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Topic Options
#2226835 - 02/06/14 08:28 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: UnrightTooner]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1134
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?


Greetings,
That would be as similar as a fish is to a bicycle. Equating harshness to color is naive. You may as well say to tune every fourth note sharp, i.e. the musical result would be random. This is not the case with a traditional circulating temperament, as the inequality is NOT random, and to even suggest it calls into question how well the musical qualities of the temperaments are understood.
Regards,

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#2226867 - 02/06/14 10:01 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: UnrightTooner]
prout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 780
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?

Lets remember that when voicing the hammers, the goal is to have mellower tones when played soft and brighter tones when played loudly. It is not just the volume that changes, it's the timbre. That is where much of the expression comes from. The ability of the pianist to change the timbre of any or all notes at will.


Hey Jeff,

An interesting thought. Almost all historical UTs ( there are a few UTs with apparently random varying widths of M3s and P5s) start from the same basic premise - a cycle (spiral, circle) of fifths radiating up and down from C. This was so entrenched for some centuries that 'key colour' was well defined and treatises written about it ( Schubart being the most oft quoted source). Even Prokofiev slavishly followed Schubart's treatise on key colour when writing the ballet Romeo and Juliet. I've have done an analysis of this work and it is truly freaky.

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#2226874 - 02/06/14 10:15 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Ed Foote]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4919
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?


Greetings,
That would be as similar as a fish is to a bicycle. Equating harshness to color is naive. You may as well say to tune every fourth note sharp, i.e. the musical result would be random. This is not the case with a traditional circulating temperament, as the inequality is NOT random, and to even suggest it calls into question how well the musical qualities of the temperaments are understood.
Regards,


Then as a "thought experiment", it worked. It got you to thinking. smile But surely you see what I am driving at. Either way the pianist is being forced into something they may not want.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#2226903 - 02/06/14 11:16 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: UnrightTooner]
prout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 780
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?


Greetings,
That would be as similar as a fish is to a bicycle. Equating harshness to color is naive. You may as well say to tune every fourth note sharp, i.e. the musical result would be random. This is not the case with a traditional circulating temperament, as the inequality is NOT random, and to even suggest it calls into question how well the musical qualities of the temperaments are understood.
Regards,


Then as a "thought experiment", it worked. It got you to thinking. smile But surely you see what I am driving at. Either way the pianist is being forced into something they may not want.


Hey Jeff,

Please don't take this the wrong way, but, as a pianist for decades, I was ignorant of the options available to the pianist with regard to temperaments. I had heard about ET and assumed it was the only option, and, with blissful ignorance, accepted that (in spite of simultaneously playing and performing on organ, harpsichord and even clavichord in a variety of UTs, which I tuned myself or had tuned). I think most pianists are in the same boat. I have recently attended university piano master classes, as an observer, and asked the performers if they knew anything about voicing, regulation, temperaments. Not one of them had any knowledge, as they were not being taught, or ignored the teaching.

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#2226912 - 02/06/14 11:26 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: UnrightTooner]
DoelKees Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1707
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?

Lets remember that when voicing the hammers, the goal is to have mellower tones when played soft and brighter tones when played loudly. It is not just the volume that changes, it's the timbre. That is where much of the expression comes from. The ability of the pianist to change the timbre of any or all notes at will.


My piano is voiced like that. FCGBb I voiced a bit mellower than the rest. I like it.
In this post I said what you said.

Kees

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#2226932 - 02/06/14 11:56 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: DoelKees]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4919
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?

Lets remember that when voicing the hammers, the goal is to have mellower tones when played soft and brighter tones when played loudly. It is not just the volume that changes, it's the timbre. That is where much of the expression comes from. The ability of the pianist to change the timbre of any or all notes at will.


My piano is voiced like that. FCGBb I voiced a bit mellower than the rest. I like it.
In this post I said what you said.

Kees


Yes, but some are reacting as if we are "peaking behind the curtain".
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#2226936 - 02/06/14 12:00 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: DoelKees]
prout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 780
Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?

Lets remember that when voicing the hammers, the goal is to have mellower tones when played soft and brighter tones when played loudly. It is not just the volume that changes, it's the timbre. That is where much of the expression comes from. The ability of the pianist to change the timbre of any or all notes at will.


My piano is voiced like that. FCGBb I voiced a bit mellower than the rest. I like it.
In this post I said what you said.

Kees


Wouldn't the problem with Unequal Voicing be that voicing F# and Bb harshly, for example, would then make the tonalities of D Major and Bb Major harsh, which, in most UTs, are quite calm.

Edit: I think we use the word harsh inappropriately here. Faster beating M3s, as opposed to slower beating M3s, can be described in many ways. I liked BDB's 'boiling'.


