Stretches and Temperaments

Posted by: greatlifestyle

Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 07:00 PM

Hello. I have had this question for a long while. Would you please answer in a simple way, as I am sort of new here.

When I ask a tuner to tune my piano, does he tune my piano with equal temperament?
And... does he stretch it?

Then, If most pianos today have an equal temperament, what happens when they are not stretched? When the notes are all mathematically relative no matter the octave(e.g. exactly 440 on one octave and 880 on another being the same note)?

Or does equal temperament means no stretch?

Thank you very much,
Samuel
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 07:07 PM

Temperament has to do with the initial centre octave. If all 12 notes are equally distant from one another, it is called an equal temperament.

Inharmonicity, which all pianos have more or less, dictates the size of the initial octave and other octaves afterwards. That is the reason stretch happens.

Stretch is not something that we do purposely (although we can) . It is something that happens naturally once the piano sounds good with itself.

It changes with every piano.

Hope that helps.
Posted by: greatlifestyle

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 07:32 PM

Thank you. So if the piano were not stretched, if I played a do in a low octave and a mi in a high one, they would not harmonize?
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 07:33 PM

Exactly.
Posted by: miscrms

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 07:37 PM

Someone who better knows will likely chime in here, but the basic answer is that piano strings do not exhibit a mathematically perfect harmonic series. The mechanical properties of the string are effectively different for each partial/harmonic on a single string. This is referred to as "inharmonicity."

As you probably know when you play an A4 for example, you get the fundamental tone of 440Hz related to the whole length of the string, but also a series of higher harmonics/partials related to the length divided by 2, 3, 4 etc. The combination of these partials is essentially what makes a piano sound like a piano, a trumpet sound like a trumpet etc.

Ideally you would expect the second partial of A4 to sound at 880Hz, but in reality its a little higher. Maybe 881Hz. So now, if you tuned the A5 key to 880Hz it would sound out of tune when played together with A4, as the two tones at 880Hz and 881Hz clash to the ear much more than the 881Hz and 440Hz do. This is basically why the octaves in a piano are stretched.

This link shows the calculated vs. measured partial frequencies for an A4 on a Steinway B.
http://daffy.uah.edu/piano/page4/page8/index.html

You can see that each successively higher partial gets successively sharper relative to the fundamental. So even tuning A5 to 881Hz may not be sufficient, as the 4th partial of the A4 at about 1770Hz instead of the ideal 1760 may still not sound right with the second partial of A5 which will be higher than 1760Hz, but not as much as the fourth partial of A4. This gets further complicated by the fact that the degree of inharmonicity is different for each string because each has a unique length and/or diameter. Tuning a piano to sound right involves a lot of compromises.

So the stretch of the octaves is related to the non-idealities of the strings, rather than whether the piano is equal tempered or not. Generally most pianos are tuned for an equal temperament, though some minor deviations may be made to account for similar inharmonicity issues in the intervals within an octave.

Hopefully got that about right. Still learning smile

Rob
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 07:44 PM

Originally Posted By: greatlifestyle
Thank you. So if the piano were not stretched, if I played a do in a low octave and a mi in a high one, they would not harmonize?


By the way I love how you say Do and Mi. I'm a big fan of "The Sound of Music"!!

Sincerely,

Jean
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 08:45 PM

A fella once said to me, "You know you are doing something impossible don't you?"

I didn't know where he was headed, but sighed theatrically and said, "Yes I know, but ya gotta' give me points for trying."

'Turns out he was a physics professor who had a good knowledge of inharmosity and stretch who used an ETD to show his students why they couldn't tune a piano with a frequency counter and a strict mathematical scale.

What's musically pleasing will be the correct stretch whether you arrive there by ETD or by aural tuning, and whether you understand the math or not.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 08:51 PM

Originally Posted By: greatlifestyle
Thank you. So if the piano were not stretched, if I played a do in a low octave and a mi in a high one, they would not harmonize?


That you pick this particular interval makes this sound to me like a trick question.

Not to be pedantic but with a proper understanding of temperament and a proper understanding of stretch the do and mi would harmonise (in the strictest sense of that word also) better.

I'll let someone else explain it fully if they must, but....

