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#2108577 - 06/26/13 05:37 PM The Real Reverse Well  
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Mark Davis Offline
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Please read Deans written comment before listening to his video.

Though the tuning is quite opposite to ET, it sounds quite good!

https://plus.google.com/u/0/100617699727189487414/posts/UPCZP3LG3GB



Mark Davis
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#2108609 - 06/26/13 06:10 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Ok, I know it is not reverse well, but it sure sounds reversed/backwards!?

Last edited by Mark Davis; 06/26/13 06:19 PM. Reason: minor correction

Mark Davis
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#2108751 - 06/26/13 09:51 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Phil D Offline
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To save Bill the trouble of writing out another ridiculously long essay on this subject...

This is a well temperament. The tension reduces going from a key with many flats (Db) through Eb to one with few - F. The thirds are progressive here because he's going up a tone each time. They would jump back and forth if he went chromatically.

The reverse well temperament that Mr Bremmer insists on going on about at every opportunity, is one where the tension increases as the flats are reduced. So the sequence in this video would go from a calm Db to a tense F chord. This reverses the intention of a well temperament, which is to mimic the ideas of different keys having different colours, and to create a graduation from tense to calm between the home keys and the remote keys.

Reverse Well can be a resultant quirk of a badly tuned ET.

Please get this right so we don't have to put up with another 3,000 word essay on the subject.

Last edited by Phil D; 06/26/13 09:51 PM.
#2108799 - 06/26/13 11:52 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Thanks, Phil,

I think Mark more or less proved what I have been saying all along. Technicians today most often don't really know about the purpose and properties of a Well Temperament so how could they recognize Reverse Well if they heard it?

I know who and what is responsible for the scourge of Reverse Well but I will spare everyone another lecture about that. Just don't try to tell me that it does not exist because I know better than that and have known about it for three decades.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
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#2108887 - 06/27/13 05:21 AM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Thanks for explaining Phil. You explained it very well.

I understand. I was just pulling the leg unnecessarily.

I will cut it out.

Thank you


Mark Davis
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#2108901 - 06/27/13 06:13 AM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
Technicians today most often don't really know about the purpose and properties of a Well Temperament so how could they recognize Reverse Well if they heard it?

How can a pianist recognise Reverse Well? As Gadzar demonstrates in this recording?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dok56tStlqQ


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
#2108948 - 06/27/13 08:25 AM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Very interesting.

Thank you for the demo.

If this is, indeed, a true representation of the so-called "Reverse Well," then, yes, I've heard it before.

Many times.

Back in the day we had a different appellation for it.




Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#2108992 - 06/27/13 10:21 AM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Yes, Gadzar's demo is exactly what I have been talking about. He simply took the Vallotti Well Tenperament and reversed it. What happens when aural tuners use a 4ths & 5ths temperament sequence is that they begin with either C or A, tune a series of 4ths & 5ths with too little tempering because the tempered intervals do not sound good to them. Once they reach the black keys and often only when they reach the last 5th between the black keys, they find the last 5th to be irresolvable, so they "back up" through the temperament as has been described here recently.

They 4ths & 5ths among the black keys then become overly tempered but the 4ths & 5ths among the white keys remain pure or nearly so. This is precisely the opposite of the way a Well Temperament is constructed! The rapid beats among the Major thirds seem to elude many aural tuners. Not being able to sort them out, they are left uneven. The clue for me always is that the C Major triad, C4-E4-G4 is always the very worst sounding triad on the whole piano! Yet, the B and C# Major triads on either side of C Major sound as sweet as can be. Similarly, F & G Major sound harsh but F# Major is sweet.

There can be an infinite gradation of the above just as there can be with a true Well Temperament. The Victorian style Well Temperament that I most often use, for example has Major thirds that sound just slightly uneven. To be sure, many examples of Reverse Well that I find are also only slightly uneven but they still reverse all tonality from the way it should be in a Well Temperament.

ET, on the other hand is completely neutral. All Major triads sound like A Major would in a Well Temperament, neither very consonant nor harsh to any degree. All 18th & 19th Century music was composed on keyboards tuned in some kind of Cycle of 5th based temperament. A consonant key signature was chosen when that was the desired sound and a harsher tonality was chosen when more brilliance or energy was desired. Any look at J.S. Bach's Music for the Well Tempered Clavier shows how a composer took advantage of those effects.