Edited by prout (02/06/14 12:03 PM)

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#2226939 - 02/06/14 12:02 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: prout]
DoelKees Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1707
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Originally Posted By: prout
Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
All:

As a thought experiment, imagine if a piano was voiced so that all the sharps had a harsher tone and all the naturals had a calmer tone. Wouldn't this be similar to tuning a UT if the idea is to impart "key color"? Do you think many pianists would prefer this?

Lets remember that when voicing the hammers, the goal is to have mellower tones when played soft and brighter tones when played loudly. It is not just the volume that changes, it's the timbre. That is where much of the expression comes from. The ability of the pianist to change the timbre of any or all notes at will.


My piano is voiced like that. FCGBb I voiced a bit mellower than the rest. I like it.
In this post I said what you said.

Kees


Wouldn't the problem with Unequal Voicing be that voicing F# and Bb harshly, for example, would then make the tonalities of D Major and Bb Major harsh, which, in most UTs, are quite calm.

Indeed, that is why I don't do it that way.

Kees

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#2227112 - 02/06/14 06:22 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: BDB]
alfredo capurso Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/07
Posts: 1060
Loc: Sicily - Italy
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
Quote:
Sure. Nevertheless, you well know that every UT will produce intervals that sound wolfish,


No they do not. There is a threshold within which any M3 would be tolerated. Many badly attempted ET's exceed that threshold but are accepted nevertheless as ET. That is the reason why Reverse Well goes so often unrecognized for what it is.


There is no set threshold. Some people are more sensitive than others. If you have grown up used equal temperament, you may very well find an interval in another temperament that sounds wolfish. It is also likely many unequal temperaments exceed the same threshold, deliberately or not, and are accepted as equal temperament. What are called well temperaments might not be distinguished from equal temperament if they were done correctly and if it was not proclaimed that they are not.


Time is not that much, sorry if I am breaf.

Conjectures: for many (all respected) posters it is what "you have grown up" with, as if that could shape the cochlea; for me, it is a simple question of “ear” and intonation.
_________________________
alfredo

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#2227137 - 02/06/14 07:05 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: prout]
alfredo capurso Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/07
Posts: 1060
Loc: Sicily - Italy
Originally Posted By: prout
Alfredo,
You said, "IMO, today the actual question should be: How is any temperament and tuning meant to be expanded, both in theory and practice, beyond the first octave? How can we manage the whole scale semitonal geometry?"

While the above statement is not about a standard, it is a very interesting question. Put another way, " On a piano, how many octaves above and below the temperament octave can one maintain the essential character of the temperament and still maintain a cohesive musical sound over the whole piano? This would true of ET as well as UTs.


Hi prout,

Why do you think that my "statement is not about a standard"? Would not you like a reference standard of that kind? How do you expand your temperament octave?

You ask "..how many octaves..". But when you say "..can one maintain the essential character of the temperament and still maintain a cohesive musical sound over the whole piano.." you are still thinking in terms of "octave/s". That is partly wrong, as you are asking about "the whole piano".
_________________________
alfredo

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#2227147 - 02/06/14 07:18 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: prout]
alfredo capurso Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/07
Posts: 1060
Loc: Sicily - Italy
Originally Posted By: prout
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
Thanks Ed,

That is one problem we have when a player system is used to play examples. It often plows right through what any pianist would adjust to naturally. I'll never forget the comment of a German pianist who said when asked to comment, "[upon reaching a certain passage in the music], when I went to make the expression, I found that it was already there".

The primary reason for using a cycle of 5th based temperament is to augment the total amount of expression and color that is meant to be in the music. ET actually negates what is there to be explored.


Thanks BDB, Bill and ED for your thoughts.

BDB - I agree that some people are more sensitive to the sound of an M3, though I would argue, as you mentioned, that it is possibly a matter of exposure only to presumed ET. Enough time spent listening to other temperaments would increase their sensitivity and appreciation of the differences.

Ed - Thanks for the information. I measure the degradation of the temperament as it expands as well on my piano tuned in Young. It looks wild when graphed, but sounds reasonable. Our brains do wonderful things.

Bill - You and Ed are so right about the pianist wanting and being able to control the colour of the intervals. I find that I am intensely aware of the harshness or calmness of the intervals, and adjust the voicing of a chord to make use of the colour to enhance the emotional/musical impact of the work.


Yes, it would be nice to talk about color, intervals, voicing, emotions and musical impact... if only all of us were able to tune progressive intervals.

Prout, Ed, have you already shared a recording "for tuners", with chromatic intervals played slowly?
_________________________
alfredo

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#2227160 - 02/06/14 07:52 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3195
Loc: Madison, WI USA
150 years ago, Hermann Helmholtz figured out all the frequencies for ET but even he said at the time that those did not represent the reality of music. Yet William Braide White latched on to that and caused many people to believe in ET as the one and only solution for piano tuning.

So, there is the standard, if that is what you are after. Just like Lawrence Welk had the piano technicians do: straight to the strobe. Come to find out, however, that does not exactly work. So, what does? Where does one draw that line? I have my own standards (yes, plural) and I am sticking with them.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2227161 - 02/06/14 07:55 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: alfredo capurso]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3195
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Originally Posted By: alfredo capurso


Prout, Ed, have you already shared a recording "for tuners", with chromatic intervals played slowly?


