Analysis and modeling of piano sustain-pedal effects

J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Sep;122(3):1787. doi: 10.1121/1.2756172.


This paper describes the main features of the sustain-pedal effect in the piano through signal analysis and presents an algorithm for simulating the effect. The sustain pedal is found to increase the decay time of partials in the middle range of the keyboard, but this effect is not observed in the case of the bass and treble tones. The amplitude beating characteristics of piano tones are measured with and without the sustain pedal engaged, and amplitude envelopes of partial overtone decay are estimated and displayed. It is found that the usage of the sustain pedal introduces interesting distortions of the two-stage decay. The string register response was investigated by removing partials from recorded tones; it was observed that as the string register is free to vibrate, the amount of sympathetic vibrations is increased. The synthesis algorithm, which simulates the string register, is based on 12 string models that correspond to the lowest tones of the piano. The algorithm has been tested with recorded piano tones without the sustain pedal. The objective and subjective results show that the algorithm is able to approximately reproduce the main features of the sustain-pedal effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Esthetics*
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Pitch Perception
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sound
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Vibration