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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Ed Foote] #2841070 04/20/19 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Originally Posted by P W Grey
I
It has been proven that absolute dead on perfect same frequency unisons actually do not sound as good as unisons "tempered" slightly. Some will argue this till the cows come home, but there are plenty of good tuners who privately understand and employ this technique regularly, some of whom are on this forum.
Pwg


Greetings,
hmm, "as good". is where I run into trouble. It may depend on context, but the totally clear unison seems to appeal to jazz players, perhaps because of the complexity they seem to find irresistible . The perfectly dead-on unison will usually exhibit less sustain than one with enough phase difference to physically create a more solid termination at the bridge. However, the dead-on strings still have dissipated the same amount of energy, just in a shorter amount of time and what is deadness to one is perhaps clarity to another. I have customers that notice my tuning sounds "better" a day after I did it, and others that find something in an extremely fresh tuning worth paying for every day, (that is in the recording studios).


Not that I’m at all trying to start a discussion about how to tune unisons, but I appreciated what Ed wrote here. The first time I encountered someone talking about deliberately ‘off’ unisons was the technician at the conservatory I attended who would sometimes tune unisons subtly ‘off’ depending on the room acoustics, for sustain reasons (he’d tell me Wigmore Hall benefitted from that). But I like clear unisons so much I never adopted that technique despite his influence on me. Clear unisons have a crystalline and sweet and simple sound which is appealing to me, even as a strictly classical player.

Last edited by jsilva; 04/20/19 10:43 PM.
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841151 04/21/19 08:40 AM
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True true true.

Yet, if you closely scrutinize each one of your "perfect" unisons electronically you will find that very few, if any, have all three strings at EXACTLY the same frequency.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841171 04/21/19 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
True true true.

Yet, if you closely scrutinize each one of your "perfect" unisons electronically you will find that very few, if any, have all three strings at EXACTLY the same frequency.

Pwg


As I was pondering things I was imagining that might be the case ... smile

Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841202 04/21/19 12:44 PM
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In fact, if you use use an ETD to forcefully tune unisons "perfectly", dead on exact same frequency, you will find (as you listen to them) that some of them "sound" out of tune, and many (if not all) can be "improved" with tweaking aurally.

It must be remembered that we are dealing with a structure that is inherently imperfect, no matter how well it is designed and made. The many large and small anomalies present in any piano, coupled with physical and acoustic laws that are not FULLY understood yet, create a situation that defies the digital segmentation abilities of modern electronics to bring the best out of it. It is the vastly superior human brain and the dexterity of well trained ears and hands that are capable of coaxing the best out of any piano.

Those nice clean unisons that most people like the best, when put under a "microscope", are in fact not as "perfect" as we might think. They are a compromise made good bybthe requirements of the unit we are working on and various tastes in music and sound. In the end it becomes a matter of degree...just like temperament in and of itself.

Think PI, think "the golden angle"...etc.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841265 04/21/19 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
In fact, if you use use an ETD to forcefully tune unisons "perfectly", dead on exact same frequency, you will find (as you listen to them) that some of them "sound" out of tune, and many (if not all) can be "improved" with tweaking aurally.

It must be remembered that we are dealing with a structure that is inherently imperfect, no matter how well it is designed and made. The many large and small anomalies present in any piano, coupled with physical and acoustic laws that are not FULLY understood yet, create a situation that defies the digital segmentation abilities of modern electronics to bring the best out of it. It is the vastly superior human brain and the dexterity of well trained ears and hands that are capable of coaxing the best out of any piano.

Those nice clean unisons that most people like the best, when put under a "microscope", are in fact not as "perfect" as we might think. They are a compromise made good bybthe requirements of the unit we are working on and various tastes in music and sound. In the end it becomes a matter of degree...just like temperament in and of itself.

Think PI, think "the golden angle"...etc.

Pwg


Yes.


Also, on the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the keyboard (approximately), the ETD is not listening to the fundamental, or maybe not even close. For instance, at C2, it's probably comparing a 6:3 octave. So, on C2 it's listening at the 6th partial. If you tune the strings of C2 with an ETD, they should be beatless at the 6th partial.

