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#2139129 - 08/26/13 10:00 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Mwm]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Hi Chuck,

I agree my suggestion is impractical. I use it, as an experiment, on one piano only.

Even using my spreadsheet, or Dirk's tuner, or tuning aurally, the different iHs between the strings of a single note, especially the wound strings, means that, while the ETD will get me close to the pitch, my ear must find the best compromise amongst the strings of the same note.

I think we all agree that the real tuner is the one who wields the hammer, for that, in the end, is how the job is accomplished.

Cheers to all.


I bet that most ETD user today have been so much addicted to their tool that they leave the tool the work to tell them what is on pitch and what is not.

Every note is tuned so the display is more or less stopped, then the unison, then the tools are packed and bye.
Then you can really earn a lot of money, your "tuning" is about 45 minutes and even if it slips a little the straighness and eveness of the curve allows for that leaving a piano that is still playeable, and certainly sound better than before the tuner came in.

I have tuned 8 pianos a day at some point.

You can imagine that you loose contact with tuning at some point.

What make me aware of that was my colleague who simply stopped concert work by lack of interest for following a display all day long.

AT last when you do the job totally it is more rewarding, but, mostly, the ear is way more pleased.

In the end what is fun is that it is even a little faster, at the same quality level, once a good strategy is learned to the max.

I have sensitive ears when listening to music, and I notice how much you tend to close your ears when following a display, it is a specific brain training that allows you to make the display "listen" for you.

A well trained aural tuner have its own ETD in the brain, hopefully, to a point some cannot imagine.

Knowing models, brands and music is what helps to build that specialized brain.


Edited by Olek (08/26/13 10:01 AM)
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#2139130 - 08/26/13 10:08 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Bonjour Isaac,

I hope someday to be able to tune solely by ear. I have done so on other instruments with less iH for decades, but have always tuned UTs, not ET. Now that I have my piano in Young 1799, I really want to listen and ignore the mathematics.

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#2139385 - 08/26/13 07:52 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Duane Graves Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/13
Posts: 32
Well, Well, Well.....some of all this was really amazing; some (most) of it was over my head but all of it was a good learning curve. I don't really know if I got the simple answer for my simple question answered but it don't matter any more and for sure I'm not asking it again. Not here anyway (wink). I really appreciate everyone's immense passion and professional pride for tuning pianos. It's almost to the point of "leaving part of yourself" in the last piano you tuned. I would never in two lifetimes realized how smacked out some (most) of the contributors to this post are on doing it their way because that is not only the right way but there is no other way.
I came into this thread thinking that piano tuning is a way to supplement my retirement income (and I still do) but I'm walking away from this forest of tall trees with a brighter perspective on the art of piano tuning. I will never get to the statures of some of you (Chuck..great stuff thank you...and Ron, MWM, Olek....and many others back there) but, really, that's not the goal. The goal for me for the immediate future is to get take my little course I've started and tune a few pianos over the fall and early winter and by next spring assess the whole thing and go forward from where I think I am at that time.
So in the end thank you all for this and I look forward (I think) to posting my questions and thoughts here from time to time. Perhaps as to finding a lower priced EDT I'll just keep my ears open....cheers, Duane.

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#2139427 - 08/26/13 10:26 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Duane,
Don't be turned off by your experience here at PW. I just joined some months ago to ask questions, read, and learn, and that has been my experience. Bonne chance, or bon courage, depending on your country.


Edited by Mwm (08/26/13 10:28 PM)

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#2139589 - 08/27/13 09:40 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Duane Graves
It's almost to the point of "leaving part of yourself" in the last piano you tuned.


Hello, Duane, at last you had been given a large point of view on different aspects of that "art".

An aural tuner always leave a part of himself in the final result be it only because of the way his ears are working.

For instance older tuners have (had) a tendency to raise much more the high treble than younger ones, and fight that tendency by using different tests.

During his career, a tuner also have the ear that is modified.

