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Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning

GUEST,Neil Lowe 23 Mar 00 - 10:48 AM
catspaw49 23 Mar 00 - 10:59 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Mar 00 - 11:22 AM
Homeless 23 Mar 00 - 11:28 AM
catspaw49 23 Mar 00 - 11:45 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 23 Mar 00 - 12:05 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM
catspaw49 23 Mar 00 - 01:10 PM
Scotsbard 23 Mar 00 - 01:52 PM
Gary T 23 Mar 00 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 23 Mar 00 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Jim Dixon 23 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Mar 00 - 03:26 PM
Lady McMoo 23 Mar 00 - 05:42 PM
catspaw49 23 Mar 00 - 06:05 PM
Lady McMoo 23 Mar 00 - 06:14 PM
catspaw49 23 Mar 00 - 06:27 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 00 - 11:51 PM
GUEST,toad 24 Mar 00 - 11:38 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 24 Mar 00 - 01:05 PM
Scotsbard 24 Mar 00 - 02:39 PM
Scotsbard 24 Mar 00 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,toad 24 Mar 00 - 03:33 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 28 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM
Peter T. 28 Mar 00 - 03:56 PM
Toad 28 Mar 00 - 04:29 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 28 Mar 00 - 08:05 PM
Peter T. 29 Mar 00 - 10:02 AM
Toad 29 Mar 00 - 10:26 AM
catspaw49 29 Mar 00 - 10:29 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 29 Mar 00 - 11:06 AM
Toad 29 Mar 00 - 11:22 AM
Scotsbard 29 Mar 00 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Ian Stephenson 29 Mar 00 - 01:18 PM
mariachera 29 Mar 00 - 09:31 PM
Toad 29 Mar 00 - 11:16 PM
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Subject: Accoustics: piano tuning vs guitar tuning
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 10:48 AM

Funny how curiosity about one thing can lead to related (sometimes unrelated) realms where one didn't expect to find oneself.

Our story thus far: I came across a reference to a (UK?) publication called Piano Tuners Quarterly. Cognizant of the plethora of publications out there on virtually any topic one cares to select, I was nevertheless amused that there was a magazine devoted to this skill. Lest the piano tuners among us get the wrong impression, I harbored no condescension towards the profession. But given that there seems to be relatively few apparent or radical changes in the instrument itself over the years, I wondered what the contributors to the magazine found to write about every three months. I figured piano tuning was akin to the knowledge acquired in auto mechanics: I know little about the physics of the internal combustion engine, and I'm not a good enough driver to ever win an Indianapolis 500, but anyone endowed with basic motor coordination can learn to do a tune-up. And so it was, I imagined, with piano tuning; if one could carry a tune in a bucket, one could learn how to tune a piano. At least this site seemed to support my theory.

As is usually the case, coworkers failed to appreciate my odd sense of humor, and less so the witticisms I volunteered regarding the fascinating reading that must inevitably accompany every savory issue. They assumed the responsibility of sensitizing me to the subtle considerations that are taken into account regarding the fine art of piano tuning: the accoustics of the room in which the piano is to reside; whether the piano will be used as accompaniment to voice or as a solo instrument, etc. Now that I know there's more to it than meets the ear, I have a healthier respect for the skills necessary to tune a piano properly. All this circumlocution brings me - to the reader's relief, no doubt - to the subject of this thread. The link above offers a bit of accoustical science. It says that adjacent strings struck together produce a wow-wow-wow sound, known as beats. I have noticed a similar phenomenon on the guitar. I would assume it is the same for other stringed instruments. When I am retuning after replacing strings, for example, I strive to eliminate these "beats," trying to extract as "flat" a sound between two adjacent strings as possible. That's one of the criteria I use to ascertain that the guitar is in tune.