Alfredo, as I view it, there is no particular reason why chromaticism in music requires ET.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2227167 - 02/06/14 08:05 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
alfredo capurso Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/07
Posts: 1060
Loc: Sicily - Italy
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
Originally Posted By: alfredo capurso


Prout, Ed, have you already shared a recording "for tuners", with chromatic intervals played slowly?


Alfredo, as I view it, there is no particular reason why chromaticism in music requires ET.


Hi Bill,

Do you say that because you have found the ET chromaticisms?
_________________________
alfredo

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#2227293 - 02/07/14 02:36 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3195
Loc: Madison, WI USA
No, Alfredo, I have not found the "ET chromaticisms", whatever you may mean by that. What I am saying is that just because some music may have some chromatic elements in it, it does not imply that ET is a requirement for that music to sound correct.

What I always sense is that piano technicians and musicians alike, when presented with the mere concept of unequal temperament, that instantly one is gripped with the fear of howling wolves and blood curdling dissonances!

One may have read something about the ancient, archaic form of tuning called MEAN tone where only a few keys sounded acceptable at all and probably lifeless and the rest were violently out of tune! Modulation is impossible!

Our savior and redeemer, J.S. Bach then found the solution for that, the glorious path to all music sounding in tune, forever more, the one and only true and final solution: ET. A scale is a scale and a note is a note and that is what Hermann Helmoltz figured out 150 years ago and THAT is the standard! Accept it! Live with it! Don't mess with it!

Whatever any of these eccentric people who go advocating something else will inevitably be proved unacceptable. It would not work, it cannot work and should not be tried! We need a one and only standard to which all music will fit and must conform!

I really believe that is more or less what the Original Poster thought in terms of. He is a really nice guy, a great singer in his own right and serves a great clientele. His local opera company produced educational videos where a pianist talked about and performed the great melodies of great operas. Surely, only ET would suffice for that! Surely, any vocalist should only train with a piano tuned in ET! Right?

I heard the same objections from a sponsor of our own opera company in the early 90's. She was the one putting up a large amount of the money it took to produce those productions. She asked me, "Wouldn't an unequal temperament tend to throw the singers off!!!??? (with piercing eyes and a scowl upon her face).

That question was put to me after many operas and symphony chorus rehearsals, (year after year with the encouragement of the artistic director at the time), had been accomplished using 18th Century style Well Temperaments.

I looked at her very deliberately and directly. I said, "Were you not present over the last several seasons for opera rehearsals [and then named the many famous and well known operas that had been on the schedule]? "Yes", she replied, "And since you have been maintaining the piano, it has sounded so much better that before! The pitch and intonation have improved greatly."

Then I asked, "Were you aware that in each and every one of those cases where I had been a member of that opera chorus, the piano had been tuned in an unequal temperament?"

The look on her face had to be seen to be described! SHE had been paying for all of that! She went to the rehearsals to hear the music that she loved and hear it develop. She had never once given a thought to the piano being tuned in anything but ET!

She then remarked, "I just don't understand it! All I can say is, the entire time I was growing up and I had voice lessons, I am quite sure that the piano was only ever tuned in ET!" I replied to her that ET is only really a point of reference. No instrument or voice really ever adheres strictly to it. If they did, they would actually cause the music to sound less interesting.

This discussion came up when a new, world premier opera had been commissioned and the subject was the story of the local but world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It had material in nearly every key imaginable. It was modern. It had chromaticism, to be sure.

I knew then, that I needed a Victorian style Well Temperament and developed one for it. If one plays a chromatic scale in a late 19th Century (Victorian) style Well Temperament, it cannot be distinguished from ET on that basis alone because the deviations from ET are too small.

The late professor, Owen Jorgensen taught and demonstrated that fact during his lectures. Yet, when actual music and harmony were played, a Victorian style Well Temperament still retains the Key Signature distinctions of earlier (18th Century) style Well Temperaments.

The opera rehearsals went on with the way I had chosen to tune the piano. The symphony chorus rehearsals also went on and were successful that season with the same Victorian style Well Temperament. I do not recall what the symphony chorus did that season but never, at any time nor from anyone, was there an objection nor a single remark made that the piano sounded out of tune or was unsatisfactory in any way.

The artistic director (conductor of both rehearsals and performances) was always pleased with my work at the public venue as he was with what I did for his personal piano at home. We had long discussions about it. He was given Owen Jorgensen's book, Tuning as a gift. He told me that he had enjoyed reading the many anecdotes that he found within it about how people argued over temperament and that no one really ever actually tuned ET at any time in the past.

So, here we are in the present, well into the 21st Century and the Original Poster, Opera Tenor found out that his temperament that he truly believed to be ET was not quite ET after all. One technician jumped all over it but I came to his defense that it actually did show some adherence to Key Signature.

