local tuner for a historical tuning

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Jonathan the 2nd
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local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 05 Feb 2012, 11:35

I e mailed a local tuner for a historical tuning and he said he only did Equal Temperaments. Now I read that Equal Temperaments are more difficult to tune than historicals. So would the refusal to do a historical tuning indicate something useful for me? (A humble learner who accepts the value of a tuner`s skill ) . That the tuner will not know as much as he should or could? Many digital devices are advertised to make the job easier , so a trained tuner would surely be able to adapt to the new (old ) technology. I never placed any restriction on the price I would pay. That can`t be the reason.

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Re: Supplier apathy

Post by mdw » 05 Feb 2012, 14:56

In 28 years tuning I have only once been asked to do anything other ET. I could probably do it but would you want to pay for the 1 hour researching plus me doing 3-4 on one of my own pianos to make sure im happy with the job I can provide you . Plus tuning my piano back to ET at the end. Perhaps your tuner has enough ET work simply not to need the agro. Its one of the really GREAT thing about being your own boss. If I dont want to do it .....................I quite simply say no thanks. :D

Jonathan the 2nd
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 07 Feb 2012, 02:28

Ah you`re a hard man mdw.

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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by sussexpianos » 10 Feb 2012, 23:22

Some tuners don't know how or are too busy to worry about it. A tuner who has an ETA, electronic tuning aid, will be able to tune in the many temperments available. You will just have to ring round. Also try opera houses, tuners like me who work in them, tune to different pitches and sometimes different temperments. Historical tunings are mostly done on harsichords or Pianofortes, not modern pianos but it can be done. You could also ask a harsichord tuner if he or someone he knows can do the job.
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Model V » 11 Feb 2012, 09:54

I would love to know why the OP wants a modern tuned in an historical temperament.

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Colin Nicholson » 11 Feb 2012, 11:04

Jonathan the 2nd wrote:I e mailed a local tuner for a historical tuning and he said he only did Equal Temperaments. .

...... what happened to the original piano tuner who did your Kirnberger temperament on 13th January?????? How many tuners do you have ??
Did you not ask YOUR previously booked tuner for this info? (I would have done)
Personally.... my favourite saying is that it takes time for a customer to trust a tuner, and even longer for the tuner to trust the customer.....

Stick to the one tuner - good policy.
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Gill the Piano » 11 Feb 2012, 17:51

Colin Nicholson wrote: Stick to the one tuner - good policy.

I have a customer who alternates me with another local tuner. She likes to 'spread the business around'. Never mind us poor souls who have to change eachother's scale each time - no 2 tuners tune exactly alike. :roll:
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by dancarney » 12 Feb 2012, 18:51

Gill the Piano wrote:
Colin Nicholson wrote: Stick to the one tuner - good policy.

I have a customer who alternates me with another local tuner. She likes to 'spread the business around'. Never mind us poor souls who have to change eachother's scale each time - no 2 tuners tune exactly alike. :roll:
So who's right, then?? :D
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by rxd » 13 Feb 2012, 16:36

I used to tune a Hamburg C for the local 'lady Bountiful'. I happened to mention I had trouble building stability into the instrument and that it was going out of tune in a rather strange way. it was then she told me that there were two other tuners rotating tunings with me.

I asked her politely to leave me out of the rotation.

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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Johnkie » 13 Feb 2012, 18:17

rxd wrote:I used to tune a Hamburg C for the local 'lady Bountiful'. I happened to mention I had trouble building stability into the instrument and that it was going out of tune in a rather strange way. it was then she told me that there were two other tuners rotating tunings with me.

I asked her politely to leave me out of the rotation.
..... and that is exactly what I would do too RxD - The ONLY time I would accept another tuner doing "my" client's piano is if it were for a concert and I couldn't arrange time to do it ... and even then it would have to be on the understanding that I approve of the other tuner's ability.
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 14 Feb 2012, 14:05

