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#1341774 - 01/05/10 06:48 PM Hysterical tunings etc...
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
Can someone please tell me why folks are so interested in historical tunings when many out there can't set an equal temperament worth it's name, set a pin, stretch an octave and basically tune a piano that will stay tuned.

Is it the 'next big thing' to distract us away from getting excellent at the basic task in hand...?

I can understand the mystique and the 'Oh goodness me, so you tune historical tunings, you must be SO good' aspects of this....but lets get real here...

There is no doubt that historical tunings play a valuable role in understanding why things were written the way they were and to many ears give a more pleasant rendering of a given piece....but come on you beginners out there...and you 'improvers'....learn to tune solidly first...do that for a long time...internalize the process...then starts to mess with the esoteric stuff.

Glad that's off my chest....thought it was the dodgy burrito I had for lunch at the 'roach coach'....but i feel much better now....
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1341800 - 01/05/10 07:20 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
Stuart Isacoff gives a great presentation I think everyone should hear.
His book "The Temperment" is a great read.

Ed Foote has a great presentation I would like to hear.

It has been said, 70% of the skill set for tuning is Hammer Technique.

I say, the other 30% is better understood learning all the temperaments.

It is all part and parcel of the the same skill.

And, I think, it gives the equal temperament a more distinct feel to have experienced the alternatives.

my 2.5 cents
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#1341801 - 01/05/10 07:20 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
Zeno Wood Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 443
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
The roach coach? Sounds like the "grease trucks" back in college, dispensing burgers that only a college student could keep down

Happy new year!
_________________________
Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College

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#1341811 - 01/05/10 07:32 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Zeno Wood]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21420
Loc: Oakland
Quote:
Can someone please tell me why folks are so interested in historical tunings when many out there can't set an equal temperament worth it's name, set a pin, stretch an octave and basically tune a piano that will stay tuned.

A historical tuning is by definition a tuning which is not equal temperament, the pins are not set, the octaves are not tuned properly, that will not stay tuned.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1341813 - 01/05/10 07:35 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
JBE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 377
Loc: USA
It's called freedom to choose what one does with ones own time.

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#1341821 - 01/05/10 07:50 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: JBE]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
byronje3, freedom is worth dying for....

I'm not interested in bird watching, stamp collecting or what folks do in their spare time....it's what a customer pays for that bothers me....a tuning that is unstable is worthless....and so is the tuner who charges good money for providing that sort of service....historical tuning are a distraction unless you have a bullet proof technique...too many out there are not paying their dues with the basic structure of the business...and tuning is but a part of a much more ugly picture.
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1341833 - 01/05/10 08:17 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
JBE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 377
Loc: USA
I know, I hear you but it's not like they're out robbing banks and beating up little old ladies. I don't know how well someone tunes until I hear it for myself.
It can all be a learning experience. I thought I was all excited about Werckmeister and Kirnberger tunings for a very short time until I realized that some music just sounds like crap with them. I'll stick to good old ET. I personally find satisfaction in doing a good, solid, anatomically correct ET with octaves and unisons just the way I like them.

Lately I've been wasting my time learning about, listening to, and programming binaural beats. I don't mean the stuff with all the new age gobbly guk music added to it, just the raw beats. What does this have to do with piano tuning you ask?
Listening to a certain frequency of binaural beats relaxes the brain after a day of tuning and slows it down for sleep.
This can be a great tool for piano tuners. The better your sense of hearing the more powerful the experience.

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#1341838 - 01/05/10 08:26 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: BDB]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
Originally Posted By: BDB
Quote:
Can someone please tell me why folks are so interested in historical tunings when many out there can't set an equal temperament worth it's name, set a pin, stretch an octave and basically tune a piano that will stay tuned.

A historical tuning is by definition a tuning which is not equal temperament, the pins are not set, the octaves are not tuned properly, that will not stay tuned.


I disagree. Historical tunings, by definition do not include "poor pin setting"

I will admit to only minimal experience with Historical temperaments. The small experience I have had does make me wish I had more time to explore them. Stuart Isacoff's presentation is nothing short of stunning.
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#1341841 - 01/05/10 08:30 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: JBE]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
I'll stick to 30 year old Laphroig....relaxes my brain just fine...sleep is no problem...
Now let me see...
One binaural beat..
two binaural beats
three binaural beats
four binaural beats....