When a piano is tuned with no stretch (I have done this for professional electronic organists who like to play the piano from the organ console in their concerts) one of the things that happens is that the tempered major thirds become less tempered and therefore more pure. (more in harmony).
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 08:52 PM

However, solfège predates Julie.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/14/13 09:30 PM

Yes, a high mi will not be as sharp in an unstretched tuning. Being initially wide in ET, then the mi not as sharp, means do-mi not as wide.

It is also true that the piano is a horribly out of tune instrument, even when tuned well. Well, why do we continue to accept it? IMHO, humans' ability to adapt. Not only have we gotten used to the sound of an out-of-tune M3, M6, etc, but, we perceive and expect it as the desireable and identifiable tone quality of the piano. We don't just allow it to go on, we love it, search for it, revel in it.

I sometimes imagine just how the piano story would have unfolded if, years ago, people said "no way" to the demands that composers and piano tuners placed on our ears, by tuning farther and farther away from just, and closer to equal.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 03:50 AM

There is a shimmer in the treble harmony of a finely tuned ET that quickly becomes harsh if overstretched.
Equally the pleasant slow undulations of the tenor and lower regions can sound drunken and comic if allowed to get too fast from over stretching.
This is where finer and finer tuning pays off. Inexperienced tuners introduce too much artificial stretch in both directions with no consideration for the finer musical effect on those with more musical listening skills. We, as tuners, are collaborators with the musical community, not dictators.

Ask any professional flute player with a major symphony orchestra. They will tell you that they have to play sharper with piano accompanent (those that ever play with piano accompaniment) than they do with the orchestra. The Piano is already sharp enough.

There is a sharper, faster, louder syndrome that sets in with any musical pursuit that, if not reigned in early, becomes an excercise in tail chasing. We get used to hearing things that way. There was an article in the musical times many years ago dealing with this under the heading: a plea for sanity.

Many tuners are a big fish in a small pond and it is easy to have very musical people accept our dictates. We live, if not careful, in a strange sort of vacuum. We are constantly told we must have exceptional hearing. It is part of the mystique that has grown up around us. We get awful fond of displaying our knowledge of the mechanics of ET and inharmonicity. How often do we sit down with an intelligent top flight musician and have an equal discussion?

No consummate professional really believes in their own legend
Posted by: Marco M

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 08:41 AM

If you have the chance to get hands on a higher class digital piano, for instacne in a music store, ask somebody to help you to demonstrate you the stretch effect, and right away also some different temperaments. The sales agent should be able to show you how to switch these settings in seconds by pressing a few buttons. Then you can listen to it yourself, which will help to get a better idea about it. It´s quite impressive to compare effects like this!
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 10:35 AM

RXD writes:
>>There is a shimmer in the treble harmony of a finely tuned ET that quickly becomes harsh if overstretched.
Equally the pleasant slow undulations of the tenor and lower regions can sound drunken and comic if allowed to get too fast from over stretching.
This is where finer and finer tuning pays off. Inexperienced tuners introduce too much artificial stretch in both directions with no consideration for the finer musical effect on those with more musical listening skills. We, as tuners, are collaborators with the musical community, not dictators. <<

This isn't very definitive. I am asked to greatly reduce the stretch in recording studios, and expand it for concerti. Non of the bass players understood why a "proper" tuning sounded so flat in lower regions, but they and the producers certainly understood the clarity when I took the stretch out of the bass. I suggest that we tuners are not collaborators so much as enablers.

>>Ask any professional flute player with a major symphony orchestra. They will tell you that they have to play sharper with piano accompanent (those that ever play with piano accompaniment) than they do with the orchestra. The Piano is already sharp enough. <<

It isn't just the flutes, it is virtually all musicians. As a member of the Blair Quartet said, "Everything changes as soon as the piano begins to play". This is a function of ET, in which all the thirds are wide, and musicians hear them as "sharp". I maintain almost all of the pianos in a mild well-temperament, and this greatly reduces the other musicians' sense of the piano being "sharp". The string players feel their intonation is much more easily secured when there is a tonal center to the tuning.

>>There is a sharper, faster, louder syndrome that sets in with any musical pursuit that, if not reigned in early, becomes an excercise in tail chasing. We get used to hearing things that way. There was an article in the musical times many years ago dealing with this under the heading: a plea for sanity. <<

I think this is a result of not only ET, but of excessively brilliant pianos. When there is little tonal change with volume, the player has to resort to excessive loudness to make melodic lines stand out. Ears quickly become fatigued, and then there is nothing to be done but play louder.

