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most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
#3037846 10/20/20 07:56 PM
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Hi all, what are the most common temperaments clients and musicians use today, other than 12-TET?

Does every customer want a slight variation, is it mostly Vallotti / Young's 2nd temperament, or something else? Is there a trend regarding temperament choice vs repertoire? Ed mentioned a jazz player using non-ET here but didn't state which temperament.

It's interesting that many digital pianos have presets for Werckmeister III, Kirnberger III, Pythagorean and 1/4 syntonic meantone. I'm guessing none of those are popular today (amongst those who don't use ET), but I could be wrong.

Sorry if this is considered off topic, I'm thinking professional tuners will have the most experience in this area.

Thank you!

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Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037856 10/20/20 09:04 PM
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I regularly use EBVT as a starting point for those interested in UT. I tune my own piano that way too. It is mild enough not to offend anyone's ears, yet faithfully conveys the characters of the keys (mildly). A good ear detects it right away.

I also tune most spinet and other untunables in EBVT.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037857 10/20/20 09:07 PM
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I've been tuning for a long time. No one has ever asked me for a non ET. They just want me to tune the piano.


I tune and repair pianos. Let's have fun!
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037869 10/20/20 10:06 PM
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Unless the musician is dedicated to pre-1850 music, ET is the best general purpose tuning to use (at least initially). But if they are aware of the fact that the music they are playing was composed and played originally in a UT, then they are usually open to trying it on their piano. However, it is often wise to start off mild (there are numerous mild UT's) and step it up as their ear gets attuned to it. My personal favorite is Thomas Young's rules from 1799 for personal taste with a C-E 3rd at about 5 bps.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037902 10/21/20 04:59 AM
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When he was alive I used to tune for a well known Harpsichord player. He had loads of harpsichords and two pianos. I only tuned the pianos, always equal temp.
One day while we were talking about older music and tunings I asked him if he would like one of the pianos in a different tuning. He said "Good Lord, no! Those tunings only work on harpsichords because there's no sustain...my piano would sound ghastly".
Just saying what he said......
Nick


Nick, ageing piano technician
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037937 10/21/20 08:41 AM
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Most of the pre-loaded temperaments are "too strong" for an introduction, or for modern ears.

Just like LemonColor above, I've been tuning a long time and only 2 people that were knowledgeable have asked for ET, so I tune a mild Well temperament on everything. Even EBVT feels a bit too strong, but many are successfully using that.

Ron Koval

Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037946 10/21/20 09:05 AM
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Ron,

Unless I misread things LemonColor tunes exclusively ET. I will stand corrected if wrong.


Once upon a time I thought that Owen Jorgensen was a nut case. This was because I was ignorant of the history of keyboards and tuning, and trained that ET was "HOW" we tune pianos...period...end of discussion. Then I decided to actually try some of what he was talking about. The rest is history (as they say).

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037958 10/21/20 09:45 AM
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greetings,

I rarely use ET for pianos, having found the majority of my customers,once introduced to the more musically directed, as opposed to math directed temperaments, prefer the well-tempered sound. Most of the commercial recording studios use ET for convenience, but there are others that have found the WT tracks better with guitars.

given the rarity of amateur players that are comfortable playing in 5 sharps, the WT increases the overall consonance, and I also, to my surprise, have several very professional jazz pianists that have come to fell ET is bland and uninteresting. There are few instances when ET and WT are displayed side by side that ET is preferred. Most of my home tunings are using Coleman 11 or Jorgensens "Broadwood's Best".
Regards

Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3037963 10/21/20 10:02 AM
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I have never had anyone tell me how to tune. The customers seem to expect whatever is normal. I probably could get away with tuning a non ET, but why risk it? Electronic pianos are set to a normal equal temperament at 440 hertz. I think it is safe to say that people would accept that as the common thing done on pianos too.


