are two main limitations:
- You can’t change what each “note” looks like, and
- You can’t repeat that “note” very quickly.
What makes the piano action truly remarkable is its ability to provide a nearly infinite range of volume and texture for each note, as well as its ability to enable incredibly fast repetitions, all with a minimum of physical effort. Despite less than half an inch of motion from the top of the key to the bottom of its stroke, the piano action can provide an incredible amount of power from the finger to the hammer that strikes the piano string. I like to call this, “bio-mechanical amplification”! In this video, we explore the inner workings of how the piano action works, and how that translates to provide the piano player with true 3D control of the piano sound.
0:09 – The limitations of a typewriter action
1:12 – Demonstration of volume differences with the piano action
2:29 – Demonstration of repetition with the piano action
2:49 – A look at a key stick and how it works as a basic see-saw
3:28 – How the key stick operates on a key frame
4:17 – Thinking of the piano action as a bio-mechanical amplification system
5:12 – Launching a quarter off of the key stick capstan
5:41 – Demonstrating the power of the top action stack with a quarter
6:07 – Demonstrating the sensitivity of the top action stack
6:51 – Jaimie “Jay” Diaz explains the parts of the piano action and how the whippen and letoff works
7:57 – Why letoff is so important
8:45 – How the key end felt controls the piano dampers
10:00 – A look at the back action underlever damper control system
10:29 – What are “weighted keys” and why are they important for digital pianos?
11:49 – Final thoughts on the merger of science and art expressed through the piano