Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Psychology of Music 
effort has been made to aid the student in music by bringing order 
out of this chaos from a scientific point of view. However, recent 
scientific approaches to this subject have made progress and give 
assurance of the possibility of an adequate analysis, description, 
and terminology for many of these phenomena.* The best available 
book on the subject for musicians is the volume by Professor 
Ortmann, Director of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. It is 
based upon a searching analysis of historical, theoretical, and 
experimental evidences. His principal findings may be summarized 
as follows: 
The pianist has at his direct control only two of the four factors in music, 
namely, intensity and time. Pitch and timbre are determined primarily by the 
composer and the instrument. 
The pianist can control the intensity only in terms of the velocity of the 
hammer, at the moment at which it leaves the escapement mechanism, and by 
the action of the pedals. 
There are only two significant strokes on the key: the percussion and the 
nonpercussion. The difference between these is that the former contributes more 
noise to the piano tone, and the latter gives the player better control of the desired 
Aside from the addition of the noise, the player cannot modify the quality 
of the tone by the manner of depressing the key or by manipulations after the 
key has struck its bed except, perhaps, by a momentary partial key release and 
immediate key depression, damping the tone somewhat but not entirely. 
He can control the time factors which influence quality only by the action of 
the dampers either through the keys or the pedals. 
In general, these facts have been known for a long time by 
instrument makers and leading musicians. But many musicians 
have failed to recognize their significance or admit the facts. In¬ 
deed, experts in various fields of acoustical science also have ques¬ 
tioned the findings enough to justify taking the problem into their 
laboratories for analysis and verification. However, all the investi¬ 
gators have reached the same conclusion on the above points. Let 
us examine each of the essential factors in turn. 
Insofar as it depends upon the stroke of the key, intensity 
(the physical fact) or loudness (the mental fact) is a function of the 
velocity of the hammer at the moment that it impinges upon the 
string. After that, the tone can be modified only by action of 
the dampers. The piano action for any key consists of a compound 
* The evidence for the view here presented is largely the work of Ortmann,10’ of White,’1’ 
Bart, Fuller, and Lutby,” and Ghosh.1,17


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