A friend of mine could not stand the Yamaha tone when they begun to be common in the 70-80's.
Today he agree that he is used to them tunes and voice with way more clearer tone than he was, and he even appreciate their tone.

Working ONLY with an ETD does not mean the tuner to put a part of his listening when tuning unisons, I mostly noticed that the abuse of ETD's tend to "straighten the ear in a quest for purity that I perceive as a point missed.

I have been tuning with very pure and straight "too clear" unison and pitches that provided some lack of musicality when listening. too much power immediately, at some point the ear refuse to listen to harshness and you do not hear it.

The ear "close" to protect itself for the high dB level of the attack, and begin to listen only later. Then you can only notice that the tuning sound too hard after a few moments of rest or when listening someone playing.
This is not a problem if you analyze the way the tone develop, but can be if the goal is only to stop a display, as the same goal tend to be searched for when tuning unisons (straightening the tone)

It is easier to use memory and imagination to build a nice tuning, referring to a machine is staying on the cold side of things, even if it can be very useful.

But I have music in my mind, I recall some of the nicest tuning done while reminding of a record I listened to.

The more you tune good instruments, the more musical references your memory grasp, the mor eyou can refer to some goal.

Then, tuning is also just a job, and we can left our ego at home. Despite that, many good pianists know the importance of the tuner, try to see him before a concert, like to have some exchange with the tuner about the piano.

If only the usual piano owner did the same the tune's life would be more interesting. At last some owners ask if "everything is OK with the piano" but I am sure many avoid by fear of being explained that some maintenance is to be planned !








Edited by Olek (08/27/13 09:44 AM)
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#2139601 - 08/27/13 10:26 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Olek]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Bonjour Duane and Isaac,

I agree with Isaac about the unisons. That is, for me, the hardest part of tuning. I tend to tune them too close together, and the resulting sound is much too hard. I try to relax the pitches of the second and third strings of the tri-chord to allow the sound to blossom. It is not easy to strike the right balance.

Again, good luck and persevere.

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#2140062 - 08/28/13 06:21 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
coming from harpsichord or organ tuning to pianos makes it difficult. the listening is different, with more "distance", as the iH make the pitch less precise and we need to appreciate it before it stabilize in a more noticeable pitch.
We need to modify the attack , by tuning the decay. pianos with an audible double extinction curve makes it easier, than ones that have a tone more resembling to the harpsichord.

The brain when quiet makes the job of determining what is the real pitch perceived, including all the partials and the fundamental.

when the iH get too high it makes it impossible to obtain sparkle, there is too much pitch difference between partials and fundamental.
Very frustrating when it happens in the soprano region.

On the other hand the ear is pleased with those impurities, it catch brain attention because the tone is not "easy" to determine
.

That may be the reason for that length differences that is left, , the sparkle of the pianos that have no agrafes (just a capo) and all the strings of different lengths .

A nicer and purer tone is interesting, easier to voice, but at some point it allows less possibilities.


Possibly the changes in spectra at different levels add some coloring due to interactions between the strings.

Way more complex than "tuning all 3 strings so they sound like one" basic and incomplete description of an unison.

the higher the IH the more percussive the tone is, probably.


Edited by Olek (08/28/13 06:28 AM)
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It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2140322 - 08/28/13 04:17 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Olek]
Mark Davis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/08
Posts: 658
Originally Posted By: Olek

For instance older tuners have (had) a tendency to raise much more the high treble than younger ones, and fight that tendency by using different tests.


Greetings Isaac,

1. Please can you explain further with regard to your statement above?

2. What do you mean by, "and fight that tendency by using different tests", with regard to tuning the treble,

and,

3. What tests did these old tuners use for tuning the high treble?

Thank you,

Regards,
_________________________
Mark Davis
Piano Tuner & Technician

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#2140409 - 08/28/13 07:12 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1968
Loc: Philadelphia area
I thought it was the other way around. Over stretch when young and look for strong octaves when older and wiser.

