Playing an instrument that allows one the luxury of not caring about the physics

Pianos, I mean. Sure there are issues whereby a given string has to be longer and thicker, the hammer needs to be voiced a certain way, etc. etc. etc. But that’s all stowed down there, in that end of the thing. Nowhere near where I’m sitting. Sure, there are some issues whereby the hammers are weighted differently the lower you go, and hence feel different throughout the keyboard. And I suppose that after a substantial chunk of my childhood playing the thing, I’ve adjusted to that without being aware of it. (I do recall being surprised to learn that piano keys are weighted differently across the keyboard; it just felt natural to me.)

But it’s not like I have to voice the hammers myself, or open the lid and press down on the middle C strings a third of the way down, and then hit it again to get a G. It’s not like the C1 key is proportionally larger than the C4, where the proportion is related to the relative frequency of the sounds (thank dawg, or else the C1 key would be huge and about a mile away).

I just don’t have to worry about a lot of that stuff. It’s all been taken care of by the mechanical design of the thing, that removes me as a pianist from the physics of the sound production. Maybe not entirely removes, but I’m a damned sight further from the sound production on this thing that on just about any other instrument. If I want to play a wind instrument that makes low noises, I’d better be prepared to play something that looks like ductwork and bends around itself three times to keep from being two stories tall. Strings are a bit better in that you can play a small, low instrument, but it’s not going to sound as resonant.

It’s becoming annoying obvious to me that I’ve been spoiled as a pianist. I want a small, light, low-pitched instrument — a sort of Rick Astley of musical instruments — and physics has determined that they just aren’t that common. Low stuff is big, small stuff is high (I’m thinking shrill but I’ll be nice and say “high”), and I feel unaccountably put out by this having played an instrument for my whole life that has the range of an entire orchestra in a span that I can encompass with comfortably open arms.

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