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#2208524 - 01/05/14 07:25 AM Piano Pilgrimage
BEN120N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/12
Posts: 30
May I recommend listening to the BBC radio 4 broadcast of Saturday 4th January 2014.

It is available on BBC iplayer, and features Newark College piano tuning course and Cavendish pianos (UK).

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#2208548 - 01/05/14 09:08 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
David-G Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1227
Loc: London
"Jazz pianist Jamie Cullum explores the piano's place in modern life. With recent stories about the decline of the piano, Jamie delves behind the myths to find out about the history of the instrument he is most passionate about and looks at how the piano industry is still thriving in the UK.

In the first episode, Jamie begins by focusing on the piano itself and traces the story of an old abandoned piano that he rescued from a street corner. His journey leads him to the London Borough of Camden where piano historian Dr. Alastair Laurence takes him on a tour around the area that, only a century ago, was the world centre of the piano making industry.

After exploring some of the remaining piano retailers in the neighbourhood and playing London's most out of tune piano, Jamie travels to the Yorkshire Dales to visit one of the few places left in the country where pianos are still being made from scratch.

At Newark College, Jamie talks to the course leader and students at the last piano tuning course in the country and learns some surprising facts about the physics of piano tuning.

Finally, Jamie visits the Brontë's old family home to play on the sisters' own piano that has been carefully restored."

This is the direct link to the programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b03nrlyg

Dr Alastair Laurence is the chairman of John Broadwood and Sons.

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#2208573 - 01/05/14 10:46 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1795
Loc: Suffolk, England
Another surprising revelation from Newark College in the broadcast, as I recall it, was that Bach invented equal temperament and that has been the basis for all Western music ever since!
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2208611 - 01/05/14 12:37 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
True, Ian!

I just heard that they have discovered Bach's original piano and it is tuned to absolute ET. They even found his hammer file and temperament strip! Amazingly enough, it is a screw stringer.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2208628 - 01/05/14 01:07 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Minnesota Marty]
BEN120N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/12
Posts: 30
A bit disappointed that you can't be more positive about our trade.

We should all be celebrating a radio feature made about us.

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#2208646 - 01/05/14 01:31 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1795
Loc: Suffolk, England
Quote:
"Jazz pianist Jamie Cullum explores the piano's place in modern life. With recent stories about the decline of the piano, Jamie delves behind the myths to find out about the history of the instrument he is most passionate about and looks at how the piano industry is still thriving in the UK.

In the first episode, Jamie begins by focusing on the piano itself and traces the story of an old abandoned piano that he rescued from a street corner. His journey leads him to the London Borough of Camden where piano historian Dr. Alastair Laurence takes him on a tour around the area that, only a century ago, was the world centre of the piano making industry.

After exploring some of the remaining piano retailers in the neighbourhood and playing London's most out of tune piano, Jamie travels to the Yorkshire Dales to visit one of the few places left in the country where pianos are still being made from scratch.

At Newark College, Jamie talks to the course leader and students at the last piano tuning course in the country and learns some surprising facts about the physics of piano tuning.

Finally, Jamie visits the Brontë's old family home to play on the sisters' own piano that has been carefully restored."

This is the direct link to the programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b03nrlyg

Dr Alastair Laurence is the chairman of John Broadwood and Sons.

Ben

David gives a good summary of an excellent programme. I was going to mention Alastair Laurence, plus Betsy Squire and Heckscher, but he beat me to it.

Do you know if iPlayer Radio is now available in countries beyond Europe?
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2208667 - 01/05/14 02:06 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: BEN120N
A bit disappointed that you can't be more positive about our trade.

We should all be celebrating a radio feature made about us.

Sorry Ben. It was an attempt at a humorous response to Ian's notice of Bach and ET. I can assure you, I have utmost respect for your profession.

Now, I shall get back to my practice of die gleichtemperierte Klavier.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2208766 - 01/05/14 03:53 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Withindale]
R_B Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 412
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Another surprising revelation from Newark College in the broadcast, as I recall it, was that Bach invented equal temperament and that has been the basis for all Western music ever since!


Ooops, seems I finally found something here that I already knew (-:

Well tempered clavier - wasn't that what he wrote to show case ET ?

