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#2150236 - 09/14/13 07:55 PM Which came first, the WT, or the ET?
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
A little play on Duane Graves "chicken or egg" thread.

The question really is, why must you learn to tune ET? Until everyone finally gets on the bandwagon and starts tuning the piano, and expecting the piano to be tuned the way it is meant to be tuned, that is, the way most composers and audiences heard pianos tuned when the music was written, we will still be 50 years behind organs, harpsichords and many orchestras.

What is the resistance to tuning a proper temperament? Does it come from the ignorance of the pianists (as a pianist, this is my first guess), or is the unwillingness of tuners to change?

I give you an example. I tuned my piano to Young 1700 a few weeks ago and my piano tuner/tech/cellist friend came over a few days ago to play cello with me. After one piece, he stopped and could not play anymore. He was blown away by the tuning. He said, it made my piano sound better, more rich, more satisfying than any concert grand he had heard over his long life of tuning only ET. There was tension when it was called for, and incredible calmness when the resolutions came. He asked me to teach him how to tune Young 1799 aurally, I sent him tuning instructions, and this morning he called and was so excited about having tuned his first historical temperament.

The issue people, is that, when playing in an ensemble, the cello and piano in this case, he said it was so much easier to just play the music, make music, and not have to worry about tempering every bloody note to match ET.

I will never go back to ET.

So when is it going to change?

So when are you going to change?

I desire to foment a revolution. Join me. Don't be a coward and stick to your "Everybody demands ET" line. 95% of professional pianists can't tell the difference, and the ones who can, who still want ET, are not worth your time or mine to whom to listen.

I hazard a guess that 99.9% ( I know a few exceptions) of the "pianists" on the Pianist Forum couldn't tell the difference, and more importantly, don't care. Their discussions tend toward "ear candy".


Edited by Mwm (09/14/13 07:58 PM)

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#2150240 - 09/14/13 08:03 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
It's your 666th post and you want to start a revolution... just saying.
_________________________
Working on RCM Grade 8

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#2150241 - 09/14/13 08:04 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: peekay]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: peekay
It's your 666th post and you want to start a revolution... just saying.

Am I too late, or too soon? (Not worthy enough.)

Man, I'm slow - 666! - well spoke.


Edited by Mwm (09/14/13 10:36 PM)

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#2150283 - 09/14/13 10:46 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Mwm,

Let me just say that I've got your back on this one.

This should get interesting and um, er, ah, well you know.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2150348 - 09/15/13 02:18 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Withindale Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 2056
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I hazard a guess that 99.9% ( I know a few exceptions) of the "pianists" on the Pianist Forum couldn't tell the difference, and more importantly, don't care. Their discussions tend toward "ear candy".

At least 99.9% of us could not give a tinker's cuss about your presumptuous proposal because, in your own words, we won't be able to tell the difference and don't care!

Given that we do not qualify as pianists and, no doubt, that few of our instruments and their tuners will pass muster, our opinions are unlikely to be worth a hill of beans to you and your coterie.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2150351 - 09/15/13 02:27 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Annnd here we go...
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2150352 - 09/15/13 02:32 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2150425 - 09/15/13 07:55 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Withindale]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I hazard a guess that 99.9% ( I know a few exceptions) of the "pianists" on the Pianist Forum couldn't tell the difference, and more importantly, don't care. Their discussions tend toward "ear candy".

At least 99.9% of us could not give a tinker's cuss about your presumptuous proposal because, in your own words, we won't be able to tell the difference and don't care!

Given that we do not qualify as pianists and, no doubt, that few of our instruments and their tuners will pass muster, our opinions are unlikely to be worth a hill of beans to you and your coterie.

Good morning,

Please explain why my proposal - that tuners tune WTs instead of ETs - is preposterous.

I am actually truly interested.

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#2150427 - 09/15/13 07:58 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
My perspective is a bit different because I'm also a pianist and composer. When I'm playing and composing, I don't like ET. I also don't like 440. I keep my own piano tuned at 435. Next CD I do will be either at 435 or 432.

The "standards" are where they are (ET, 440) but no one can satisfactorily explain why.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#2150428 - 09/15/13 08:00 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Mwm,

Let me just say that I've got your back on this one.

This should get interesting and um, er, ah, well you know.


Hi Marty,

Thanks Marty for your support, and, yet again, I apologize for not reading the post correctly. There is "got your back", and as I read it, "got your back UP"!