I think I see what you mean.....woops....no, it's someone knocking at the door....
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1341862 - 01/05/10 09:06 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Larry Buck]
JBE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 377
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Larry Buck
Originally Posted By: BDB
Quote:
Can someone please tell me why folks are so interested in historical tunings when many out there can't set an equal temperament worth it's name, set a pin, stretch an octave and basically tune a piano that will stay tuned.

A historical tuning is by definition a tuning which is not equal temperament, the pins are not set, the octaves are not tuned properly, that will not stay tuned.


I disagree. Historical tunings, by definition do not include "poor pin setting"


That's funny. "poor pin setting"...NO. "Octaves not tuned properly and will not stay tuned"......well,OK maybe.

I think....that possibly, BDB was just being cheeky with that statement....then again, maybe not.

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#1341869 - 01/05/10 09:12 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: JBE]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
Originally Posted By: byronje3
Originally Posted By: Larry Buck
Originally Posted By: BDB
Quote:
Can someone please tell me why folks are so interested in historical tunings when many out there can't set an equal temperament worth it's name, set a pin, stretch an octave and basically tune a piano that will stay tuned.

A historical tuning is by definition a tuning which is not equal temperament, the pins are not set, the octaves are not tuned properly, that will not stay tuned.


I disagree. Historical tunings, by definition do not include "poor pin setting"


I think....that possibly, BDB was just being cheeky with that statement....then again, maybe not.


I completely missed BDB's "twist" ....

Thanks
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#1341871 - 01/05/10 09:18 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: JBE]
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1652
Loc: Chicagoland
Ha! Peter, good joke!

Tuning is a little like being a pizza maker... You can be a great pizza maker at one place and not have a clue how to make a pizza at the next place. Now, not to diss your kinda pizza, but there's a lot more out there than that good new-fashioned ET.

There's plenty of crap ET tuners out there, ('specially those aural ones) why don't you go pick on them?

Howzthat for stirring up the hornet's nest?!?

Ron Koval
chicagoland
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#1341878 - 01/05/10 09:35 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: RonTuner]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21420
Loc: Oakland
Actually, there are plenty of historical references to pianos going out of tune during a single concert, including concerts where there were two pianos on stage for one pianist. The pianist would play one piece, and then switch to the other piano while the first was retuned and repaired, as necessary.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1341898 - 01/05/10 10:00 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: BDB]
SF10 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 42
Because it is FUN! smile

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#1341911 - 01/05/10 10:28 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: SF10]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
You know what? Whoever wants to tune whatever method they like, go for it. What matters most is the final sound of the piano and setting the pins properly so the piano stays put. If someone likes the EBVT method, fine. ET method, fine. Whatever stirs your bean pot.

On the other hand, if you can't tune or set pins worth a crap and never could? That's not fine. Learn how or change jobs. None of these tunings will work for you because the piano will not stay no matter what tuning method you use.

Maybe I just stirred up some more hornets? Killer bee's? grin
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1341922 - 01/05/10 10:38 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: SF10]
JBE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 377
Loc: USA
Yeah, but you're not out charging people to experiment on their pianos, so it's OK. I'm not sure who Peter was referring to. Maybe there are some goons running amok in the Redwoods with their ETD's set on Schmergusborger or whatever.

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#1341936 - 01/05/10 11:00 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: JBE]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
bryronje3....
I'm not really referring to anyone particular when I make comments about either historical tunings or bad technique....
Sure there are 'theoretical tuners' in these pages that can spout about all manner of math....most of which I forgot the day the college door closed behind me...I am, however, a perennial student of voicing, regulation, tone and good tuning, and it is obvious to me that some out there use their time to study other temperaments, at the expense, in some cases, of the quality of the 'bread and butter' work...

Someone once said that in order to be successful you need to learn how to do something well and then keep on doing it....

I don't think it's an overstatement to observe the number of 'theoretical' variety in these pages and consider it might be diluting the standards professionals should adhere to.

Some may be enthusiastic amateurs....some may not ever see a client....but isn't a rock solid tuning that brings a piano to life the best service we can offer?
If you can do an historical temperament and leave it solid through Rach 3 I'll follow you anywhere....but, I ask myself, why would anyone do an historic temperament for Rach 3.

Right now I believe I'm talking to myself which I blame entirely on Laphroig....I wonder what will happen when I actually drink some??
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1341953 - 01/05/10 11:31 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
No, actually, I tend to agree with you Peter. I don't even read the math crap posted in here. The mathematical rumblings going on in here seem almost more of who knows more about math than they actually do about tuning and setting pins. I begin to wonder, who's trying to prove what?