Not ET the extra terr...<nevermind>

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#2208779 - 01/05/14 04:08 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: R_B]
SMHaley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 337
Loc: Seattle
Well tempered clavier, equal tempered clavier.... Tomato/tahmahto... Let's call the whole thing off.
_________________________
AA Music Arts 2001, BM 2005
Pipe Organ Builder
Practitioner of piano technology
Church Music Professional
Curator of instruments - Chancel Arts
Baldwin F 1960 (146256)
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#2208854 - 01/05/14 05:51 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Withindale]
David-G Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1227
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Do you know if iPlayer Radio is now available in countries beyond Europe?

Maybe one of our American friends can tell us whether they can play the programme on the link I gave above?

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#2209053 - 01/05/14 11:47 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3036
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Yes, I could hear it here and I also heard the same misinformation about Bach and Equal Temperament that has been broadcast for the last 100 years. It is the repeated telling of that lie that actually prevents Equal Temperament from actually happening in so many cases. Surely, the man who said what he did must know better but I guess I should not be surprised if he didn't.

Not to say that it is a poor or uninteresting program, it is quite a good one and very interesting. It is just that when it got to the piano tuning part, some very basic information was not the truth at all.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#2209366 - 01/06/14 12:55 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
BEN120N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/12
Posts: 30
I am fascinated and intrigued by your reply.

Please spell out specifically your thoughts on Bach, equal temperament and its relevance to the radio broadcast, bearing in mind it was aimed at a main stream audience.

I would love to know what the great lie is after 36 years in the piano trade.

I understand that ignorance is no defence.

Ben Nolan

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#2209388 - 01/06/14 01:27 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
Ben, do you think that Bach invented Equal Temperament? Do you think that there was even a concept of ET in that era? The big misconception that Well-Temperament is identical to Equal Temperament. It is not.

Equal Temperament, in the strictest sense, is a mathematical division of all 12 steps between an octave into equal parts. Great in theory, however it is impossible in practice. You cannot have 1/2 of a vibration or a cycle per second occurring on any given note and be absolute. The discrepancy must be assigned to one of two adjacent notes.

Well Temperament, or any temperament variation, is harmonic, rather that mathematical. It is how the intervals relate to each other to create the whole. A temperament, other that Equal, gives rise to what we hear and identify as "key color."

I hope this helps.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2209401 - 01/06/14 01:45 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Minnesota Marty]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Ben, do you think that Bach invented Equal Temperament? Do you think that there was even a concept of ET in that era? The big misconception that Well-Temperament is identical to Equal Temperament. It is not.


There is little doubt that equal temperament was known about long before Bach's time.

Quote:
Equal Temperament, in the strictest sense, is a mathematical division of all 12 steps between an octave into equal parts. Great in theory, however it is impossible in practice. You cannot have 1/2 of a vibration or a cycle per second occurring on any given note and be absolute. The discrepancy must be assigned to one of two adjacent notes.


There is nothing sacred about seconds or vibrations that keeps them from being divided by arbitrary amounts.

The only difference between equal temperament and other temperaments is that equal temperament is defined with arbitrarily fine exactness, while most other temperaments are only vaguely defined. They cannot be tuned any more exactly than equal temperament can.

Quote:
Well Temperament, or any temperament variation, is harmonic, rather that mathematical. It is how the intervals relate to each other to create the whole. A temperament, other that Equal, gives rise to what we hear and identify as "key color."

I hope this helps.


Equal temperament derives from an approximation of "harmonic" intervals, just as other temperaments do. The only difference is the method of approximating those intervals.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2209422 - 01/06/14 02:10 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
OK BDB -

Did Bach invent ET?

Please cite your documentation of ET in the early German Baroque?

Please be aware that my PhD is specifically about the composers of Lüneburg and their influence on the young J. S. Bach. My thesis includes extensive research into the various temperaments employed in the church organs where Bach studied and where he served as Kappelmeister. Equal Temperament is not in the picture.

Please note, I have made no reference to the precision or tuner skill needed to tune any temperament. It is totally irrelevant to a discussion of what a tempered scale is.

Though BEN120N has no identifying statement as a professional tuner, he did make this statement: "A bit disappointed that you can't be more positive about our trade." However, his further questions belied a distinct lack of knowledge. My explanation of ET vs. UT was nothing more than a very rudimentary introduction. In fact, it is rather embarrassing that it would even need to be addressed in this forum.

All in all, I was trying to be nice.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2209468 - 01/06/14 03:11 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Minnesota Marty]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
OK BDB -

Did Bach invent ET?


