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Music By the Ton

SOMEBODY once said that it requires more force to sound a note gently on the piano than to lift the lid of a kettle. A German musician has just proved it. He has calculated that the minimum pressure of the finger playing pianissimo is equal to a quarter of a pound. Few kettle lids weigh so much. The German’s calculation is easily verified if one takes a small handful of coins and piles them on a key of the piano. When a sufficent (sic) quantity is piled on to make a note sound, they can be weighed. If the pianist is playing fortissimo a much greater force is of course needed. At times a force of six pounds is thrown upon a single key to produce a solitary effect. This is what gives pianists the wonderful strength of finger so often commented on. A story used to be told of Paderewski that he could crack a pane of French plate-glass half-an-inch thick merely by placing one hand upon it, as if upon a piano keyboard, and striking it sharply with his middle finger. Chopin’s last study in C minor has a passage which takes two minutes and five seconds to play. The total pressure brought to bear on this has been estimated as amounting to three tons.

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