I have heard that some tones are more mellow whereas others are brighter. However, I was wondering what is the difference between these two types of tones on the piano. Although I have heard that brighter tones are sharper than mellow tones, could someone give some audio clips with different tone colors played on the piano?

Then, my follow-up question would be, how can different tone colors be played on the piano? Is there a technique to it? What are some possible exercises that I can do to be able to produce different tone colors on the piano?


2 Answers 2


Some folks would say that you just press the keys, which in turn eventually move the hammers and so the strings get played. Basically true.

However, there are many different ways in which to press those keys. Gently, just tipping the hammer mechanism onto the strings. Like a sledgehammer, causing the hammers to shock the strings. And several points in between. I would say somewhere in that spectrum lie the different tone colours you enquire about.

Try going from one to the other, in several stages, and you'll hear the difference in tones that you can produce.

And that's before we get onto pedalling - an art in itself. Again, there's a spectrum - usually between half-pedalling and full pedalling. But there are stages just before the half-pedalling too. And also, it's how that pedal is deployed - a good teacher could spend a month with you explaining and perfecting your pedal technique!

All of which combined giving a huge variety of tone colours, from the same piano...


Maybe those people were literally talking about tone, in which case playing-volume and the left (unicorda) pedal are the two major contributors.

But possibly their use of words “bright”, “mellow” or “warm” tone are not literally equivalent with a tone of voice: Most of the subtleties of musical expression on the piano are not so much variables of a single note, but rather how multiple notes are played in relation to each other: evenness of volume, relative timing, level of legato, …

  • I don't see how this answers the question. -1.
    – Tim
    Jan 15 at 15:51
  • 1
    This answer seems to say that "tone color" in a piano context broadly means subtleties of expression, rather than the tone of a note. But it could be stated more clearly.
    – Edward
    Jan 16 at 1:44
  • @Tim & Edward: fair points. I edited to clarify the underlying assumption. Jan 16 at 7:09

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