Next stage. Some strips of gauze cloth coated with black silicone sealant to be used like a plaster of Paris structure . Fit on one rubber glove to begin with . Layers of siliconed cloth wound around the thumb before the copper piece was added then more cloth on top. The extended piece was buried in a thicker amount of sealant to take on the normal thumb thickness.
It`s the ugliest thing you ever saw as the surface is just like a buttered sausage roll. But Black! The part that meets the keys is the same width as my thumb. The copper part is well embedded so the keys are safe .Early fitting seems to be comfortable and I`m curious to see how it plays .The octave reach is fine .Without any wrist strap it seems to stay in place when I wag it around. (muffled laughter ). I`m 69 now and my right thumb joint is starting to hate me . As Henry Ford once said "Let`s crank it up and see why it won`t work ".
Still, you're the one who's doing the playing; keep us posted how it's progressing.
I have to admit when I fist started reading this thread, my first alarmed reaction was "Robert Schumann!"
If I hold my hands straight with all fingers vertical the left thumb edge nearly reaches my wedding ring. The false thumb tip reaches the pad of my small finger. I can alter the length either way to fit in with the pieces I`m learning.
ps. ( I removed all the embedded copper in a grisly operation. I might not make the grade as a surgeon . ) More Power Igor !
The latest rolling modification was to sever the tip almost completely and turn it inwards a fraction. Thinking back I may have shifted it the wrong direction as the thumb mainly plays on it`s side. The reinforcement effect of an alteration makes the layer twice as thick too which looses that easy flexing I was using as a sensor . At the other end where the real thumb joins the palm , the loop running to the hinge joint sides of my real thumb is loose at present and it needs a separate extra loop straight around the real thumb to keep some stability. This arrangement may make the early section on top of the false thumb redundant. This is a very high speed type of evolution . What is the ideal situation for octaves or tenths ? Should the key nearest to the extremes be completely undisturbed or is a little touch without sound allowed ? I may need a little bump on the bottom surface to achieve that . You know what will happen. As soon as we can all play like Rachmaninov with his big hands they will compose more out -of - reach notes .
Are you going to post us some picturea or better still a video of this bionic digit?
Gizzy in Cambridge
Can you feel the rules developing ? None of this is tight against the hand as if it was an elastic band. I may use a wrist connection but hope it won`t need that . There is a cover for thumb bandages that has already been designed for that .
If anyone has a plaster cast of Rachmaninov`s hands it would be interesting to make an inside / outside glove adaptation when the groundwork is complete . If he wore a wedding ring it would add atouch of authenticity . I have realised that this thumb simulation is jumping in the deep end of the pool. I did that once before I could swim . It was interesting . The fingers have a much more straightforward action .
Extra interesting ,looking forward , is what would the ideal hand /fingertip layout be ? Splaying the fingers out , what pattern "should" be best ? Would all the tips in a straight line be best or a gentle even curve ? At present the false thumb and index finger lay level with each other . There was an article on the news today about photographing every type of Ant in a Museum collection so we could all look at the details of every variation . That`s the kind of wide ranging thinking an ant would use to develop a way to survive . Imagine Ants that played the piano . What would they recommend ? What shape would an Ant`s hand be ?
When Fritz Kreisler was old and his hearing failing he asked if the first note was in tune before playing some music. His muscle memory was sufficient to keep him on track . One or two fingers on a piano without 100 % feeling could be managed with good hearing . I know famous players often use their fingers to feel the key positions before playing them .
The tip of the false thumb was rounded but it has too much tendency to slip off black keys so I added a blob of silicone to the contact area and lightly pressed it onto a patch of paper tissue to make it flat .The tissue will wash off easily later on . One point I enjoyed was how the slip off the black keys gave such a good grace note such as needed in the Gymnopedes pieces . That`s the material slip / friction rather than the shape . The narrowing of the tip between the blacks made for more movement in the tip so the top surface has 2 thin 1/4 inch wide cloth layers added . So 3 changes just there . It takes about 2 hours for the stuff to be useable so it`s not a difficult schedule. I don`t need a huge amount of patience before I see a result .
