"Mathematics reveals why this piano sounds so wonderful" Says Dr Bob Anderssen from CSIRO. Click here to visit the CSIRO website.



Mathematics featured at a music festival to explain how instrument maker Wayne Stuart built a world-class piano that may become the basis of a new industry in Australia.

The Stuart pianos not only look magnificent, they have also attracted praise from concert pianists around the world because of their remarkable clarity of sound. CSIRO Mathematician Dr Bob Anderssen presented a talk about how Wayne Stuart achieved this unique sound at the Keyboard Festival at the University of Newcastle's Conservatorium of Music. "A piano festival might be a strange place to hear about mathematics", says Dr Anderssen. "But mathematics reveals why this piano sounds so wonderful". It's all a matter of vibrations.

Dr Anderssen has mathematically modelled the new coupling method responsible for the wonderful clarity of sound that the Stuart pianos produce. By exploiting existing knowledge about piano sounds and string vibration, some of it over two thousand years old, Dr Anderssen was able to build a mathematical model of the way piano strings vibrate. "The model reveals how, in standard grand pianos, the strings begin vibrating vertically but change to vibrate horizontally, parallel to the soundboard,"Dr Anderssen says. "This change to a horizontal vibration makes the sound less harmonious". "But, in the Stuart piano, the vibrations stay in the vertical plane because of the special coupling method implemented by Stuart. This gives a more harmonious and stronger sound", he said. "CSIRO's modelling will continue to assist Wayne in refining his design for future Stuart pianos", says Professor Robert Constable, Director of the Conservatorium . "Our long term goal is to establish a piano manufacturing industry in Newcastle".


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