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Author Topic:   Tempered Tuning Armageddon.
Eric West
Member

From: Portland, Oregon, USA

posted 24 May 2004 06:00 PM     profile     
As I just had my birthday, I consider Mr Emmons' among others' comments to be a fine present.

Either I am not crazy after all, or I have some Really Good Company..

I must note that "strings" such as fiddles are not strictly ear instruments, any more than a PSG. Good fiddlers that I have played with, like Donny Herron, or locally, James Mason, constantly play with and to their open strings for reference to true pitch. Ones I have played with that played "strictly by ear" often wandered around following out of tune vocals.

I'm going to be saving this string to my HDD, that's for sure.

Thanks all, and especially Mr. Emmons for putting some of the "tuning things" into perspective for me.

It was the best birthday present for the guy that has "everything".

I can die now.

( just kidding...)

EJL

David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 24 May 2004 08:10 PM     profile     
Well, happy birthday, Eric! Now we never said you weren't crazy. But if you are, it ain't got nothin' to do with the fact that you tune ET.

You're right about fiddles. Once they tune their A string to 440, then tune their others in fifths to that, they are pegged to ET A=440 throughout their range. Provided they can play in tune, they will then play more or less to ET unless their ear hears a third or something that sounds like it needs something different. They're not thinking JI or ET, but just playing by ear whatever sounds right according to everything else that is going on. Same with horns. They tune to a single note that is given them. In an orchestra that will be A=440, but brass bands and wind orchestras sometimes tune to concert Bb straight up. Now their horn is pegged to ET throughout its range. They will only vary from ET where it sounds right.

When good musicians play live together the variable pitched players will play by ear to whatever sounds right at the moment. If they are playing with an ET piano or whatever, they will more or less match it and there will not be a huge clash. The big problem comes when people record tracks at different times without being able to hear each other live.

Franklin
Member

From:

posted 24 May 2004 09:42 PM     profile     
David,

Well said

This tuning JI or ET debate reminds me of the "is the glass half full or half empty" scenario. How best to tune thirds largely depends on what temperment pleases our ears. Both ET and JI coexist on modern records without any problems.

Playing in tune, is a different animal...Paul

Eric West
Member

From: Portland, Oregon, USA

posted 24 May 2004 10:27 PM     profile     
As this string appearantly ends without my hide on the wall, I'm still in awe..

I've also noted that some notes, runs, slides into and out of have absolutely no relation to strict fretting at all. Sometimes making a three phrase pattern over two frets. (I still do that in "The Fireman" just for grins, and nobody seems to know.)

I remember my teacher with his inscrutable way of cutting through things told me that if it doesn't sound right to you ( meaning me I guess) when you REALLY listen to it, then you have more work to do on it. I remember working for weeks on the simplest of things, as my teacher used to, ( and probably still does) and I've heard stories of others including the other "Big Guys" doing too.

Like I said, this thread has been a good present.

Thanks Mr E, Mr F, Mr's CD, D, D BH, b0b, et al.

And above all my thanks to Mr Charleton for the hours of torture he endured for a few measley dollars on my account...

EJL

[This message was edited by Eric West on 24 May 2004 at 10:32 PM.]

Ernie Renn
Member

From: Brainerd, Minnesota USA

posted 25 May 2004 05:19 AM     profile     
"Compared to ET, a JI third sounds flat." Why? Because it is.

"Compared to JI, an ET third sounds sharp." It only sounds that way because we're so used to hearing the blend of a JI steel in our bedrooms.

If you spend all your time playing with tracks or solo at home, stay with JI. You'll sound more in tune, at least with yourself.

------------------
My best,
Ernie

www.buddyemmons.com

[This message was edited by Ernie Renn on 25 May 2004 at 05:20 AM.]

Franklin
Member

From:

posted 25 May 2004 06:07 AM     profile     
Ernie,

The answer to both your comparisons is exactly the same, because there is no such thing as an ET rhythm track, unless you have tracks that are acoustic piano only.

