In his foreword to Larry Fine’s The Piano Book, Keith Jarrett says that:
Pianos are complicated instruments. Some have deep, dark secrets, some have sunny dispositions, some have no secrets at all. There are pianos with a grey, metallic “European” sound; some with a stringier but brilliant “American” sound; some with a laser-sharp, “straight” “Japanese” sound. There are pianos with a wealth of overtones, and some with very few; some thick-sounding instruments, some thin and weak but interesting. But if a dozen people were asked to draw pianos, they would almost all look the same.
What piano sound do you prefer? And how would you describe it? Does your piano have any “secrets”?
Many piano professionals would say that Yamahas have a “bright” sound, whereas Kawai pianos are “warmer.” American pianos tend to have a big, full sound, as do many European pianos. Obviously, the size and type (vertical or grand) of piano make a big difference in sound, as do the age of the instrument and the acoustics of the room its in (size; carpeted or bare floors, for example). Has it been tuned regularly? Has a technician done any voicing to the instrument?
Keith Jarrett is right; pianos are complicated instruments, ones that transform wood and strings and all the thousands of intricate parts and pieces within them into wonderful, complex sounds and beautiful music.
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