Am I correct in assuming this? Are there any accoustical scientists out there who would care to give me the benefit of their knowledge on this? As always, anyone's comments on this or anything are welcomed and appreciated. Thread-drift and cross-threading specifically authorized, condoned, and encouraged.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 10:59 AM

The beat is produced by the difference in waves of each tone and the overtone harmonics and has been a useful tuning tool for all multi-stringed instruments, especially ones with multiple string courses such as pianos and dulcimers.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 11:22 AM

Neil,

Whether you should eliminate the beats or not depends entirely on which method you are using to tune your guitar--there was a very interesting thread on tuning where a piano tuner decided to use his piano tuning principles, which entail tuning the fifths slightly flat in a certain way--the result being a better sounding guitar--

Spaw would be the most qualified to instruct and comment on this, however--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Homeless
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 11:28 AM

To expand on what Spaw said with an example, suppose you have your A string tuned to 220 hertz (vibrations per second). Your E string is tuned slightly flat, and when fretted at the fifth fret and plucked, produces a tone of only 215 hertz. The vibrations of the two string moving in and out of phase are what creates the beats. The difference between the two (5 hertz) is what causes the frequency of the beat. (as an aside, two different pure tones played simultaneously can create a "ghost note" - the new tone coming from the differnce in the played tones) The farther the strings are out of tune, the higher the difference in hertz of the ghost note, and the faster the beat. If you have a instrument with good sustain, you can note a string that is in tune and the one you want to tune, listen for the beats, and adjust the tuning until the beats disappear. At that point the two strings should be perfectly in tune with each other.


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 11:45 AM

Well done expansion Homeless!!!

There are a couple of variables though that make this more effective on multistring per course instruments than on guitars and their relatives. Although the actual hertz/wave should be the same, because of the difference in string gauge and fretting the string what you "hear" may not be as accurate as it is when you are tuning 2,3,or4 strings all of the same gauge and length. Additionally, what we "hear" in regard to a note being sharp or flat also changes with the pitch/ range we are listening in. That's why electronic tuners sometimes leave you sounding out of tune unless you (or on some models they do it themselves) compensate slightly for this.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 12:05 PM

Tuning a guitar is fundimentelly different than tuning a piano for the simple reason that the strings on the guitar are used for many notes each, and so,... all adjustments would transfer correspondingly to the other notes that string will be fretted at. The exception to this rule would be open tuning with special care placed on chord form and other fingering techniques,....to achieve for instance the "fat" 3rd.

With the piano, one can make interesting developments with tuning variations, but they tend to restrict the player to few (usually one) key. I find that the thrill of playing in one key CAN be superlative, and key changes, though fun, are all to often restricted to simple chromatic runs which dont really compare with the complexities and beauties of an interestingly tuned mode.

Its like this for me; the standard chromatic tuning allows us to change keys freely, so we do so. If you have invested all your money into model trains, then you will probably be regularly found in the basement with your engineers cap on...ttr


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM

The guitar has to be tempered the same way that a piano does, and, while the placement of frets does this when you are playing notes on any given string, you have to make sure that the other open strings are tuned to tempered pitches, as well and not "perfect", the way violins are tuned--Most players intuitively re-tune fretted notes so that the pitch is right, but the open notes, and especially the open chords will be way out of tune--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM

The guitar has to be tempered the same way that a piano does, and, while the placement of frets does this when you are playing notes on any given string, you have to make sure that the other open strings are tuned to tempered pitches, as well and not "perfect", the way violins are tuned--Most players intuitively re-tune fretted notes so that the pitch is right, but the open notes, and especially the open chords will be way out of tune--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM

The guitar has to be tempered the same way that a piano does, and, while the placement of frets does this when you are playing notes on any given string, you have to make sure that the other open strings are tuned to tempered pitches, as well and not "perfect", the way violins are tuned--Most players intuitively re-tune fretted notes so that the pitch is right, but the open notes, and especially the open chords will be way out of tune--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 01:03 PM

The guitar has to be tempered the same way that a piano does, and, while the placement of frets does this when you are playing notes on any given string, you have to make sure that the other open strings are tuned to tempered pitches, as well and not "perfect", the way violins are tuned--Most players intuitively re-tune fretted notes so that the pitch is right, but the open notes, and especially the open chords will be way out of tune--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 01:10 PM

You couldn't have said it better Ted.....less maybe, but not better.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Scotsbard
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 01:52 PM

Modern pianos are usually tuned for equal tempering, which simply means that all of the semi-tones, or half steps within an octave actually have exactly the same relative difference in frequency. Each half step is 1.05946309.... (the 12th root of 2) higher than the previous note. Modern guitars are typically fretted and tuned to the same principles.

