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Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune

alanabit 20 Oct 09 - 04:49 AM
M.Ted 20 Oct 09 - 07:14 AM
alanabit 20 Oct 09 - 09:33 AM
Howard Jones 20 Oct 09 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Oct 09 - 01:57 PM
Ernest 20 Oct 09 - 02:15 PM
Jack Campin 20 Oct 09 - 02:49 PM
M.Ted 20 Oct 09 - 08:32 PM
M.Ted 20 Oct 09 - 08:54 PM
Dave the Gnome 21 Oct 09 - 04:04 PM
Jack Campin 21 Oct 09 - 05:07 PM
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Subject: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: alanabit
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 04:49 AM

I was at the Baseler Karneval - "Morge Streik" (I think) about twenty years ago. It is quite a unique cultural event. Unlike most Carnival areas in the German speaking world, it is not a predominantly Catholic tradition. It also takes place a week after all the others. Apart from the pipe and drum bands and the candle illuminated masks and lanterns, which give it a strange, eerie aspect - quite unlike the bombast of Carnival elsewhere - there is the tradition of Gugga Musik. A brass band will appear in a pub and play three songs. At least one of the instruments will be slightly out of tune. This is apparently quite deliberate.
I recently heard a glockenspiel (not unusual in German speaking countries) and grimaced as I always do at the (to my ears) out of tune chimes. Indeed, I do not think I have ever heard one that sounded in tune. Are glockenspiel supposed to be out of tune too? It set me thinking about the question of what types of music are expected to deliberately differ from standard intonation?


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 07:14 AM

The theory is that the inharmonic tones that occur when you strike a glockenspiel dissipate quickly into a single pure tone, so they don't make any effort to tune the overtones when they make the bars.

Something sort of like that happens when you hit a guitar string--the tone that sounds when to strike it is off-pitch, and quickly narrows in on the pitch as the sound decays.

One has to keep in mind that human beings have had electronic tuning devices for only a short period of time, and, prior to that, "standardization" was much more subjective--add to that the fact that tempered instruments are all, in their own way, out-of-tune by design, and it's a wonder that anyone has ever managed to play music at all.


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: alanabit
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 09:33 AM

Ted, I don't know when you last heard a glockenspiel, but if you could hear ours in Köln, you would likely agree that anything less harmonious could only be deliberate. It has led me to ponder whether some people, in certain circumstances, actually prefer things to be out of tune?


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: Howard Jones
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 10:56 AM

"In tune" is a cultural issue, not a musical one. Consider Middle Eastern or Asian music, for example, which often uses scales which sound out of tune to Western ears. Or closer to home, the Highland Bagpipe scale which has some deliberately odd intervals.

Perhaps this is a relic of an earlier tradition before the tempered western scale became so entrenched.


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 01:57 PM

To me, the glockenspiel's natural habitat is in a parade - out of doors and a distance from my ears. This gives the notes time to 'mellow.' Usually other instruments are going at the same time, and that also mellows the overall effect.

As for the one brass instrument that's out of tune, that's probably just an accident. Those instruments are hard to play, and beer doesn't help.


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: Ernest
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 02:15 PM

As far as I know the Guggamusik has its origins in pagan rites to drive the winter away - so it is bound to sound uncomfortable to the ears...


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 02:49 PM

Brass band musicians pride themselves on accurate intonation. You would not get an odd player out of tune by accident. This sounds like it has to have some sort of symbolic meaning.


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 08:32 PM

Contrary to what the distinguished Mr. Campin would have you believe, brass bands can be kind of loose about their intonation--submitted for your consideration--

Italian Brass Band
Balkan Brass Band
Zlatne Uste
Polish American String Band

and for reference Some Guggamusik


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 08:54 PM

Jack is really right when it comes to trained musicians--the difference here is that these are, for the most part, not trained musicians, they are just people who know some basics and can join in--I'd call them "folk" musicians, but that would start an ugly discussion--


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 04:04 PM

Doesn't a honky-tonk piano have one of the strings that is struck on a single note slightly off-key? I was led to believe that this is how the sound was made so distinct. Ditto with a 'voiced' free reed instrument. If only one reed is sounded or two in exact pitch you get a 'dry' sound, whereas if one is slightly adrift from the other you get the distinct almost vibrato effect. I think it has something to do with the dynamics of sound waves and one being slightly longer or shorter than the other.

DeG


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Subject: RE: Gugga Music - not supposed to be in tune
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 05:07 PM

You can get a louder sound on many instruments by playing a near-unison to get a beating effect - the clavichord is often tuned that way (paired strings about an eighth of a tone apart) and so, I think, are the gendings (the highest metallophones) in a gamelan ensemble, in that case not for volume but to produce an ethereal shimmery sound. Somebody playing an independent melody line out of tune is a different matter.

On the occasions when Highland pipes play with other instruments, there is usually no attempt to hide the fact that it uses a different scale. You can sort of get away with it in the right context. Listen to any pipe and brass band performance of "Highland Cathedral".


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