I apologize if it appears, correctly so, that I have my back up on this topic. And trust me, it is not the tuners who have gotten my back up. I have much greater respect for them than I do for my own colleagues on the Pianist Forum, who show no interest in exploring and learning that which is basic knowledge for every other non-keyboard musician - how their instrument works and how to tune it. Not that I want to take jobs away from tuners. I don't, and with the class of pianists out there, your jobs are safe.


Edited by Mwm (09/15/13 08:43 AM)

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#2150435 - 09/15/13 08:19 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Loren D]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Loren D
My perspective is a bit different because I'm also a pianist and composer. When I'm playing and composing, I don't like ET. I also don't like 440. I keep my own piano tuned at 435. Next CD I do will be either at 435 or 432.

The "standards" are where they are (ET, 440) but no one can satisfactorily explain why.


Good morning Loren.

Do you compose in a particular key because of the particular sound that key makes?

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#2150448 - 09/15/13 08:48 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Withindale Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 2056
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Please explain why my proposal - that tuners tune WTs instead of ETs - is preposterous. I am actually truly interested.

I agree with your proposal up to a point and I did not say it's preposterous. It would be a good thing for everyone to have the opportunity to choose. That is for the many reasons debated here and there over the years.

Ed Foote, Nigel Taylor, and David Pinnegar are powerful advocates, among others, for WT.

Then you have tuners, such as Alfredo and Isaac, who want to bring out the musicality of the instrument with their forms of ET. I would put Bill Bremmer in that category but perhaps he would prefer to be in a camp of his own.

As it happens it has not yet been opportune to discuss the matter with our tuner but I think he would prefer a stable, standard ET for the reasons that rxd has spelt out several times.

However, even if I had not woken with toothache, I would still demur at this:

Originally Posted By: Mwm
I hazard a guess that 99.9% ( I know a few exceptions) of the "pianists" on the Pianist Forum couldn't tell the difference, and more importantly, don't care. Their discussions tend toward "ear candy".


Edited by Withindale (09/15/13 09:02 AM)
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2150453 - 09/15/13 08:58 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Withindale]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Good morning Ian,

I erred in using the word "preposterous", it should hve been "presumptuous" as you stated.

While I appreciate the attempts by all tuners, I hope, to bring out the musicality of the piano by their tuning, I still find the resistance to going back to the earlier forms of temperament, on which the vast majority of music played was based, to be based on inertia, and not on reasoned thought. Why should we accept a tuning that produces a sound and colour, if you will allow the word colour to be used in this context, that, all other aspects of the modern construction of the piano aside, is not that sound and colour heard, and expected to be heard, by the composer and the listeners at the time the compositions were written?

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#2150471 - 09/15/13 10:04 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4224
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Loren D

The "standards" are where they are (ET, 440) but no one can satisfactorily explain why.


Prior to the ISO agreement of 1955 an informal standard was announced and recommended by the ASA.

Even prior to that many countries and organizations informally followed another recommendation by the Austrian government of 1885(435)

There is a general explanation at the link below. But more importantly it is best to note the trend, which was many countries were following an informal standard set by one or the other, so why not have everyone on the same page with an international standard.

If you need to have a better explanation perhaps write to the ASA about this agreement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A440_%28pitch_standard%29


Originally Posted By: Mwm

95% of professional pianists can't tell the difference, and the ones who can, who still want ET, are not worth your time or mine to whom to listen.
I hazard a guess that 99.9% ( I know a few exceptions) of the "pianists" on the Pianist Forum couldn't tell the difference, and more importantly, don't care. Their discussions tend toward "ear candy".


Assuming a lot with these statements; I don’t believe anyone on this forum can lay claim to knowing 95% of worldwide pianists that is just silly.

So we base our study on the completely unscientific observation of a number of pianists who hang out in this place; an obscure music related forum on this corner of the internet.

If this actually had a grain of truth attached then this thread is over now. If 99.9% of pianists cannot tell the difference then who actually cares what temperament is used.

UT, ET, VT, or the banana cream pie temperament would not make any difference to anyone.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2150477 - 09/15/13 10:17 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: Loren D

The "standards" are where they are (ET, 440) but no one can satisfactorily explain why.


Prior to the ISO agreement of 1955 an informal standard was announced and recommended by the ASA.

Even prior to that many countries and organizations informally followed another recommendation by the Austrian government of 1885(435)

There is a general explanation at the link below. But more importantly it is best to note the trend, which was many countries were following an informal standard set by one or the other, so why not have everyone on the same page with an international standard.