I`ve missed out some questions here. My daughter was the player in our house for some years. Then she moved away .After a long gap I ,recently ,decided to learn to play. The first ,local , tuner took a very long time to reply. He then only quoted a price for ET and did not answer my question about Kirnberger tuning .I enquired again about the Kirnberger Tuning and awaited a reply . In the meantime I found a tuner via this forum who replied , without a long delay , and wanted to tune the Kirnberger . A week or so after that tuning I received a 2nd reply from the original , local , tuner who said he did not tune anything except ET. So long delays to e mails and unanswered questions have caused your present confusion.I was mainly interested in learning the Bach Preludes and Fugues and also Chopin. I have all the Mazurkas that I had already tried on the violin. Reading music was not a problem.I just had to adapt to the keyboard layout. My right hand had already been busy when I learned classical guitar so it`s all coming together nicely . I can stay in the shallow end with slower pieces for now. Unusually though , I have no fear of foreign keys and can handle them without too much trouble. I had been looking at the utube versions of Unequal tuning pieces and was keen to see what it sounded like on a live piano. I could tell the piano had gone out of tune ( originally ET )and also how many notes jarred (ET notes ) on my basically" violin ears. " If you can`t hear the difference and don`t mind it`s not a problem. I listened to an unequal version of the Raindrop Prelude yesterday and then listened to Martha Argeritch (a legend to me ) on the same piece and could clearly hear sharp and flat notes in the first two minutes. They sound quite normal until you compare them. I call them stubbornly out of tune notes. I would not think mixing up tuners was a good idea . Against what many people say the Kirnberger in a key with six flats does not sound at all strident or stressed. Bach probably played a similar tuning to the Kirnberger himself and the idea of him accepting and enduring the sound of ET tuning seems too ridiculous.

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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Gill the Piano » 14 Feb 2012, 19:21

Bach wrote the 48 Preludes and Fugues to prove that ET worked, actually.
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Colin Nicholson » 14 Feb 2012, 20:44

they were specifically written for the "Das Wohltemperierte Klavier" (as named on the book by JS Bach translates - The Well Tempered Piano) - hence the title deriving from the Equal Temperament Scale.

or.... Clavecin Bien Tempere (French)
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Withindale » 14 Feb 2012, 22:32

Gill the Piano wrote:Bach wrote the 48 Preludes and Fugues to prove that ET worked, actually.
Gill

Are you 100% sure? I am looking forward to the day when I am proficient enough to play some of Bach's Preludes and Fugues and trying them in a Well Temperament. See Nigel Taylor's pages for an example of an alternative view: http://www.kirnberger.fsnet.co.uk/

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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by vernon » 14 Feb 2012, 23:05

After 60 years at the equal temperament game when, I am thinking I am just getting those rascally beats correct and wrestled into place, I can't cope with people going back 300 years to the stone/tone age( so to speak)
If it's your bag to tinkle tunes in a temperament that sounds like a bag of old nails scratching in a tin bath that is your prerogative. Call me old fashioned......

We've got enough up here in Scotland with Our Dear Leader looking back to Bannockburn in 13jd.kb434 or so without looking at John Dowland's navel or something.
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 15 Feb 2012, 09:56

3 Interesting answers.

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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by sussexpianos » 15 Feb 2012, 11:47

Colin Nicholson wrote:
Jonathan the 2nd wrote:I e mailed a local tuner for a historical tuning and he said he only did Equal Temperaments. .

...... what happened to the original piano tuner who did your Kirnberger temperament on 13th January?????? How many tuners do you have ??
Did you not ask YOUR previously booked tuner for this info? (I would have done)
Personally.... my favourite saying is that it takes time for a customer to trust a tuner, and even longer for the tuner to trust the customer.....

Stick to the one tuner - good policy.
I have been tuning a piano for a lady teacher for 6 years. yesterday she canceled the appointment saying that she could not wait 4 weeks and that she had booked another tuner, and also to tell me that he was £10 cheaper. I said OK, but if it goes tits up, I will not be rescuing you! Why is it that some people ring up and want it that week! Besides, £50 for a tuning is my rate which is reasonable, £40 is too cheap and I cannot make a living on that! Some tuners near me charge £55-£75. One charged a local school £100!!
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Colin Nicholson » 15 Feb 2012, 13:06

Mmmmm.... 4 weeks can be a bit long for a teacher to wait - depends - I bet though if it was a free warranty tuning, they would wait longer!!

I noticed my piano went out of tune quite dramatically in 2 months - dropped roughly about 2 beats - did my head in!!!.... and its retuned now.