Getting near the final working shape the dimensions are as follows;
Loop around the base of thumb about 14mm width ,3mm to 5mm thickness (variable).
Side pieces (All one thing in reality ) 14 mm width about 5mm thick (variable )
Internal (real thumb )length 57mm.
Top of thumb covered 23mm (Nail top surface )
Bottom of thumb covered 29mm (Thumb print surface )
Nail surface (real thumb ) tilt from horizontal is roughly 30 degrees , giving a straight down (false thumb )contact .
Already the 2 top strips added ,are feeling stronger for the reinforcement .
The slimmer tip can be used for the other (??) fingers and the thin strips of reinforcement made a much bigger difference than I expected . I won`t try to build a bridge just yet though . All this draws attention to how clever the design of a real hand is .
Holding the small finger extension in place is a puzzle to be solved.
The false thumb tip was not tilted far enough so it was severed and rotated some more. The small finger cast is in white and needs adjusting as it`s too loose. The last joint does not need much movement so may be covered by the flexible silicone . The wrist band idea may be necessary for a final layout .
Silicone seems too slippery for black keys so a different material layer at the tip is called for .
The thing is , I`m finding the notes and they all blend in nicely .
Cut off the end at 45 degrees and shape the cut off piece to angle downwards the way a joint would bend. Glue that back on again. The best length is just shorter than the ring finger . I was a bit ambitious with the thumb length and the cork idea would minimise too much flexing when pressing the keys. The false thumb tip was skidding off the blacks because it wanted to twist any way it could even though it seemed firm . That property needs some management. I shortened the thumb too. In fact without the thumb and just using the small finger one I can play a relaxed octave and find the notes better. There is a test comparing how often the other fingers are used compared to the small finger , so logically it`s better to extend the small finger . That`s a good new rule to remember .
In fact I read that gridiron football players are not protected by those knee joints and also that young players who are not fully developed are risking their health and legs . That has an echo of children damaging their hands on grand pianos.
Imagine an octave stretch which is just about 8mms too short ( mine ).That means each key needs to be 1mm narrower. Then when I reach for the octave it will be 8 mm closer . So each key needs something attached which will progressively overhang the previous note .Starting at middle C the next note up will have a 1mm bit sticking out left. OK so far? But the keys will need to drop ,when played , about one centimetre or more without hitting the overhang. So the new key surfaces have to be at least one centimetre above the original . Light plastic shapes such as extrusions (H shaped )can be cut and altered to suit the progressive difference in overhang. Just make pieces to fit the section away from the black keys for now. The i mm per key alteration divided into the original key width means the vertical part of the plastic component is still vertical when you arrive at about key 20 from the middle C. Some clever designing may be necessary to complete the set. But you see where I`m going. I only have a stretch problem with the smaller right hand but may at least cover the octave lower than middle C. If you have an old cheap piano you may like to use some glue rather than double sided tape.Weight can be adjusted for . It should be a good alternative to a £1,000 rebuild .
Next problem ; How to get the lid shut!
Each original key width is 22.5 mms
Dividing 22.5 by 0.83 gives 27. --for 27 increments of 0.83mm overhang per note .
The centre of my 7 octave piano is at the edge of E above middle C. 26 notes are above E .25 notes are below E.
So it all fits. Only a depth of one centimetre extra is needed .
From reading other forums about narrower keyboards this adjustment above would result in a 15/16th size keyboard. I wonder if that could become a Janko Keyboard as well ? There was a question about fingers fitting between the black keys. So apart from the style that we have always seen is there any reason why the sides of the black keys are bevelled outwards at the bottom ? The gap is 2mms less at the bottom. I only wanted 5mms less for a whole octave. Interesting question. While we`re at it , the black keys when depressed are still above the white key surface .There may even be a reason for that . ( It`s a tactile aid when playing apparently ).