Throughout the 20th Century, music composers apparently adhered to the same traditions of key signature choice. That is why Reverse Well, although clearly unintended, makes all music sound out of tune.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
#2109011 - 06/27/13 11:04 AM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
Yes, Gadzar's demo is exactly what I have been talking about. He simply took the Vallotti Well Tenperament and reversed it. What happens when aural tuners use a 4ths & 5ths temperament sequence is that they begin with either C or A, tune a series of 4ths & 5ths with too little tempering because the tempered intervals do not sound good to them. Once they reach the black keys and often only when they reach the last 5th between the black keys, they find the last 5th to be irresolvable, so they "back up" through the temperament as has been described here recently.

They 4ths & 5ths among the black keys then become overly tempered but the 4ths & 5ths among the white keys remain pure or nearly so. This is precisely the opposite of the way a Well Temperament is constructed! The rapid beats among the Major thirds seem to elude many aural tuners. Not being able to sort them out, they are left uneven. The clue for me always is that the C Major triad, C4-E4-G4 is always the very worst sounding triad on the whole piano! Yet, the B and C# Major triads on either side of C Major sound as sweet as can be. Similarly, F & G Major sound harsh but F# Major is sweet.

There can be an infinite gradation of the above just as there can be with a true Well Temperament. The Victorian style Well Temperament that I most often use, for example has Major thirds that sound just slightly uneven. To be sure, many examples of Reverse Well that I find are also only slightly uneven but they still reverse all tonality from the way it should be in a Well Temperament.

ET, on the other hand is completely neutral. All Major triads sound like A Major would in a Well Temperament, neither very consonant nor harsh to any degree. All 18th & 19th Century music was composed on keyboards tuned in some kind of Cycle of 5th based temperament. A consonant key signature was chosen when that was the desired sound and a harsher tonality was chosen when more brilliance or energy was desired. Any look at J.S. Bach's Music for the Well Tempered Clavier shows how a composer took advantage of those effects.

Throughout the 20th Century, music composers apparently adhered to the same traditions of key signature choice. That is why Reverse Well, although clearly unintended, makes all music sound out of tune.


I am glad that you preface at least some of your remarks with "most aural tuners." Otherwise, such would be an unwarranted stereotype. Those of my acquaintance who learn the 4ths/5ths temperament well (with all checks, of course - yes, thirds do exist in our universe), do not create the problems - even the Gordian knot - that you assert. Unless you have inspected the tunings of all such aural tuners everywhere, even "most" may be a stretch.

Last edited by bkw58; 06/27/13 11:07 AM. Reason: clarity

Bob W.
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#2109148 - 06/27/13 03:43 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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I trust that no self-respecting tuner would sell something such as Gadzar recorded, as an ET to a customer.


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#2109239 - 06/27/13 06:57 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Why would you trust that? The difference between that temperament and another one that has the white keys more consonant is just a transposition.


Semipro Tech
#2109467 - 06/28/13 04:46 AM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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My point is that neither "reverse" nor "forward" well should be sold as ET. The issue is not "reverse vs. forward" but "UT vs. ET".

This temperament is so clearly unequal - irrespective of the note it's centered on - that I trust no self-respecting tuner would sell it as ET.

But Bill seems to think somehow that as soon as an UT is centered on the black keys, ET-via-P4-and-P5-tuners can no longer identify it as an UT.

I would think that most any tuner could identify Gadzar's recording as an UT - no matter whether it's reverse or forward.

So, irrespective of whether P4 and P5-based tuning should lead to reverse or forward well, I trust that no self-respecting tuner would sell such an unequal temperament as equal.



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#2109649 - 06/28/13 12:33 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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This is an intentionally extreme example Gadzar set up to illustrate the point. There might be a very tiny percentage of tuners tuning ET so badly that the triads end up as uneven as this, but the vast majority of even the least well-educated tuners will tune a lot closer to ET than this, even if it is still technically a mild reverse-well. I'd say the vast majority of tuners will tune ET well enough so that about the same high number of pianists wouldn't be able to tell the difference between it and ET as wouldn't be able to tell the difference between EBVTIII or another mild victorian well temperament, and ET. If that makes sense. Purely conjecture on my part, of course.

The people who do tune poorly don't know any different. And no amount of harping on about it on here is going to change that. Hopefully it is a problem mainly with older tuners, and so with better education the problem will naturally reduce.