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#2140658 - 08/29/13 11:24 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Dave B]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Dave B
I thought it was the other way around. Over stretch when young and look for strong octaves when older and wiser.


Yes, both, in fact. If he want to stretch the stretch will be too large, then generally they stick with firm octaves and they can be checked with the energetic response from lower notes 8-12-15 th. I suspect the high treble can be tuned without listening really, just noticing the emphasis.

Now I have met an excellent pianist that complained about lack of stretch in the high treble.

I suppose that when we hear those pitches yet (an octave above the last one) it is easy to use some stretch. Then if we try without really hearing there the result is almost half a tone high.

The pitch perceived by the ear include the partials (I read that) so the final pitch evaluation depend of the ability of the ear to provide them to be processed.

Tuning with broken octaves and old ears gives an extreme stretching.

A few friends do not hear the last 2-3 notes only "pock" or "plonk" or only on some pianos.
But the firm octave is always noticed, because the lower tone inflates. (this is also a so cool way to tune by ear it is certainly often used in other regions, till octave 5 that effect begins to be clearly apparent)

Regards.

P's sorry Mark, I hope that is the answer to your questions too.
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2140660 - 08/29/13 11:29 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
Too High IH is said that to be really disagreeably to youngsters. (possibly only reduce much the pitch precision)

Small pianos whole learning justness (singing, writing notes) is pointed as a source of bad habits given to the brain, justness wise.
The era of extra small pianos is passed, hopefully, but their effect seem to be noticed.


Edited by Olek (08/29/13 01:42 PM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2140717 - 08/29/13 12:28 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
I notice an interesting psycho-acoustic effect when I am playing. If the top octaves are not too stretched, when I play an octave, the upper note sounds flat, but, when I play a full, slow arpeggio from the bottom of the piano to the top, the last note sounds in tune. My musician friends all notice preciscely the same effect. We hear what we want to hear it would seem.

I have also noticed that, when playing a full C major arpeggio, I can end on either A#7, B7, or C8, and they all sound more or less in tune with the arpeggio (not surprising, since the upper partials of the lower Cs are very close to A#7, B7, C8), yet played in order by themselves, are clearly A#7, B7, and C8.

Probably best to use Isaac's technique of firm octaves.

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#2140722 - 08/29/13 12:42 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Mwm]
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1658
Loc: Chicagoland
Originally Posted By: Mwm


I have also noticed that, when playing a full C major arpeggio, I can end on either A#7, B7, or C8, and they all sound more or less in tune with the arpeggio (not surprising, since the upper partials of the lower Cs are very close to A#7, B7, C8), yet played in order by themselves, are clearly A#7, B7, and C8.

Probably best to use Isaac's technique of firm octaves.



Just tried this - not the case at all with my ears! Clearly the wrong pitch for A#7 or B7.... This is my old, large upright from the 1920's. Perhaps we tend toward different tuning styles?

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

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


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#2140743 - 08/29/13 01:10 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: RonTuner]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: RonTuner
Originally Posted By: Mwm


I have also noticed that, when playing a full C major arpeggio, I can end on either A#7, B7, or C8, and they all sound more or less in tune with the arpeggio (not surprising, since the upper partials of the lower Cs are very close to A#7, B7, C8), yet played in order by themselves, are clearly A#7, B7, and C8.

Probably best to use Isaac's technique of firm octaves.



Just tried this - not the case at all with my ears! Clearly the wrong pitch for A#7 or B7.... This is my old, large upright from the 1920's. Perhaps we tend toward different tuning styles?

Ron Koval

I'm sitting in a hotel room right now practicing on a Yamaha KX8 with iGrand. I tried the arpeggio on it and the upper upper notes are clearly all different as well. The octaves sound in tune as well. The iGrand sample I'm using is a Steinway 9' with soft New York hammers and not a lot of iH. My home piano is a new M&H BB with Renner. Lots of iH, so maybe that is a big part of the difference.

Hey, I just noticed you are in Chicagoland. I'm at Midway right now, waiting to fly my people home to Toronto. Hello!