I read one comment from a student who used a biro cap stuck on his small finger to play a chord in an examination .
Recipe ingredients ; One length of H shaped plastic extrusion --to be cut and adjusted .
Width of extrusion 5 mms to allow (after cutting ) -centre (vertical bit ) to edge of 2 .25mms
Depth of extrusion 10 mms (internal gap add a bit for safety) plus thickness of plastic (2 layers --top and bottom ). Maybe 14 mms total.
One fine saw .One ruler. One sanding disc.
Length of attachments helps stiffness and security and hinders weight on keys.
Check down weights and up weights.
Half way from the centre note E the vertical section of plastic can still be under the middle of the attachment. That works left and right , so half the whole keyboard ,which is the middle and most used , will be quite reliable and secure .
Sticky tape is a worry before you put it on ,in case it comes off. When it`s in place the worry is whether it can ever be shifted again .
However I had a lingering fantasy yesterday for an old Bluthner medium sized Grand Piano on e bay for a princely sum of 99p. The renovation of such a masterpiece would only cost about £19,000 . Of course it would need some tuning on top of that . But the Bluthner sound is there on Pianoteq for not a lot a of pennies .Ha Ha Ha .
Since this is a Frankenstein topic I have just been cutting off the fingers and thumbs from a pair of plastic gloves for some plastering jobs in the house. I always find the gloves too big and they drag in the smooth plaster just when I don`t want . So then I reglued them with an overlap to fit my short fingers .I just do my best and struggle against all odds .
'I cheat,' they replied. So now that's what I do too... Different sized keys would only cause confusion.
Although I have tried to keep a light hearted feel about the piano finger/thumb topic there is still some serious ,useful stuff that might come out of this .
The appearance should not be the most important concern if the function is to be achieved . I realised that fitting anything too near the fingertips causes instability and wobble. So moving back towards the wrist looks more hopeful . I am visualising firstly a wrist strap (leather or plastic ) to make use of the wrist becoming wider as you get closer to the fingers.That will prevent slipping off .Then a section around the hand . Ie under the palm and across the back of the hand . That will be all one unit with the wrist strap. The palm section will not allow the thing to rotate out of place as if it was a wristwatch .None of this will be tight or interfere with fingers or thumb.
The purpose of the above fitting is to create one stable ,and flexible ,attachment place for the small finger extension. That will be a curve of plastic flexibly attached to the back of the hand piece and curving forward over the small finger . The small finger will fit inside a slot to control the extension fingertip. Up and down movement and side to side movement will be allowed by the flexible fitting at the other end .
Position of the flexible fitting will be on a line from the thumb web to the right side wrist joint. Then draw a line back along the small finger to meet the hand crossing line. Mechanically that seems fairly secure and straightforward .
Not being a very expert player I have to ask for some guidance here about the small finger movements . Is the forward and backwards ability of the small finger used much for playing black and then white notes ?
It includes a photo of a pianists` hand where she had lost the end of her middle finger but is now playing again . Her prosthetic looks uncannily similar to my own humble effort ,apart from being a nicer colour. There are a number of photos showing alloy frames with pivots that I would stuggle to create .
Check out that seriously useful site . Naked Prosthetics .
Since my previous posts I have lost the hearing on my left side. Maybe I should write about that sometime . But I get musical tinnitus which is a good compensation .
A wrist strap forming a base for leverage at the fingertip is a better way to cut out the wobbly effect of finger mounted extension . I see the professionals are using silicone rubber for comfort so my original instincts were not far out .
I will have to check the prices charged for those Naked Prosthetics fingers and thumbs. I can hardly believe they charge $70,000 for a thumb. I must have read it wrong. A startling statistic is that 30,000 people a year in the USA lose digits each year in accidents with Machinery and Doors . And this type of prosthetic has been very slow to gather momentum .