I answered that question before you asked. Go back and read what I said.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2209481 - 01/06/14 03:35 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
SMHaley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 337
Loc: Seattle
In my tomes of temperment, ET as we currently define it (approximate?) was not in practice at that time. There has been no surviving evidence even if it was that I'm aware of or discovered in my research. And at least one organ (a marvelous historic record of tuning methods and pitch levels) in existence would have such a flexible and revolutionary approach. There were a number of regional or locale flavors of WT, the more significant of which have been given names and tuning procedures, but most certainly not ET as we know it and the standard practices to achieve it as best as possible.
_________________________
AA Music Arts 2001, BM 2005
Pipe Organ Builder
Practitioner of piano technology
Church Music Professional
Curator of instruments - Chancel Arts
Baldwin F 1960 (146256)
Zuckermann Flemish Single

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#2209551 - 01/06/14 04:34 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2328
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Ben, do you think that Bach invented Equal Temperament? Do you think that there was even a concept of ET in that era? The big misconception that Well-Temperament is identical to Equal Temperament. It is not.

Equal Temperament, in the strictest sense, is a mathematical division of all 12 steps between an octave into equal parts. Great in theory, however it is impossible in practice. You cannot have 1/2 of a vibration or a cycle per second occurring on any given note and be absolute. The discrepancy must be assigned to one of two adjacent notes.

Well Temperament, or any temperament variation, is harmonic, rather that mathematical. It is how the intervals relate to each other to create the whole. A temperament, other that Equal, gives rise to what we hear and identify as "key color."

I hope this helps.


For someone with a PHD on the related subject I'm surprised you can't differentiate between ET and 12-TET. Equal temperament does not require a certain number of notes nor a defined octave to be constrained inside for its true definitive meaning.....a system of tuning, in which every pair of adjacent notes has an identical frequency ratio.

There were both mathamatecally and verbally defined concepts and a practices of ET well before Bach.... although the exactness of these (Asian and Greek origin) had come under criticism, Simon Stevin's chord length from Vande Spiegheling der singconst definately indicated a breakdown of 1.0594 (c. 1605) as the common frequency multiplier for 11 of the 12 notes (12-TET). Only one note was miscalculated as 1.0593 and many people disclude this as perfect ET because of this error....in reality, this 4th decimal is irrelevent for practical purposes since even modern tuners can and do deviate farther than this on parts of the keyboard and still call it a good sounding acceptable ET tuning.

I kind of cringe when people mention J.S. Bach in discussions on this. When so much fuss was made about some scribbled doodle marks at the top of his manuscript, if thats the best we got on exact citation, its really hard to guess what those instruments/tunings actually sounded like in real life. Might make for stale conversation in the powdered wig room but really it doesn't have much clout from a scientivic view or analysis IMHO.


Edited by Emmery (01/06/14 04:42 PM)
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#2209754 - 01/06/14 08:12 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Withindale]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Another surprising revelation from Newark College in the broadcast, as I recall it, was that Bach invented equal temperament and that has been the basis for all Western music ever since!


This is what started the all of the stupid nit-picking!

Absurd.

It is also absurd that any temperament is the basis for all Western music!

I replied with another absurd statement which was taken as factual. If any pro-tuner didn't understand that it was in jest, you better look for a different line of work.

However, one person, claiming to be a pro replied, not knowing it was in jest. Then he asked Bill Bremmer to expand further.

All I did was try to give an explanation that ET is a mathematical division and that WT is harmonic. Sorry pro- (or semi-) tuners, that is the difference. No matter how many numbers, or theories, or techniques you throw at it, that is the difference. The sonic results are different, but that is not in question. The number of notes inserted between the octave is irevelant for the definition of tempering any given sequence.

Musicologists and Musical Historians consider the circular squiggles on the manuscripts to be doodling. It is also seen on other of Bach's manuscripts, too. It is the tuners who believe that it is some secret notation which explains WT. Then there is the question if it meant "Well Temperament" at all. The writing in English of Well-Temperament is an attempt at translation to imply something which may, or may not, be indicated. It is still debated if what is now called WT is accurate to what Bach understood.

Keep in mind that Bach was not an organ builder nor organ tuner. His tuning of his own claviers was based on the intonation and temperament of the organs with which he had contact. This is exactly why Luneburg is of such importance in his development musically and his sense of tonation/temperament. His trips to Hamburg exposed him to an additional schools of thought and experience.

Emmery, our 12 tone system is directly dependent on the octave as being the fundamental interval leading to the evolution of polyphony within the context of plainsong or chant. Please consider that any voicing other than a unison or octave was "sinful." The you must then interpose and imagine what was heard in the reverberation created by moving pitches in a fluid vocal line. The earliest of chant was the repetition of a single note or syllable with the culmination on a "pure" interval and thus not "sinful." Yep, the fourth and fifth. Everything else, in Western musical tradition, is a Johnny-come-lately.

