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#2101355 - 06/12/13 07:52 AM Equal temperament
Loren D Offline
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Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
We already have a thousand posts about this, so what will one more hurt? smile

I have a love-hate relationship with ET. The tech in me sees the practicality of it, but the pianist in me hates it. For me, music should sound musical; not practical.

Give me the shades, colors, and textures of the different keys.
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#2101365 - 06/12/13 08:27 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
Emmery Offline
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Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2366
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
I didn't realize that the term "musical" had only one narrow definition. Equal temperament allows full versatility to play in any key with aproximately the same amount of "un-musical" quality. Every other non ET is a compromise. If one is playing pieces that uses keys which have more favourable musical qualities, there would obviously be some small benefits.

Unfortuanately, I have yet to open a fake book or classical music book that has "All pieces in the key of Db" written on it.
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#2101369 - 06/12/13 08:34 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Emmery]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Emmery
I didn't realize that the term "musical" had only one narrow definition. Equal temperament allows full versatility to play in any key with aproximately the same amount of "un-musical" quality. Every other non ET is a compromise. If one is playing pieces that uses keys which have more favourable musical qualities, there would obviously be some small benefits.

Unfortuanately, I have yet to open a fake book or classical music book that has "All pieces in the key of Db" written on it.


Key word being "un-musical."
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#2101411 - 06/12/13 10:14 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4919
Loc: Bradford County, PA
One key or another does not mean anything to me. but that is not so with those with absolute pitch. I have to suspect that those with AP tend to have a preference for UT.

But before I understood what ET really was, I used to wonder why the F and especially the Eb brass instruments couldn't play in tune while us Bb brass instruments could. And I also wondered why pieces with flats sounded sooo much better than pieces with sharps. I had a band director encourage us to try playing with the 12 note strob-o-scope to work on our intonation. There were some notes where this just didn't work, I would run out of "lip". It was much easier for woodwinds. I understand this all now.
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Part-Time Tuner
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#2101413 - 06/12/13 10:19 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Emmery]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7294
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Emmery
Every other non ET is a compromise.

It is ET which is the compromise. You seem to need a lesson in the history of Western music.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2101456 - 06/12/13 12:37 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: Emmery
Every other non ET is a compromise.

It is ET which is the compromise. You seem to need a lesson in the history of Western music.

Careful now. Every temperament on a 12 tone per octave keyboard is a compromise of some kind versus just intonation.


Edited by Mwm (06/12/13 12:38 PM)

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#2101524 - 06/12/13 02:57 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Mwm]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7294
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: Emmery
Every other non ET is a compromise.

It is ET which is the compromise. You seem to need a lesson in the history of Western music.

Careful now. Every temperament on a 12 tone per octave keyboard is a compromise of some kind versus just intonation.

The inference in the posting was the ET was not a compromise. ET is a temperament based on a compromise, which is based on a compromise, and yet another compromise, ad infinitum.

To think that ET is not a compromise begs the study of music history and musicology.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2101527 - 06/12/13 03:02 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7294
Loc: Rochester MN
Alex McDonald, a competitor in the recent Cliburn Competition, made a comment in an interview about the piano choices available. He observed that a piano is an instrument which is, and can never be, in tune with itself. Yet the common feeling in this forum is that pianists can't tell if a piano is in tune or not. I always beg to differ.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2101555 - 06/12/13 03:45 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Marty,

You are correct about the compromise of a compromise of a compromise...

I am not so sure about pianists knowing when a piano is as tuned as it can be. Now that I tune my own piano, I am starting to hear the tuning qualities of all the pianos I hear, and I hate that it is interfering with my enjoyment of the music. Until I started tuning, I was blissfully unaware of the subtle variations in the structure of a tuning. I just performed the music and the piano was the vehicle. It is different from the awareness of the tuning of an organ or harpsichord, which are inherently cleaner sounding.

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#2101559 - 06/12/13 03:50 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Loren D
We already have a thousand posts about this, so what will one more hurt? smile

I have a love-hate relationship with ET. The tech in me sees the practicality of it, but the pianist in me hates it. For me, music should sound musical; not practical.

Give me the shades, colors, and textures of the different keys.

Loren,
You want the shades, colors,..., but using which UT?

