Exploring Expressive Piano Touch through Measurements of Finger Curvature

Viewed from piano pedagogy literature, finger curvature is a causative parameter in performance, altering the resultant tones. Investigations into the physical properties of the piano, however, produce conflicting views over whether this parameter has a direct effect on the key-hammer-string actions. This study examines how pianists use finger movement not only for sound-production but also as expressive gestures, potentially an embodiment of the performer’s view of the microstructures of the piece. Measurements of finger movement and curvature demonstrate differing patterns across pianists suggesting these movements are idiosyncratic and not entirely bound by biomechanical restrictions. Periodicity determined by autocorrelations of these measurements suggests movement strategies based on particular groupings of notes within the piece.