Some people sell poor-quality work. Simple as that.

#2109674 - 06/28/13 12:56 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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I agree with you Phil


Mark Davis
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#2109753 - 06/28/13 03:39 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Phil D]  
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Originally Posted by Phil D
This is an intentionally extreme example Gadzar set up to illustrate the point. There might be a very tiny percentage of tuners tuning ET so badly that the triads end up as uneven as this, but the vast majority of even the least well-educated tuners will tune a lot closer to ET than this, even if it is still technically a mild reverse-well. I'd say the vast majority of tuners will tune ET well enough so that about the same high number of pianists wouldn't be able to tell the difference between it and ET as wouldn't be able to tell the difference between EBVTIII or another mild victorian well temperament, and ET. If that makes sense. Purely conjecture on my part, of course.

The people who do tune poorly don't know any different. And no amount of harping on about it on here is going to change that. Hopefully it is a problem mainly with older tuners, and so with better education the problem will naturally reduce.

Some people sell poor-quality work. Simple as that.


Watch it youse guys. I'm an older tuner. I was taught by older tuners. There's an apostolic succession of really good tuners who came up through the factories. An apprentice who had the knack of setting a scale and a pin was given a job in the tuning dept.and their skills developed under the best tuners. If they had a concert dept, so much the better. These tuners were sent out to the provinces to tune pianos for their agents and their customers. From there, all of Gt. Britain could be covered. It was probably the same in at least the north eastern states and major cities throughout America. Good tuners were bred this way.

Not everywhere has this tradition and rural areas have always an autodidactic tradition which, at it's best was pursued by intelligent people who were already skilled in other trades and understood good work. At worst it must have been hit and miss.

Ts not necessarily a generational thing but with all this information on the 'net there's no excuse.

Gadzars' example is excellently tuned and, as others have said, perhaps a bit extreme. It is good to know, though, that his example is an unequal temperament. The only difference is that it is transposed and in some UT's, the extreme keys really do sound like the worst tonalities in his example.


Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


#2109790 - 06/28/13 04:35 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Phil D]  
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Originally Posted by Phil D
This is an intentionally extreme example Gadzar set up to illustrate the point. There might be a very tiny percentage of tuners tuning ET so badly that the triads end up as uneven as this, but the vast majority of even the least well-educated tuners will tune a lot closer to ET than this, even if it is still technically a mild reverse-well. I'd say the vast majority of tuners will tune ET well enough so that about the same high number of pianists wouldn't be able to tell the difference between it and ET as wouldn't be able to tell the difference between EBVTIII or another mild victorian well temperament, and ET. If that makes sense. Purely conjecture on my part, of course.


This is what I was mainly agreeing with Phil on.



Mark Davis
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#2109797 - 06/28/13 04:46 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: rXd]  
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Originally Posted by rxd
Originally Posted by Phil D
This is an intentionally extreme example Gadzar set up to illustrate the point. There might be a very tiny percentage of tuners tuning ET so badly that the triads end up as uneven as this, but the vast majority of even the least well-educated tuners will tune a lot closer to ET than this, even if it is still technically a mild reverse-well. I'd say the vast majority of tuners will tune ET well enough so that about the same high number of pianists wouldn't be able to tell the difference between it and ET as wouldn't be able to tell the difference between EBVTIII or another mild victorian well temperament, and ET. If that makes sense. Purely conjecture on my part, of course.

The people who do tune poorly don't know any different. And no amount of harping on about it on here is going to change that. Hopefully it is a problem mainly with older tuners, and so with better education the problem will naturally reduce.

Some people sell poor-quality work. Simple as that.


Watch it youse guys. I'm an older tuner. I was taught by older tuners. There's an apostolic succession of really good tuners who came up through the factories. An apprentice who had the knack of setting a scale and a pin was given a job in the tuning dept.and their skills developed under the best tuners. If they had a concert dept, so much the better. These tuners were sent out to the provinces to tune pianos for their agents and their customers. From there, all of Gt. Britain could be covered. It was probably the same in at least the north eastern states and major cities throughout America. Good tuners were bred this way.

Not everywhere has this tradition and rural areas have always an autodidactic tradition which, at it's best was pursued by intelligent people who were already skilled in other trades and understood good work. At worst it must have been hit and miss.

Ts not necessarily a generational thing but with all this information on the 'net there's no excuse.

