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The Right Words At The Right Time
#2379414 01/29/15 01:09 AM
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I've had an opportunity to practice piano tuning a lot these last two months. I love the peaceful state of mind that comes from close listening while finding the places where all the strings fit together. In that state of mind, even when concentrating very hard on the task at hand, thoughts come. I've noticed that some of the thoughts are of the words that my teachers said to me at just the right time. They were words that were said only once--instances of someone who said the right thing at the right time that stuck with me the right way. I'd like to share some of them with you, and perhaps you can share some that have shaped and guided your work as you've practiced this highly specialized craft.

"It's all about ear/hand coordination." -- Inlanding (Glen)

"Do you want to improve any of those unisons?" -- Bill Bremmer

"I've been practicing unisons." -- Beethoven986

"I treat every octave as a temperament octave." -- rxd

"The ETD helps me get to the place where I can find the sweet spot faster." -- rysowers

These five sentences have been with me in a special way this month as I've tried to get better and better at what I'm doing while I have the luxury of time to learn and practice and get things right. The first two were said to me directly. Glen's came in a PM last year. Bill's was said in person during a lesson two years ago. The last three I glommed onto from threads in this forum over the last three or four years. I think Ry's came from two weeks ago... smile

None of the pianos I practice tuning on can be called "fine pianos." None of them are over 6 ft., and all of them are old and a little tired. I call them my "lab" pianos, because they are all pianos that I tune and play on frequently, so I can assess the results of my tuning in a "performance" context and observe how the tuning and teching degrades and wears over time in one or two week intervals. All of the pianos are grands that have... issues. Crooked tuning pins on a 60's-era Steinway L. False beats and weird phasing sounds on a Yamaha G3. Odd harmonics on a vintage Chickering quarter grand. A soundboard that's dead in the fifth and sixth octave on a vintage 5' 8" Haddorff. Etc. The five sentences that I related, above, helped me see how to use the ETD as a starting point, then know when to quit watching and listen only. I think my tunings are getting better, but I am never satisfied with them. Happy, sometimes. But, there are always things that bug me. Sometimes, after I tune, I just want to play and play and play. Sometimes after a frustrating multi-pass tuning attempt, I get to go back the next day and see what I missed and try it, again. And every time I tune, I hear something new that I haven't heard before that helps me sort things out. Today, working on a vintage Lester baby grand, I learned that damper wires can buzz against bass strings. grin

But the way that these five sentences kept coming back to me recently to direct my work prompted another thought: I wondered what other people's guide words are--the piano tech's equivalent to "Measure twice, cut once," or, "Work smarter, not harder," related to you by your wise teachers at just the right moment, like my examples, above. I'd especially like to hear from those of you who have been at this awhile. Are there words or pictures that come to you to direct your work as a frequently present memory from the distant past?

Would anyone like to share some words or stories?

Thanks!
--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
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Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2379534 01/29/15 11:03 AM
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"No tuning is ever finished, just left behind". I got that from Ron Nossaman, but he doesn't take credit for originating it.

Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2379537 01/29/15 11:05 AM
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"Tuning is part arithmetic and part flower-arranging"

That one is my own.

Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2379545 01/29/15 11:18 AM
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Piano tuning is the musical equivalent of fresh cut flowers.

After a number of weeks they being to wilt and deteriorate.

Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2379574 01/29/15 12:09 PM
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Thanks, Andy.
It's good to know that some things, even added afterthoughts or things we don't even remember writing are found useful and appreciated.

We thank you, in turn, for thinking to mention it.


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: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2379610 01/29/15 01:55 PM
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"Leave it happy."



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
OperaTenor #2379975 01/30/15 11:07 AM
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Thank you, fellas! That's exactly the kind of words I was hoping you'd share! Memorable, colorful, and applicable!

@rxd: You're welcome. You might be surprised at how many pearls I've picked up from the path following posts in this forum. smile

--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380005 01/30/15 12:30 PM
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Wonderful topic Andy!

What's surprising to me is that sometimes these little phrases pop into my head months or even years after I hear them. Often when I hear a new concept or idea it has to percolate in my little brain for quite some time before I actually try it.

"Every tuning should include some voicing - even if it's one note" is an important one to me. I don't adhere 100% but there have been many times that I thought "I'm done!" after finishing the tuning and then that phrase pops into my head.



Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380066 01/30/15 03:07 PM
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These weren't really words, but more an experience...

I starting tuning out of frustration. I was frustrated with the way my piano sounded even after it was freshly tuned. I knew I was trying to create a sound I had been looking for since I was 15. Only problem was, it was not a sound tuners were trying to make. Frankly, most of the ones whose work I listened, didn't hear the sound I had in my head. I mentioned this to several local senior tuners, and received blank looks...one even suggested I might need to have my hearing checked.

I was starting to believe him, too...very bummed, I was.