What still remains is the fact that J. S. Bach did not invent Well Temperament.

Would you like to get into the argument as to whether Bach was composing for an instrument tuned in Well-Temperament or for a Nicely Tuned Harpsichord in another temperament for use in all 24 keys?

I agree completely, we have no idea of what Bach was hearing while he was composing a specific collection of preludes and fugues.

That debate still rages in some circles!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2209760 - 01/06/14 08:20 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Minnesota Marty]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
You should worry more about your own mistakes, rather than those of others.
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Semipro Tech

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#2209887 - 01/06/14 11:15 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 372
Equal Temperment is what the customer expects. (There is something to be said about being able to play the piano in any key). It's also a musical standard! If you tune the piano in any other way, it's just going sound odd.
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Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2209893 - 01/06/14 11:24 PM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1457
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
There are references to the 12th root of two mathematics of equal temperament in very old Chinese texts. I can't quote them but I know they predate the European derivation.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2209997 - 01/07/14 05:51 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: SMHaley]
Chris Leslie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/11
Posts: 452
Loc: Canberra, ACT, Australia
Originally Posted By: SMHaley
In my tomes of temperment, ET as we currently define it (approximate?) was not in practice at that time. There has been no surviving evidence even if it was that I'm aware of or discovered in my research. And at least one organ (a marvelous historic record of tuning methods and pitch levels) in existence would have such a flexible and revolutionary approach. There were a number of regional or locale flavors of WT, the more significant of which have been given names and tuning procedures, but most certainly not ET as we know it and the standard practices to achieve it as best as possible.


But, aren't guitars tuned by default to equal temperament because of the fret spacing across the neck? Guitars were used pretty early in European musical history. So the concept must have been widely known about, but probably considered inappropriate for keyboard instruments.
_________________________
Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au

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#2210001 - 01/07/14 06:09 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1795
Loc: Suffolk, England
Bach's tunings are a good topic for speculation and research, but we do know people were writing about the emotional character of the keys until about 1825 when piano manufacturers started to introduce equal temperament as standard.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2210015 - 01/07/14 07:27 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
Ian - Isn't 1825 a wee bit early? From what I have read, the ET 'boom' wasn't until about 1875.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2210017 - 01/07/14 07:27 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Gary Fowler]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
Equal Temperment is what the customer expects. (There is something to be said about being able to play the piano in any key). It's also a musical standard! If you tune the piano in any other way, it's just going sound odd.

Wrong.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2210018 - 01/07/14 07:31 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
There are references to the 12th root of two mathematics of equal temperament in very old Chinese texts. I can't quote them but I know they predate the European derivation.

Ancient China is definitely not part of Western musical tradition and has absolutely nothing to do with 'ET as invented by J. S. Bach.'
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2210058 - 01/07/14 08:40 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Minnesota Marty]
David-G Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1227
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Well Temperament, or any temperament variation, is harmonic, rather that mathematical.

I am not sure what you mean by this. The relationships of Well Temperament are different from those of Equal Temperament but surely they are all mathematical.

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#2210063 - 01/07/14 08:56 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: BEN120N]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6042
Loc: Rochester MN
David-G,

Yes, they can be analyzed after the fact and assigned a numerical relationship. But, that is not how they are originally created. The process of developing a UT is by listening rather than creating ratios through mathematical means and then see how it works. A UT is developed with tuning lever in hand and ears open, rather than by means of a calculator.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2210071 - 01/07/14 09:18 AM Re: Piano Pilgrimage [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1795
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Ian - Isn't 1825 a wee bit early? From what I have read, the ET 'boom' wasn't until about 1875.

Marty

In his piece on Temperament in The Piano An Encyclopedia, Patrizio Barbieri says Dieudonnée & Schiedmayer published a manual in 1824 saying that the temperament must be as equal as possible. He indicates the years to 1850 were a transitional period in Germany. He says Britain and the United States put up a strong resistance to equal temperament, regarding it as a novelty from the Continent. That would accord with an ET boom in 1875.

There was a Piano forum thread recently about key color and Scriabin's wheel. I can't put my finger on it just now, but someone referred to a list/bibliography of writings about key colors and characteristics. There was not much after 1825 or thereabouts.

When you think about the number of composers for the piano who were active, or growing up, at that time I am sure you will agree it does not make sense to dismiss other temperaments.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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