<<Many tuners are a big fish in a small pond and it is easy to have very musical people accept our dictates. We live, if not careful, in a strange sort of vacuum. We are constantly told we must have exceptional hearing. It is part of the mystique that has grown up around us. We get awful fond of displaying our knowledge of the mechanics of ET and inharmonicity. How often do we sit down with an intelligent top flight musician and have an equal discussion? <<

Not sure what is meant by "equal" discussion, but I am surrounded by professional musicians that will discuss tuning intelligently. I have no dictates, but if I did, I think I would be told where to go in a hurry. I have options that I offer, in terms of stretch and temperament, and that is what I do, offer them. Tune first, talk later is the most certain route to expanding pianists' horizons. Many of them are totally unaware of how limiting ET really is until they have learned to recognize the palette a circulating temperament offers, and the response is 90% of them leave ET whenever they can.

Regards,
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 10:39 AM

Originally Posted By: rxd
Ask any professional flute player with a major symphony orchestra. They will tell you that they have to play sharper with piano accompanent (those that ever play with piano accompaniment) than they do with the orchestra. The Piano is already sharp enough.

This is one of the most absurd statements I have ever read at PW.

Professional, and skilled amateur instrumentalists and vocalists, do not perform in ET. Having to adjust to a fixed pitch instrument, such as a piano, lessens tuning integrity which is natural to the ear. It has nothing to do with ET "stretch" or a piano being "sharp."

One must understand the emergence of polyphony in the development of the western tradition. This background training is often missed or neglected in learning the craft of piano tuning and in its contempory execution.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 11:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: rxd
Ask any professional flute player with a major symphony orchestra. They will tell you that they have to play sharper with piano accompanent (those that ever play with piano accompaniment) than they do with the orchestra. The Piano is already sharp enough.

This is one of the most absurd statements I have ever read at PW.

Professional, and skilled amateur instrumentalists and vocalists, do not perform in ET. Having to adjust to a fixed pitch instrument, such as a piano, lessens tuning integrity which is natural to the ear. It has nothing to do with ET "stretch" or a piano being "sharp."

One must understand the emergence of polyphony in the development of the western tradition. This background training is often missed or neglected in learning the craft of piano tuning and in its contempory execution.


Don't be silly, Marty.

Do you really want me to tear apart what you just imagined.... Again!!!!
Posted by: rxd

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 12:57 PM

Ed. Thank you for taking the time to analyse what I wrote. I was particularly struck by your colleagues phrase that everything changes when a piano is thrown into the mix. I have no problems with your additional information, just a couple of things best discussed over a drink.

There must have been something in the water in the late 1960's. I was delving into the old temperaments when there wasn't a lot out there. Did I devour Jorgensen when he brought his book out. I offered a prize for a composition in his 5 and12. Only two professors entered anything so we all went out for dinner. That was the inaugural meeting of a poker school which was later joined by a fourth... A new composition professor.

I was involved with a piano quintet recording- tune and attend. An established string quartet with piano thrown into the mix!!! I did finish up putting together a temperament that suited what was going on coupled with my previous knowledge There was a longish cello solo and his last D never matched the piano when the ensemble came back in. My findings were pretty much the same as yours.

I be ame a lot more interested in piano technology when I was working as a professional musician and often had exposed things with piano. much from the subject of this thread and also the compromised tenor of smaller pianos. There's a lot to involve an intensely curious young musician.

Anyway, I'm listening to a hundred year old challen concert grand. As I walked up to the church, all I could hear was the piano but as I entered, only then did I hear the 60 strong orchestra. Sounds like I won't have much to do before tha concert. The piano was rebuilt about 10 years ago. It was covered and being used as a bench in an art room when I found it.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 01:20 PM

Originally Posted By: rxd
Don't be silly, Marty.

Do you really want me to tear apart what you just imagined.... Again!!!!


There is nothing silly about it. My opinion is based on a lifetime of performing experience as a flutist and pianist.

Tear apart to you heart's content. My rebuttals will be direct and cogent.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 02:05 PM

Sorry, Marty, your opening rudeness was totally uncalled for, it was a bit early in the day for the usual excuse for such an outburst. The way you voiced your objection seemed a bit too pretentious for reasoning bred of genuine practical experience, at least not the professionals I know. It showed but a fuzzy understanding of the matter.