If you need to have a better explanation perhaps write to the ASA about this agreement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A440_%28pitch_standard%29


Originally Posted By: Mwm

95% of professional pianists can't tell the difference, and the ones who can, who still want ET, are not worth your time or mine to whom to listen.
I hazard a guess that 99.9% ( I know a few exceptions) of the "pianists" on the Pianist Forum couldn't tell the difference, and more importantly, don't care. Their discussions tend toward "ear candy".


Assuming a lot with these statements; I don’t believe anyone on this forum can lay claim to knowing 95% of worldwide pianists that is just silly.

So we base our study on the completely unscientific observation of a number of pianists who hang out in this place; an obscure music related forum on this corner of the internet.

If this actually had a grain of truth attached then this thread is over now. If 99.9% of pianists cannot tell the difference then who actually cares what temperament is used.

UT, ET, VT, or the banana cream pie temperament would not make any difference to anyone.

Hi Dan,
Of course this is an unscientific observation based on the pianists on this obscure forum, my lifetime of association with professional pianists and tuners, and recent discussions at piano master classes with university piano majors, who have not been taught, and have little knowledge of the mechanics of the piano and of WTs. I asked some of them if they ever played on pianos where the notes did not speak reliably when played softly, or where the repetition was uneven. They said yes, but had no knowledge of what might be the problem. Ask any cellist about the placement of the sound post, or the shape of the bridge, the type of strings they prefer, where the wolf is on their cello. They are extremely knowledgable.

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#2150482 - 09/15/13 10:24 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos



If this actually had a grain of truth attached then this thread is over now. If 99.9% of pianists cannot tell the difference then who actually cares what temperament is used.

UT, ET, VT, or the banana cream pie temperament would not make any difference to anyone.


The point is they don't care because they have not been exposed to another way. There is thread going on in the Pianists Corner regarding one's favourite works in each key. As if the key differences had any meaning in ET. That is simply lack of knowledge and exposure.

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#2150491 - 09/15/13 10:50 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
I had hoped to stimulate a discussion on why, given a choice of writing a piece in C or C#, did a composer chose to write the piece in C#, if not to take advantage of the intervallic size differences in that key, relative to C, which is lost in ET and therefore, why we continue to thwart the composer's intentions if that is the case.

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#2150505 - 09/15/13 11:26 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Mwm
The point is they don't care because they have not been exposed to another way. There is thread going on in the Pianists Corner regarding one's favourite works in each key. As if the key differences had any meaning in ET. That is simply lack of knowledge and exposure.

It is interesting to note that in the PC thread, most of the responses were orchestral and/or vocal and were not restricted by the limitations of ET and very little to do with solo pianos works. However, even in ET, one can hear the beauty of a given Brahms' composition for solo piano. The thread was just a fun exercise in picking favorite compositions in a given key. However, one can't assume that their selections were heard in ET. Vocal and instrumental ensembles simply to not adhere to ET.

I agree that pianists are quite insular in their understanding of temperament. Vocalists and instrumentalists of non-fixed pitch instruments have a totally different understanding of intonation and key color. Despite a tuner's belief that ensemble performances are in ET, it is simply not the case.

As a broad overgeneralization, tuners listen to unisons and intervals, while performing musicians listen to music in all of its variations and complexities. ET becomes a limitation rather than an enhancement.

Some think that ET is "better." At best, it is convenient for the tuner. I believe that diversity is better than conformity. It is simply a matter of exposure for a pianist to discover the complexity of key choice by the composer, through the use of a non-equal temperament, when playing a fixed pitch instrument such as a piano.

I believe it to be inadvertent, but tuners who only offer ET, or insist upon ET, are actually limiting the development of the customers they serve.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2150510 - 09/15/13 11:35 AM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

Good thoughts. Thank you.

It is interesting to play in Young 1799 with the cello, since it favours the range on the piano where the temperament is very close to theoretical. The overall sound is much more calm, relaxed, and the resonances of the piano and cello reinforce each other. Singers also love the ease with which the piano enhances their melodic tension and relaxation. These experiences are based on using the same piano, tuned to ET and then to Young 1799.

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#2150520 - 09/15/13 12:25 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Bosendorff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 300
Originally Posted By: Mwm
You raise a very valid point regarding stretching when using a UT. I have struggled to maintain the shape of my chosen UT while not compromising the octaves too much. This works well from A0 through about A6. The overall stretch at the bottom is much less (10-12 cents versus ~25 cents). The top also has less stretch. I found the best compromise was to use either 16:1 or 8:1 octaves for the lower two octaves, depending on which partial was beating loudest.


