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#2159298 - 09/28/13 07:05 PM Tuned my first UT
Chris Leslie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/11
Posts: 1009
Loc: Canberra, ACT, Australia
Yesterday, after testing to a new to me piano tuning for tuning, the client asked up front to not tune equal. This is the first time a client has ever seriously requested a historical temperament. It needed to be suitable for Bach/Mozart/Early romantics. For better or for worst I suggested Young's temperament and the client agreed that would be what she wanted. However, I did not have the specification offsets with me. It exists somewhere in the bowls of my accu-tuner but I could not remember how to access it. Therefore, I asked if the client could provide the offset specs for me, which she did.

I then tuned a temperament octave using those specifications using the accu-tuner on manual. This was not strictly the correct way of doing it because it did not allow for stretch within the temperament octave. I then allowed the client to listen for chords played within the temperament and it was obvious that simpler keys sounded calmer and progressing up to complex keys sounding decidedly sour. We decided to continue to eventually evaluate the piano when the tuning is completed.

My technique for expansion was to use 3rd/10th tests to retain the beat speed relationships and uneven progression up to about C7 and down to about A1. At the same time, octaves and double octave would sound clean. When finished, 10th progressions would confirm that the temperament was reasonably retained for a reasonable wide range.

The client was fascinated with the results until she tried to play a Schubert piece in F# major. She agreed that this example did not work well but most other pieces she tried sounded good, especially those in C major!

Upon reflection, I wonder if the choice of Young's may have been too strong. Also, I wonder if the correct approach for expansion would have been to balance 12th and 15ths which would have smoothed out the temperament relationship towards equal towards the outer octaves. I was also concerned about the lack of inharmonicity compensation within the temperament octave, although in practice it did not seem to matter. However, the client requested a definitive temperament for evaluation and that is what I delivered.

The experience allowed me for the first time to intentionally tune unequal and to hear the results on a real piano rather than from recordings. May I also point out that the musical culture in this part of the world has practically no interest normally in being specific about historical temperament.
Chris Leslie
Piano technician

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#2159399 - 09/28/13 10:30 PM Re: Tuned my first UT [Re: Chris Leslie]
Cinnamonbear Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 4159
Loc: Rockford, IL
What a cool experience! Thanks for sharing that, Chris! Personally, I like the way you describe your decision-making process and how you collaborated with your client.

As to F# maj., I wonder... About the tuning you developed based on the temperament you started with, here is a thought: "it is what it is." (In the remodeling/building trades, sometimes we say that--"it is what it is.") Meaning, you tuned it right, and the temperament showed itself. So, your thought, "maybe a milder temperament would work better," is a fair one. Also, sometimes, in the remodeling/building trades, we use the expression, "Puttin' lipstick on a pig." grin (I'm not saying that that's what you were doing, just saying that it is a useful expression to keep in mind! blush )

Did your client have Internet access? The accutuner manuals can be accessed online: here. Headslap moment? LOL! I have them about five times a day--when I get home and the day is done... laugh With online access, you could get to rollingball, too! wink

Thank you so much for this post, Chris. It's a good one! You'll have another chance to work with this client, right? (That is the most important question! smile )

I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

#2159903 - 09/30/13 02:31 AM Re: Tuned my first UT [Re: Chris Leslie]
Chris Leslie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/11
Posts: 1009
Loc: Canberra, ACT, Australia
Thanks for your comments Andy. Yes, the client had internet access and that is how she came up quickly with Young's specs. I didn't think of looking for the Accu-tuner manual, but then that may have appeared a bit unprofessional perhaps.

Buy the way, the piano was an 1906 August Forster upright with reconditioned action - replaced hammers and dampers etc.
Chris Leslie
Piano technician

#2160666 - 10/01/13 11:43 PM Re: Tuned my first UT [Re: Chris Leslie]
Cinnamonbear Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 4159
Loc: Rockford, IL
I'm sorry I killed your thread, Chris! I hope some others will respond/reply to your initial posting...

As far as being "unprofessional," that depends entirely on the specifics of the interpersonal relationship that you have with your client. In some cases: no go. In some cases: go! It is a judgement call of the moment. grin That you didn't ask is, to me, an indication that the answer in this case was: "no go!" And that is fair enough! smile

I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.


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