Edited by Mwm (08/29/13 01:11 PM)

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#2140764 - 08/29/13 01:32 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Mwm]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I notice an interesting psycho-acoustic effect when I am playing. If the top octaves are not too stretched, when I play an octave, the upper note sounds flat, but, when I play a full, slow arpeggio from the bottom of the piano to the top, the last note sounds in tune. My musician friends all notice preciscely the same effect. We hear what we want to hear it would seem.

I have also noticed that, when playing a full C major arpeggio, I can end on either A#7, B7, or C8, and they all sound more or less in tune with the arpeggio (not surprising, since the upper partials of the lower Cs are very close to A#7, B7, C8), yet played in order by themselves, are clearly A#7, B7, and C8.

Probably best to use Isaac's technique of firm octaves.


very high iH makes the pitch unclear nindeed, I dont know why a stretched high treble octave can sound flat when stretched, may be it is only due to the real pitch of the 2nd partial of the top note, but this one is not much pronounced.

You may have noticed also that a too short octave makes the upper note more present on harpsichords (?)

I wonder if the ear does not filter and listen at a pitch preferently, if trying to stretch the last octaves without being too attentive, it is easy to attain more than 1/4 tone.

I did not thought about the beat speed, also. at some point the octave may be able to beat in phase with some partial.
Or eventually with a fast enough beat that produce then a
real new frequency (?)

There is some "attraction" between partials, that makes high stretch sound not enough stretched sometime.

For instance a tuning that is near the pure 5th may give octaves that sound not large enough while by evidence they are yet much enlarged.

I noticed that on my first "high stretch " testing. from moderate to really crisp the stair is wide, it is not a small one.

Now I just believe it is due to the partial match level,when tuning octaves the ear expect to hear reinforcement at the octave level, then the 12th is perceived as "not enough" (in those experimental conditions)







Edited by Olek (08/29/13 03:27 PM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2140772 - 08/29/13 01:49 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
On the harpsichord and clavichord, the sustain is so short in the upper octave that I tune good sounding octaves, whatever that means. I check with arpeggiated chords, major and minor, to sense the position of the upper note. I don't really hear beats in that region.

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#2140814 - 08/29/13 03:00 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Mwm]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Mwm
On the harpsichord and clavichord, the sustain is so short in the upper octave that I tune good sounding octaves, whatever that means. I check with arpeggiated chords, major and minor, to sense the position of the upper note. I don't really hear beats in that region.


non arpegiated octaves may possibly be tuned if listening to the behavior of the lowest tone, but I have no idea of the musicality in the end (harpsichord have a very little iH it begins to be a few cts in the treble).

Stretched octaves (piano style, that mean 4:2 octaves, to simplify) on the harpsichord , denature the tuning and sound really strange. BUT pure 5th tuning (with much beats at octave and double octave level) sound clean and very well accepted (one harpsichord used often in movies music is tuned that way here in Paris)

So the mathematical (or acoustical) model may have some importance

May be to be heard the beats need more energy than what is available in high treble.

But it may sound reasonable that very fast beating can couple/phase with an existing partial, the lowest note for instance, at some point. What does it give, frequency wise ?


Edited by Olek (08/29/13 03:08 PM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2140872 - 08/29/13 05:27 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Mark Davis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/08
Posts: 658
Thank you Isaac
_________________________
Mark Davis
Piano Tuner & Technician

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#2141202 - 08/30/13 06:21 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Overly rapid beats in an overly sharpened highest octave are heard as harshness in tone by listening musicians and is to be avoided.

A tuner who finds it difficult to hear out of tuneness in simultaneously played highest octave might listen for and reduce harshness instead.

Maj.10ths-17ths might be easier to hear. This test is available and audible all the way to c88. It's a good quick check of an already tuned treble for sharpness or flatness that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Ever noticed how tuners estimate the pitch of a high note by upward arpeggios? A few downward arpeggios will reveal how an over sharp high note can make a lower note that is perfectly in tune appear flat. This often occurs in real music.