Give me some cogent reasoning to start with but think about it for a day or two to remove the emotional content.

You sometimes say things that I really find genuinely funny and sometimes they are just plain silly.
Please curb your rudeness You are probably the only one left on this forum who betrays their upbringing in this way. People will begin to think your mother never taught you anything!!

I, of course, am never unintentionally rude.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 02:21 PM

Mr. or Ms. d,

There was nothing rude about my observation of the statement you had made. There is a big difference between being rude and being honest and direct.
Posted by: greatlifestyle

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 08:29 PM

Thank you everyone.
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/15/13 10:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
This is one of the most absurd statements I have ever read at PW.

Interpreting this as a self-referential sentence I agree.

That was a joke.

In the '70ies Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt started recording the Bach cantata's on "authentic" instruments. The orchestra consisted mainly of "regular" musicians that were willing to learn to play the period instruments. At first they tried an "authentic" temperament of the organ/harpsichord, but the instrumentalists were unable to play in tune with it. So in the end they compromised by recording everything in equal temperament.

Nowadays all "authentic" recording of the Bach cantatas are in some unequal temperament, and the musicians are all specialists and have learned how to play baroque temperaments.

This information indicates to me that instrumentalists not specifically specialized in baroque (or earlier) music have learned to tune to equal temperament so I don't see why throwing a piano in the orchestra would cause any difficulty.

As a solo flute performer you may be more sensitive, and I would be interested if you could elaborate on your experiences.

I occasionally play Bach sonatas on recorder accompanied by harpsichord or organ and find I have to change my fingering according to the way the particular keyboard is tuned.

Regarding Lord rxd's comments (he reminds me of Lord Melbury from the Fawlty Towers episode "A Touch of Class"): As flutes and violins play in the midrange I find it hard (hard, not impossible) to believe piano stretch would cause any problems. Perhaps for the piccolo and Wagner tuba.

Kees
Posted by: rxd

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 06:56 AM

Thank you for picking up on this and for your varied personal experiences, some agreeing that it is well within their experience, others that it was outside the realms of their experience.
My only point was that excessive sharpening is not necessary and that the piano is sharp enough already.

Now pick up on 'excessive' while I enjoy a leisurely breakfast.

I'm flattered with the likeness to Lord Melbury, Kees, I sometimes write in that sort of caricature. Thanks for spotting it. Fact, is, old chap, I've never, ahem, tuned a piano in my life.

As a trumpet player (only one major orchestra, lots of major commercial work) I was sometimes called to play for weddings in rooms from cathedrals to more intimate affairs. You know the sort of stuff, the usual voluntary or the other one. Always with organ but once with a string quartet. Now that was a totally different.
experience, intonationally. And not a piano in sight.

There was mention of contemporary piano tuning. I have been involved In a couple of Proms programs and recordings of pianos specifying unusual temperaments. On all occasions it was tune and attend, plus 2 tunings each piano to convert, many maintenance tunings as the designated pianos were ferried back and forth across town for rehearsals, etc. Two tunings back to equal Very costly to do it right.

I still get calls privately for unusual temperaments my name seems to have become synonymous with this. It has to be under the same circumstances and is cost prohibitive as a commercial proposition. The most overlooked parameters are permission from the hall or owners of the piano and time involved in a busy concert hall.
Speaking of stretch, I was called out to a Hamburg B that I remember from its glory days. Now sadly neglected. The top notes were non existsent because somebody had tuned them higher than their resonance points. Just bringing them down restored the sound. They did quite a good tuning but for the last octave +1/2.

Marty, do you ever listen to ancient orchestral recordings where the Picc is excreechiatingly sharp. sometimes the pianos were that way, too. Since recording came in, everybody started listening more closely. Those old cultural norms die hard. The concerto piano is at the front of the orchestra. It is instruments at the back of the orchestra that traditionally tuned sharp and played ahead of the beat for acoustical reasons. Extra stretching for a concert probably never was a good idea.

A piano might be chosen as an orchestral piano one day placed next to the winds
and chosen as a concerto instrument the next.
Who would jackleg around with the stretch on the day of a concert that might be broadcast round the world. There simply isn't the time, for starters. No. The work of my colleagues and I is heard by the Finest artists in all genres of the contemporary musical world. They are our mentors and arbiters. For us to listen to anybody else would be, well, what's that word?

Thank you all for taking me seriously enough to take issue with me.