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#2101626 - 06/12/13 06:19 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
I have a feeling ET is here to stay. People just like to be able to play in every key!(playing f# chord should sound as good/bad as playing C chord)
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#2101664 - 06/12/13 07:25 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7294
Loc: Rochester MN
Playing a F# chord should every bit as good as a C chord, but it should sound different other than just a difference in pitch.

There is no reason why you can't play any fixed pitch instrument with a non-ET tuning in every key! It just sounds better.

(Flame suit on)
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2101670 - 06/12/13 07:34 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Mwm]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Loren D
We already have a thousand posts about this, so what will one more hurt? smile

I have a love-hate relationship with ET. The tech in me sees the practicality of it, but the pianist in me hates it. For me, music should sound musical; not practical.

Give me the shades, colors, and textures of the different keys.

Loren,
You want the shades, colors,..., but using which UT?


I like EBVT. Love it, actually.
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#2101687 - 06/12/13 07:59 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
David Jenson Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2082
Loc: Maine
I use ET 'cause it has only two letters and is first alphabetically bufur UT!
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#2101691 - 06/12/13 08:05 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2381
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I use ET because I like sterile environments...

Oh yeah, and octave stretching is for sissies!
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#2101693 - 06/12/13 08:09 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Playing a F# chord should every bit as good as a C chord, but it should sound different other than just a difference in pitch.

There is no reason why you can't play any fixed pitch instrument with a non-ET tuning in every key! It just sounds better.

(Flame suit on)

Of course you can! It is done all the time. 99+% of all tunings on a piano, by the time the tuner has left, are non-ET. And, if you really want key colour, tune your piano in 1/4 comma meantone, founded on C, and play all your pieces one half step higher or lower than written. Or better yet, for those people who don't transpose at sight, base your fundamental pitch on F#. Then you can play all the pieces as written.


Edited by Mwm (06/12/13 08:13 PM)

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#2101697 - 06/12/13 08:16 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: David Jenson]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7294
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
I use ET 'cause it has only two letters and is first alphabetically bufur UT!

Just read about it à la Hebrew. Then you'll love it - Trust me!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2101699 - 06/12/13 08:19 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1691
Loc: Conway, AR USA
I use ET because it's out of this world(!)where wolves roam not.
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Retired piano technician

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#2101707 - 06/12/13 08:31 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: OperaTenor]
David Jenson Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2082
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I use ET because I like sterile environments...

Oh yeah, and octave stretching is for sissies!

I agree with what I think you are saying. confused
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David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#2101723 - 06/12/13 09:22 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: David Jenson]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
I use ET 'cause it has only two letters and is first alphabetically bufur UT!


I understand completely! One of the reasons I became a piano technician was so I would be in the yellow pages between Physicians and Pizza. grin
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DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2101730 - 06/12/13 09:36 PM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
David Jenson Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2082
Loc: Maine
On a good day I tune ET. If I mess up? Hey, its ... UT! Yay!
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David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#2101855 - 06/13/13 08:03 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: UnrightTooner]
Mark R. Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1978
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
One key or another does not mean anything to me. but that is not so with those with absolute pitch. I have to suspect that those with AP tend to have a preference for UT.


I have pitch memory (prefer not to call it "absolute", because I can be 1 or 2 Hz off at A440) - certainly recognize keys immediately if the instrument is between about -50 cents and +20 cents. But I certainly prefer ET. To me, C major is C major, with no need for an overly sweet M3. And F# major is F# major, with no need for an overly sour M3.
I might be an exception to your rule/suspicion, but there you have it.

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Playing a F# chord should every bit as good as a C chord, but it should sound different other than just a difference in pitch.


I submit that you can't have both "every bit as good" and "different other than just pitch". I see one of two cases:

1) F# sounds every bit as good as C, in which case
... a) you have ET or
... b) you have UT but don't care about the widths of M3s or can't distinguish them,

or

2) it sounds different, in which case you have UT and can actually distinguish between close and remote keys. But amongst musicians who can distinguish M3s of different widths, I've never found one person who likes a 17 cent M3 just as much as a 14 cent or 10 cent M3. They all prefer the closer keys.

So, if you tune/use UT and can distinguish between M3s of different widths, then F# does not sound "every bit as good" as C. (That's the whole idea, I've been told.)
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#2101866 - 06/13/13 08:50 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
RonTuner Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1653
Loc: Chicagoland
Here's a question for the ET folks out there...