That there is a shortage of good tuners is currently being demonstrated by a couple of cheaply made commercials presently running on national TV here. They have a piano's upper octave notes in the closing section that are so dreadfully sharp to the other instruments involved. It is also evidence of slipping standards in ad producers and their staff who didn't notice it.
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2141219 - 08/30/13 07:41 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Mark R. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2002
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
RXD,

Are any of those commercials available online? I'd like to listen in the colonies. smile
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

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

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#2141363 - 08/30/13 12:48 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1080
Loc: PA
When I was a student back i the late 70's, I had a tendency to want to tune the highest octaves too sharp. Then, I discovered the "Nadia's Theme Test." This may sound silly, but it worked for me.

Simply take the first few bars of Nadia's Theme and use it to test the highest octaves... D6 to D7, F6 to F7, etc., just by transposing the opening few bars, if you are in doubt about any of the high treble octaves.

This may sound overly simple, but you will know immediately if you hit the mark. The octave will either work, or it wont.
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#2142029 - 08/31/13 11:48 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: daniokeeper]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Originally Posted By: daniokeeper
When I was a student back i the late 70's, I had a tendency to want to tune the highest octaves too sharp. Then, I discovered the "Nadia's Theme Test." This may sound silly, but it worked for me.

Simply take the first few bars of Nadia's Theme and use it to test the highest octaves... D6 to D7, F6 to F7, etc., just by transposing the opening few bars, if you are in doubt about any of the high treble octaves.

This may sound overly simple, but you will know immediately if you hit the mark. The octave will either work, or it wont.




Yes, there are many tunes that begin with an octave upwards. Andersons' "Forgotten Dreams" oscillates upwards and downwards between the notes an octave apart and so also checking the downward motion. It will certainly get them in the ballpark and sounds plausible, even prettier to the uneducated listener.

We always assume we can estimate an octave accurately that way despite how we happen to be feeling at that moment. It is certainly easier to get into the habit of tuning melodically than making the effort to listen closely to harder to hear simultaneous intervals which are played in real music just as often and need to sound equally good. They are based on more scientific principles that are totally independent of how we feel.

Do you ever check the accuracy of melodic intervals? If so, how do you check their accuracy? Isn't it more efficient and certainly much quicker to use those accuracy checks to tune the notes in the first place?

I can be sure that using the more scientific checks will prevent me falling into the trap of tuning sharper and sharper in the upper octaves as I get older and older and older.


Edited by rxd (08/31/13 11:51 PM)
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2142064 - 09/01/13 12:59 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1080
Loc: PA
Quote:

Do you ever check the accuracy of melodic intervals? If so, how do you check their accuracy? Isn't it more efficient and certainly much quicker to use those accuracy checks to tune the notes in the first place?

I do check the accuracy of the highest notes. For instance, i will quickly check A7 to A6, A7 to A5, A7 to A4, and so on.

But, i do so much work on little Lester "Betsey Ross" spinets, Wurlitzer spinets, Kimballs, Whitneys, Winters... Frequently, there is so much distortion and false beating that the checks alone can be ambiguous on some notes.

The customer is not going to pay for major troubleshooting or even rebuilding of such instruments. Nor should they invest thousands of dollars into a piano worth perhaps hundreds at best. But still,the customer wants a good result.

My suggestion is a good way to "check the checks" in such circumstances.... It is an additional tool to verify what has been done in the highest octave.

This is not "either/or;' this is "and".

Do you not check your aural tunings musically after you are finished? Surely you have your own list of test passages that you use.

For a beginning aural tuner, this can also be a good tool for learning to tune octaves in the very high treble.... until he develops the ability to tune octaves there with certainty on the mid-grade to highest quality instruments..
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#2143773 - 09/03/13 11:56 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Joe.
As you know, I usually agree with most everything you write. There is nothing personal about this but you raise some interesting points.