Had arms example is excellently tuned and, as others have said, perhaps a bit extreme. It is good to know, though, that his example is an unequal temperament. The only difference is that it is transposed and in some UT's, the extreme keys really do sound like the worst tonalities in his example.


Yes Had Arms (Gad zar thru a spell checker on an Iphone wink is an excellent tuner with a very good ear, I liked his démonstration very much.



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#2109849 - 06/28/13 06:20 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
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Very well said, Phil.

RXD, I wonder if you knew that 100 years ago, there were over three hundred piano manufacturers operating in the USA but now there are only three? So, surely, a piano factory is not where piano technicians learn the trade any more and haven't for decades. Japan builds far more pianos than the USA does but that is where the You Tube videos of people claiming to tune ET but producing Reverse Well instead are coming from.

Raphael (Gadzar) from Mexico City is a very well educated man and a superb piano technician. He writes in English better than many native speakers do. His video (like my most recent one) was merely an example to show just what Reverse Well is to the many who have no idea at all what the term means.

The Vallotti temperament is an 18th Century Well Temperament which is quite popular and commonly used at universities for Harpsichord and Fortepiano tuning because the concept is easy to understand and remember: All 5ths between black keys and between a black and white key are pure, all 5ths between white keys are tempered exactly twice the amount that they are in ET.

Raphael chose it as an example more out of convenience than anything else. Reverse Well as a result is obviously never the intent so it would rarely be so precisely defined and organized. It is a result of cumulative error when tuning a chain of 4ths and 5ths with what John Travis (the author of Let's Tune Up) identified as "The tendency for the tuner to err towards the Just fifth".

Not everyone who tunes pianos has had the same source for training and education. Not everyone who has had excellent training and education retains all of it. They may often slip into what seems easy and comfortable for them and simply forget much of what they were initially taught. I have listened to what people in the profession whether they are full time or part time have said about their training and what they know how to do for decades.

Not everyone, perhaps really only a minority of people who tune pianos know what to do with Rapidly Beating Intervals (RBI), nor do they know or understand how to cross check intervals. The recent discussion on the PTG Examiner list confirms that. Examiners were having trouble finding anyone at all who knew anything about aural tuning checks. My own opinion has been that all of these people are capable, even novices are capable but it is simply a process that they never routinely do.

The knowledge of the existence of Well Temperaments and other non-equal temperaments has been largely suppressed for at least 100 years. People tend to simplify and truncate complicated tuning instructions that may be found in books. Some tuning courses which people pay for and "learn" from don't even supply that information. I know of one very popular course that many people take and pay for that does not address RBI at all!

Therefore, there are lots of people who tune pianos who can only really discern the Slowly Beating Intervals (SBI) and limit themselves to them and simply ignore what goes on with the RBI. If all the 4ths & 5ths sound kinda, sorta, pretty even, then that is ET as far as they are concerned.

It may well be that many temperaments produced are so slight in errors that the effects are negligible but I have been examining what I find on pianos for a very long time, so I can say truthfully that what Rafael demonstrated actually lies in the middle of the extremes which I have encountered. That does not mean it is the "average" or the "usual" example of Reverse Well that may be found, only the mid point of what some people do.

I know of two people locally, for example who consistently produce what I would call a "Reverse Meantone"! Yes, black key thirds as pure as the wind driven snow and white key thirds wide enough to drive a truck through and a giant, gaping wide howling "wolf" between A and E! They are not full time professional tuners, mind you but people do trust them and hire them to tune their pianos.

I have heard Reverse Well everywhere in the four corners of North America from Montreal to Mexico City, from New York City (including Steinway Hall and on each occasion I have been there) to Los Angeles and everywhere in between that I have been. So, it is not limited to my local area. It is being done in Asia. I have no doubt that it is done in Europe and the UK too.

So, don't try to tell me that it must be limited to a few clods in the Midwest USA who never got the proper training as you did. I know why and how it occurs. The very foundation for it is not what people know but what they don't know and never even heard of.

The ETD is both a blessing and the bane of the tuning profession. It does help largely suppress the tendency towards Reverse Well but as one poster recently mentioned, inaccuracy of tuning or programming can let it come through nevertheless. Probably not to a disturbing degree, no but still there.

