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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
ClsscLib #2268183 04/28/14 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ClssLib
That's instance 2, Rick (see above). It's an interesting subject, but a different one from that about which I've inquired (instance 1).


Well, I've never been good at debate, but I was referring to instance 1. Apparently, instance 1 and instance 2 are so intricately related it is hard to separate the two.

Put simply, experience the wolf-tone = no temperament. Hide/disguise/mask the wolf-tone = temperament. In other words, you temper the tuning because of the natural wolf-tone phenomenon.

As far as inharmonisity (rogue overtones) being called a wolf-tone, you can call it what you will, but it is not the same thing, though it may howl like a wolf. smile

Rick




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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
ClsscLib #2268185 04/28/14 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
It's an interesting subject, but a different one from that about which I've inquired (instance 1).


Greetings,
Makers take great pains to make a flat response instrument these days. The scales are micro-processed for perfection, (to control for inharmonicity), the boards are made from spruce, which has a broader resonant period that harder woods. I am told old piano builder that a maple board would have suffered in the bass but really shouted over about an octave section in the middle). Hammers are prized for consistency, and the tuning is usually as democratic as possible.

The forte piano was another story, in that its registers were expected to have their own character, and I suppose, different makes had the balances between registers that were unique to their brand. I don't know, the old pianos will not easily tell us what they used to be.

Wolf tones in a piano have presented themselves to me in several ways. Most common were problems originating in the back scale that would sympathetically join in a near harmony with the speaking length, creating pandemonium in the partials, outrage in the overtones,etc. Other encounters have found a loose rib that didn't' rattle, but, rather, joined in with its own pitch, causing a note to sound discordant. It is not uncommon for a deep bass damper to allow some obscure partial in the heavily wound string to wake up and sympathize with whatever distant relative up the scale is calling its name. Sly sounds, those.

( I have heard faulty guitar tops, and violins that really " wanked"( that is a technical term among Nashville luthiers) on certain notes, mandolins will sometimes have all wolf notes, and are highly prized for their ability to "woof" alongside fire breathing guitarists and maniacal dobro players. )

Regards,

Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
Ed Foote #2268220 04/28/14 01:36 PM
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Very helpful comments, Ed. Thanks.


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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
maurus #2268262 04/28/14 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by maurus
I'd say the closest to the phenomenon of wolf tones in pianos (in the proper sense, i.e. #1 in JohnSprung's post) are resonances with the vibration modes of the room in which a piano is placed. Depending on the room, especially in smaller rooms, these resonances may be much more pronounced and disturbing than unwanted resonances in the piano body itself. The latter are of course carefully avoided/damped by proper piano design.


Sometimes it's objects in the room, like a faux Tiffany lamp shade that rattles at specific frequencies.



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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
JohnSprung #2268268 04/28/14 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by maurus
I'd say the closest to the phenomenon of wolf tones in pianos (in the proper sense, i.e. #1 in JohnSprung's post) are resonances with the vibration modes of the room in which a piano is placed. Depending on the room, especially in smaller rooms, these resonances may be much more pronounced and disturbing than unwanted resonances in the piano body itself. The latter are of course carefully avoided/damped by proper piano design.


Sometimes it's objects in the room, like a faux Tiffany lamp shade that rattles at specific frequencies.



Very true. Cello and bass players are quite accustomed to this phenomenon.


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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
Rickster #2268328 04/28/14 07:07 PM
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Part of the problem is that Rick is describing a Wolf Interval and the original question is about wolf TONES that the OP (and others) call a wolf note while some people also call the wolf interval a wolf note.

The wolf interval is the error in fifths caused by ET tuning as it attempt to spread the math errors in the pythagorean system of 12 tone scales.

A wolf tone is the dead spot on a string of a musical instrument caused its mass and intrinsic resonances. Most importantly, wolf-tones are independent of temperament and tuning systems. They occur at a specific frequency regardless of whether that note is just, sharp or flat in relation to any tuning system. On a semi-educated guess, I'm going to say that pianos don't suffer from wolf-tones because unlike violins, lutes and guitars, the notes aren't created by stopping the string at different locations along it's length. Empirically, I've never played a 'cello or an electric bass with a wolf on an open string. I have head dead string caused by either faulty construction or poor contact at the witness points on the bridge and nut but strictly speaking those aren't wolf tones.

No debate needed. We just need to get our terms straightened out.

Kurt





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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
ClsscLib #2268331 04/28/14 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by KurtZ
Part of the problem is that Rick is describing a Wolf Interval and the original question is about wolf TONES that the OP (and others) call a wolf note while some people also call the wolf interval a wolf note.

The wolf interval is the error in fifths caused by ET tuning as it attempt to spread the math errors in the pythagorean system of 12 tone scales.

A wolf tone is the dead spot on a string of a musical instrument caused its mass and intrinsic resonances. Most importantly, wolf-tones are independent of temperament and tuning systems. They occur at a specific frequency regardless of whether that note is just, sharp or flat in relation to any tuning system. On a semi-educated guess, I'm going to say that pianos don't suffer from wolf-tones because unlike violins, lutes and guitars, the notes aren't created by stopping the string at different locations along it's length. Empirically, I've never played a 'cello or an electric bass with a wolf on an open string. I have head dead string caused by either faulty construction or poor contact at the witness points on the bridge and nut but strictly speaking those aren't wolf tones.

No debate needed. We just need to get our terms straightened out.

Kurt

Thanks Kurt!

You hit the nail on the head (as we say here in the south)... smile

Sometimes my playing sounds pretty woofie... laugh

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
ClsscLib #2268408 04/28/14 09:50 PM
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When I tune my harpsichord in quarter coma mean tone, I get perfect octaves and thirds, flat 4ths, wide fifths. This is great for playing composers like Scarlatti, who exploited the "wolf" for coloration when there are less than 4 sharps or flats in the key signature. It's a disaster when playing Bach, who uses lots of chromatics. Strictly speaking, there is no "wolf" in equal temperament, but there are certain notes that don't tune well, or intervals that don't work. Usually the odd harmonics of the strings, which are close to perfect, don't interact well with the less perfect odd harmonics of the temperament (3rds and 5th's). It's particularly annoying with hard hammers, which tend to generate a lot of higher harmonics.


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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
ClsscLib #2268423 04/28/14 10:17 PM
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You could say that modern pianos have a litter of 12 more or less same sized puppies depending on the preference and skill of the tuner.


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Re: Are There "Wolf Notes" on Pianos?
Chris Leslie #2268438 04/28/14 11:13 PM
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Technical definitions aside, the "wolf" for me is any unexpected and unpleasant interval that might be perceived by the pianist for many, many reasons.

Here are two quite different reasons:

a) obvious reason... where a piano is tuned to one of many historical temperaments. The wolf shows up when you're playing way outside the home temperament;

b) less obvious reason....(but probably more interesting) where a piano is tuned in the usual (modern?) way, and YET wolf intervals creep in!!!

Why??? Sometimes, in my limited experience, a FRESHLY tuned piano, where the trichords (notes that have 3 strings) are tuned very "tightly"--each of the three strings that make up a single note is tuned very, very close to the other two--major 3rds (to cite the most obvious example) can sound very harsh.

As the piano resolves or settles in, the tightness of that sort of tuning resolves, and/or the ear accommodates, and the harshness disappears.

Either that, or the piano's size, scale, tuning, regulating, etc., etc., etc., is out-of-wack (apologies to the screenwriters of "My Cousin Vinny").

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