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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162292
10/05/13 08:25 PM
10/05/13 08:25 PM
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I stated what my feelings were at the beginning of the topic.

I would be interested in hearing:

1. If there should not be a standard, why bothering tuning at all?
2. If there should be other standards, what should they be, and why?


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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162313
10/05/13 09:27 PM
10/05/13 09:27 PM
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Bkw, make sure your fork is properly calibrated. Do that and if you tune Equal Temperment, you are GOLDEN


Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: BDB] #2162326
10/05/13 10:01 PM
10/05/13 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
I stated what my feelings were at the beginning of the topic.

I would be interested in hearing:

1. If there should not be a standard, why bothering tuning at all?
2. If there should be other standards, what should they be, and why?

Intonation is a totally different concept than temperament. Commonality is different than a standard.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162333
10/05/13 10:11 PM
10/05/13 10:11 PM
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Which means what, with respect to the original topic?


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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: BDB] #2162345
10/05/13 10:28 PM
10/05/13 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
If there should not be a standard, why bothering tuning at all?

Surely you don't suggest throwing intonation out the window.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162362
10/05/13 11:28 PM
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I said there were standards. Other people are still arguing about it. I do not understand why. I would like to.

You seem to understand what I am saying better than I understand what you are saying. It behooves you to explain yourself.


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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162466
10/06/13 09:11 AM
10/06/13 09:11 AM
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I think maybe it is the idea that if there is a standard, then everyone must conform that has cause some of the ruckus...

Is there a standard piano? Then every other piano is somehow less valued, or less useful.

Is there a standard dynamic range? No other piano should be produced that doesn't fit the standard...

Is there a standard voicing for a piano? Then if you don't make an effort to make every piano sound the same, you aren't a real tech...

Is there a standard touch for the piano? Again, anything outside of the "standard" isn't a piano...

Is there a standard size for a piano?
Is there a standard finish for a piano?

Aren't having more choices/flexibility a good thing for the consumer/musician/performer?

This discussion has pointed out how our industry has dictated to the consumer what is "good" for over a generation - taking the choice, and even the knowledge that there is a choice away from the people who are most effected by our work...

Ron Koval

Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: BDB] #2162489
10/06/13 10:04 AM
10/06/13 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
I said there were standards. Other people are still arguing about it. I do not understand why. I would like to.

You seem to understand what I am saying better than I understand what you are saying. It behooves you to explain yourself.


BDB,

I'm not trying to be difficult. I'm confused by your statement as I indicated in bold typeface. At the beginning of this thread you stated your premise:

"I have stated before that there are two standards: Just intonation and equal temperament. These exist by their very nature. Other temperaments are defined by them. The number of beats is the variation from just intonation. The number of cents is the variation from equal temperament."

I'm not so sure that Equal Temperament exists by "its very nature," however. It is an imposed tuning system based on mathematics and theory derivative of our twelve tone system. The introduction of thirds followed the established system of Plain Song or Chant, which is based on octaves, fourths, and fifths. Of course, that terminology didn't evolve until after the implementation of the twelve tone scale and only applies to western music. The study of the evolution of Polyphony is a very complex subject and came well before temperament came into the picture. The milestone, of course, is the Well Temperament. Even that term is now used differently that is was in the Baroque era.

I was surprised when you suggested tossing out intonation, or tuning, at all. This thread seems to suggest that ET should be the "Standard." Even that term is problematic. ET is probably the most prevalent, but should the term be codified as a "standard?" That brings us back to the very premise of this thread.

For tuners of fixed pitch instruments, I doubt there will ever be a consensus of opinion. This is due to the fact that other instrumentalists and vocalists are not dedicated to ET as a "standard." Since a non fixed pitch instrumentalist or a vocalist does not naturally "hear" in ET, and temperament is totally different perception than intonation, this difference will continue.

A tuner is taught to listen for a totally different structure than is a vocalist or instrumentalist (non-fixed pitch).

Behoovingly,


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2162519
10/06/13 11:33 AM
10/06/13 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty

A tuner is taught to listen for a totally different structure than is a vocalist or instrumentalist (non-fixed pitch).