You say that C is the same (every bit as good) as F#, or any other triad (in a real ET) - how is that REALLY possible with the thirds all beating at different speeds from each other? Or do you mean something else?
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#2101869 - 06/13/13 08:56 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Mark R.]
Ed Foote Online   blank
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1136
Loc: Tennessee
[/quote] Playing a F# chord should every bit as good as a C chord, but it should sound different other than just a difference in pitch.

I submit that you can't have both "every bit as good" and "different other than just pitch". I see one of two cases:
1) F# sounds every bit as good as C, in which case
... a) you have ET or
... b) you have UT but don't care about the widths of M3s or can't distinguish them,

or

2) it sounds different, in which case you have UT and can actually distinguish between close and remote keys. But amongst musicians who can distinguish M3s of different widths, I've never found one person who likes a 17 cent M3 just as much as a 14 cent or 10 cent M3. They all prefer the closer keys.<<

So, if you tune/use UT and can distinguish between M3s of different widths, then F# does not sound "every bit as good" as C. (That's the whole idea, I've been told.)[/quote]

Greetings,
So, it appears that the value judgement has been placed="good" equal consonance? Thus, dissonance is "bad"? If so, why would anyone want to accept all the thirds being so dissonant? 14 cents is pretty far away from consonant. I think it is more a question of contrasts.

I have found that the ET advocates consider sameness to be good, even if it is dissonant, and inequality is bad, even if it reduces the overall dissonance in piano music. ( The only way that a UT creates dissonance on a par with ET is if the use of all 12 keys is totally democratic, and this is not the case in piano music.)

The greater decision is whether a listener is more emotionally moved by one or the other, and science has proven that emotional response varies with the level of dissonance. This alteration of response occurs involuntarily, and is virtually universal. So, while the resolutions in classical music are obviously intended to relax, having them accompanied by a reduction in tempering increases the effect, and we find that classical composers don't resolve to a key with a higher level of tempering, they always resolve to a calmer place. In the absence of contrast, emotional responses are forced to rely on intellectual response, which many of us have found to be a weaker, watered-down, effect.

I love the effect of F# in a strong UT when it indicates a very deep emotional turmoil. I love the pure calmness of the closer keys. What I find most disturbing about ET is the boring sameness when there is no difference other than pitch, and the busy-ness of tempering in passages that would be so much more beautiful if they were closer to pure. I like my classical music as complex as it can be, and ET, with its reduction of harmonic effect to a mathematically determined value, is the antithesis of this. Once understood, the UT casts a new light on phrasing......

And to the statement " I've never found one person who likes a 17 cent M3 just as much as a 14 cent or 10 cent M3. They all prefer the closer keys." I can only say that I must have run into all of them that do, because I have a majority of customers that will never go back to ET. If so many people like the 'closer keys', there must be something repulsive about dissonance, and the only way to accept ET, with its ever-present beating, is to stop listening to the tempering completely, (which is what happens).
Regards,




Edited by Ed Foote (06/13/13 08:58 AM)

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#2101870 - 06/13/13 09:03 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: RonTuner]
Ed Foote Online   blank
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1136
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: RonTuner
Here's a question for the ET folks out there...
You say that C is the same (every bit as good) as F#, or any other triad (in a real ET) - how is that REALLY possible with the thirds all beating at different speeds from each other? Or do you mean something else?


Hi Ron,
I think the explanation is that we hear the beating in logarithmic terms and pitch determines the effect, i.e. the C-E in the 4th octave, though beating twice as fast as the C-E an octave lower, is registered by the ear as the same tempering because the pitch is twice as high.
Regards,

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#2101873 - 06/13/13 09:07 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
This is turning into a really good discussion. Good question, Ron. And Ed, excellent post.
_________________________
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#2101882 - 06/13/13 09:34 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Mark R.]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7294
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Playing a F# chord should every bit as good as a C chord, but it should sound different other than just a difference in pitch.


I submit that you can't have both "every bit as good" and "different other than just pitch".

That is because you think/hear as a tuner and not as a musician. It is exactly the difference in intervals, such as thirds, which create the tonal colors of each individual key. I prefer to hear a distinction between C-minor and C#-minor. If memory serves, composers seem to choose from all keys. Why not just compose everything in C-Major or minor if ET is the best solution?