Much of the baroque or earlier music was originally written for earlier tempering schemes, and just didn't use notes outside of the specified scale. When singing or playing ensemble pieces from those eras, or even when with modern music, the troublesome 3rd of a chord is often bent to get better harmony.

This site below has some fairly concise explanation and examples:

The Mathematics of Tuning and Temperament

(in case the blue clicky thing doesn't work)

http://www.hlalapansi.demon.co.uk/Acoustics/MusicMaths/MusicMaths.html

Nowadays we are so used to the equal tempered piano that we tend to ignore the nuances of the old perfect tunings.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Gary T
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 02:02 PM

Going off on a bit of a tangent here, I can assure you, Neil, that there HAVE been plenty of changes in automotive technology over the years, some of them quite radical. Putting aside the lack of a precise and universally accepted definition for the term "tune-up", the basic ignition tune-up (which I believe you had in mind) ain't what it used to be. There are dozens of monthly trade journals, and ongoing training is required to stay current in the field.

Having said that, I would have had the same reaction you did to piano tuning--how much news can there be in the field?


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 02:26 PM

Point taken, Gary T. Perhaps not the best analogy I could've chosen.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: GUEST,Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM

Yes, tuning a piano must be a subtle art, because I have heard that the great classical pianists (Artur Rubenstein, Vladimir Horowitz, for example) would not only haul their own pianos around with them when they went on tour, but bring their favorite tuner with them, too. (I mean a person, not an electronic device.)

I remember hearing one such tuner being interviewed on NPR, commenting on how temperamental pianists could be. One pianist flew into a panic because someone had cleaned the keys of his piano. He had always insisted that the keys never be cleaned because it changed the "feel" and made them too slippery. He thought his piano was ruined. The tuner saved the day by spraying the keys with hair spray.

Maybe that's the kind of helpful hint that gets printed in "Piano Tuners Quarterly."


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 03:26 PM

Pianists are 'temperamental" about the tuning? Bad pun...

Sorry about the multiple post, I've never done quite that many before---


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 05:42 PM

I was talking to a well known piano tuner here in Brussels a couple of weeks ago. He was just off to tune a grand piano in one of the major concert halls as he had been paid to do so every day during the week. I asked him whether the piano would actually go out of tune following the previous night's concert prior to tonight's. He replied..."Well...probably not, but the pianists often freak out if they find out you haven't been!"

Joking aside, all of the remarks regarding tempering, beats, acoustics of the auditorium and so on above are absolutely spot on.

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 06:05 PM

And since we're talking tuning here...........

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Yes folks, no tuners bag of tricks is complete without the "Amish-Australian Pitchfork Moustache Tuner." Available in the Gordon Bok model or the limited edition Mudcat model with the abalone inlaid Brazilian Rosewood handle depicting an Amish farmer being eaten by a Blue Pointer. Be the first to take one to your next session or performance. Send $29.95 (US) CASH plus $6.00 (US) S&H to:

FLY-BY-NITE INDUSTRIES
PO BOX 6903
Bremen, Ohio 43107

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED--At Fly-By-Nite we are the final word in customer satisfaction. If you're not happy with the product, we have the final word. Send back the product unused to us and we will return any of your money which is unused. Bok or Mudcat...the Choice is yours!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 06:14 PM

No thanks 'Spaw. You know I don't approve of the use of Brazilian Rosewood for ecological reasons and abalone is highly toxic and therefore banned by the European Union...though the Amish being eaten by the blue pointer certainy sound appealing....

Perhaps if you could persuade Fly-by-Nite (= Night?) to use sustainably grown bubinga and recycled pearloid from end-of-life John Grey banjos I might be interested...

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 06:27 PM

Damn mooman.......you're right!!! I need to add an ecological line.....I mean, here in the states, you can sell damn near anything that's Australian or Amish and the two together has to be dynamite...BUT if I add in the ecology angle .....hellfire, the SKY'S THE LIMIT!!!

