Analyzing finger motion in piano performance: Touch and tempo effects
Werner Goebl; Caroline Palmer

This poster presents a kinematic examination of the movement properties of pianists’ fingers measured with three-dimensional motion capture technology. Pianists performed melodic passages at a wide range of tempi; from medium fast (143 ms inter-onset interval, IOI) to extremely fast (62 ms IOI). The main question was whether finger motion dynamics change with performance tempo, an important issue for practicing piano and training at conservatories. Kinematic landmarks were determined from the finger trajectories (maximum height, finger-key contact, and key-bottom contact). The timing of those kinematic landmarks changed considerably as the tempo became faster; piano touch was under deliberate control only at slower tempi. Individual differences in the maximum performance speed led to specific claims about desirable finger dynamics for successful piano playing.