Behoovingly,


As a vocalist - who has been lauded for his intonation (just sayin') - and primarily aural tuner, I don't know if i can sign on to this notion.

Maybe I'm just oblivious to what I do... wink


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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162573
10/06/13 01:12 PM
10/06/13 01:12 PM
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Rochester MN
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Hi Jim,

When you are singing are you thinking about partials, cents, inharmonicity, and stretch? Or, does your ear sense overtones to create a pleasing blend within accurate intonation?

Can you state that whenever you are singing, you are singing in ET? Does your intonation match the 'common whole' or do you only hear in ET?

I am using ET as absolute in its definition. Even in this, many of the tuners admitted that they vary from ET, but still define it as ET. Terminology becomes a major issue between tuners and performers. Did your formal training in voice precede your training as a tuner? Was the term 'overtone' or 'harmonic' more familiar than 'partial?'

Take, for instance, the term voicing. To a pianist, that is the relative volume control within a chord, and the phrasing from chord to chord. What a tuner/tech referrers to as voicing, a pianist would call tone regulation or adjustment. Context of any given term is very important and often there is error in the 'translation.'

I'm not trying to be a grump, I'm only attempting to offer another viewpoint. I've used a lot of 'either-or questions,' but in reality, it is even more complex and not cut and dried at all.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162627
10/06/13 03:01 PM
10/06/13 03:01 PM
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Equal temperament can be derived from the existence of octaves and fifths or other intervals, without reference to anything other than a single note, just as with just intonation. In that sense, I claim that it exists by its very nature.

It differs from just intonation in that just intonation depends on that single note being more important tonally than any other. That single note is arbitrary for just intonation. Any single note is arbitrary for equal temperament.

That is the sense in which I believe these two temperaments to exist by their very nature, and why they are standards. That, and because, as I said, everything else is defined by them.

Are there any other temperaments which could qualify as a standard by similar criteria? I think not.

Whether or not you can tune something exactly to equal temperament is not germane to the discussion. The objections brought up apply equally to just intonation and any other temperament that one can imagine.


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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162630
10/06/13 03:09 PM
10/06/13 03:09 PM
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Dear Grump ( laugh ),

You may use "absolute ET," but I think just about everyone here has conceded that is the goal, not the reality. But while some of us are talking about variations of several cents, others of us - me, for instance, are talking about more subtle variations, i.e., adjusting ET to the idiosyncrasies of a particular instrument (i.e., less than that).

I know that our rehearsal pianos are tuned in ET, and that I am almost an outlier from the group in my ability to match what I hear to the sound I make. I also know that I can hear in the ensemble where the intervals lie with regard to temperament. Given that, when we sing (I'm referring to the opera here), we must be singing in ET, because we match our pitch reference. I would hear the difference.

One disclaimer: Some here already know that I have drug-induced tinnitus; my ears have been ringing since 1992, when I was given gentamicin for a life-threatening infection (I had MRSA before it was cool). After that, I thought I would never tune again, until Ron Koval showed me a different method (listening for the "sweet spot" in the fundamental, as opposed to the highest audible coinciding partial). It has worked wonders, and has made me a better tuner than I was using the conventional method (I now have a string of customers six years long who can attest to that). I also thought at the time that it might have killed my career as a singer, but it didn't. Some people think I've overcompensated, because my pitch is so exacting any more when I sing. I've also been used as a wall between a bad singer and the rest of the section, because I can apparently hear selectively well enough to sing through the bad pitch reference at my side.

One area where the tinnitus is not a factor is in tuning intervals, since that involves the lowest coinciding partial.

My training as a tuner preceded my formal vocal training, FWIW. I apprenticed a rebuilder when I was 16-17. I referred to them as partials long before i heard the term harmonic or overtone.


Last edited by OperaTenor; 10/06/13 03:14 PM.

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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162658
10/06/13 04:10 PM
10/06/13 04:10 PM
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Jim, you are indeed the exception.

Do you find a shift in temperament, in the entire ensemble, when you shift from the rehearsal piano to the rehearsals with orchestra?


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162698
10/06/13 05:03 PM
10/06/13 05:03 PM
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Nice thread, thank you All. a.c.
.


alfredo
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162723
10/06/13 06:11 PM
10/06/13 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by OperaTenor
Should there still be a universally-accepted standard of tuning; something that is a failsafe upon which all musicians can ultimately rely?