Now if I can just get murray from Oz to get the patents filed and the R&D finished..........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 00 - 11:51 PM

I was very influenced in my youth by a guy who played in a group with me who was a qualified piano tuner and who passed on a lot of the theory. He was a brilliant about tuning for certain keys and knew how to file reeds on concertinas and other boxes to get them sounding just right. Likewise he was the only person I've ever met that had the wherewithal to drill teensy holes in odd places on tin whistles to match a fixed tune instrument that was not in perfect concert pitch.

Of direct relevance to this thread however, he would always recommend tuning guitar using a piano tuner's approach (for optimum all key performance). This made a lot of sense for a band that played in lots of unusual keys for live performances where there was no time to stuff around between numbers.

I posted similar details some time ago but in essence it involved deliberately tuning the adjacent string harmonics a defined smidgeon out of tune. It needs some practice but in my opinion is marvellous.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: GUEST,toad
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 11:38 AM

I've noticed that when playing I often bend the string of my guitar to put it in tune a little better, or what I think is a little better. Since I've started playing around with piano tunning I find I have a harder time tunning my guitar by ear. I used to tune in perfect fifths before but now I've learned that on a properly tuned piano there is no such thing as a 'perfect fifth'. Which left me to believe that one doesn't tune a piano but one untunes a piano. I think that Bach messed us all up by bringing about tempered tunning. He missed the great controbution that he could have had to western music, that is, adding more notes to the cromatic scale or suggesting that one have different tunnings for diffent keys. Lets face it, blues and folk music sound better in 'mean tunnings'. Tell that to you snooty ol' piano teacher.


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 01:05 PM

Well, actually they did have different tunings for different keys--or at least you couldn't play scales in a lot of the keys because, even though the notes were there, if you tried to play a scale that started on, say F#, the pitches would mostly sound out of tune--

This is because, even though you can take the perfect fifth of C, which is G, the perfect fifth of that, which is D, then A and go around in a circle and get all 12 notes,til you get back to C, the C that you get to is not the same(or a multliple of the same) pitch that you started--it is sharp!!!

This is one of those little irregularities in nature, along the lines of it taking the Earth 365 and a 1/4 days to get back to the place that it started in it's orbit--and it was a pain to deal with until someone figured out that if you just made all of the fifths a little flat, it you would come out where you wanted to be at the end, and, best of all, the notes would all be close enough to where they should be that you could play in tune in all 12 keys--

You little problem with tuning will go away completely forever, if you change the way you tune your guitar--

Simple take an "A" tuning fork and tune the A string of your guitar so that it matches the A harmonic on the 12th fret(this is a unison, so it will be easier to do than if you try to match the octaves, but that will work too)

Then simply tune the A note on each string so that it is in tune with the A string-- The A is Fifth fret on the low E string, Open on the A string, Seventh fret on the D string, Second fret on the G string 10th fret on the B string and Fifth Fret on the high E (these last two notes sound in unison with the second harmonic on the A string, which sounds about halfway between the twelveth fret and the bridge)

This system does exactly the same thing as tuning the fifths slightly out, because the frets are layed out in such a way that the fifths are slightly flat on each string, and as long as the string are in tune with each other, which is to say, if the A note matches, the fifths will all be where they are supposed to be--

If this is not clear, then you will understand why it took a few hundred years from the time the keyboard was invented for someone to figure out how to tune it--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Scotsbard
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 02:39 PM

One common practice I've seen is tuning guitars by the harmonics, which gets strings close to the proper pitch but always an annoying few cents off.

Usually the practice is to tune the A string first,
then the E' to the A 2nd harmonic,
then the D 2nd harm. to the A 3rd harm.,
then the G 2nd harm. to the D 3rd harm.,
then the B 3rd harm. to the E' 2nd harm,
and last the E 3rd harm to the A 2nd harmonic,
adjusting each in turn until no beat note (the wow-wow-ing mentioned earlier) is heard.

The problem with this method is that it makes the interval fourths perfectly 4:3 (1.3333 ratio) as in the old Greek system when equal tempering would require a 1.3348 ratio. This leaves the major second between the G & B strings which should be 1.2599 painfully out of tune at a 1.2657 ratio. To add even more confusion to the situation, even brand new light gauge guitar strings typically play their harmonics a trifle sharp (basically the bigger and older the string the worse, but its a long explanation).