Edit: In the very high treble, you can often get very good results tuning individual strings with an ETD because you're tuning based on the fundamental. But even there, the ear is the final decider.

Last edited by daniokeeper; 04/21/19 05:55 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841298 04/21/19 09:43 PM
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This is why tuning is still an art, despite the ETD revolution.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: daniokeeper] #2841300 04/21/19 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by daniokeeper


Also, on the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the keyboard (approximately), the ETD is not listening to the fundamental, or maybe not even close. For instance, at C2, it's probably comparing a 6:3 octave. So, on C2 it's listening at the 6th partial. If you tune the strings of C2 with an ETD, they should be beatless at the 6th partial.


Just because that's where the ETA (let's adopt the British usage Electronic Tuning Aid) is listening to doesn't necessarily mean that's what it's tuning. ETA manufacturers have not revealed their proprietary algorithms (another reason why ETAs -- while no doubt useful -- are not scientific instruments) but it is possible -- and by this point, even likely IMO-- that they have calculated some sort of offset of what the lower partials might be based on what the ETA is hearing at the 6:3 pitch. In other words, it could be that the ETA calculates its display to show "in tune" at some 6:3 beat rate that would leave the other lower partials more in tune. ETA makers are smart and are continuing to improve.

Of course, the other obvious point to note is that the ETA is not tuning the 6:3 coincident partial because it is not listening to both notes. Rather, it is assigning a pitch value for the display to show "in tune" based on certain assumptions -- which by this point are really quite good.

--(Maybe Ron Koval could offer insights to this point).


Keith Akins, RPT
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2841309 04/21/19 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
In fact, if you use use an ETD to forcefully tune unisons "perfectly", dead on exact same frequency, ...
<snip>


Not sure that I buy the idea that ETAs can provide the "true" perfect unison. We don't know what they are listening to exactly nor how the algorithm crunches the imput to provide an "in tune" reading to the display. We don't know what deviation, error or offset is present in the ETA compared to how the human ear/brain works.

Although my outlook is basically "pro-gadget", I'm skeptical that ETAs yet have the resolving power of a trained/experienced human ear/brain.
I'm open to correction anytime ETA makers care to reveal what's actually happening inside their devices.

Last edited by kpembrook; 04/21/19 10:50 PM.

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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2841316 04/21/19 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by daniokeeper


Also, on the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the keyboard (approximately), the ETD is not listening to the fundamental, or maybe not even close. For instance, at C2, it's probably comparing a 6:3 octave. So, on C2 it's listening at the 6th partial. If you tune the strings of C2 with an ETD, they should be beatless at the 6th partial.


Just because that's where the ETA (let's adopt the British usage Electronic Tuning Aid) is listening to doesn't necessarily mean that's what it's tuning. ETA manufacturers have not revealed their proprietary algorithms (another reason why ETAs -- while no doubt useful -- are not scientific instruments) but it is possible -- and by this point, even likely IMO-- that they have calculated some sort of offset of what the lower partials might be based on what the ETA is hearing at the 6:3 pitch. In other words, it could be that the ETA calculates its display to show "in tune" at some 6:3 beat rate that would leave the other lower partials more in tune. ETA makers are smart and are continuing to improve.

Of course, the other obvious point to note is that the ETA is not tuning the 6:3 coincident partial because it is not listening to both notes. Rather, it is assigning a pitch value for the display to show "in tune" based on certain assumptions -- which by this point are really quite good.

--(Maybe Ron Koval could offer insights to this point).


It's calculating the position of the lower note of the octave by comparing it to the upper note. If we're discussing the Verituner, it has an automatic smoothing function that kicks in at transition points. That is, it won't suddenly transition from 4:2 octaves to 6:3 octaves. It will sort of blend the octave types. It also allows multiple octave types to be selected with use-selected weightings. I think TunelabPro allows you to select octave types.

Regardless, the location of C2 is based on comparing it to C3. The fundamental of C2 isn't used for comparison purposes, whether its placement is based on matching one or several partials other than the fundamental. If the left string of C2 is tuned using a device, then the right string, there is likely to be a slight discrepancy at the fundamental unless the inharmonicity of both strings are absolutely identical.

