Different tunings

Posted by: pno

Different tunings - 02/02/09 12:41 AM

Hi.

I came across a book in which the author mentioned her tuner could tune different types of tunings on her piano based on what music she like to play, e.g, Schumann tune, etc...

Is there such a thing you could tune based on the the music type, or even composer? Or was she just making things up?

I know there is the standard A440 and the European A443 tunings. I don't know anything else.

If I tell my tuner to tune a Rachmaninov tuning, would he look at me and think I am crazy?
Posted by: Supply

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 12:56 AM

If you have a lot of time, check out the postings on the Piano Forum under Grand Obsession
Posted by: pno

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 01:00 AM

Supply, that is the book I am referring to. I wonder how much info in it is real and how much is fictitious.
Posted by: guest1013

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 01:04 AM

pno, you could do a search for temperament also in the technicians' forum. Others have also had similar questions, here is an example. There is some off topic stuff, but at the end a technician says he has the information about how to tune it as described in the book. I Got Pique\'s tuning
Posted by: Keith Roberts

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 04:59 AM

If you check the CAUT forum on the PTG site, there has been a HUGE discussion about this subject for the last month. Tuning for Shubert.

There is discussion on Montal's work and how equal temperment is just as valid of a tuning to use from that era. Good points were made on both sides as to the composing specifically for certain keys indicate WT instead of ET. Both were being used at the time.

It's really a matter of speculation and what YOU like. My mentors wife hates WT. Others love it.
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 06:02 AM

"If I tell my tuner to tune a Rachmaninov tuning, would he look at me and think I am crazy?" pno

-------

He might, or he just might give the piano a good solid tuning taking into account the needs of the particular instrument, the interval since it was last tuned, the time of year of the tuning, any unique quirks of the piano, and call it a Rachmaninov tuning. ;\)
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 08:39 AM

AGreetings,
there is more than one way to tune a piano. The completely equal tempering that is the norm today was not always in use, and the composers affected by the other tunings are not agreed upon.

I personally have very few customers that prefer a strictly equal tuning. They have found more resonance and musical quality in their pianos when it is tuned in a more 19th or 18th century style. It doesn't damage the piano, it doesn't prevent them from playing modern music, and the pianos seem to stay in tune longer, (for which I have absolutely no explanation).
Google historical tunings, well temperament for piano and you will get more info than you can imagine.
The difference is mostly felt in the quality of the thirds, which vary in size according to their placement on the the circle of fifths.
regards,
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 08:59 AM

Two subjects here:

1. Equal temperament / other temperament tunings
(how the octaves are segmented into smaller intervals)

2. Stretch of the tuning.
(How the notes of the same name relate to one another - determining the "resonance", "vibrancy", "calmness" of the overall style of the tuning.

"Grand Obsession" deals with the second issue - how the piano relates to itself from middle to both ends through tuning. There is also a lot of voicing discussed.

Yes, it is all real - Important or not? That's up to the ears and education of the one playing/listening!

Ron Koval
Posted by: Jon Farah

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 11:19 AM

I'm interested to learn if any other techs here have had the same experience as Ed - do pianos they've tuned to "18/19 century style" seem to hold their tune longer in their experiences as well? If so, any ideas why?

IDK, being a newbie and all, that just gets me pondering...
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 11:35 AM

Jon:

I prefer a very equal temperament. The slightest departure from ET can be heard in the fifths and twelfths, because they are so close to being pure. And the slightest departure from a chosen octave style or stretch can also be heard in the fifths and twelfths. So also the slightest change in part of the piano’s pitch relative to the other parts can be heard as a change in ET. But if the piano is not tuned to ET to begin with, it may be like a piano with wet unisons. If the unisons have a quaver it would not be so noticeable if some of the unisons go out of tune. And if the fifths, twelfths and perhaps the octaves too, are not strictly ET, when one part of the piano changes pitch in relation to another, it may not be as noticeable.

Even though I prefer ET, on challenging pianos I often depart from it to make compromises across the break.
Posted by: Jon Farah

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 11:45 AM

Thanks for your perspective Jeff, that helps a lot.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 01:06 PM

Jon:

You are welcome. It is just my perspective, though.
Posted by: pno

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 01:38 PM

Very interesting! I thought there was only one way to tune a piano. I was under the impression that ever since Bach formulated his Well Tempered instrument, the same tuning had been the standard one in use. Apparently it's not the case.

I am reading some of the material/threads. There are a lot of terms that are unfamiliar to me. For example, what is "pure" and "wet unison as mentioned by Jeff?

Is it reasonable to assume that any experienced tuner should be able to tune a different tuning than a standard one? I just don't want to embarrass my tuner.

Is there any online sample that I can actually hear what different tunings are like?
Posted by: Jon Farah

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 01:51 PM

pno,

A quick google search of temperaments and recordings in various temperaments led me to this:

http://www.kylegann.com/histune.html

And this site might also be useful to you...

http://www.rollingball.com/A01d.htm
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 02:59 PM

http://larips.com/

This is a good read as well. I think he has some sound/musical examples on there as well.

There is quite a range of understanding/ability among techs... You could bring up the topic and see where the discussion goes.


Ron Koval
Posted by: pno

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 04:55 PM

Thanks all for your links!

My tuner did not use an electronic device, just a tuning fork. I read from the link that to be able to tune to true equal temperament, you need to measure the frequencies. There was no device to measure frequency in the old time. Does it mean that my tuner can only tune the old fashioned "well temperament" in Bach's time, not the true equal temperament in modern time?
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 05:32 PM

Greetings.
Jeff writes:
" The slightest departure from ET can be heard in the fifths and twelfths, because they are so close to being pure."

It depends if you are playing music, or testing the temperament by playing these intervals in isolation. It is also worth noting that in a Well Temperament,approx. half of the fifths are Just, which is far more in tune that ET. The others are tempered more, but the effect is virtually invisible in musical play.


" But if the piano is not tuned to ET to begin with, it may be like a piano with wet unisons."

I assume by "wet" you mean out of tune. This has not been my experience. Well Tempered pianos strike 99% of my customers as sounding more in tune than ET. And, unless the pianist plays the same amount of music in all twelve keys, WT will actually produce less dissonance than ET, which has every third wide by a whopping 13.7 cents. This is way out of "tune", but if everything is tuned that way, the ear stops hearing it. Not a very good way to fully appreciate the nuances of modulation.
Regards,
Posted by: Jon Farah

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 06:01 PM

Many thanks to all for sharing your tuning experiences...this has been a valuable forum. Now back to regulation practice.
Posted by: The Boy Next Door

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 07:14 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ed Foote:
AGreetings,

I personally have very few customers that prefer a strictly equal tuning. They have found more resonance and musical quality in their pianos when it is tuned in a more 19th or 18th century style. It doesn't damage the piano, it doesn't prevent them from playing modern music, and the pianos seem to stay in tune longer, (for which I have absolutely no explanation).

[/b]
I have an explanation, the sympathetic vibrations are produced more in equal tuning, so those vibrations over time accumulate and therefore total duration in which the strings have vibrated is longer in equal tuning and therefore...

I think this explanation holds.

For stuff about this topic there is a great book called "Müzik Fiziği" (Music Physics) unfortunately there are no translations i am aware of of this book which is in Turkish. Hope this will help some turkish speaking folks...
Posted by: The Boy Next Door

Re: Different tunings - 02/02/09 07:15 PM

edit: double post, sorry