When tuning by this method, the E' string should not be tuned exactly to the A third harmonic, but slightly flat. Depending on your strings this would be about 2 or 3 wows/second. (Did I actually type that?) The same applies to the other harmonics with the lower string being slightly flat, although the condition of the strings can make this a frustrating method.

The best method I know of at the moment is to buy a decent tuner and use it for the A string. Get the E' string close with the harmonic, and then play the open A and open E' together, tuning until it sounds right. Then work your way from the E' towards the D, adjusting each by ear. If the A-D interval sounds right then you probably got it right, if not ... well ... then use the tuner to check how accurate you were. Learning may take some patience, but with time your ears will kenn the intervals.

~G~


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Scotsbard
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 03:00 PM

Oops: "When tuning by this method the E' should not be tuned exactly to the A third second harmonic, but slightly flat.

(Must clean up some fingerings. apparently.)


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: GUEST,toad
Date: 24 Mar 00 - 03:33 PM

Dear M. Ted I understand what you are saying. But what I was saying is that; our whole system of music, which is limited to twelve notes, is out of tune, because of tempered tuning. I disagree when you say that someone figured out how to tune a piano. A perfectly tuned piano, with everything tempered, sounds, to me, awful, but I live with it, but it's still awful. And the practice of temper'd tuning has casued all of the stringed instrument players to change the way they play so ... they now play out of tune also. And I have to laugh at the 'modern contemporary composers' who write all this discordent experimental crap and talk of each other as being such dare takers when all the time they are limited to a twelve note system, tempered no less. Sincerely, toad


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM

Toad,

I have to admit that I am getting a bit fed up with what seems to be a very smug and condesdcending attitude that you have--it gets in the way of understanding what you have to say--as a result, I am not sure what your point is when you are so critical of the tempered scale, it, like every scale, is a creation, devised to perform certain function--What do you mean when you say "out of tune"? What would "in tune" be?

And after your little rant, about the twelve pitch scale, please, deliver the goods!! What kind of a scale do you want? How many pitches do you figure the octave ought to have in it, and what should they be? For that matter, what would you do with them once you had them?

Also, who are the modern composers that you are laughing at? Harry Partch invented his own scales--and, with the advent of synthesizers, the resurgence of popularity of early music, and the introduction of instruments like the Gamelon into the music, composers and performers have pretty much a free reign in terms of scales and intonation--- Another thought, string ensembles, brass ensembles, choirs, et al are under no obligation to adhere to the rules of temperament--and generally don't--please clarify what *you* mean--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 03:56 PM

Could someone tell me what a "fat 3rd" is, as mentioned by Thomas the Rhymer at the beginning of this thread? It sounds like something everyone knows.....yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Toad
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 04:29 PM

I'm sorry MR.Ted. Your right, I do act a little smug sometimes. What I'm getting at is that, I think of a perfect fifth as something that has had the beats tuned out of it. And that sounds right to me. What I get fed up with is the smuggness of 'western thought' which thinks that tempered is the way to go. I don't like big egos in general, mine included (which gets so big that it needs a good trouncing every once in a while). But my point is that tunning is a relitive thing, which you also point out when you talk of string and brass ensembles not being bound by temperament. This is true. I'm a little raw on the subject of temperment right now because I was trying to do a recording of a string section in my studio (taking my fiddle and playing the same part sixteen times and then mixing it together) I had a heck of a time trying to get all those fiddles (which where all me) to play in pitch. And then I had to think "well what pitch do I want them to play in" and as I have no experience in working with real string sections I didn't no how to fix the problem. What I wound up doing is using an electronic keyboard and playing the part onto a track and then following it with the fiddles. Which worked, but which was also following perfect temperment to get it to work. I think I tend to gravitate toward mean tunnings (tunnings that were used before the 1800's in England)(please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm only going by what I read.) But this means my idea of what is in pitch may not be what a trained piano tunner hears as being in pitch. When I say "I laugh ..." sorry my fingeres may have been typing a little too freely. To clear up ... I find that a lot of classical compossers of the last 60 year tend to write a lot of extreamly complicated harmonies (Frank Zappa included) and get praise from acedemics around the globe and I'm am just too ignorant to get it. I guess. When I write, I tend to write very melodic little didies. But back to guitar tunning and how it is related to this tangent (I wish this tread window had a spell checker) do you notice how old guitar strings tend to not tune up well. There are a lot of reasons but one of them is that they have had the elastisity stretched out of them. This means that when it is struck or plucked that it doesn't have as wide a frequencey osolation. Newer strings have a wider frequencey osollation (meaning they play the note they are intended to play but also they move from side to side a little bit) and that makes newer strings a little more forgiving to proper tune wheather they are in mean tunning or tempered tunning. I heard an interesting story from a fellow luthier who told me of a street musician he met who had actually designed a removable banjo fretboard so that he could interchange banjo fretboards depending on what key he was playing in. He said that the fellow was busking away and when he went to play in a different key he changed fret boards and then retuned his banjo for the new key. I think that is a good example of what one could do with more notes.