Now that many concerts are broadcast here, a tuner thinking of extra stretch better look closely at microphone placement. that is what I mean by contemporary tuning habits. Yes, there is some fringe work going on and this site keeps me somewhat abreast of them but I immerse myself in mainstream contemporary tuning every day.

I now have one of the easiest tuning jobs in the world. Literally a walk in the park interrupted by tunings on some of the finest pianos in the world that were only tuned a few hours before by me or a close colleague and serviced every ten days by one of the finest concert techs in the world. Would I jeapordise that by putting into practice the outdated imaginations of anybody on a website?
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 10:23 AM

Kees and rxd,

Performing instrumentalists (non-fixed pitch) or vocalists do not perform in ET, with or without "stretch." Through extensive training, both aural and academic, the concept of key color and differentiation becomes paramount. It is applied to all compositional periods, from Gregorian through this very minute. That is why the development of polyphony, the 12 tone scale, and its application to all eras of music, must be thoroughly understood for proper implementation.

What I considered so absurd was the statement that an orchestral flutist would consider that they played sharper, in pitch, when playing with piano accompaniment. This is simply not the case. It could also be a consideration that the overall "stretch" on a fixed pitch instrument is less than in an orchestra or chamber ensemble. Playing with a given keyboard instrument, with it's individual characteristics and tuning temperament, requires adjusting to that particular instrument. Playing "sharp" is not a given, and as a blanket statement is simply wrong.

Intonation should never be equated to temperament, but sadly, that is often the case. A piccolo playing sharp is merely poor performance technique derived from lack of skill by the player. It is not intrinsic to the instrument.

Keyed or valved instruments all have their own idiosyncrasies. Mastery of those instruments requires a thorough understanding of the 'givens' of the instrument. Once accomplished, the instrumentalist then adjusts pitch, at will, to the ensemble intonation and temperament within a given key.

So, in summation, I do not agree that ET is the basis for tonal structure in the training and development of instrumentalists and vocalists. ET is an adaption and compromise from the aural perception of just intonation. Piano tuners who do not accept any derivation from the harmonically impossible, mathematical division of an octave into twelve equal parts, misses the point of key differentiation.

If either of you would like my credentials, you are free to send me a PM.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 10:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Once accomplished, the instrumentalist then adjusts pitch, at will, to the ensemble intonation and temperament within a given key.

Please excuse me interposing but wasn't this the essence of the original proposition?
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 11:08 AM

Ian,

The original proposition was that a flutist would have to play at a higher pitch (sharp) with a piano, than with an orchestra. This being the result of "stretch" in ET tuning.

The statement you quoted was in reference to ensemble performance making adjustment to the given pitch and intonational reference as being fluid, and not static as with a fixed pitch instrument.
Posted by: Chris Leslie

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 03:07 PM

Marty, not being a flutist myself, how much variation in intonation on a given note is practical in the upper ranges of the instrument? Presumably a flute can cope with the extremes expected between different ensembles and stretch scenarios, but how easy is it for a flutist to cope without being too conscious of the effort.
Similarly, how much deviation from A-440 can be practically coped with?
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 04:59 PM

Chris - Approximately a 1/8 step up or down is easy to accomplish across the range. On some notes, a 1/4 step is possible by "lipping" or using alternate fingerings, so you can pretty much play in all of the cracks. The flute naturally tends to go sharp in the highest octave and compensation is part of the learning curve.

The standard range of the flute is three full octaves, starting on C4 (middle C) up to C7. Advanced flutists generally play up to F7. A piccolo is voiced one octave higher, an alto flute is a fourth lower, and a bass flute is one octave below the concert flute. Additionally, there are many custom "odd-balls" floating around.

The piccolo is no longer voiced in Db, and the usage of the instrument all but disappeared by the mid 20th century.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 05:03 PM

Addendum -

Most quality flute builders now scale to A-442. If a flute pitched at A-440 is desired, it would need to be specified at time of order.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 05:20 PM

What is more to the point than how an instrument is pitched or played is how close the tolerances are to the pitch. Pianos are quite exact. Most other instruments, including voice, are nowhere near as close as a piano is.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 05:37 PM

Only if one believes that ET is as close to pitch as possible. In fact, it cannot be as it is an adaptation and compromise made based on just intonation and harmony.

