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My grandmother is an incredible pianist. She is also losing
her hearing and for the last five or so years, it has been
bad enough that she can't play piano.
I have talked to her about the idea of getting her an
electronic piano so that she could just turn the volume up
and play through headphones,
but she says the problem is
deeper than just volume.
With her hearing loss, and I'm sure that of many other
people, frequencies near the limits of hearing range sound
out of tune. I imagine this has to do with the hairs on the
cochlea tuned to those frequencies failing, and others
nearby trying to compensate.
My idea is an electronic piano specifically tuned to
compensate. When buying such a piano, the buyer would
be tested by an audiologist to determine exactly what
frequencies were distorting and by how much. The piano
would then be tuned to compensate.
Since these people would probably still like to play for other
people, and since the piano would sound out of tune to
everyone else, it would have multiple, configurable
outputs. If you wanted to play for others, you could have
the headphone output play the compensated sound, while
the speakers or speaker output would play the
famous example [csea, Jul 30 2010]
||Sounds reasonable; I wonder how easy it would be to do? I
didn't realize that perceived pitch might change, but I
suppose it makes sense.
||However, I wonder if there's another way to achieve the
same end, perhaps better.
||There is a famous example of an electronically-synthesized
musical scale which rises tone by tone indefinitely, and
yet never seems to get higher.
||The way it is done is by varying the harmonics of the
notes. As the notes get higher, a sub-fundamental (an
octave below) is gradually introduced whilst the highest
harmonics are reduced. So, by the time you've gone up an
octave, you've actually returned to your original note
without realizing it. It would be interesting to know if the
illusion (of a continuously rising scale) is perceived by your
||Now, suppose we take an electronic piano and alter the
harmonics. Suppose also that your grandmother's hearing
is only good in the middle of the keyboard. We arrange it
so that the higher notes have sub-fundamentals (ie, an
overtone an octave or two octaves below the
fundamental), whilst the lower notes are enriched for
||In this way, all notes will have strong harmonics which are
within the hearing range. Bass notes will sound a bit
"tinnier" than they normally would, and high notes will
sound a bit "bassier", but I think you'd adapt to this quite
||(You could do a similar thing with electronic drum-kits,
and call it the Beathoven.)
||Brilliant! Encore! Bun! [+]
||Possibly complicated, depending on the nature of the hearing loss. But well thought out and described. +