So, you, Alfredo, I encourage to continue doing what you have found to be successful but frankly, I find your whole premise about "modern ET's" to be fatally flawed in its very concept! It is either ET or it is not!

It is either what Hermann Helmholtz figured out (and actually warned would not work) or not! Whatever "CHAS" represents or signifies, I do not know but I also do not care. I am not going to try to attempt it. Whatever university studies have been done, whoever lauded how you made the piano sound, does not interest me, but is, of course, good for you, sorry to say.

As for what people say that one "cannot tell" what the last temperament was, I would say this: I went to a Men's Chorus rehearsal tonight and after that rehearsal, I spoke to the director about how the piano sounded at the last performance.

It just so happened that last December, I took ill enough with coughing and sneezing that I could not participate in the performance. I did, however, manage to get the piano tuned earlier in the day for it.

The director today told me that the piano had been excellent, better than he had heard it for quite some time. I remarked to him that I could tell that I had been the one to tune that same piano two years previously for the same kind of performance. I said, "Don't ask me how I would know just now, but be assured that I could tell that I had been the last person to tune the piano a full two years prior to that event".

In the meantime, we had performed at other venues but had come back to that venue that time. So, here is a nice recording of the piano two years ago, accompanying a choir of men's voices performing a work by Ralph Vaughn Williams. It does modulate and it does so chromatically. The temperament is NOT ET! The piano is a Yamaha C3. I used the amount of stretch in the octaves that I believed would make the piano sound its best.

https://app.box.com/s/ea642d1482eb9cf1fb2f

When I put my muting strips in to tune the piano last December, I could definitely tell that it had been my Victorian style Well Temperament which had last been tuned on the piano 2 years previously!

So, to any and all who say that one cannot tell anything from a piano that had not been very recently tuned, I say that is not true at all. One can often actually tell a lot!

And yes, that really DOES mean that I can quite often distinguish whether the piano had been previously tuned in Reverse Well or not. It is actually the pervasiveness of Reverse Well over and above anything else that leads me to throw out any sort of establishment of any kind of standard whatsoever.

One, single standard is only an illusion. It is only something imagined but which rarely exists with the possible exception of the present concert/broadcast recording industry. They certainly do have a handle on it but I am resisting that choke hold!
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2227324 - 02/07/14 06:50 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1199
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
You make very good point, Bill. The fact that the piano was unremarkably tuned to a UT and she didn't notice how wonderful it sounded, proves that most people can't tell the difference. So why the effort?

You say pure ET is uninteresting. You say UT makes the music sound better. I say nobody, except maybe you, would cringe to hear a lovely piece of music played on a piano tuned in slight RW with clean octaves and unisons.

I run a business. I need more proof that the effort I would be exerting to learn the subtleties of a UT would be valuable to my customers. I can't afford that time, unless I considered it a hobby.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2227364 - 02/07/14 09:20 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3195
Loc: Madison, WI USA
I never said she didn't notice. She had noticed how much better piano had been sounding since I was caring for it. They were 18th Century style Well Temperaments, not Victorian. That is what I said. They did not "throw the singers off" as she would have imagined an unequal temperament would have.

But thanks for bringing up a good point. ET has always been a business decision, not one that actually serves any particular music the best, not even chromatic music, whatever may be imagined by that. It is the one size fits all idea that was forced upon everyone about 100 years ago but was hardly ever perfected until about 30 years ago.

I run a business too and therefore it behooves me to serve my clients, not other piano technicians. I continue to respond to what my clients respond to positively, not what other piano technicians say I should do or not do.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2227371 - 02/07/14 09:43 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1199
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Point taken.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2227380 - 02/07/14 10:38 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21431
Loc: Oakland
There are those of us who get the same sort of compliments with equal temperament.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2227394 - 02/07/14 11:10 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: BDB]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1691
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: BDB
There are those of us who get the same sort of compliments with equal temperament.


True. (And from sources that might surprise "UT only" advocates.)
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician

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#2227409 - 02/07/14 11:42 AM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4919
Loc: Bradford County, PA
I think much of it is marketing, whether we are talking about ETD vs aural, ET vs WT, or 12ths vs 15ths. It is all so subjective that the tuner can infuence a customer's perceptions.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#2227491 - 02/07/14 02:42 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: alfredo capurso]
prout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 780
Originally Posted By: alfredo capurso
Originally Posted By: prout
Alfredo,
You said, "IMO, today the actual question should be: How is any temperament and tuning meant to be expanded, both in theory and practice, beyond the first octave? How can we manage the whole scale semitonal geometry?"

While the above statement is not about a standard, it is a very interesting question. Put another way, " On a piano, how many octaves above and below the temperament octave can one maintain the essential character of the temperament and still maintain a cohesive musical sound over the whole piano? This would true of ET as well as UTs.


