Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

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Jonathan the 2nd
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Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 19 May 2012, 14:54

If I read an explanation that contrasts string instrument intonation to a Tempered Instrument is there a gap that needs to be filled?
If the explanation adds in commas that the Tempered Instrument is a "Piano ( Equal spaced semitones )" does that clarify the idea or confuse you ?
Should the word Tempered be used on it`s own in this context . If a Music Professor explained in this way ( in a magazine ) would you approve or not ? Does it almost imply that the person explaining is not conscious of the different types of Tuning Temperaments ? Should Equal or Unequal be specified for clarity ?

Gill the Piano
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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Gill the Piano » 19 May 2012, 20:34

No; 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of people would probably assume 'tempered' to mean equal temperament. Any other temperament is so uncommonly used as to warrant mention in sleeve notes or lectures and so on.
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 20 May 2012, 20:52

So the official line is Tempered = Equal Temperament.
They would be the people that claim Bach invented ET?
So why would a teacher reject the Bach Keyboard "invention " to play a Cello piece by Bach?
If it works in any key it should work for a cello too .

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 21 May 2012, 11:57

In contrast to the acceptance , by so many , of ET on pianos , is the statement that a string player (unfretted fingerboard ) cannot play in ET anyway .
Do tuners feel as if they are the Conscience of music that preserves a vital heritage ? Is the idea that Bach invented ET taught in Tuner Training Centres. Do you know if Music Colleges anf Universities teach that Bach invented ET? Are these questions that have been asked thousands of times before ?

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Gill the Piano » 21 May 2012, 19:18

No, we are taught that JSB wrote the 48 to prove that ET worked, as the common view at the time was that it couldn't possibly work in every key. We were taught that other temperaments existed, but that they were so rarely used as to be pointless to learn and practise. We had to learn the principles behind the other temperaments - well, the more popular of them - but were not required - thank God - to actually tune a piano in them. Perhaps the bods on the harpsichord course were taught to tune old temperaments, I'm not sure. It's likely.
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Feg » 21 May 2012, 19:52

Gill the Piano wrote:No, we are taught that JSB wrote the 48 to prove that ET worked, as the common view at the time was that it couldn't possibly work in every key. We were taught that other temperaments existed, but that they were so rarely used as to be pointless to learn and practise. We had to learn the principles behind the other temperaments - well, the more popular of them - but were not required - thank God - to actually tune a piano in them. Perhaps the bods on the harpsichord course were taught to tune old temperaments, I'm not sure. It's likely.
Ditto, Gill. However, part of our Ancient Temperaments module involved tuning the college spinet in Meantone (our choice of flavour) and one other temperament of our choice :?

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 22 May 2012, 11:04

Oh dear . What a state to be in .

Gill the Piano
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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Gill the Piano » 22 May 2012, 17:55

How do you mean? In 30 years of tuning I have been asked ONCE to use an alternative temperament. To my mind that doesn't warrant spending a large chunk of tuning tuition on esoteric temperaments on the offchance that 28 years hence someone will want it! :lol: To learn about them and know the intervals was enough for me to have made a fair fist of it - at least, the customer was pleased! Feg, have you ever been asked for an alternative temperament professionally?
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Feg » 22 May 2012, 18:43

Gill the Piano wrote:How do you mean? In 30 years of tuning I have been asked ONCE to use an alternative temperament. To my mind that doesn't warrant spending a large chunk of tuning tuition on esoteric temperaments on the offchance that 28 years hence someone will want it! :lol: To learn about them and know the intervals was enough for me to have made a fair fist of it - at least, the customer was pleased! Feg, have you ever been asked for an alternative temperament professionally?
I've never been asked to tune an alternative or historic temperament - although I have only been tuning professionally for 12 years so I supppose there is still time :lol:

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by gizzy » 22 May 2012, 19:09

I wonder of people who want to use that kind of temperament tend to do their own tuning as well? I know it's true of a couple of harpsichord players I've known

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Gill the Piano » 23 May 2012, 15:19

Oh well, harpsichord players...! :lol: A breed apart. And I can be rude because I've got a harpsichord (of the MFI school of construction!).
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by gizzy » 23 May 2012, 15:29

Is there a jealousy smiley?
Not that I've got room for one anyway, and I have to confess that the kind I really like are the ones which I think I read somewhere never really existed when it was in common use: the gynormous Wanda Landowska-type instruments with a tone to rival that of a grand piano.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mDnMyGD-x4

I'd probably break it, though with the force that I know I'd put on that low F# in the middle of the 3rd bar every time that tune comes back (played it on the piano, just not the same!)

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Gill the Piano » 24 May 2012, 17:44

Well frankly the dropsichord is more capricious than my mother; siezes up if you sneeze, open a door, look at it sideways.
And of COURSE, it needs tuning...! :lol:
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Jonathan the 2nd
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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 02 Jun 2012, 00:27

Yes but everyone knows the "story" they tell about different key colours. Is that now relegated to the Fairytales and Father Christmas ? Is that when the wicked Stepmother has to dance in red hot shoes till she falls down dead for not tuning the piano properly ?