Wouldn't it be interesting to see what kind of tunings these same people can do and how long they would last?

I for one, have heard Bill Bremmer's tunings in person. i worked with him on a tuning at the last convention. He has a good ear and can do a very nice job of tuning.

That's my opinion on it anyway.

_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1341960 - 01/05/10 11:36 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
Thanks Jer...
Often thought of a 'tune off"....then a pound the crap out of them to see which stays in tune...

I'm in...

Who's buying the beer?

Hope you're keeping warm up there :-(
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1341962 - 01/05/10 11:40 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Peter Sumner- Piano Technician]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
If you're ever in this neck of the woods, drop in and find out what our weather is like! Just be sure to bring along your winter bear coat!
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1341968 - 01/05/10 11:57 PM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I'm keepin' my distance! It's cold enough where I am! Though I'm lovin' Florida's weather just now. grin Take that BOB!


Edited by Horowitzian (01/05/10 11:57 PM)
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1341982 - 01/06/10 12:16 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Ryan Hassell Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/09
Posts: 455
Loc: Farmington, MO
Ron,

THANK YOU for your comment!

I must admit that I am only a part-time tuner. I am a music educator as my full time job. I am a PROUD user of an ETD (Tunelab to be exact, and I love it!) I could not set a temperament by ear if I had to, but I have the utmost respect for those who can, I CAN however set a pin and when I leave a piano, it's tuning is pretty darn stable. I have tuned several hundred pianos now, and 100% of my customers have been very pleased.

Several months ago I tuned my own piano using the EBVT III, and loved the results so much that I now tune all pianos that way. Several customers have mentioned that their piano has not sounded that good in years.

I recently read the book "Why Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony...and why you should care". It helped to confirm what I have always thought and heard. I have never been happy with the sound of the 3rds in ET.

As an educator, we often speak of teacher experience. We often ask the question does that teacher have 30 years of experience... or one year of experience 30 times? Unfortunately that seems to be the case with a lot of teachers...and tuners. Why would we not want to improve our craft and experiment with something other than ET. Why do we just accept the fact that ET is the best option?

For those skeptics out there, you cannot knock something until you have tried it. "Your" way may not necessarily be the only way....or the best.

The hornet nest has been stirred..... :-)

Ryan Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO
_________________________
Ryan G. Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO
www.hassellspianotuning.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hassells-Piano-Tuning/163155880804
ryanhassell@hotmail.com

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#1341989 - 01/06/10 12:30 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Horowitzian]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1669
Loc: Mexico City
I think the tuning of historical temperaments has a great comercial and learning value.

When tuning ET we focus our attention into mathematical concepts as smooth progression of beats.

When tuning HT we focus on more musical concepts: fractions of a comma tempered fifths, pure intervals, equal beating intervals, etc. What matters here is the musical effect of these tempered/pure/equal beating intervals.

On the other side, the hammer technique, setting of the pins, rendering of the strins, stability of tuning, quality of the unisons and overall quality of the tuning is (must be) the same in whatever kind of temperament we choose.

By tuning other temperaments we can better understand the essence, particularities and goals of ET.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1341992 - 01/06/10 12:34 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Ryan Hassell]
Dave Stahl Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 1645
Originally Posted By: Ryan Hassell
Ron,


The hornet nest has been stirred..... :-)



Naaah....Peter prefers his martinis shaken, not stirred, like most brits...

While I don't have daily experience with HTs, I have heard several types, and tried a couple of tunings (my experimental piano has an EBVT, but the shine has long since worn off of that tuning....). I've played pianos tuned in several of the Well temperaments, and I haven't heard any that I'm overly fund of. I've heard some that sound great in some keys, but don't try anything in the key of F# major.

My ears have been trained as a music student and a piano tuner to hear ET. As someone who is a jazz piano hacker as well as a tuner, I like to be able to modulate freely around the keyboard in my improvisation without fear of harmonic dissonance biting my ear off.

If you're being paid to tune, the way you tune should be what the customer wants. Setting the pins and doing stable tunings--within the constraints of local weather patterns--are a no brainer.
_________________________
Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#1341996 - 01/06/10 12:54 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Sam Casey Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1135
Loc: SW Missouri
30 year Laphroig?? Now THATs a perfect temperment.