If I have just spent the best part of an hour tuning a piano examining all intervals concerned in detail, why would I re test this by playing tunes which are essentially a random selection of notes and intervals. How many of these tunes would I have to play in order to test all the intervals I have just tuned and know by experience are already optimum?

Even concert grands have contradictory interval tests and we both know by experience how to deal with that in any piano.

Because I complete all my 'work' early each morning, it gives me a leisurely lifestyle that means I am free to cover emergency tunings that might arise. Sometimes, an inexperienced good tuner who has fallen into this soft option of pure melodic tuning ( who hasn't?) is put under pressure to finish a tuning early for some reason or have to work in noisy environs or both. This can have devastating results and an immediate emergency retune is necessary. I am often free to do this and I see these results. We have all here seen the really excessive sharpness of a rushed melodic treble tuning by a tuner of more than 30 years of experience only a few weeks ago on this forum. Good habits should be practiced at all times so that they are automatically in place for those times when conditions are less than adequate.

Those who remember know that a pitch raise on a new spinet can be overstretched in the treble and left that way for practical reasons and when this is done in a showroom, that piano sells first. Such is the attractiveness of excessive treble sharpness to a casual listener. The harshness of over stretched simultaneous octaves is, as you say, not easily heard on such instruments. Over stretching is popular. No doubt.

If I have tuned an octave as far wide as it will reasonably go and still sound clean enough, yet I still want to hear it wider when I play it melodically, what then? This stretching syndrome can get out of hand. The wider we get used to hearing, the wider we want to hear them.

Let me posit that the commonly accepted idea that tuners tune sharper as they get older is not a function of age but of habit.

All of my work is for professional musicians who listen intently for a living. String and wind players, particularly. The vast majority of tuners are hired by pianists, most of whom are not listeners to intonation at this level of intensity and, quite frankly, allow tuners to sometimes get away with murder. Such pianos are rarely played with other instruments. When they are, it is often by young students of wind or string instruments. Don't we have a duty to these young players, whatever the piano, however we feel melodically that day.

I vehemently resist being called an 'artist tuner' this, in my experience usually implies someone who tunes trebled too sharp.

This is not elitist, I have paid my dues with spinets. They naturally tune sharper, why make it worse? All pianos tune out sharp enough already in the treble when played with other instruments without sharpening more. Testing by melodic intervals mostly increases this sharpness unnecessarily. I have also heard flat melodically tuned intervals but that is just as out of tune. Sharpness is more acceptable to the casual listener than being below pitch. It was said ' better sharp than flat' until some wag with a sarcastic sense of the greater truth said ' better sharp than out of tune'.

It is not unusual for the casual listener to perceive an upper note as out of tune. When they do, it is mostly perceived as flat whether it is or not. The tendency then is to continually sharpen until it sounds in tune which, of course, it never will.

I sometimes perceive an interval as narrow, even though it is physically wide. I also know that if I leave it alone and get back to it with fresher ears it is fine. We probably all sense this at some time or other. There are also continual checks on my work by seasoned musicians matching pitches to it. I would soon know if there was a problem.

The idea of stretching for large halls is not currently practiced by anyone I know in major centres of music. Anyone out there still stretching more for large halls? Modern acoustics can make large halls quite cozy, acoustically and even in the great Victorian 10,000 seat edifices, it is not currently practiced. Orchestras would not tolerate it.

Although I tune some of the finest pianos in the world and have been mistaken for a good pianist, I never indulge myself by playing a piano I have just tuned. I have confidence in my work, for one. There simply isn't time, for another and that I am usually surrounded by people who can really play is perhaps the best of many reasons. The moment I finish my work, that piano is ready for the pianist who is about to play it and no one else should touch it. Including me.