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Gill the Piano » 02 Jun 2012, 21:35

Key colours is linked to a condition called synaesthesia where the 'wall' between 2 senses is absent. My customer listens to me tune and maintains that the 'edges' of the note's colour are all fuzzy but come crisp and clear when the note comes into tune. Read 'Musicophilia' by oliver sacks. Fascinating stuff.
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 03 Jun 2012, 16:25

Different kind of colours chosen to confuse ? How would you explain key colours to a child ? Key colours are possible on a piano . I asked if the basic idea was possible on a violin --- on a Violin Forum ----and it got a fairly cold , hostile reaction . Yet comparing famous string players they all seem to have very different intervals in the same pieces of music . eg compare 2 cellists , Casals and Dupre in The Swan by Saint Saens . If you choose one , the other sounds wrong . Then listen to Liebeslied played by Fritz Kreisler in the 30s and David Oistrakh when he was young . Oistrakh`s intervals are much wider than the composer`s . The original sounds much sadder . Oistrakh makes it much brighter . He gives it a different emotional colour .

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 09 Jul 2012, 00:23

The subject of key colours is mentioned in the archive to this forum . It tells us that the keys with more sharps or flats sound progressively more strident. That`s just not true . Go back to the 48 compositions by Bach and you find out it`s not true . This ET poison has ruined music for too long. And you can`t stop me saying it .

gizzy
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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by gizzy » 09 Jul 2012, 08:23

Surely, though, the way it works on a violin is not so much to do with what key you're in as how you deploy the pitch within that tonality - how wide do you want your "semitone" or your "major 3rd"? Choirs are often told to make the major third in one particular chord sound "nice and sharp" to give a positive feel to the chord - although I gather that a slightly flatter 3rd actually gives better sonority in terms of pure sound. I remember singing a lute song by Campion, and at the end of one verse I did some sort of slow ornamentation (sorry I can't remember more details, but this was in 1973!) but I think I dipped down below the main note three times, and deliberately made the the semitone smaller each time. And I can remember doing something the other way when singing "Music for a while" on the word "eternal".Blues singers know how to do this kind of thing to perfection.

For me the idea of keys actually sounding more strident - I'm not sure about that - it might be a throwback to pre-ET days (sorry, nothing to do with John Williams) but it's psychological as much as anything else. Why would a piano composer choose to write in seven flats rather than five sharps? There's a song by Poulenc called just C, in which every line ends with the syllable that sounds like "say" (I don't think I can do é here, can I? Can you see that one? [edit: well, I could in the preview, but some screens just show these things as question marks]), and it is THE most tragic song I know, all about the devastation of France. It's in seven flats. Not entirely clear whether the tonality is major or minor, it's shifting, and definitely doesn't end on a tonic chord of either; for a while I thought "ah, that's symbolic, isn't it, title is C and the major with this key-signature is Cb but of course, it's not because Poulenc would have called C "do". But how can you set such a heart-rending song in a key of five sharps? Five sharps, to me, is wide-eyed mania - but the pitches on the piano are exactly the same.

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 10 Jul 2012, 01:08

Gizzy , I`m glad you mentioned the French musicians as they seemed hell bent on changing keys .I admire the technical ability to compose like that . I suggested on the violin forum to try to copy some Well tempered intervals to see if solo violin gained a new expressive quality .( A classic lead balloon ) Violins can adapt and in a way that freedom loses the chance of creating colours . A History of String Intonation by Hasse Borup has an interesting paragraph about different intervals played by famous violinists .I don`t find any Chopin Mazurkas suffer with extra sharps or flats with my Kirnberger 111 tuning but any piano on the radio sounds instantly out of tune these days. I have to make a real effort to leave the radio switched on if a piano concert is looming .

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 16 Feb 2015, 23:32

I learned this week that Pianoteq with digital pianos can give any Temperament you like . Have any players discovered the benefits of that ? Casios do temperaments without Pianoteq but some makes just do a Pure and then about eight Arab temperaments !! That`s money talking .

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Gill the Piano » 17 Feb 2015, 16:41

Try asking on the digital forum,Jonathan. If I need a stoneage temperament I have to tune it myself! How's the false thumb?
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Is the phrase -Tempered Instrument - too vague?

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 24 Apr 2016, 19:29

Hello Gill . 14 months since I was on here .I just caught up with your question about the false thumb. The principle was awkward but maybe different materials would be more practical . But yesterday I was searching among the digital piano pages to see if there was a smaller key size for adults.
I found that some Yamahas have a slightly shorter octave (see Yamaha --Key width and Octave distance) i.e 15.9cms which is just less than their full size 16.4 cms.
Then I checked my own Hohner (real ) piano octave which is 16,4cms.
I began the violin at 10 years of age and my stretched right hand is one inch narrower than my left . A very late penny then dropped ,which might be useful for some players .
I realised that the difference is mainly because the left fourth finger has always been used for stretching to the highest notes .I had been blaming the thumb stretch . So my current project is to see if exercising those right hand small finger muscles will produce a wider handspan and a comfortable octave .
The small finger stretch uses the chunky muscle on the outer edge of the palm and also foearm muscles that reach down to the elbow (outer edge ). That stretching will be done by those muscles alone without cheating and damaging the hand . I think that last sentence is important for anyone else reading this .
Even Jascha Heifetz had a regular habit of stretching his hands and fingers away from the instrument .
But I also looked up the Janko keyboard to remind myself of a most peculiar invention .

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