Did this question relate to a standard for tuning pianos, or to all musical instruments and ensembles including choirs?

Was the standard meant to be a theoretical or a practical one?


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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2162752
10/06/13 08:18 PM
10/06/13 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Jim, you are indeed the exception.

Do you find a shift in temperament, in the entire ensemble, when you shift from the rehearsal piano to the rehearsals with orchestra?


Yes, but it's a blend with the orchestra, not necessarily just intonation. Keep in mind, this is the Sandy Eggo Symphony we're talking about... wink


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Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Withindale] #2162753
10/06/13 08:19 PM
10/06/13 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Withindale
Originally Posted by OperaTenor
Should there still be a universally-accepted standard of tuning; something that is a failsafe upon which all musicians can ultimately rely?

Did this question relate to a standard for tuning pianos, or to all musical instruments and ensembles including choirs?

Was the standard meant to be a theoretical or a practical one?


It was meant to pertain to piano tuning, as a general rule.


Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: BDB] #2162760
10/06/13 08:51 PM
10/06/13 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Equal temperament can be derived from the existence of octaves and fifths or other intervals, without reference to anything other than a single note, just as with just intonation. In that sense, I claim that it exists by its very nature.

It differs from just intonation in that just intonation depends on that single note being more important tonally than any other. That single note is arbitrary for just intonation. Any single note is arbitrary for equal temperament.

That is the sense in which I believe these two temperaments to exist by their very nature, and why they are standards. That, and because, as I said, everything else is defined by them.

Are there any other temperaments which could qualify as a standard by similar criteria? I think not.

Whether or not you can tune something exactly to equal temperament is not germane to the discussion. The objections brought up apply equally to just intonation and any other temperament that one can imagine.


BDB, I believe you have nailed it. Nicely done, and nicely expressed! (I truly mean that!) thumb Everything else is in between.

I guess the thing is, due to all of the other parameters (which are, practically, infinite! grin ), how much in between one or the other does one have to be to make it sound good? wink


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but at least I'm slow.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Cinnamonbear] #2162764
10/06/13 09:03 PM
10/06/13 09:03 PM
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Just intonation is not a temperament, it is an intonation method that can not be implemented on a standard keyboard instrument.

Kees

Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162772
10/06/13 09:15 PM
10/06/13 09:15 PM
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Kees, I agree.

And ET is not "natural," as it is a mathematical imposition on the western historic twelve note scale. Had history been different, we might very well have a 9 note scale within an octave. We are "naturally" very short on "pure" or "just" intervals. I know of only two.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2162774
10/06/13 09:29 PM
10/06/13 09:29 PM
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Kees and Marty--

Do you mean that there is nothing to be in between?


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but at least I'm slow.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162777
10/06/13 09:40 PM
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True, just intonation is not a temperament, but it is a both method of and a standard for tuning the notes within an octave. I have used the term for lack of anything better.

It certainly can be implemented on a standard keyboard, at least to the extent of available notes.

The fact that twelve fifths are very close to seven octaves, and is the only close-ratio interval which when repeated comes close to any small number of octaves is a mathematical and physical fact.

Frankly, these are tiny quibbles which only serve to impede discussion. As I have asked, if you have other standards, explain what they are and why they should be standards.


Semipro Tech
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2162797
10/06/13 10:32 PM
10/06/13 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Kees, I agree.

And ET is not "natural," as it is a mathematical imposition on the western historic twelve note scale. Had history been different, we might very well have a 9 note scale within an octave. We are "naturally" very short on "pure" or "just" intervals. I know of only two.


Well, the earliest keyboards had just 8 notes per octave; our current "white keys" and the Bb. This is still reflected in the German note names CDEFGABH for what we call CDEFGABbB.

Tuning standard at time was Pythagorean (11 pure 5ths) leading to a larger than ET M3 which sounds good melodically but not harmonically, but the M3 was a dissonant then so it didn't matter.