I quote this reply from the other thread since I think it's more appropriate for this one instead.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I enjoy using/trying different UTs since a long time on my digital piano. So I am glad too see that others enjoy discussing and using UTs.

Just as a side note, I wonder if pianofortes from the past - since they possibly used different materials for the strings compared to pianos we have today - had lower or even higher inharmonicity levels, in other words was it "easier on the ears" (or not) to listen to them tuned in UTs. One possible "advantage" I'm thinking is that they didn't have as much sustain compared to nowadays pianos, so unpleasant inharmonicity artifacts were maybe more easily dissimulated. Just a thought.

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#2150523 - 09/15/13 12:39 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Sure, the standard is arbitrarily arrived at and is certainly far from perfect. But, there are instances where a standard is necessary, so why not have it?

Beyond that, when it comes to our and our customer's personal preferences, we have a veritable plethora of sound palettes from which to choose, to satisfy the diverse tastes of the practitioners of this art.

Ain't life grand?
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2150526 - 09/15/13 12:44 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4224
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Most of the 16-18th century music cannot get beyond two sharps;
Check this out.

Bradley Lehman
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2150532 - 09/15/13 01:04 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Most of the 16-18th century music cannot get beyond two sharps;
Check this out.

Bradley Lehman


Hi Dan,

You need to talk to Charpentier and Bach. The WTC has music written in a few more sharps and flats and both composers used WTs with more pure thirds, and therefore, more impure thirds than Young 1799.

Incidentally, Lehman's site provides a good basis and tuning instructions for aural tuning of the various temperaments.

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#2150534 - 09/15/13 01:11 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Bosendorff]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Bosendorff
One possible "advantage" I'm thinking is that they didn't have as much sustain compared to nowadays pianos, so unpleasant inharmonicity artifacts were maybe more easily dissimulated.

However, you must consider the organ where sustain is not limited by the instrument. In the early Baroque, the 'pitch' (A=whatever) was determined by the predominant instrument in the village, town or city. Bach's sense of intonation was developed while he was a student in Lüneburg. It is interesting to note that the organ at Johanniskirche, where Bach studied with Ernst, and Michaeliskirche, where Bach performed, have the same pitch for A-3 and A-4, but are tempered differently.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2150741 - 09/15/13 07:40 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Bosendorff]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Bosendorff
One possible "advantage" I'm thinking is that they didn't have as much sustain compared to nowadays pianos, so unpleasant inharmonicity artifacts were maybe more easily dissimulated. Just a thought.


I play on a M&H BB that has very long sustain, and relatively high iH. I love the sound that the various keys provide. It may be, in fact, more coloured than if tuned on an early 19th century Pleyel or even Erard.

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#2150765 - 09/15/13 08:15 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Bosendorff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 300
That's interesting - so which variation of Young temperament do you use ? There's also one named "Vallotti/Young" in TuneLab and I wonder which values you're using.

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#2150776 - 09/15/13 08:33 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Keep in mind...Equal Temperment is a compromise. It exists so you can play in any key, and no chord,regardless which of the twelve you play, will sound too objectionable. As a tuner who tunes without the aid of a machine, I can tune your piano anyway you want. Just let me know which three chords you want to sound the best before I start! Equal temperment though is still the best option out there.
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2150780 - 09/15/13 08:37 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Gary Fowler]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Equal temperment though is still the best option out there.

However, it is the definition of "best" which is in question.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2150802 - 09/15/13 08:58 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Bosendorff]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Bosendorff
That's interesting - so which variation of Young temperament do you use ? There's also one named "Vallotti/Young" in TuneLab and I wonder which values you're using.

I use Young 1799, found on Rollingball.com. It will give you the offsets from ET. It is a 3/16 comma tuning. Valloti-Young is a modification, but works well. Many HP ensembles use it for their keyboards.

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#2150835 - 09/15/13 09:28 PM Re: Which came first, the WT, or the ET? [Re: Mwm]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Any tuner worth his salt can tune a piano to suit their customer's needs/desires. If the customer wants the piano to sound great in 3 chords, so it makes you cry when you play it with the cello, it's not a problem. Equal temperment though is what the musician's ear is trained to hear, and it's here to stay
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Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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