Piano Overtones

I finally got a chance to a look into some of the code that affects the personality of one of our instruments. One of our script writers wrote a script to add overtones to a piano, which in our case this means a Steinway, a Bosendorfer, a Bechstein, and a Yamaha. Overtones are sounds produced by one string resonating another. The most commonly heard overtones are with strings of the same note an octave or two apart, but they can occur on other strings as well. The overtones that are triggered depend on which strings have the damper down, if the note is sustained, and how load the string was played. In other words, it’s incredibly complicated.

The script needed enough cleaning up that I had to learn about the rules for piano overtones and for my poor little square brain into a round sound hole. I figured that even if I didn’t get a chance to finish the script, I would at least get some better ideas for the scripting engine itself, and I’d learn something about pianos.

I can’t wait to hear this script in action, because it will take an amazingly crisp piano and make it even more realstic, and the effect will be written in python using my embedded scripting engine. Very nice.
Our piano product is here:
By |2008-11-22T08:25:00+00:00November 22nd, 2008|Uncategorized|2 Comments


  1. Anonymous November 22, 2008 at 11:46 am - Reply
  2. chris November 22, 2008 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Yes, overtones are frequencies above the fundamental frequency of the note. The frequencies of harmonic overtones have an integer ratio to the fundamental frequency. E.g. the first two overtones are an octave (2/1) and an octave plus a fifth (3/2) above the fundamental.

    Overtones (in a piano sound) are generated by the oscillation of the string not only in its full length but also at half the length of the string, a third of the length, etc.

    There are also inharmonic overtones with non-integer frequency ratios to the fundamental. These play an important role for percussive sound elements.

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