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Re: [fluid-dev] Sustain long fadeout a property of the synth or the font

From: Matt Giuca
Subject: Re: [fluid-dev] Sustain long fadeout a property of the synth or the font?
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 15:26:01 +1100

Just on a side (musical) note.  With Piano, the "Sustain" pedal undamps all the strings so you do get sympathetic resonances AND the notes die away slowly with the pedal held.  So it seems the Yamaha is modelling this.  But then, on a piano, the notes die away even if you hold the keys; one of the reasons it is classified as a percussion instrument, not a stringed instrument. The middle pedal of a Grand is the "Sostenuto" pedal which lifts the dampers of whichever notes you are holding at the time, leaving you free to play other notes while these are held.  But still the notes will die away.  

Interesting. I'm not really sure what the dampers do. I've opened up a piano and watched the mechanism working while pressing the middle (Sostenuto, I think) pedal, but I never understood what difference it made to the sound.

Way back when the early synths were developed, the envelope of a sound was divided into 4 segments referred to as Attack, Decay (of the attack, to the) Sustain (level that the note will be maintained at until let go into the) Release.  This was intended to be able to simulate the starting transient of an instrument.  The standards today still reflect that thinking.

So the "Envelope Sustain" provided by a sustain pedal or code in MIDI is NOT sustain in the Piano sense but is more like sustain in an Organ sense.  Interestingly, some of the larger Theatre Pipe Organs had a "sostenuto" switch which held on the pipes that were sounding when the switch was activated.  In this case, the pipes do keep sounding until you release the switch - more like MIDI.

So take your pick - sustain or sostenuto!  (With apologies to those who already know this stuff)

OK so I am more concerned with strings and other "long" sounding instruments here (woodwind and brass too). A piano doesn't sound much different if you hold the keys down or if you hold the sustain pedal -- in both cases there is still fade out. (In MIDI terms, the attack is short, the decay is long, the sustain is 0db and the release is very short.) The effect on my Yamaha is pronounced more with string instruments, where if you hold the keys down it's going to keep playing the note forever at the same volume (the attack is very short, the decay is 0, the sustain is full volume and the release is very short). On my Yamaha, when you release the keys but hold the pedal, the strings begin to slowly fade out over about 3 seconds. It is lovely to play, because once you learn it, you have a tactile way to manage the volume of the notes rather than just how hard you strike the keys in the first place.

Andrew: OK I'll try this in Swami later. Thanks.

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