Every fretless instrument uses JI to adjust to the center of the bands pitch. The band or orchestra's pitch is created when several instruments, (including the drums) perform together. Several instruments played at once creates harmonic overtones to emerge in those recorded tracks that are completely unrelated to the acoustic piano's ET. The studio term we use today for this is "Gremlins" Those pesky little gremlins or cents, depending on the key of a particular song, can vary far beyond the scope of what has been discussed here as sharp or flat thirds in this thread, BEFORE the steel player ever hits a note.

Its impossible for guitarists to perfectly match ET note for note with the piano. They also adjust per track when recording. The fretted instruments, Bass, Guitar, Mandolins, etc. also while playing their instruments clamp down certain strings a little harder than the rest, shifting the bands pitch farther from strict ET. Horns play to their sections pitch and so do string players. Accordian players, well there's no hope there

The real truth about ET and JI is that they perfectly coexist together in recorded music created by multiples of instruments.

If I understood correctly, Buddy's reason for tuning ET, is to utilize all the various string groups within the tuning, pedals up and down with the F#. His point seems to be the best reason to consider ET.

Even then, JI players can compensate their F#s by giving them a nudge in the pedals down positions and then its back to a tie ballgame.

Paul

[This message was edited by Franklin on 25 May 2004 at 06:13 AM.]

[This message was edited by Franklin on 25 May 2004 at 06:15 AM.]

David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 25 May 2004 06:56 AM     profile     
Okay, Eric, now you got PF and BE discussing this for you. You happy now? My two cents ain't worth much here. But PF just brought up something I have wondered about - that's the summation of all the instruments playing together. I've always suspected that the big sound of all the instruments in a group might resonate strong enough to cause slightly out of tune instruments to resonate to the summation pitch. In other words, to some extent the different instruments influence each other and resonate together on a summation pitch that might be a little different than their individual pitches. On the other hand, maybe it's just our ears that create the summation pitch from the blend. I wonder if sound engineers have ever checked this out. You'd have to put individual tuners on each instrument, and see if the individual pitches change when they all play together.
Buddy Emmons
Member

From: Hermitage, TN USA

posted 25 May 2004 07:10 AM     profile     
Years ago I put a Harmonic Tune-Up course out that illustrated the difference in the blend of two notes versus three. My suggestion for getting the third closer to the other instruments was to tune the G# where it sounded sharp to the E but disappeared when the B note was added. It worked and worked well.
Franklin
Member

From:

posted 25 May 2004 07:48 AM     profile     
Buddy,
Just curious, Did you ever scope it to the tuner? and if so, Where did your G# read using that method? Everyone seems to compromise, tuning thirds a tad sharp, as brother Stu said earlier. Players seem to only differ as to how far sharp they can comfortably go.
Rick Aiello
Member

From: Berryville, VA USA

posted 25 May 2004 08:38 AM     profile     
Mr. Emmons, how do you tune your non-pedal steels ...

JI, ET or the above mentioned compromise (3rd a tad sharp, disappearing with an added 5th).

Wow, I can't believe I'm "talking" to Buddy Emmons

------------------

www.horseshoemagnets.com

Buddy Emmons
Member

From: Hermitage, TN USA

posted 25 May 2004 09:14 AM     profile     
Paul,
No, I didnít scope or recommend a number to start with. I would tune the G# sharp to the E note first and then add the B. If the G# still sounded sharp in the triad, I would tune it down slightly until the sound mellowed out. Then Iíd play the E and G# together again to demonstrate the G# was still sharp to the ear. Then I would add the B note again and the dissonance would disappear. It served as a fair compromise between the two tuning methods while cutting down on the nudge factor.
Buddy Emmons
Member

From: Hermitage, TN USA

posted 25 May 2004 09:29 AM     profile     
Rick,
I could be more tolerant with lap steels because there are no pedals to change the harmonic structure of the basic tuning. But my ear is so accustomed to equal tempered tuning, I would probably stick with that method; especially with the intervals I have to deal with on the 12 string C6 tuning I use.

[This message was edited by Buddy Emmons on 25 May 2004 at 09:54 AM.]