Sorry, the laws of acoustical physics predate any keyboard instrument.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 05:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
...The standard range of the flute is three full octaves, starting on C4 (middle C) up to C7. Advanced flutists generally play up to F7. A piccolo is voiced one octave higher, an alto flute is a fourth lower, and a bass flute is one octave below the concert flute. Additionally, there are many custom "odd-balls" floating around....


Thank you, Marty.

I've learnt a lot about the flute today. From the chapter on flutes in my book on musical instruments at breakfast and now in time for supper from your posts.

As for playing wind instruments in symphonies, piano concertos and chamber music I am musing about the skills of flutists and trumpeters. Do flutists regard pianists as an intransigent bunch of Johnnies Come Lately?
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 06:00 PM


Originally Posted By: Withindale
Do flutists regard pianists as an intransigent bunch of Johnnies Come Lately?

Jeez, I hope not. I'm a pianist, too!

(Though, the tale of Pan and Syrinx comes to mind and there is always the early satyrclavier.)
Posted by: BDB

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 06:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Only if one believes that ET is as close to pitch as possible. In fact, it cannot be as it is an adaptation and compromise made based on just intonation and harmony.

Sorry, the laws of acoustical physics predate any keyboard instrument.


I think you were responding to me. What I meant about the tolerances is that no instrument plays any specific pitch exactly. There are minute variations in pitch, and those variations in a piano are smaller than in most other instruments. It has nothing to do with temperament.

Some of those variations are deliberate. That is what vibrato is. The mechanics that allow one to play vibrato prevent one from playing exactly at any one pitch.
Posted by: Herr Weiss

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 06:48 PM

Question: If instead of tuning A4=440, I tune it to 435; does the beat rates change
or do they remain the same as if it was 440?
Like F3 to A3, approximate 7 bps wide, 435 becomes less or more.
Thank you all.

Herr Weiss
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 06:51 PM

BDB - The way you have described you original intention, I do agree with. Sorry if I misread what you wrote. I was thinking in the concept of the thread being "stretches and temperaments." That is why I specified ET.

A piano can be stable, but in ET it is not in tune. Our difference seems to be the entire concept of intonation.

Certainly an instrument can be out of tune and vibrato does not negate the perceived pitch of the tonal center. Even with vibrato, or other coloration techniques, the fundamental pitch is heard. It is either in tune, or not.

Consider also, the effect of vibrato is totally different on a string instrument, on a wind, or from the voice. It can be amplitude or pitch and that is totally dependent on the method of production.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 06:59 PM

Herr Weiss - Welcome to Piano World!

When you compare A-440 to A-435, it is a direct reference to beats per second or Hz. The octave A above your tuning would be A-870. Those pitches would then be divided into the 12 half-steps which form the basis of western tonal structure.

Each note on your piano would be proportionally different from the corresponding note on a piano tuned to A-440.

Hope this helps.
Posted by: Herr Weiss

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 07:12 PM

Thank you Minnesota Marty for your quick answer!
The reason I asked is that one of my pianos is a Upright from
the 1890's, New England #59529; and I'm afraid to practice on it
at A=440. So A=435 is a whole new ball game. Good to know.

Thank you once more. Cheers!
Posted by: Herr Weiss

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 07:21 PM

So, at A=435, F3 to A3 will NOT have 7 bps wide, correct?
Less or more?. I'll experiment with my ears open.
Good night!
Posted by: BDB

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 08:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
BDB - The way you have described you original intention, I do agree with. Sorry if I misread what you wrote. I was thinking in the concept of the thread being "stretches and temperaments." That is why I specified ET.

A piano can be stable, but in ET it is not in tune. Our difference seems to be the entire concept of intonation.

Certainly an instrument can be out of tune and vibrato does not negate the perceived pitch of the tonal center. Even with vibrato, or other coloration techniques, the fundamental pitch is heard. It is either in tune, or not.

Consider also, the effect of vibrato is totally different on a string instrument, on a wind, or from the voice. It can be amplitude or pitch and that is totally dependent on the method of production.

I do not believe that you have a realistic notion of all of what being "in tune" might mean. You seem to want it to mean that a note is pitched arbitrarily close to some sort of theoretically pure relationship with any other note that it is played with. By that standard, nothing is "in tune." Even if you use as arbitrary a standard as "perceived pitch of the tonal center," nothing is in tune.