I tune and repair pianos. Let's have fun!
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3038012 10/21/20 11:52 AM
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I've heard it said by Bill Bremmer that "Reverse Well" is the most common temperament wink

Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
Ed Foote #3038020 10/21/20 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
greetings,

I rarely use ET for pianos, having found the majority of my customers,once introduced to the more musically directed, as opposed to math directed temperaments, prefer the well-tempered sound. Most of the commercial recording studios use ET for convenience, but there are others that have found the WT tracks better with guitars.

given the rarity of amateur players that are comfortable playing in 5 sharps, the WT increases the overall consonance, and I also, to my surprise, have several very professional jazz pianists that have come to fell ET is bland and uninteresting. There are few instances when ET and WT are displayed side by side that ET is preferred. Most of my home tunings are using Coleman 11 or Jorgensens "Broadwood's Best".
Regards
That's interesting. Do you always tell them they're not getting ET? I'm wondering what happens if they have friends round to sing or play?
Nick


Nick, ageing piano technician
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
N W #3038044 10/21/20 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by N W
That's interesting. Do you always tell them they're not getting ET? I'm wondering what happens if they have friends round to sing or play?
Nick

Yes, I tell them. And the normal is that I get calls from "friends" that were impressed with how nice the piano sounded at "so and so's" house. Don't think that somehow the world is automatically predisposed to prefer ET, I have found that to be totally false. It is just tuner's that are attached, for the most part, to the status quo. I will add that I have been charging well above any other tech in the area since 1980, so this is not smoke and mirrors....


As to the commonly stated, "I've never had anyone ask me to tune alternatively" statement, I have often sold a regulation to someone that didn't know their piano needed regulation, ("Whatever that is"), yet afterwards, I hear "I never knew this piano could play this well". I am not letting my customer's ignorance of alternatives keep them from hearing something they actually like better. And, for an added bonus, these WT customers are quite loyal, telling me that when I retire, they would like the name whatever tuner tunes like I do. Few have any interest in going back to ET.
Regards,

Last edited by Ed Foote; 10/21/20 01:24 PM.
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
Ed Foote #3038070 10/21/20 02:35 PM
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That's a really interesting answer.
Thanks Ed.
Nick


Nick, ageing piano technician
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
P W Grey #3038073 10/21/20 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Ron,

Unless I misread things LemonColor tunes exclusively ET. I will stand corrected if wrong.


Once upon a time I thought that Owen Jorgensen was a nut case. This was because I was ignorant of the history of keyboards and tuning, and trained that ET was "HOW" we tune pianos...period...end of discussion. Then I decided to actually try some of what he was talking about. The rest is history (as they say).

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

The point that I was trying to make is that most clients "want the piano tuned". No more, no less. They don't specify ET, they don't specify WT, so it is up to us to tune the piano to the best of our ability. For me, that is WT, for others, it is ET.

Ron Koval

Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3038110 10/21/20 05:50 PM
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MartF, musicians seem to be using whatever they get, whether they like it or not.


piano tuner
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3038157 10/21/20 10:28 PM
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Extremely few people have any knowledge whatsoever about this. To them a tuning is a tuning is a tuning. They pay to get the piano tuned and that's the end of it.

Like Ed, everyone for whom I tune UT (with one exception) loves it. The exception really didn't notice any difference therefore specified ET (and it fits their style too).

I actually find it more difficult to tune UT than ET. ET is a piece of cake...all tests the same, all consistent accelerating and decelerating intervals. UT on the other hand does not contain all consistent tests. You must listen very carefully and slowly to each interval. More time consuming and mentally challenging. Don't bother trying.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3038216 10/22/20 07:10 AM
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Another point of realism is that any of us that think we are tuning TRUE ET are basically doing wishful thinking. In reality, ANY DEVIATION whatsoever from the true actual mathematical 12 tone equal sub division of the scale is not ET, but in essence is in fact a mild UT, like it or not.