David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 25 May 2004 10:53 AM     profile     
Buddy, roughly when did you change over to all ET? And can you think of some before and after songs that would be good to listen to to compare the difference? Thanks for sharing with us your experience on all this.
Buddy Emmons
Member

From: Hermitage, TN USA

posted 25 May 2004 01:35 PM     profile     
Bill,
My best guess would be in the late 80ís before the swing series albums on the Step One label. One of the guitars I used on our first album, Swinginí 40ís thru the 80ís, was a Fender Custom I had purposely tuned the beats out of the thirds for what I thought would be a more authentic swing sound. It was a mistake, but remembering it as a deliberate move makes me think I was into equal temperament at the time. As for comparison albums, the recordings on the Flying Fish label would be fair game.

[This message was edited by Buddy Emmons on 25 May 2004 at 01:53 PM.]

C Dixon
Member

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 25 May 2004 02:09 PM     profile     
David,

I want you to ponder something if you will. Based on your answer concerning a G# major chord root note being tuned straight up; while the G#'s as the third of an E chord would be tuned flat, etc, I would like for you to peruse the following:

When any PSG player attempts to tune JI as much as they can, I will agree that all thirds end up flat if one tunes the G#'s flat in the open tuning.

This of course is because of our bar being straight and parallel, it repeats that same "flat" at every fret. This would of course apply if the A and B pedals were down and the C# was flat referencing all other thirds on the 5th string at every fret.

Now couple this to the fact that one who tunes JI also tunes their 5ths slightly sharp but NOT as sharp as the thirds are flat. So the same analogy would apply here.

Continuing on with this, check out the following. In our beloved C6 tuning we have, as you know, an A minor chord embedded in it. In fact as you also know, it is the relative minor to the C chord, that the given open strings are tuned to.

Now if you tune the thirds flat (the E's in a C chord on C6), then it follows you will also tune the A's (A minor part) also way flat. This means that A minor chord is flat of a true A minor chord NOT imbedded in its relative major chord.

I know this to be a fact because concert music written in a minor key have their root note dead on 440ref (if the orchestra tunes to 440ref).

So, this means you have shifted on the C6 neck, not only the E's flat, but the G's sharp and the A's flat. As well as the relative minor chord at each fret.

Since there are 12 frets (keys), then that is 36 notes shifted from ET just considering the above scenario. Not to mention all pedal and knee lever combinations thrown into the equation.

Note: If I have err'd please tell me. Adding those 36 notes to the major chord root notes at each fret, that is a total of 48 discretely different notes on that tuning so far.

I believe you are are probably already anticipating my question in conclusion.

Does this mean the amount of notes in our Western style of music (the so-called 12 note semi-tone system) is NOT really 12 notes at all, but a much higher number of notes, if you include all keys and all related minors and major plus minor keys, plus a myriad of chord spellings where given notes would have to be shifted for JI purposes?

I will respect your answer even though I may not agree with it.

My answer is; we who insist that JI is the proper way to tune because it sounds better, have created a tuning monster. And because of this I must go along with Buddy 100%.

And I believe with all my heart that IF, we forced ourselves to get used to ET, in time our "cultured" ears would force us to say the same thing to a steel player who tuned JI, that many piano players and other players say to steelers now,

"you are flat!"

Very Respectfully,

carl

Stephen Gambrell
Member

From: Ware Shoals, South Carolina, USA

posted 25 May 2004 02:51 PM     profile     
Carl, I do believe you've got it! When we hear a guitar string bend, we're not simply hearing the "starting" note, and the "bent" note, but all the microtones in between. And it's the same with ANY non-fretted instrument, which we must consider the steel. As a guitar player, I've learned to accept, and deal with, the fact that my guitars will not be in tune. PERIOD. Get it dead on in "G," and it's off in "E."
Get close to the rest of the band, and always play places where the audience has reached the altered state where nobody notices, but doesn't gripe too much. That's why the Chorus pedal was invented
BTW, Eric, Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday...you get the idea.
Lee Baucum
Member

From: McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) - The Final Frontier

posted 25 May 2004 03:40 PM     profile     
So. Have we determined which tuning method is correct?