Condescn ... condescending, yeh I'm sorry. But I really feel passionate about this. Mabey we shouldn't look at it as more notes but just as more than one of each note.

I'm sorry for fedding people up. I just stumbled on to this 'MudCat' site a few weeks ago and I think it is the coolest thing I've ever found. What a wealth of info.

I live in a rural area and I don't get to talk shop with other musicians much. Perhaps my musings on tunnings is unapropriate. They are really only my opinions. best of luck to all, toad


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 28 Mar 00 - 08:05 PM

Toad,

If there is anything we love at Mudcat, it is a gracious appology, although I think we love the detailed information on what others are doing (which you have also provided) even more...

I may have been a little hard on you, at that,,,sorry,..

Anyway, I appreciate your problem--I do a bit of recording with the keyboard, and I hate the tempered sound that you get on the strings, you loose a lot of the fullness that you wanted the strings for in the first place--

Although I haven't done it (yet) it is possible to set patches for just about any system of intonation that you want--

You can also use the bar to shift pitch on individual notes (which is how Arabic musicians manage to use western synthesizer keyboard) but I have done really well with brass and string sounds with the simple trick of using a guitar synthesizer--you get great shifts of pitch in the note decay, and you can bend the notes to get whatever alterations in pitch that you'd like, as well.

I recall having seen some sort of converter pick up that could be attached to a violin to convert the output to MIDI--then you could do whatever needed to without having to fiddle around (sorry for the pun)


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 10:02 AM

toad, I also find all this fascinating, since I stumbled here. Not to wander to far into expert's territory, I wonder if there is a divide between people who hear sounds and people who hear notes. I am thinking of the revolution John Cage brought in, when he got people thinking about noise and silence as sounds, and musical sounds as a subcategory of that. Of course it is obvious when someone says it, but, as a complete novice in this area, I found it to be a revelation when I stopped thinking about notes as being "right" or "wrong" and just became fascinated by their different qualities, whatever system they are then put into (which would of course change the way you hear them). You musicians have such acute listening abilities that it puts people like me to shame. I read this thread -- whatever your disagreements -- with genuine pleasure and some awe. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Toad
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 10:26 AM

Whoa! OK, that I didn't know. About syns' being able to play in different systems of intonation. I don't have a decent 'modern' synthesizer kicking around. But a tool like that would be great for getting perspective on different intonation systems. On that, how many different systems of intonation would we be talking about? On your synthesizer that is. Sounds mind boggeling. I don't think a midi fiddle would help me out much because, my problem is that I can't seem to decide what pitch to make my note at. I have a good ear. I can mimick almost anything. But when I write a fresh string piece and then try to play it my pitch is all over the place and sounds like a room full of 'old time fiddlers'. (there is nothing wrong with old time fiddlers, or a room full of them if that is the sound you are going for, but it does not sound like a string section. And here's the big question! What system of intontation should a string section play in? For that matter. What system of intonation should a string player learn to play in? The closest thing I can do is try to lock on to 'A440tempered'. So many questions. You see, I have this friend ... who's ears might not be as good as he thinks they are thus when ever he has a problem he blames it on tempered tunning.

You said in a former post that brass and string players don't play in tempered tunning. Is this true? Arn't they supposed to be trying to all play along with whatever insruments in the room are fixed to a temperment, like the piano? Or is it that they are under no obligation to play to temperment when they are playing as an ensembles? These questions (and many more) are in no way retorical (lest they be mistaking for smug retorical questions) and have kept me awake at night on numerous occations.