When Bach created his tweaked out tuning that allowed him to play EQUALLY in all the keys he called it Equal Temperament (or something that implied such). We know from our scientific 20th century standpoint that it was no where near ET as we know it today so we call it Well Temperament, but the terms are relative to the situation.

What we say we tune today as ET is a much closer approximation of true ET, however the anomalies of scale design, environmental factors, human imperfection, etc all combine to make it pretty much impossible to actually apply true ET to almost any piano. And in short order, the humidity change will do number on it anyway.

However, relatively speaking we are tuning much closer to ET than ever before. It depends on how much of a stickler for detail and accuracy you want to use. And as we know, some PSO's cannot accept even an approximation of ET due to their horrible design. Yet, we still "say" that we tuned it in ET. Technically that's a crock (but we tried). Those PSO's actually sound much better in a well crafted WT rather than any attempt at ET.

At any rate, that's the reality. If anyone can prove me wrong on this I'm happy to acquiesce.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
P W Grey #3038222 10/22/20 07:30 AM
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Peter, that's a very interesting post. I like it all except the very end....surely a well crafted WT will suffer from all the same errors and afflictions of a well crafted ET? So it won't be, in reality, a well crafted WT....?
I'm beginning to think the differences are so small (and of course the more well crafted the attempt the less the cumulative errors and environmental pressures will show) that maybe most players just can't hear what we aim for anyway. Once the music is rolling along it can be said that it's the spaces that matter more than the notes....
I exclude carefully analysed slow chords of course....but how many players do that?
As a previous poster said, people just want their piano tuned. The better players talk of the piano sounding so much better with the harmonics lining up etc. but as the average person can't hear a difference of 3 cents they just hear A as A as long as it's around 440 (sorry, don't mean to start that one off) and matches their flute etc.

Fascinating though, I shall definitely try tuning some alternatives on my own piano and see how I feel about them.
Nick

Last edited by N W; 10/22/20 07:31 AM.

Nick, ageing piano technician
Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3038236 10/22/20 08:40 AM
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Greetings,
At some degree of examination, it is true that perfect equality is not attainable on a wooden and steel piano. However, if all thirds are faster than the one below and slower than the one above, it is virtually impossible to distinguish inequality in play. Within the octave, if all thirds obey the above, you will be close to a passable score on the PTG test.

That said, the few cents deviation from ET pitches may not be heard as different notes, but a few cents up on the C and a few cents down on the E will produce a third that has a distinctly different feel in the triad. What it appears to do when I tune a WT is that very few people find a 16 cent third as "out of tune", and nobody hears an 8 cent third as "out", but the feel of the sound is certainly noticed. I ascribe this to the destruction of sameness, a quality much beloved by techs not musically as attractive to pianists as the variety found in WT. There is something about the ever-present "haze" of 14 cent thirds in the classical music that is found to be unattractive once a pianist experiences the texture of a WT. It is common to hear the word "boring" when an WT customer encounters an ET. Modulations in WT create definite changes of emotional response that simple changes of pitch center in ET do not. The composition has a lot to do with this response, but a common reaction from the classical musicians was that the WT was like "power steering" when performing and attempting to create different emotional states with modulation.

Most of my work is for professional pianists. Some, like Ronnie Milsap, couldn't stand the inequality, and he told me that it was like someone moving the furniture around without telling him! Others were instinctively drawn to the textural difference and found they could compose with new harmonic resources. I can now say, after 30 years of using WT's that the vast majority of customers really prefer the piano tuned that way. I used to pursue the ideal idea of perfect evenness, but I now think that the consistency is more attractive to us harmonic mechanics than it is to the musicians.
regards,

Re: most common non ET temperaments in 2020?
MartF #3038275 10/22/20 10:36 AM
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I am curious, when you tune to any WT, what anchor point do you use, A, or C?
And do you keep A 440 pitch or use any historic one?
And how do you achive desired pitch if you anchor C?


Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (falsely attributed to Plato)
Vlad,
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