Hi prout,

Why do you think that my "statement is not about a standard"? Would not you like a reference standard of that kind? How do you expand your temperament octave?

You ask "..how many octaves..". But when you say "..can one maintain the essential character of the temperament and still maintain a cohesive musical sound over the whole piano.." you are still thinking in terms of "octave/s". That is partly wrong, as you are asking about "the whole piano".


Hi Alfredo,

The aim of an UT is to create unequal intervals, so a cohesive sound in UT would be divided into 12 distinct cohesive keys, whereas an ET could have a cohesiveness that is spread among all the keys. Both have value, but I don't think we could say that there is a standard that could be applied to both types of temperament. I say this as a neophyte tuner, so there may be a valid rebuttal.

With regard to octaves, it is a necessary measure of an UT, since the intervals are not equal.

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#2227506 - 02/07/14 03:11 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: alfredo capurso]
prout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 780
Originally Posted By: alfredo capurso
Originally Posted By: prout
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
Thanks Ed,

That is one problem we have when a player system is used to play examples. It often plows right through what any pianist would adjust to naturally. I'll never forget the comment of a German pianist who said when asked to comment, "[upon reaching a certain passage in the music], when I went to make the expression, I found that it was already there".

The primary reason for using a cycle of 5th based temperament is to augment the total amount of expression and color that is meant to be in the music. ET actually negates what is there to be explored.


Thanks BDB, Bill and ED for your thoughts.

BDB - I agree that some people are more sensitive to the sound of an M3, though I would argue, as you mentioned, that it is possibly a matter of exposure only to presumed ET. Enough time spent listening to other temperaments would increase their sensitivity and appreciation of the differences.

Ed - Thanks for the information. I measure the degradation of the temperament as it expands as well on my piano tuned in Young. It looks wild when graphed, but sounds reasonable. Our brains do wonderful things.

Bill - You and Ed are so right about the pianist wanting and being able to control the colour of the intervals. I find that I am intensely aware of the harshness or calmness of the intervals, and adjust the voicing of a chord to make use of the colour to enhance the emotional/musical impact of the work.


Yes, it would be nice to talk about color, intervals, voicing, emotions and musical impact... if only all of us were able to tune progressive intervals.

Prout, Ed, have you already shared a recording "for tuners", with chromatic intervals played slowly?


Alfredo,

Here is link to a test tuning of Young I - Chromatic M3s from C3 through C4. The beat rate analysis is given below (accuracy +-0.2bps):

M3 Measured Theoretical
C3E3 2.3 2.0
C# 8.1 7.9
D 4.2 4.2
D 5.3 6.2
E 8.1 8.5
F 3.5 3.8
F# 11.1 11.6
G 5.2 4.3
G# 11.5 10.8
A 9.3 8.8
A# 7.0 6.6
B 14.9 14.1
C4E4 3.1 4.1

I still have some work to do yet for tuning accuracy.

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#2227578 - 02/07/14 05:48 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: prout]
alfredo capurso Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/07
Posts: 1060
Loc: Sicily - Italy
Originally Posted By: prout
Originally Posted By: alfredo capurso
Originally Posted By: prout
Alfredo,
You said, "IMO, today the actual question should be: How is any temperament and tuning meant to be expanded, both in theory and practice, beyond the first octave? How can we manage the whole scale semitonal geometry?"

While the above statement is not about a standard, it is a very interesting question. Put another way, " On a piano, how many octaves above and below the temperament octave can one maintain the essential character of the temperament and still maintain a cohesive musical sound over the whole piano? This would true of ET as well as UTs.


Hi prout,

Why do you think that my "statement is not about a standard"? Would not you like a reference standard of that kind? How do you expand your temperament octave?

You ask "..how many octaves..". But when you say "..can one maintain the essential character of the temperament and still maintain a cohesive musical sound over the whole piano.." you are still thinking in terms of "octave/s". That is partly wrong, as you are asking about "the whole piano".


Hi Alfredo,

The aim of an UT is to create unequal intervals, so a cohesive sound in UT would be divided into 12 distinct cohesive keys, whereas an ET could have a cohesiveness that is spread among all the keys. Both have value, but I don't think we could say that there is a standard that could be applied to both types of temperament. I say this as a neophyte tuner, so there may be a valid rebuttal.

With regard to octaves, it is a necessary measure of an UT, since the intervals are not equal.


Prout,

Thank you for your reply and for the link to the tuning of Young I; please, pardon me if I do not manage to write tonight, it was (again) a hard day.

My regards, a.c.
.
_________________________
alfredo

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#2227623 - 02/07/14 07:36 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3195
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Prout,

I should explain to you my octave tuning perspective which I have held for more than 30 years. I started it when I was still tuning ET. It had always seemed to me that I could balance the octave with the 5th. The octave would be wide and the 5th still be narrow but each by the same amount.