Further, afaik, all ETAs or ETDs recommend in their instructions that when fine tuning, tune one string by device and the remaining strings of the unison to that string by ear. The only exception I'm aware of in Tunic Only pure software, which recommends tuning all strings of a unison by device.

Last edited by daniokeeper; 04/21/19 11:51 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841319 04/22/19 12:08 AM
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Correction:. "Tunic OnlyPure"


Joe Gumbosky
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"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -Marcus Aurelius
Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: daniokeeper] #2841347 04/22/19 05:39 AM
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That's illuminating, Joe.
Thanks.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: daniokeeper] #2841392 04/22/19 09:18 AM
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Quote
The only exception I'm aware of in Tunic OnlyPure software, which recommends tuning all strings of a unison by device.


Yes, I have Tunic and that's the recommendation. I can say that Tunic does deliver on that. Even though I tune with an ETA I tune all of my unisons by ear and if I have a problem I'll tune each string separately and it may not be perfect but it's the best compromise. At least that's my experience. There's usually some false beats so it will never be perfect. But I'd certainly agree that the ear is the final judge.


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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841396 04/22/19 09:48 AM
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And since unisons is what the typical musician/client hears first and foremost, the "most important" part of the tuning is still considered best done by ear (with the exception of OnlyPure).

Octaves would be second on the list (at least this is commonly understood). Typically, unless the octaves are wildly out and/or inconsistent, the average player will accept a wide range of octave widths as being "good". Tuning UAYG does affect the final outcome of these octaves so it is a consideration how they are done.

I like tools and I think the current generation of ETD/ETA's are nothing short of amazing (and cool too!). I WILL begin using one as soon as it becomes evident that my brain/ear is giving out. However I feel that if I were to use an ETA when my brain is still in good shape, I would actually be accelerating the demise of my aural skill. I also feel that those who start using an ETA from the get-go largely (though not universally) will not develop significant aural skills, except for unison tuning. I also feel that this is NOT in itself bad, as long as they thoroughly understand the unit, best usage of it, AND have a procedure for checking themselves through the process.

Hopefully by that time ETD's will so smart that I won't really need to do much of anything to get a good job (TIC).

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 04/22/19 09:50 AM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2841506 04/22/19 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
That's illuminating, Joe.
Thanks.


Thanks.

You also make a valuable point about the various ETDs/ETAs being closed source, proprietary software. We can never really be 100% certain what's happening under the hood, and we should be mindful of it.

But like always, there is one exception....
Entropy Piano Tuner is Free & Open Source Software. You can download, inspect, and even alter the code to suit your needs.

http://develop.piano-tuner.org/index.php/getting-started

Last edited by daniokeeper; 04/22/19 05:24 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841535 04/22/19 08:04 PM
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Hi everyone - I've been scarce on the forums for quite a while, but like to pop in from time to time. This is a topic that is close to my heart!

I remember the first time I decided to forgo the strip mutes and just use rubber mutes. To be honest, I "decided" by leaving my temperament strips at a previous appointment! So I found myself needing to pitch raise and tune a piano with just the wedges. Since I had been dependent on the strips for several years, I found it somewhat excruciating to tune without it! Nevertheless, I made it through the tuning, and a lightbulb went off in my mind. I had an insight into why some high level tuners choose to use this method.

Gradually I gave up the strips 99% of the time. Occasionally there are reasons I still use a temperament strip, so they still ride with me, but they are not part of my regular procedure.

I agree with those that state that an open unison's pitch does not always equal a single strings pitch - not based on actual Hz, but on how the intervals sound. Sometimes a 3rd or 6th seems to slow down or speed up when listening to an open unison relative to a single string. It is also true of 4ths, 5ths, and octaves as well. On some pianos the effect is negligible, and on others it is fairly noticeable.

Another advantage to the open approach is that it forces you to be pickier about your unisons, because if they are slightly off it becomes harder to use the note as a reference. Also, if a unison does slip a little, you catch it more quickly.