Sometimes I strike a deal with another tuning friend - luckily we still keep in touch, and went to college together. If a punter cant wait more than say a week, I'll tell them that I'll get back to them within a couple of hours, ring my friend - and the tuning can usually go ahead "between us" - I'll get about £10 for some commission; that way, they are more likely to ring you back & no custom lost. However, ringing a stranger tuner.... would need to know them & their work. Dont suppose you'll lose sleep over it !
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by rxd » 15 Feb 2012, 13:57

Interesting thread, Johnathan 2nd.

I experimented with temperaments in the '60's. As tuners, we think and work vertically, that is, harmonically. We are concerned with the sound of several notes sounding together and arrange the harmonics in a certain way so that nothing is really offensive and let the funadamentals fall where they may. This is the nature and purpose of equal temrmnt but it means that melodic intonation is, in reality, the least of our concerns. As a violinist, melodic intonation is your principal concern. I noticed the profound effect unequal temperaments had on melodic intonation, the notes were much closer to where I wanted to hear them if I stuck to certain keys.

Although the 12th root of 2 was known to the ancIents for purposes other than music, it was not found necessary to music until composers wanted more freedom of modulation. A. J. Hipkins, a name familiar to tuners began instructing Broadwoods tuners in E. T. In the mid 1840's. Until then, meantone had been predominant as a compromise for the myriad of temperaments before that when musicians played mostly their own works and many tuned their own temperaments to fit before the necessity of the professional tuner. Even Bach used a temperament that, while it could be used in all keys, was far removed from equal temperament. Known as 'Well temperament' in English, there is much fascinating current information on the web. The way Bach wrote specifically to the nature of his temperament is a lifetimes study, particularly when we consider the two basic interpretations of the cryptic clues that he left and the cryptic nature of Bach himself. I am not surprised that even many early music people have but a flimsy grasp of temperaments.

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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Gill the Piano » 15 Feb 2012, 18:21

Withindale wrote:
Gill the Piano wrote:Bach wrote the 48 Preludes and Fugues to prove that ET worked, actually.
Gill

Are you 100% sure? I am looking forward to the day when I am proficient enough to play some of Bach's Preludes and Fugues and trying them in a Well Temperament. See Nigel Taylor's pages for an example of an alternative view: http://www.kirnberger.fsnet.co.uk/

Ian
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by dancarney » 15 Feb 2012, 20:06

Makes for some interesting reading:

http://www.eunomios.org/contrib/francis1/francis1.html
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Re: local tuner for a historical tuning

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 16 Feb 2012, 12:58

The long running argument about Bach`s tuning preferences always pivots around a right or wrong question. More like a proof of historical fact or fiction. But my acid test right here and now is ; is it more beautiful to me ? So my answer is Yes .To me the unequal temperament I am using sounds more in tune and the chords sound more beautiful . Bach was not restricted to one temperament throughout his life and I think he would have noticed the difference quicker than me. If Equal Temperament was technically possible in his day (?) I think he would have rejected it . Many different tunings apart from ET are possible and to my ears they nearly all have qualities that I would choose before ET . So in the 60 years tuning have you had much experience of Unequal Tuning from the playing and listening angle ? Would Bach have been interested in more beauty in the sound or in a dry technical exercise to prove it was possible to have a circulating temperament? Did the squiggles on the top of the first page mean anything at all? Did Bach spend a lot of time doodling aimlessly on his manuscripts? If they referred to a tuning does it look as if he was dividing it all up evenly? Was Bach capable of imagining something more complex? Maybe he thought "A nod`s as good as a wink to a blind horse" ? Nobody is going to understand something upside down. That`s beyond our understanding. That`s not the Kirnberger tuning btw. It`s the way he operated .The squiggles were slap bang on top of the first page of the Preludes and Fugues. Not on a grocery list.What was he up to? He wanted to make us think . That`s how many of the pieces are written. Each key has "in your face" features built in to make you learn and realise how to play.
I shall see if the German for Equal Tempered is the same as Well Tempered. It`s not likely Bach would have missed the chance to write Equal if that`s what he meant. There was quite enough hassle about tuning going on at the time for him to have made the point much more clearly.

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