Somehow, I got the bright idea that when I had progressed to a double octave, I could balance the double octave with the octave-fifth below it. The double octave would still be wide and the octave-fifth still be narrow but each would be wide and narrow by a very small amount. They both would sound apparently beatless but still be technically wide and narrow.

It seemed to me to be a great way to deal with the piano's natural inharmonicity. It occurred to me to use the sostenuto pedal to accomplish that goal. I used it to pass my tuning exam in 1983 and got superior scores with it. If I dared to speak of the idea to any other piano technician, it was of course, scoffed at and condemned. Nobody had ever heard of doing that before!

In 1989, I began using a Well Temperament as my usual tuning. I simply continued the practice. Since the first Well Temperament I used (the Vallotti) had half of the 5ths beatless and the other half tempered twice as much as in ET, that meant that the octaves, double octaves and octave-5ths would have differing widths, just as the 5ths did.

It provided for the most "razor sharp", in tune I have ever heard from a piano when I tuned the Beethoven Emperor concerto in the Vallotti temperament in 1990. The artist, André-Michel Schub was thrilled with it! A local newspaper reviewer also noticed the sound and wrote a favorable comment about it.

In 1992, I tuned an early version of the EBVT for a recital at the PTG convention. The esteemed, Jim Coleman, Sr. and Virgil Smith were in the audience and hurriedly approached me after the performance. I will never forget Jim's words: "You've done something with the octaves! I don't know what it is but I like it!".

It was not until 1997 that I got my first computer and I began to write on the PTG list called Pianotech. Of course, everyone complained that my posts were too long and "consumed too much bandwidth!". [I didn't even know what I was consuming too much of!] The typical post of the time was like those found on Twitter today, a forum I refuse to even join because I never want to be limited to such brevity.

When I dared to explain my octave tuning method, of course, it was ridiculed. <<Use the sostenuto pedal to tune? Ha Ha! Why does no piano tuning book say what you do? How would that work for passing the tuning exam, huh? I tune my octaves pure!>> All of the above were comments that were directed at me.

As it turns out, what I was doing was really what most other technicians were trying to accomplish by other means such as 3rd, 10th, 17th tests. It turned out to be the default amount of stretch that all of the ETD designers ended up using (with the exception of the pure 12th software). In my opinion, it is the most natural solution to both the problem of inharmonicity and the mitigation of the Pythagorean comma.

I have read all sorts of comments such as I "turn the EBVT into ET in the outer octaves" which is certainly not true. The effects of temperament itself are really confined to the midrange of the piano. The outer octaves are a completely different matter where temperament does not really play a role.

I believe it was you that asked what the Sanderson Accu-Tuner (or Tunelab, Verituner or RCT for that matter) does about what I do when tuning a Well-Temperament. If not, here it is for that person: The unfortunate answer is that none of them deal with octaves, double octaves and octave-fifths the way that I do when tuning a Well-Temperament. They all create a calculated ET and then if temperament "correction figures" are applied, they simply apply those figures to all notes of the scale, end to end.

The problem with that is for an 18th Century Well temperament like the Vallotti or Young, the octaves associated with pure 5ths are widened too much and the octaves associated with tempered 5ths are not widened enough. It definitely requires aural correction to change that. The ETD can still be useful in getting the piano close but to get the final result that I believe any astute aural tuner would want and do naturally, it takes some careful tweaking, especially in the 5th and 6th octaves and also in the 2nd octave.

In the case of a mild Victorian temperament such as the EBVT or one of Coleman's, Broadwood, etc., the difference is slight enough that it does not really make that much difference. Perhaps only a tweak here and there. Typically, I only have to raise the note D5 by 1.0 cents and the rest sounds OK.

If a mild Meantone such as 1/7, 1/8, 1/9, 1/10 or any other gradation in between those is chosen, the calculated program works well because by definition, a Meantone temperament has all 5ths tempered equally. There are no pure 5ths as in a Well Temperament. One may want to scrutinize the untuned 5th and perhaps tweak the octave associated with it but otherwise, when I tune a Meantone temperament, I typically enjoy the results of the calculated program.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2227910 - 02/08/14 02:20 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
prout Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 780
Good Afternoon Bill,

Thank you for your thoughtful and informative post. I am learning (a slow and long process) to hear the interplay of the octave-fifth-double-octave effect when they are tuned for overall sound and cohesiveness, and am trying to work towards the most calm sounding octaves and fifths played together over the whole keyboard. Each set of octaves/fifths has a unique set of partial strengths that seem to require widening a note here, narrowing a note there, which throws the temperament out a bit at the extremes of the keyboard.
I will take your comments to heart, and ear.

Thanks again.

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#2228003 - 02/08/14 05:48 PM Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor]
alfredo capurso Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/07
Posts: 1060
Loc: Sicily - Italy

Hi Bill,

There are some issues that create a distance, perhaps it is how we consider some evidences. Also language is very important, in that through language we might perpetuate clichés and wrong mental postures. Hope we can help each other. Oh (with sympathy), have you heard about Hiroo Onoda? World War II had ended, but...