Edited by rxd (09/04/13 02:49 AM)
Edit Reason: Over active spellchecker
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2143824 - 09/04/13 02:45 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
"The idea of stretching for large halls is not currently practiced by anyone I know in major centres of music. Anyone out there still stretching more for large halls? Modern acoustics can make large halls quite cozy, acoustically and even in the great Victorian 10,000 seat edifices, it is not currently practiced. Orchestras would not tolerate it. "

Possibly today we have more data to backup that, I remind having tuned pianos that went back from church concerts, and they where clearly raised in the high treble, while the acoustics was just asking for that at tuning time.
(the exact opposite of studio tuning , with tone 'in" he piano miked)

Now that was may be just me at that moment.

I believe, that the tuner can "project" his ear, and "tunes" it to the acoustical behavior of the place, that mean using the return of the sound to evaluate the effect of the tuning a little apart from the piano.

The same may happen in some reverberant room.

Possibly this is implying too much justness variations to be accepteable, I just do not know.

For sure those "extra stretch " that look so appealing are more robbing something than adding it.

But that is not in the high treble that the problems of stretch are the most, way more in the soprano section in my opinion.

It is very possible that tuners have quietened topday (due to the amount of ETD tuinings ?) but many where "inflating" their treble to the max, just to finish with another "attractive spot" in high treble. (in France, it may depend from which school they come from)

possibly I see that as the tuner pushing a little to much the gas pedal, then obliged to brake before the turn wink

In any case some good amount of self consonance of the piano is to be used so each note is enlighted by enough others.

I have no clue if that is an adequate method but I find intervals mistakes just by playing octaves (unison tuned) , when one sound less full I have to chase for the mistake. The acoustical energy seem to be enough to show if the eveness is respected (on a piano with a decent tone/scale) usual checks confirm that so I use them less and less, only to find the mistakes.

the iH may drive much of that sort of testing so it may be takn with a pinch of salt, certainly, anyway I dont feel I have trouble to know how the treble is to be tuned, so melodic or plain justness both are credible.

most tuners I follow seem to tune the treble the same so I suppose only my appreciation method may differ, certainly I would use more chromatic testing too if the situation ask for that.

Or I am simply basically lazy.

Tuners may develop a knowledge of octaves that imply hearing what the partials are doing, once on the slope with progressive fast beatings the next just consist of congruence ...


Edited by Olek (09/04/13 02:51 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2143844 - 09/04/13 04:11 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Thanks for raising another hoary old saw. That of tuning to the resonances of the room. If there were 88 resonance points near or near enough to all the required frequencies of a piano.... Well, there aren't so we are left with the odd frequency here and there. If we try to match them we would have great unevenness of tone. Surely, if that were ever the case, the course of action, if at all, would be to tune avoiding all natural room frequencies. Take into account the differences in natural frequencies when the hall is full compared to when the hall is empty we are left with notes that are out of tune for no apparent reason.

I just emerged from tuning a piano that was at the side of the stage, covered with a thick fitted quilt and surrounded by music stands and chairs. Plenty room to lift front lid and tune. What price room frequencies now?

Fortunately it's all just another pretension.

And no, Isaac, you are not lazy, just not guilty of over-egging the pudding.


Edited by rxd (09/04/13 04:28 AM)
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2143859 - 09/04/13 05:26 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
I probably used an improper term, resonances are a hassle, my point was about the reverberation. Of course it change when the room is full hence not so useful to listen for it.

I know I was so used to wait for the tone reflections that I was always not at ease yo tune outdoors, with a very dry tone.

Probably a trick to focus more easily on tone projection..
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2144257 - 09/04/13 08:42 PM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1080
Loc: PA
Hello rxd,

No offense taken smile I know you are one of the good guys on here... even one of the very best of the good guys. I mean that personally (from what I see on this forum) and professionally.

I use test passages for several reasons. The main reason is...

I want to get the sound melodically into my ear. If I verify whatever interval using aural checks, I want to know how it sounds melodically. I simply want to know.

I have no doubt that if you were presented a piano that was tuned in some UT, you would know immediately the the piano was not in ET merely by playing some passages. You would not need to rely on your aural checks. A lifetime of tuning would make the aural checks almost superfluous to determining if this was ET or not.... or a failed ET attempt by someone.