As an aside, I performed the Beethoven Concerto No. 4 in Prague on a Petrof P-282. The piano immediately brought forth incredible vibrancy. Unlike the USA, rehearsals are accorded much more time and the tuner is included in discussions with the pianist and conductor. I had time to pick the brain of the tuner to find out what was going on.

With an orchestra, he centers the temperament octave on A, rather than C. He used EBVT-III as the foundation temperament and then "listens to what the piano wants." What this created was an identification that G-Major was not a clone of C-Major in ET, merely at a higher pitch. He indicated that for a Wind Ensemble, he sets his temperament octave from Bb.

Keep in mind, I'm not a tuner. But, I am a pianist with an interest in non-ET tunings. If I have messed up the terminology, I apologize in advance.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2101898 - 06/13/13 10:13 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2366
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: Emmery
Every other non ET is a compromise.

It is ET which is the compromise. You seem to need a lesson in the history of Western music.


You would seem to need a lesson in distinguishing between an inferances/observation and also the meanings of statements within greater context. When quoting a snippet of someones posting and leaving out its context, it is also appropriate to precede and follow the quote with 3 dots.

My statement stands, and relates to the versatilitya musician has to explore every key signature they come across without wondering if the piece will be more, or less musical for lack of unequalness.

As an analogy, I have 4 or 5 different eye glasses I wear that have various coatings, filters, prescriptions and tints on them. I do both day and night driving, competitive shooting in both bright sunlight and overcast conditions and numerous other tasks with varying conditions that would benefit from wearing one over the other. If I wore a bright amber high contrast lens on a bright day I would lose much of what I want to see in the same way as if I wore dark grey sunglasses at night. An UT basically does the same thing musically with pieces/key signatures that do not favour what it was intended to help. I would never dream of permanently having implant lenses in my eyes that addressed one condition, nor would I tune my home piano to address specific period pieces and have it muck up and cloud over the musical qualities of all the otherrs.
_________________________
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Niagara Region

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#2101905 - 06/13/13 10:32 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Loren D]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7294
Loc: Rochester MN
Emmery - Are you saying that ET is not a compromise?

--- I am quite familiar with the use of ellipses. Your sentence was quoted in its entirety and did not require an ellipsis or ellipses. It was not taken out of context, it was a complete statement and the source and additional text is available for all to read.

You should search for glasses which are tempered to adapt to all conditions. One doesn't need to change pianos when the instrument is tuned in a non-ET, and the point is, that on the same piano, key color is evident.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2101916 - 06/13/13 10:54 AM Re: Equal temperament [Re: Emmery]
Ed Foote Online   blank
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1136
Loc: Tennessee
[quote=Emmery
As an analogy, I have 4 or 5 different eye glasses I wear that have various coatings, filters, prescriptions and tints on them. I do both day and night driving, competitive shooting in both bright sunlight and overcast conditions and numerous other tasks with varying conditions that would benefit from wearing one over the other. If I wore a bright amber high contrast lens on a bright day I would lose much of what I want to see in the same way as if I wore dark grey sunglasses at night. An UT basically does the same thing musically with pieces/key signatures that do not favour what it was intended to help. I would never dream of permanently having implant lenses in my eyes that addressed one condition, nor would I tune my home piano to address specific period pieces and have it muck up and cloud over the musical qualities of all the otherrs.
[/quote]

Greetings,
I think you have rebutted your own argument. On the one hand, you state that there is no universal pair of glasses that will do it all, yet attempt to say that ET will cover all the bases. One pair of glasses will not satisfy all your visual needs, why would one size third be optimum for all your musical needs?

Composers used different keys for different effects. You will never hear a funeral dirge composed in the key of C, nor a calm idyll composed in F#. Just like your lenses, the various keys are best suited for different musical expression, (see WTC). The UT is a harmonic tool box, offering various resources to the sensitive composer that knows how to best present a musical experience. It is far easier to compose with ET, since modulations don't make any difference other than pitch. Easier because of simplicity.

Using ET for everything is the equivalent of using a Crescent wrench instead of the individual sizes of tools. It works for everything but is optimum for nothing. Its use is for convenience, and that is all. It comes down to the difference between how music sounds and how music feels. Those of us that rely on the intellect pay more attention to the former, those that seek the emotional perspective will pay more attention to the latter.
Regards,

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