From renaissance to early baroque the standard was 1/4' meantone and esp. in Italy keyboards with split raised keys (eg one for Ab and one for G#) were quite common. Such a keyboard can be found now at the Stanford organ which has one manual with split keys. It has extra pipes and a big lever which allows you to switch from 1/5' meantone to a 1/5' well temperament on the other manuals. (1/4' would have been better was Gustav Leonhardt's comment when he played the instrument.)

Anyways 1/4' MT was the "standard" though some people were lame enough not to abide by it, for example Monteverdi.

Mid-late baroque music no longer fits on 1/4' MT and requires a well temperament, but if there was a standard or what it was is unknown. In contemporary early music circles Werckmeister 3 is almost a standard, but some performers choose their own temperament from the huge amount of historical ones that have been published, or cook up their own for the music at hand.

What happened after that I don't know, but clearly the standard for the last century has been ET, which does not mean there is no room for non-standard tunings.

Apart from standards, ET has been invented a very long time ago (3000 years ago in China it I remember correctly) and has been suggested by baroque writers like Werkmeister, Rameau, Neidhardt and undoubtedly others I don't know about. If it was used is unknown, but if not it was certainly not because they were to dumb to tune it.

At the risk of rambling on in the same manner that irritates me when others do it here, let me share that I regularly play through Bach's 48 on my piano which is tuned in a 1/6' well temperament that I like, but I avoid the remote keys such as D# minor by transposing it down to D minor (easy to do: just pretend there are no sharps but a b in the key signature). If I do play it in D# it sounds noticeably worse to me with all those wide M3's.

I don't know what Bach's point was writing in D# minor but to me it sounds better in a WT in D minor so that's how I play it. I don't have my piano in ET because to it sounds better in a WT in D minor than in ET in D# minor.

If I was somehow forced to play the 48 all in the original keys on the piano I'd choose ET. On the harpsichord on the other hand I'd take 10 min breaks between pieces and change the temperament.

And of course, on the clavichord one can play in just intonation by adjusting your key pressure. I don't have the skills to do it, but it is possible.

Kees

Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2162811
10/06/13 11:58 PM
10/06/13 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Kees, I agree.

And ET is not "natural," as it is a mathematical imposition on the western historic twelve note scale. Had history been different, we might very well have a 9 note scale within an octave. We are "naturally" very short on "pure" or "just" intervals. I know of only two.


Since I always refer to ET as either a series of compromises, or a stack of lies, I agree, ET is hardly "natural."



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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162830
10/07/13 01:50 AM
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Whether equal temperament is "natural" or not differs from whether it exists from its very nature.

Whether you can play a clavichord in just intonation by adjusting key pressure depends on the initial tuning and the amount that one can bend the tone. Additional pressure will only raise the pitch, so you cannot take a wide interval and change the upper note to suit.

Then there is the question of how well you can match pitches. I suspect that most people would not be able to get closer to a perfect fifth in a musical passage than an equal temperament fifth on a decently tuned piano is.


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Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162884
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Sure, ET is a compilation of lies, a compromise, a force fit, etc, as are all temperaments. Some temperaments are a series of little white lies that, sooner or later, need to be covered up by a few real whoppers that anybody can see through.

I agree with Kees entirely , I also firmly believe that early musicians would retune their more conveniently tuneable keyboard instruments between pieces when necessary.

We are taught in basic music history that harpsichords were so unstable that they had to be tuned between pieces. The stability thing is as it may be but I also believe that one or two notes in each octave, register and on each keyboard would be retuned in order to form a temperament more suitable for the next piece. Doing this most likely also had an influence on the program order.

When I had a harpsichord at home, I made up my own temperaments for everything I wanted to play, I don't think I ever slavishly copied a prescribed temperament except for study and I sense that the musicians of old didn't either. Many temperaments only differ, in essence, by one or two notes and can be changed in a minute or two (less on a simpler instrument) without entire retuning.


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.


Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: BDB] #2162895
10/07/13 06:53 AM
10/07/13 06:53 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,810
Tennessee
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Ed Foote Offline
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Ed Foote  Offline
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E

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,810
Tennessee
Originally Posted by BDB

Then there is the question of how well you can match pitches. I suspect that most people would not be able to get closer to a perfect fifth in a musical passage than an equal temperament fifth on a decently tuned piano is.