I have tools in my shop. I could use a adze, but I'd rather use a router. Could use a wooden mallet, but I'd rather use my nice Plumb hammer. Could use a hand saw, but I have nice circle saw, table saw, band saw, etc. Historical temperments are nice coffee table, (or whisky table) conversation. But, as me dear sainted Irish mother used to say, "what's it got to do with the price of beans??"

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#1342002 - 01/06/10 01:07 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Dave Stahl]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3191
Loc: Madison, WI USA
I tune the way I want; I don't really care what any other technician thinks about it (that is , if the opinion is based upon complete ignorance or just "banging" on certain intervals. I create music.) It's been a longer than 20 year tradition for me. If you're with me, great, if you're against me, go fly a kite or write an article, I don't really care, I do what I do and I believe in what I do. I don't tune ET. I don't even try what is impossible. I know something better than that. All of my clients modulate freely. None have their ears bitten off. Discover the pipe organ effect. Get a "WOW!" from your clients every time on every kind of piano. I do.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1342017 - 01/06/10 02:04 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: JBE]
Aussie tuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 75
Loc: South Australia
Most customers live every day with wonky unisons,treble sections getting flatter and and flatter the higher you go, bass sections normally sharper than the treble so when it is tuned to ET with very accurate unisons the piano sounds very much unlike they had before. In my opinion the historical temperments give the customer a bit of what they had before it was tuned! The tuners who push these "obsolete temperments" give the customer a warm and fuzzy feeling by saying that they have a "very special" historic temperment to boast about to their friends, in fact what they have is a slightly out of tune piano by the accepted standard of today.
As said earlier, learner tuners should forget about these exotic temperments and just learn to tune ET properly which is what 99.9% of customers want!!
Robin Stevens ARPT
South Australia

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#1342052 - 01/06/10 03:06 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Aussie tuner]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1669
Loc: Mexico City
The title of this thread is misleading.

First, we must speak of Unequal Temperaments not Historical Tunings, as several of the most brilliant minds of our times had designed modern well temperaments in the 20th and 21th Centuries!

(BTW, there is a difference between a tuning, which involves pure intervals and a temperament, which involves tempered intervals)

See the following link:

Rolling Ball: ModernTemperaments



Second, the choice of the word “Hysterical” is unfortunate.

Peter,

I thought you could have found better to distinguish from the other current thread entitled "Historical Tunings".



Sam,

You can put away your adze and your gooden mallet and all your old tools and use the very new ones! I am not talking about routers and band saws, neither ET. I am talking about Modern Well Temperaments which were designed not to be used as coffe table conversation but to play piano modulating through all keys without being disturbed by unpleasant dissonances, designed to play music from De Falla, Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin to modern Jazz.


It is a shame that “la crème” of the piano tuners of our days could be so little minded to be locked to ET and couldn’t appreciate the beauty of Modern Well Temperaments, as many contemporary great musicians do!

Maybe the fact that many piano tuners are not musicians but technicians has something to do with that.



Edited by Gadzar (01/06/10 04:03 AM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1342053 - 01/06/10 03:12 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Gadzar]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1669
Loc: Mexico City
P.D.

Fortunately the future of music will be decided by musicians and composers, not by piano tuners.

After all, we tuners are here to tune pianos not to make music.

We'll be tuning what our customers (pianists and musicians) will be asking us!


Edited by Gadzar (01/06/10 03:51 AM)
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1342054 - 01/06/10 03:32 AM Re: Hysterical tunings etc... [Re: Gadzar]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Surely this issue reduces to the simple question:

``Are the differences between different temperaments greater than tuning inaccuracies, allowing for human error and the effects of time and environment?''

And the answer is, I think, `maybe'. I'm sure there are tuners out there, and pianos out there, will sufficient skill and stability respectively, that the differences between temperaments would be noticeable, at least after a recent tuning.

I'm interested in this primarily because I'm interested in the science and the mathematics. I'm not sure I'd make the effort from a purely musical point of view, particularly considering how infrequently most of the pianos I play are tuned.



Edited by kevinb (01/06/10 03:32 AM)

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by Sionos
Today at 08:04 AM
Timing of the trill Invention no 1
by DreamOfSleeping
Today at 03:55 AM
Consolation 3 played by Paul Barton question
by briandang
Today at 01:37 AM
Toccata Boogie -- piano solo
by Axtremus
Today at 01:11 AM
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