You wrote: ..."I have read all sorts of comments such as I "turn the EBVT into ET in the outer octaves" which is certainly not true. The effects of temperament itself are really confined to the midrange of the piano. The outer octaves are a completely different matter where temperament does not really play a role."...

Perhaps the one above is another issue, I consider the 88 notes range as a whole, where all tones and intervals are interrelated. So, "the outer octaves" and any other inner or outer intervals will not "confine" the effects of temperament, at the opposite, they are the expression of a geometry (perhaps you call it design?) that takes proportions into account, that is harmonious in that it takes the proportions of the Whole into account.

Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
No, Alfredo, I have not found the "ET chromaticisms", whatever you may mean by that. What I am saying is that just because some music may have some chromatic elements in it, it does not imply that ET is a requirement for that music to sound correct.

What I always sense is that piano technicians and musicians alike, when presented with the mere concept of unequal temperament, that instantly one is gripped with the fear of howling wolves and blood curdling dissonances!

One may have read something about the ancient, archaic form of tuning called MEAN tone where only a few keys sounded acceptable at all and probably lifeless and the rest were violently out of tune! Modulation is impossible!

Our savior and redeemer, J.S. Bach then found the solution for that, the glorious path to all music sounding in tune, forever more, the one and only true and final solution: ET. A scale is a scale and a note is a note and that is what Hermann Helmoltz figured out 150 years ago and THAT is the standard! Accept it! Live with it! Don't mess with it!

Whatever any of these eccentric people who go advocating something else will inevitably be proved unacceptable. It would not work, it cannot work and should not be tried! We need a one and only standard to which all music will fit and must conform!

I really believe that is more or less what the Original Poster thought in terms of. He is a really nice guy, a great singer in his own right and serves a great clientele. His local opera company produced educational videos where a pianist talked about and performed the great melodies of great operas. Surely, only ET would suffice for that! Surely, any vocalist should only train with a piano tuned in ET! Right?

I heard the same objections from a sponsor of our own opera company in the early 90's. She was the one putting up a large amount of the money it took to produce those productions. She asked me, "Wouldn't an unequal temperament tend to throw the singers off!!!??? (with piercing eyes and a scowl upon her face).

That question was put to me after many operas and symphony chorus rehearsals, (year after year with the encouragement of the artistic director at the time), had been accomplished using 18th Century style Well Temperaments.

I looked at her very deliberately and directly. I said, "Were you not present over the last several seasons for opera rehearsals [and then named the many famous and well known operas that had been on the schedule]? "Yes", she replied, "And since you have been maintaining the piano, it has sounded so much better that before! The pitch and intonation have improved greatly."

Then I asked, "Were you aware that in each and every one of those cases where I had been a member of that opera chorus, the piano had been tuned in an unequal temperament?"

The look on her face had to be seen to be described! SHE had been paying for all of that! She went to the rehearsals to hear the music that she loved and hear it develop. She had never once given a thought to the piano being tuned in anything but ET!

She then remarked, "I just don't understand it! All I can say is, the entire time I was growing up and I had voice lessons, I am quite sure that the piano was only ever tuned in ET!" I replied to her that ET is only really a point of reference. No instrument or voice really ever adheres strictly to it. If they did, they would actually cause the music to sound less interesting.

This discussion came up when a new, world premier opera had been commissioned and the subject was the story of the local but world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It had material in nearly every key imaginable. It was modern. It had chromaticism, to be sure.

I knew then, that I needed a Victorian style Well Temperament and developed one for it. If one plays a chromatic scale in a late 19th Century (Victorian) style Well Temperament, it cannot be distinguished from ET on that basis alone because the deviations from ET are too small.

The late professor, Owen Jorgensen taught and demonstrated that fact during his lectures. Yet, when actual music and harmony were played, a Victorian style Well Temperament still retains the Key Signature distinctions of earlier (18th Century) style Well Temperaments.

The opera rehearsals went on with the way I had chosen to tune the piano. The symphony chorus rehearsals also went on and were successful that season with the same Victorian style Well Temperament. I do not recall what the symphony chorus did that season but never, at any time nor from anyone, was there an objection nor a single remark made that the piano sounded out of tune or was unsatisfactory in any way.

The artistic director (conductor of both rehearsals and performances) was always pleased with my work at the public venue as he was with what I did for his personal piano at home. We had long discussions about it. He was given Owen Jorgensen's book, Tuning as a gift. He told me that he had enjoyed reading the many anecdotes that he found within it about how people argued over temperament and that no one really ever actually tuned ET at any time in the past.

So, here we are in the present, well into the 21st Century and the Original Poster, Opera Tenor found out that his temperament that he truly believed to be ET was not quite ET after all. One technician jumped all over it but I came to his defense that it actually did show some adherence to Key Signature.

So, you, Alfredo, I encourage to continue doing what you have found to be successful but frankly, I find your whole premise about "modern ET's" to be fatally flawed in its very concept! It is either ET or it is not!