The more that piano technicians become entirely ETD dependent, the more that sloppiness will be accepted and the less truly fine piano tuning will result. It is easy to imagine the day when nobody knows anything about aural tuning at all. Whatever the ETD says must be right.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
#2109919 - 06/28/13 09:38 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT


......So, don't try to tell me that it must be limited to a few clods in the Midwest USA who never got the proper training as you did. I know why and how it occurs. The very foundation for it is not what people know but what they don't know and never even heard of.


Sorry to say, he's mostly right Bill. Any decent place of learning for ET aural temperaments address the issue of RW right off the bat. The students will no doubt venture there and its as simple as teaching someone the golden rule of driving..."keep your hands on the wheel, or you will end up in the ditch".

Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
The ETD is both a blessing and the bane of the tuning profession. It does help largely suppress the tendency towards Reverse Well but as one poster recently mentioned, inaccuracy of tuning or programming can let it come through nevertheless. Probably not to a disturbing degree, no but still there.


Inaccuracy of tuning??? One would have to be blind to not be able to to stop a spinner.

Inaccuracy of programming??? Not sure if your talking about the software/algorythm designers or the tuner taking liberties with the ETD. Either way, this is laughable. Neither would have any reason to alter things to produce RW.
ETD's do not produce RW unless the tuner alters the defaults. They may not produce a fine quality ET a small % of the time, but one would have to be pounding back quite a few brandies to think that the software has a tendancy to accumulate errors to end up with RW. This is not reality.

Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
The more that piano technicians become entirely ETD dependent, the more that sloppiness will be accepted and the less truly fine piano tuning will result.....


With this I agree, but with reservations. I remember the reasons given 30 years ago why ETD's suck compared to aural tuning. About 90% of those reasons are gone now with the top quality ETD's. I see no reason why this progression and advancement with technology and understanding will cease. Look at the progression of aural tuning in the last 20 years comparatively....it has not advanced near as much, and there is little new that anyone has to offer or has learned.

Although there is room for aural tuning perfection for everyone on an individual level, I doubt the best tuners today are producing anything much better than the best tuners of 2 decades ago.

Last edited by Emmery; 06/28/13 09:50 PM.

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#2109974 - 06/28/13 11:32 PM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]  
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Originally Posted by rxd
[...] Watch it youse guys. I'm an older tuner. I was taught by older tuners. There's an apostolic succession of really good tuners who came up through the factories. [...]


Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
[...] RXD, I wonder if you knew that 100 years ago, there were over three hundred piano manufacturers operating in the USA but now there are only three? So, surely, a piano factory is not where piano technicians learn the trade any more and haven't for decades. [...]


Pianists have fun tracing their "teacher lineage," like this from a thread in Pianist Corner some time ago:

Originally Posted by DameMyra
I've only had two teachers. My first was when I was in high school some 40 years ago. Hers was a very interesting lineage:

(Me)
Margaret Littell
Denise Lasimmone & Myra Hess
Tobias Matthay
William Sterndale Bennett
Cipriani Potter
Thomas Attwood
Mozart


Or this:

Originally Posted by Palindrome
JSBach
--> Homilius
--> Hiller
--> Neefe
--> Beethoven
--> Czerny
--> Liszt
--> Bernhard Stavenhagen
--> Berthe Poncy Jacobson
--> Frederic Rothchild
--> myself.

[...]


I think this is what rxd was getting at, Bill--that his lineage goes back to someone at the factory (Broadwood? Sames?). wink It's a fun one to consider where tuning is concerned! grin I mean, wouldn't it be fun (in an erudite way) to trace our "teacher lineage" back to Bach, Marpurg, Valotti, etc., etc.?

BTW, speaking of factories, I recently played a gig at the old Schiller piano factory in Oregon, IL, (now a mall, and the gig was for an art gallery opening), and I met an older fellow in attendance who worked at the factory when it was in operation, and whose job it was to drive the tuning pins into the pin block. If memory serves, he worked there for a number of years in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, at which time it would have been the Conover or Cable Co., and he said they shipped a number of "frames" to someplace in Indiana every week. So many stories, so little time... smile

--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
#2110130 - 06/29/13 10:25 AM Re: The Real Reverse Well [Re: Mark Davis]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,042
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,042
Conway, AR USA


Did Albert Sanderson say:

"If you're tuning with this thing, there will be some times you will disagree with the instrument. Go with your ears."

Or is this an urban legend?


Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

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