It is, as I said, all a question of tolerances. The tolerances on a piano are extremely small compared to almost all other instruments. In fact, many of the tempered intervals of a well-tuned piano may be closer to pure than the same intervals on other instruments where those intervals theoretically should be pure.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 08:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Herr Weiss
So, at A=435, F3 to A3 will NOT have 7 bps wide, correct?
Less or more?. I'll experiment with my ears open.
Good night!


It will not have the same 7 bps wide as it would be in 440, and I am not going to do the math right now to say how much slower it should be. I will point out that 7 is just an approximation.
Posted by: Herr Weiss

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 09:26 PM

Wow, you guys are really cool! Yes, after thinking, I came to the conclusion that
of course it had to be slower, DUH?!?
I am the type that needs to understand everything in the smallest details before
it becomes part of me. To memorize stuff without understanding is futile.
My other piano is a Weser spinet '72. No problem with A=440 with this one and
the pins are super tight comparing with the New England.
I am in the assimilation point of my studies; full steam ahead now.
Thank you, BDB and Minnesota Marty, for the help. You guys can't even imagine
how much you all have guided me in my goal to become a knowledgeable and respectable
tuner, as I been following this site for a long time.
Cheers, H.W.
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 09:55 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Herr Weiss
So, at A=435, F3 to A3 will NOT have 7 bps wide, correct?
Less or more?. I'll experiment with my ears open.
Good night!


It will not have the same 7 bps wide as it would be in 440, and I am not going to do the math right now to say how much slower it should be. I will point out that 7 is just an approximation.

It will beat at 7 * 435/440 = 6.92 bps which is 7 bps for all practical purposes.

Kees
Posted by: Herr Weiss

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/16/13 10:57 PM

DoelKees: Getting teary eyes over here with the unexpected camaradie!!!

Back in 1985 I took a course given by a RPT that in the end went nowhere.
Should have been advertised as Tuning 101, because I knew that what I learned
was very superficial. Needless to say I went to Art school instead of continuing
further; his heart was not quite there, I'm equally guilty.

Years went by with no thoughts of ever going back to learn more, I could just do
regulation, no tuning. That White book is very hard to understand. My SIGHT-O-TUNER
is in mint condition, haha.

Well, after finding this heaven-sent web site, I started just looking out of curiosity.
One day I almost fell off my chair after reading Bill Bremmer explaining how to
tune without counting BEATS!! What a revelation!!!

Am here for the long haul, and just sad when I think, what a difference a good
teacher can be in a person's life.

Sorry for the drama, but it is all true.
Love all you guys + girls.


H.W.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Stretches and Temperaments - 02/17/13 08:15 AM

Strangely enough, Marty, I have represented your position about 25 years ago to the director of a well known American university concert band. They had commissioned a piece and the composer had gone into a remote key resulting in some terrie intonation problems. He was recommending the students get those cheap pocket tuning devices that were coming onto the market at that time. I advised scales in thirds, etc. working towards remote keys, in other words,,,,,,listening. It would be an interesting discussion, since older instruments were mentioned, what effects the adoption of the stroboscope by Conn, and others in the 1930's had on wind instrument manufacture.

What struck me most in that encounter was he way he a d his assistant treated the band. He genuinely thought the musicians respected him when in fact they feared him. A common confusion that sheds light on musicians raised in that atmosphere.
I hope it's not like that now. Does it stem from those NY conductors of the 30's-40's who had childish tempers and were always photographed making ferocious threatening gestures. I do know that much of this was a construct of the media and on one occasion that a musician was insulted, the rehearsal was stopped until a rep from local 402 could get there and insist on a public apology before the rehearsal could proceed.

There is a vast discrepancy regarding what is unnecessary rudeness on this forum. It is not as bad as it was. Most have learned, some don't know what rudeness is. Maybe too many television soaps. "it's not rude when it's true" !!! That's worthy of a 7 year old here.

It is not necessary to decry another opinion in order for your opinion to be heard. That stems from schooldays. Nobody does that any more except third rate politicians.

I will recant if you wish, it's really not that important. I was merely stating the findings of musicians who are daily playing and listening intently to immediate playbacks of their performance. As Ed, another consummate professional and listener quoted, everything changes when there's a piano in the mix. (words to that effect). Ed and I don't always agree and that's healthy, did you notice how politely he voiced his slightly differing opinion? Never to late to learn.