It is either what Hermann Helmholtz figured out (and actually warned would not work) or not! Whatever "CHAS" represents or signifies, I do not know but I also do not care. I am not going to try to attempt it. Whatever university studies have been done, whoever lauded how you made the piano sound, does not interest me, but is, of course, good for you, sorry to say.

As for what people say that one "cannot tell" what the last temperament was, I would say this: I went to a Men's Chorus rehearsal tonight and after that rehearsal, I spoke to the director about how the piano sounded at the last performance.

It just so happened that last December, I took ill enough with coughing and sneezing that I could not participate in the performance. I did, however, manage to get the piano tuned earlier in the day for it.

The director today told me that the piano had been excellent, better than he had heard it for quite some time. I remarked to him that I could tell that I had been the one to tune that same piano two years previously for the same kind of performance. I said, "Don't ask me how I would know just now, but be assured that I could tell that I had been the last person to tune the piano a full two years prior to that event".

In the meantime, we had performed at other venues but had come back to that venue that time. So, here is a nice recording of the piano two years ago, accompanying a choir of men's voices performing a work by Ralph Vaughn Williams. It does modulate and it does so chromatically. The temperament is NOT ET! The piano is a Yamaha C3. I used the amount of stretch in the octaves that I believed would make the piano sound its best.

https://app.box.com/s/ea642d1482eb9cf1fb2f

When I put my muting strips in to tune the piano last December, I could definitely tell that it had been my Victorian style Well Temperament which had last been tuned on the piano 2 years previously!

So, to any and all who say that one cannot tell anything from a piano that had not been very recently tuned, I say that is not true at all. One can often actually tell a lot!

And yes, that really DOES mean that I can quite often distinguish whether the piano had been previously tuned in Reverse Well or not. It is actually the pervasiveness of Reverse Well over and above anything else that leads me to throw out any sort of establishment of any kind of standard whatsoever.

One, single standard is only an illusion. It is only something imagined but which rarely exists with the possible exception of the present concert/broadcast recording industry. They certainly do have a handle on it but I am resisting that choke hold!


..."No, Alfredo, I have not found the "ET chromaticisms", whatever you may mean by that."...

That was a rhetorical question, if you had managed to get proportional and beat_rate_progressive intervals all across the scale you would appreciate the meaning of chromatic intervals and how they relate with color, say how beats translate intervals into color.

...SNIP.. ..."Then I asked, "Were you aware that in each and every one of those cases where I had been a member of that opera chorus, the piano had been tuned in an unequal temperament?"
The look on her face had to be seen to be described! SHE had been paying for all of that! She went to the rehearsals to hear the music that she loved and hear it develop. She had never once given a thought to the piano being tuned in anything but ET!
She then remarked, "I just don't understand it! All I can say is, the entire time I was growing up and I had voice lessons, I am quite sure that the piano was only ever tuned in ET!" I replied to her that ET is only really a point of reference. No instrument or voice really ever adheres strictly to it. If they did, they would actually cause the music to sound less interesting."...

Well done. I understand that you know what a "point of reference" can be, so it might only take a little effort on your part and you could realize that that "point of reference" has been improved.

..."So, you, Alfredo, I encourage to continue doing what you have found to be successful but frankly, I find your whole premise about "modern ET's" to be fatally flawed in its very concept! It is either ET or it is not!"...

Hmm... problem. I do not think it should be me to explain you what a geometric progression is, you ought to ask someone from the PTG or friends here: 12 root of two is only one of infinite exponential scales.

..."It is either what Hermann Helmholtz figured out (and actually warned would not work) or not! Whatever "CHAS" represents or signifies, I do not know but I also do not care. I am not going to try to attempt it. Whatever university studies have been done, whoever lauded how you made the piano sound, does not interest me, but is, of course, good for you, sorry to say."...

Hmm... In this thread I'd rather not talk about Chas. Here (and for the time being) I would deepen on pure 12ths tuning. Anyway, Bill, I feel closer when I can read the positive and inquisitive Bill.

Re: Why bother? (tongue in cheek) [Re: jmw]

..."Thanks for the video link, jmw! This could turn out to be a multi-page thread. I understand your premise. Piano technicians often tend to be perfectionists. I tried in recent topics to say and demonstrate that this one particular ideal that many of us hold in our heads is all but impossible. (See such topics as, "Should there be a standard?") And then, if we could really reach that Helmholtz Monolith, (perfectly mathematically correct Equal Temperament) would that really mean that the music actually sounds better?"...

Unfortunately, Herr Helmholtz wont know about Modern ET's.

... SNIP.. ..."The work of an artist such as we are is to simply do the best that we can utilizing all of the knowledge that we have at our disposal."
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT


More tomorrow.

Regards, a.c.


Edited by alfredo capurso (02/08/14 07:10 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling
_________________________
alfredo

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