I also have little doubt that you could tell just by playing whether or not a piano is at A440.

I have spent 35 years getting the sound of the high octaves melodically into my ear... octaves that were first verified by aural checks. When I encounter notes that are so distorted, that have so much false beating at various partials, listening melodically can be another useful tool for verifying the octave.

A phenomena I occasionally encounter when using an ETD is the "odd man out" octave. That is, all the octaves in a particular area are in good tune when set exactly to the ETD, except for one. Maybe a different octave type is needed there, maybe there is some weird thing happening that makes the octave sound bad even though it is correct... whatever... the important thing is "How does the piano sound?"

I would never presume to tune a piano just melodically without the aural interval checks. A tuning should be provable. However, I do remember hearing rumors many years ago when i was a student that there existed tuners in the 19th century that were so advanced, that they did exactly that. And, that they did it well.

This "might" be verified by the Bemetztrieder Temperament of 1808. Quoting the the rollingball.com site:
"A French music teacher, Bemetztrieder regarded singing talent as a prerequisite for tuning, and his tuning method was to temper melodically by ear... "
http://www.rollingball.com/TemperamentsFrames.htm
You can find it in the Well Temperaments section under Bemetztrieder.
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#2144448 - 09/05/13 03:49 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7538
Loc: France
Joe , reading you I just do not understand if you use check or an ETD.

"A phenomena I occasionally encounter when using an ETD is the "odd man out" octave. That is, all the octaves in a particular area are in good tune when set exactly to the ETD, except for one".

I noticed similar thing also, but does not seem to encounter that anymore now, may be because I rely to a similar resonance from not to note to decide that justness is OK (I have no ETD to induce me in error, also)

I guess there may be plenty of reasons for the ETD to be perturbated in high treble.
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2144525 - 09/05/13 09:47 AM Re: Question About Tuning [Re: Duane Graves]
rxd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1707
Loc: London, England
Thanks, Joe for the compliments although I make no pretentions to any skills other than those essential to my job. I'm merely lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time a few too many times and to associate with helpful people.

I am familiar with the repeated attempts at reconciling static and dynamic intonation over the centuries. Although there much more information now than there was for me 40 years ago, the content of that information remains essentially the same. A study of the work of Frescobaldi will shed light on many aspects. The adoption (more accurately, allowing) of a shifting pitch base is the only answer I have found to resolve the direct conflict between the natural tendencies of harmony and those of melody. This was practiced daily by a broadcasting BBC รก capella group I had connections with in the ' 70's. The director was particularly keen on melodic intonation with the result that they lost or gained pitch as they modulated and always returned to pitch at the end of the pieces that did return to the the key they started in. Quite an experience. Don't know of anybody doing it currently.

For many years I have been piano technician for a festival of all types of music that has long standing connections to the proms season. I breakfast, lunch, dine and sup daily with some of today's finest musicians from all styles. Over the weeks, I must associate with 300 of them. in return, I look after 3 'D's for them. As a mark of the esteem they hold for a reasonably competent piano tech, I am given better accommodation than most of them. Just an hour or so tuning a day and occasional coaching of professional ensembles.

Interesting that I drew the short straw and was obliged to tune a fortepiano at A=430 one week, the harpsichord exprtt refused to touch it. Since tuning time with the instrument was extremely limited, I tuned it electronically to my pre-programmed steinway D tuning in the treble and tuned the middle on down in a variety of octave styles to give the illusion of a well constructed mild unequal temperament. All octaves and double octaves were clean sounding and no interval too far from ET Almost exactly the same intonation they had heard from the real D an hour or so before except at 430

You mention stray harmonics. Tone regulation will remove all but the most recalcitrant of them but it reminded me of tone quality. I hear players with poor tone quality but good intonation which makes the experience listenable. I also hear good tone quality with questionable intonation, particularly some violinists but the superb tone quality forgives the intonation.

Gotta go
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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