Greetings,
I suspect that most people wouldn't get anywhere near as close other than by sheer luck. That ET fifth is effectively pure to the majority of ears. Techs do a pretty good job at guessing, but musicians? String players? I have never found anyone that could tell me even if it was wide or narrow. I have played a C on the piano and asked players to give me an F below. Interesting results, and NOBODY is consistently as close as an ET fifth. Their first stab is usually the closest, and then they get progressively worse as they attempt to intellectually locate the pitches.

Occasionally, a player will lock in and give me a pure fifth, but when you ask them to flatten it by a cent, you see the pitch drop 10 or 15 cents, then begin to come back up, then stop,then wander around, and within about 45 seconds, their objectivity begins to disappear and they begin getting frustrated.

Regards,

Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2162949
10/07/13 09:32 AM
10/07/13 09:32 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014
Minnesota Marty  Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Ed and Kees,

I agree with your comments and both illustrate some very important concepts. Thank you.

Ed, your example really points out how differently an artist level performer "hears" intonation than does a skilled tuner. It's almost as if the skill is developed from diametrically opposed directions to arrive at a given result. The result, however, fits into the puzzle of intonation for a very different purpose.

The trained musician thinks of intonation as harmonic, and within the ever-changing landscape of composition and performance. From this thread, and many others in this forum, I deduce that a highly skilled tuner thinks of intonation as intervallic, based on the limitation of a fixed pitch instrument. In other words, what we listen for is different.

There is neither right nor wrong. This thread, has gone past the usual temperament spats, into the philosophy of intonation, rather than the nuts and bolts of tuning. We are well past a clean unison. That is a given for all involved. The door swings wide as soon as the interval of a fifth is introduced. Is it "pure" or is it "tempered?"

That's when discussion is interesting. When dissonance is resolved to consonance, understanding is achieved. Dominant 7th to Tonic. Both are essential to arrive at 'Ahh."


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2163128
10/07/13 05:38 PM
10/07/13 05:38 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,404
Sicily - Italy
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alfredo capurso Offline
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alfredo capurso  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,404
Sicily - Italy
Originally Posted by OperaTenor
After all of the incessant arguing over ET vs. UT's, maybe this is a fundamental question we should first ask ourselves.

Should there still be a universally-accepted standard of tuning; something that is a failsafe upon which all musicians can ultimately rely? I'm not talking about what happens in the privacy of one's own home, but what goes on for large groups and itinerant performers.

And please please please, can we keep name-calling and insults off this thread?


Hi,

Now that I have quoted the OP, I would like to add my 2 cents.

..."Should there still be a universally-accepted standard of tuning;..."...

Nope, I do not think it is a "...Should...", but a "can", : Can we accept a universal standard of tuning? And for me the answer is yes, if it sounds harmonious to tuners and pianists?

..."..;something that is a failsafe upon which all musicians can ultimately rely?"...

Well, if the standard was "failsafe" to the point that "all musicians can ultimately rely" on it, why not?

..."..I'm not talking about what happens in the privacy of one's own home, but what goes on for large groups and itinerant performers."...

Neither am I talking about "private home", but tuners and pro-international musicians.

What I do not understand, Opera Tenor, is your original intention and perhaps, in turn, you can answer my question: would you be willing to accept a universal standard of tuning? What would you require?

Regards, a.c.
.




alfredo
Re: Should There Be A Standard? [Re: OperaTenor] #2163137
10/07/13 06:06 PM
10/07/13 06:06 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,557
Sandy Eggo, California
O
OperaTenor Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
OperaTenor  Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
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Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,557
Sandy Eggo, California
Alfredo, my original intent was to address something the techs here have been arguing about for years, but never facing, seemingly. Every few months , an ET vs. UT thread would get started, everyone would argue and hurl insults at the other side, someone leaves in a huff, and nothing is ever ultimately agreed upon. But it seemed to me that the one question which was never asked in all of it was, "If you don't accept ET as an industry standard, which UT would be its replacement?" I.e., if a tech is going to tune in UT(s), which one does he/she use when in doubt? What's the fallback, since a given UT doesn't satisfy *every* musical situation equitably? Sure, ET isn't as rich-sounding as most UT's, but at least it's equally so... wink





Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
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