Well, is Stephen asking or telling, when he writes:
> this process might better be described as "stabilizing".
Of course the most important phenomenon from a practical point of view
is, indeed, 'stabilizing,' since a newly-attached string will stretch
and drop in pitch rather a lot at first. A harpsichord newly-strung (by
"new" I mean within the hour), when chipped to a rough approximation of
playing pitch (no sense doing an actual temperament or such at this
stage) will often drop by nearly a semitone in a few minutes. (Some of
this is also balancing-out counter-stresses in the carcass). Do it
again, and by morning it will have dropped by nearly a semitone again.
This process, at least with brass, and at least with a carcass that CAN
find comfortable balance of stresses (some never do, but we won't go
THERE), slows down pretty rapidly.
Anyway, in my experience a brand-new brass replacement string will
sound, as most say, "dull," which is to say that even mid-level
partials, let alone higher ones, are very poorly developed. It will
sometimes also not sound as loud, though I suspect that is a trick of
the ear, which confuses the weakness of harmonic development with lower
volume. Anyway, that is the main difference. It is also the common
wisdom, and my experience tends to support this, that "iron" strings
"mature," that is, develop their full mix of the partials fate will ever
allot them, rather more quickly than do brass ones.
I doubt that the so-called maturation process amounts - in effect, which
was what Stephen was asking about - to much more than the development of
the potential mix of partials.
The stabilization doesn't, in my experience, really take all that long.
Unfortunately, however, in most cases it DOES take longer than the span
of a concert, and it rarely seems prudent to me to replace a broken
string in the middle of a concert unless it is absolutely necessary.
"Absolutely necessary" does not include assuaging the panic of a
performer who is not yet a grizzled veteran at these things.
Dr. Calhoun will wish to add something about the usefulness of phosphor
bronze as an emergency replacement for brass, as it can hold its new
pitch remarkably quickly.
> Stephen Birkett Fortepianos
> Authentic Reproductions of 18th and 19th Century Pianos
> 464 Winchester Drive
> Waterloo, Ontario
> Canada N2T 1K5
> tel: 519-885-2228
> mailto: [log in to unmask]
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic
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There's also a negative side."
--Hunter S. Thompson