Kevin Hunt’s Research – Stuart & Sons Piano - Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Kevin Hunt is investigating the sound of the Stuart & Sons piano for jazz music. This study involves recording, performance, composition, interviews, presentation of survey-questionnaires and pianist discussion forum groups. Central to this study is the artistic relationship between pianist Kevin Hunt and the Stuart & Sons piano.
Kevin’s piece ‘Time Lines’ has been composed specifically for the Stuart piano, employing the two timbral pedals, and the extended pitch registers, of 102 notes. This piece is influenced by 3 Aboriginal melodies of Sydney, dating back to 1793.
A component of Kevin Hunt’s investigation is to describe the Stuart & Sons piano sound. During 2010, Kevin recorded piano music comparing the sounds of Stuart & Sons and Steinway & Sons pianos. These recordings will be scrutinized to illustrate the harmonic content in both the Steinway and Stuart sounds. It should be revealed that the Stuart piano sound contains a wider spectrum of harmonics. Revealing the different string vibration contour of the Stuart piano with the use of high definition film will also be of great interest during 2011.
A traditional piano string will initially vibrate in a vertical ‘up and down’ manner, and then change to a more horizontal circular motion. The Stuart & Sons new bridge agraffe maintains the string vibration in the vertical manner. It is claimed that the attack, sustain and harmonic transients of the Stuart piano tone are different because of this continuous vertical vibration Anderssen (2007); Gardner (2010).
Since the 1860s all piano makers have maintained particular design principles that have established a piano sound well known to listeners and musicians today. Since 1990, Stuart & Sons Pianos has introduced new concepts of design and sound that differ greatly from the ‘traditional’ piano. The Stuart & Sons piano is reputedly claimed to produce a superior tone and clarity to that of the traditional piano. Since 1990, the Australian music media scene has been fascinated by the new Stuart & Sons piano in reviews and documentaries, yet there is no information on how pianists, musicians, piano technicians, and the general listening audience relate to the different piano sound.
In 2011, Kevin Hunt is conducting a series of concerts that compare the Stuart & Sons piano to the Steinway & Sons piano, at the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music. In these concerts the audience is invited to participate in a survey on piano sound. Descriptive terms such as bright, clear, thin, distinct, short and mellow are used to describe the tone of pianos in research by Houstma (1997), Oorebeek (2009), Fine (1994) and Drabkin (2007).
For more information simply contact Kevin,
 Anderssen,B. (2007) The Challenge for the Piano Maker Math. Scientist. 32: 71-82.
Gardner,P. (2010) ‘Innovations In The Piano’ radio series 3MBS FM Melbourne
 Houtsma,A.J. (1997) Pitch and timbre: Definition , meaning and use Journal of New Music Research
Oorebeek,A.(2009) The Voice Of the Piano - a piano technician’s definitive guide to voicing. Crescendo Publications
Fine, L. (1994) The Piano Book Brookside Press 3rdEd.
Drabkin,W. (2007) Tone iii Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. accessed 30th Oct. 2010 http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/53934.
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