Toad


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 10:29 AM

That's an excellent point Peter......We are ALL trained to hear what we are familiar with. I know that sounds incredibly stupid, but its much like language I think. We all have a point of reference that is based in experience. And I think, like learning new langusges, the ability to assimilate "foreign" tonalities is easier for some than others.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 11:06 AM

Brass and string instruments are designed to play perfect fifths, and the players can control the pitch so that whatever notes they are playing are in tune with each other--

As to the synthesizer, one of the things that can be adjusted is the intonation--the possibilities are completely unlimited--the only thing is that you would have to adjust the pitch of each key and create patches, unless you can find patches and banks for the tunings that you want somewhere on the web--there are mail lists for users of different types of synthesizers, and often the people on the lists are professionals who spend their days sitting in a big studio, programming etc, so they can help with this-- Sometimes, the people on the list even developed the synth you are using--

Peter T--everybody has good listening abilities--it all depends on what you are in the habit of listening for--

Dennis Sandoli, who is reputed to be the greatest guitar and Jazz teacher in the known world, seems to sit his students down and make them pluck each of the open strings and listen to them, over and over again--


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Toad
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 11:22 AM

Thanks for the comment Peter. I agree with what you said. Noise, music, all the same thing really. Some of it's good, some of it's a real 'stinkaroo'. I remember hearing an eighteen mount old baby who'd found a soup pot and a wooden spoon and found it made noise and then proceeded to pound on it with such joy that it sicerely brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. I could have listened to that for hours, the kid was just so happy and sincer about the noise (music) he was making. I don't think that that is any different than what I do. I get exactly the same feeling when I'm playing (when I'm playing for the joy of making music and not worried about all the tecky crap that is). Right now I'm so wrapped up in tec stuff. Thanks for reminding me what I do it for. Sincerely, toad


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Scotsbard
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 12:50 PM

Natural sounds are so rich in interesting frequencies and envelopes that formally trained musicians sometimes seem to ignore in favor of the relatively stable interference patterns produced by instruments. Most of the mathematical analysis of scales and tuning and whatever seems so stiltedly formal at times that I often revert to some sort of primitive impulses regarding what sounds pleasant or interesting. Heck, just tapping on a table top in different places makes different noises, so if I'm going to beat time to the music I usually try to find a couple of spots that "sound" right.

BTW, Peter T. - Good going on the modes thing. ... somewhere down in my old URL's is a site that included comparative scales and modes beyond those in the Greek/European tradition. I'll dredge it up soonest.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: GUEST,Ian Stephenson
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 01:18 PM

DOES EVERYBODY REMEMBER PASCALS TRIANGLE?????
This is relevant because he also wrote another law about frequency and dividing wires in thirds or something.

IF YOU TUNE A PIANO IN FOURTHS AND EVERY NOTE IS PERFECTLY IN TUNE WITH THE LAST, THEN WHEN YOU GET TO THE TOP, THEY WILL SOUND QUITE FLAT. tO COMPENSATE THIS, PIANO TUNERS TUNE NOTE TOWARDS THE BOTTOM OF THE KEYBOARD FLATTER THAT PERFECT, AND THE TOP ONES SHARP.

This is also true with guitar tuning. If you tune the top strings very slightly sharp, and the bottom two a little flat, then your chords should sound the nearest to perfect that anyone can get. no matter where on the fretboard you play.


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: mariachera
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 09:31 PM

Toad, When doing multiple recordings to duplicate a section sound, consider using a different, or several different instruments (violins) instead of just the same one. In increases the richness and fullness of the sound.


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Subject: RE: Piano Tuning vs Guitar Tuning
From: Toad
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 11:16 PM

Mariachera I will try that. I have two violins now and a third will be on the bench soon (it's all unglued and the neck is off and the finger board is off). None of my violins are really great fiddles. They are all European from the teens and twentys. They are loud and cut really good. The one that is going on the bench is some gypsy looking thing and it seems to be a little richer sounding (although I havn't had strings on it yet, or a neck) so that Might help. Multiple instruments, that might be a very good idea. Thankyou. toad


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