The unison "cracking" or "shimming" technique is an integral part of how I tune. For me, it is the only reliable way to make barely perceptible pitch changes to an entire note. It only makes sense to use this method if you are tuning unisons as you go.

Finally, I think this method does force you to up your game. The clarity you get from using a temperament strip is tempting, but, to me it feels like a crutch. When you are learning, and it is hard to hear the beats, it is very helpful. But as listening skills develop it is important to learn how to hear through the more complex sound of an open unison. Your ability to hear through "junk" will improve with open unison tuning.

Contrary to everything I've just said, I do find that using an ETD to tune unisons in the very top section can be helpful. Sometimes if I'm struggling with false beats, the ETD can quickly find the sweet spot.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2841893 04/24/19 08:28 AM
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Great to "see" you Ryan! As always, very insightful and helpful comments. Thanks!


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Re: Open Unison Tuning [Re: Grandman] #2843192 04/28/19 09:45 AM
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My recent experience is that I’m still learning even after partial retirement.
This unison thing cannot be taught, it can only b learned. Any attempt to explain it gets misunderstood and that misunderstanding gets taught to others.
Being physically unable to sling around grand actions any more I have spent the last 20 or so years doing mainly tunings as part of a team. Grand tunings take no more effort than sitting down to a good meal. Especially when that piano was last tuned only 3-4 hours ago.

All my colleagues tune clear beatless still unisons.

This is relatively easy in the lower reaches of the piano, sometimes checking the complete unison with its octave where dodgy covered strings are involved.
As Ed said, in the fifth octave, things get interesting and it is mainly in this region that tells me which of my 4-5 colleagues tuned that piano last.
While the unisons and octaves are totally beat free, there are extremely subtle differences within that beat free envelope that give the tuning enough character to be identifiable. I check with the recent names in the security book at the stage door to verify my opinion. Once I identified a particular tuner but when I checked, the last one to tune it was me a few days before and I didn’t think at that time that my tuning had changed much but my colleagues assured me that it had even within the confines of an ‘absolutely’ clear unison. They could recognise it too. They had been doing that kind of work for 20-30 years longer than me and I was beginning to ‘fit in’
When I meet my ex private customers at concerts, or socially they tell me it is the unisons and octaves that sound like unisons that make the difference.
I used to try to explain this in terms of a note beating once every 5 seconds or 8 seconds. In the fifth octave, that note has evaporated long befor the beat but it could make a difference. That gets too easily misunderstood and it’s not necessarily correct.
The tuning that I diagnosed as someone elses, I found out later that we both tune quieter than the others, depending on similar tricks of pinsetting. I had never observed any of my colleagues tuning until recently except that the stage staff at each venue could identify each of us unseen by the way we tune including how loud or how many repeats of a note at various volumes. Some of them doing a good imitation at the piano.
The answer to this is that we don’t know exactly what is making the difference but it is definitely identifiable within, and I repeat, a clear, beat free, still unison.
We all tune octaves as unisons but even there, each of us has an extremely subtle difference in bass stretch when measured cumulatively. Our trebles are remarkably similar. On one occasion as a demonstration, I and another tuner each tuned one string each of a very false top f# from its lower octave. We produced a two string unison the was so good that we joked that neither of us could have got it that good alone.
Some of the pianists who regularly use our pianos can identify some of us.

Go figure smile


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: Open Unison Tuning [Re: kpembrook] #2844778 05/03/19 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Maximillyan
[quote=Grandman]



It has been established scientifically that the pitch of of a multi-string unison will be different with all the strings sounding than with a single string. This is because of a phenomenon they call "bridge coupling". The same principle is present in adjacent pendulums swinging from the same pivot.


That's why it is good to develop the skill of "cracking the unison". That's very slightly opening the unison with one string and then tuning the other string so that you have slightly changed the pitch of the 2-string unison to be beatless with the octave.




I just exchanged emails this morning with Bernhard Stopper regarding this identical topic!

I'm using his program OnlyPure noticed the once I get all 3 unisons identically in tune they go flat once played together. He just defined it as "jumps in bridge impedance". He recommended the I can correct this by adjusting the final string to compensate.




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