Then, David Andersen came to Boston and gave the chapter one of his whole tone tuning classes. During the class, stretching octaves into the 5th/6th octaves, he tuned an octave the way many tuners would consider the "proper" way to set an octave...at that time I didn't really know what he was doing, but audience members nodded in recognition of the relationship he tuned into the interval. THEN...he turned around, played the octave, and asked the class what they thought of it. In my previous frustration leading up to this, I lost it and said, "its fu.k'in FLAT!!

David nodded in agreement, and re-tuned the octave. The sound of that re-tuned octave confirmed for me that I was, at least not in this matter, cracked and damaged...The quality of tuned sound I had been looking for, maybe even a genre of sound I had been looking for, did exist. Some class members heard it, others didn't hear it. Some actually scowled...one had a face on that looked like there was a bad smell in the room.

However, this confirmed for me that the sound was not something I had made up. From here, the gloves were off.

Now, perhaps it is entirely possible that I, as well as DA are cracked... but, if so, at least I'm in good company.

Thanks DA!

Jim Ialeggio



Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
jim ialeggio #2380087 01/30/15 04:18 PM
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I had a very similar experience.. driven to solve the constituents of the tuning 'equation' because poor-sounding results were so common. It couldn't be that difficult to tune a piano well, could it? Why aren't technicians just doing it right?

Well, I found out as a tuner, it is very taxing and time consuming to create a superior tuning every time. It turns out, some very popular ideas technicians hold on intonation are also just incorrect from the musician's perspective.

There's also very little real, effective feedback between musicians and technicians. Techs operate in a bubble for the most part with their own beliefs, and pianists are trained to just accept what they're given.

difficult work + incorrect ideas + no feedback = poor results

So definitely good company.. even if a minority.

After all, a majority on anything never defined it as truth. Real truth comes from a higher place that rests, because it does not come from human consensus or opinion. Thanks Andy for a reflective, good subject.


www.tunewerk.com

Unity of tone through applied research.
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380088 01/30/15 04:22 PM
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Stretch is not something you do, it's something that happens.



Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380106 01/30/15 05:24 PM
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I hope I will never be happy with my tunings!

Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380109 01/30/15 05:32 PM
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Jim,
I'm also a fan of David Anderson. Can you describe in more detail the amount of stretch you like to hear in the 5th and 6th octaves?

By the way one of my favorite quotes is D.A.'s
"My life became so much better when I gave up striving for perfection and settled for excellence"


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380114 01/30/15 05:48 PM
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I just thought of a couple more.

"The tuners that make the smallest changes make the most money"

"Unisons: First to learn last to master"


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380173 01/30/15 09:03 PM
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Ryan,

I'll respond in a new thread regarding the sound I heard... I don't what to de-rail Andy's fine thread.

ji


Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
jim ialeggio #2380373 01/31/15 10:21 AM
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Jim,
Your story was just the kind of thing I was hoping to see when I used the word "stories" in the OP. smile I am eager to know more about that topic, too, which I am sure will take on a life of its own in a dedicated thread. eek grin

Everyone,
Thanks, again, for the phrases and stories. Please keep 'em coming if you have 'em!

--Andy
"Hearing a piano in tune is like breathing fresh air through your ears."


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2380400 01/31/15 11:49 AM
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When a pro tuner left my house about 2 years ago, the following Mark Twain quote about Wagner came to mind:

"It's better than it sounds."

Well, I just wanted it to sound better, and I knew that it could. So that's when I began to learn about tuning, which is really another search for excellence, just like piano study.

Bill Bremmer said, in a video he posted about ET via MARPURG, 'the sound should just hang there'. I think of this often when checking the relationship of notes and stretch using tone clusters.

And (though not Bill's, I don't think)

'Let the piano tell you'

I too have a lot of pianos to practice on,

A Wurlitzer spinet
A Lester 7 footer with overly lacquered hammers
My piano teacher's Knabe
My friend's craigslist upright
A Yamaha U3 that is delightful
And my own Baldwin L that I spend (at least) two hours playing every day.
A Hobart Cable console that drives me nuts

All of you are teachers, Rxd, whether you accept it or not, and I am extremely grateful for that.

Forrest


PTG Associate Member
Haydn Hob. XVI: 23 in F major
Debussy Arabesque #1, Reverie
Bach BWV 874, 883
My beliefs are only that unless I can prove them.
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Forrest Halford #2382508 02/05/15 12:04 AM
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Thanks, Forrest! "It's better than it sounds." Tee-hee! grin That's a phrase that can work in a number of ways!

Everyone,

Not that I'm taking attendance, or anything, but would anyone like to share some "right words" or stories before this thread makes its way to archive oblivion?

Thanks!

--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2382518 02/05/15 01:08 AM
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"Put 'em where they sound"- an ebullient old tuner who was an excellent tuner, musically, but just not very solid at all. We used to say that his tunings were excellent. just don't slam the door on your way out.

He was also an expert snooker player and he used to say "'it 'em where they shine". Never made much sense to me but he beat me every game.


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: The Right Words At The Right Time
Cinnamonbear #2382648 02/05/15 10:06 AM
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No piano is ever perfect and no piano is ever finished. You just have to quit when time and money run out.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
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