------------------
Lee, from South Texas
Down On The Rio Grande

Hook Moore
Member

From: South Charleston,West Virginia

posted 25 May 2004 05:24 PM     profile     
Yes

------------------
HookMoore.com

Eric West
Member

From: Portland, Oregon, USA

posted 25 May 2004 05:58 PM     profile     
I'm still going to tune straight up.

I will feel a little better about it now.

EJL

[This message was edited by Eric West on 25 May 2004 at 06:07 PM.]

Jeff A. Smith
Member

From: Angola,Ind. U.S.A.

posted 25 May 2004 06:05 PM     profile     
Buddy said:

quote:
My apologies for not explaining up front Bill, but I do tune everything ET. Compensation is what I had to deal with tuning the old way but now itís a thing of the past. I may go a cent or so flat in some cases but strictly to handle temp changes under certain conditions.

Buddy, I guess I was one of those who took the following post of yours, from May 2, 2002, to be an explanation of your then current policy for tuning thirds:

http://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/003912.html

quote:

I tune my thirds to 438 just to compensate for a possible drift of that note a cent or two sharp.
For everybody else, no matter how much you quibble over two cents, harmonics, fundamentals, or any other rationale, when your 434 clashes with a 440 in the band, you're gonna lose.

Based on that post, a few others and I assumed you usually split the difference about equally between JI and ET thirds. Was tuning your thirds to "438," i.e. a full 8 cents (2hz = 8 cents) flat of ET, something you ever did on a routine basis?

I know that for many years you tuned beatless, which is even more flat of ET, but I'm wondering if you ever split the difference about equally in recent years, since you became unhappy with JI.

Thanks,

Jeff

[This message was edited by Jeff A. Smith on 25 May 2004 at 06:14 PM.]

[This message was edited by Jeff A. Smith on 25 May 2004 at 06:16 PM.]

Buddy Emmons
Member

From: Hermitage, TN USA

posted 26 May 2004 05:23 AM     profile     
Iíve been everywhere between JI and ET but spent considerable time tuning the way I mentioned in my harmonic Tune-Up tuning guide around 13 posts ago. Once I went to ET, the 438 number was to compensate for certain types of jobs but never went below that number.

One of my pet peeves working in some studios was air conditioning vents blowing over the spot assigned to the steel guitar. Some of the conditioners went on and off frequently and made it tough to stay on top of tuning. Tuning my thirds to 438 was for the purpose of making sure they wouldn't drift too sharp under those conditions.

For less critical jobs I have a Velcro mounted Korg tuner on the back of my steel. When using it, I tune my G# until the red and green lights alternate and the needle is slightly below straight up. Whatever that computes to in numbers is what I use under climate controlled conditions.

[This message was edited by Buddy Emmons on 26 May 2004 at 06:03 AM.]

Stephen Gambrell
Member

From: Ware Shoals, South Carolina, USA

posted 26 May 2004 05:48 AM     profile     
It's occurred to me, reading this stuff...
A couple of years ago, when I set out to learn this pedal steel gizmo, and joined this here Forum, there was a lot of name calling, and folks whining 'cause the "big names" didn't want to be seen here anymore. But just in this thread, 2 legends of the steel, mssrs. Emmons and Franklin, are discussing tuning with us lesser folk. Thanks, Buddy, Paul, David, Carl(my brother) and the rest of the "big guys," for taking a minute or two to share this stuff with us.
Buddy Emmons
Member

From: Hermitage, TN USA

posted 26 May 2004 06:22 AM     profile     
Stephen,
I'm sure Paul would be as quick to say it's a pleasure. I've never forgotten how hungry I was for knowledge when I was young. Being able to share the knowledge and experience Iíve gained over the years and putting a smile on someoneís face puts one on mine, so Iíd say itís a fair tradeoff.
C Dixon
Member

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 26 May 2004 07:30 AM     profile     
Thank you Stephen, but I must tell you that I am not in the league with those you mentioned. I could not even begin to carry their cases.

But I will share a true life experience that will lend credence to what Buddy said.

Many years ago I was telling a field technician how to do a complex technical adjustment on a piece of electronic gear. My company (RCA) had just hired a fellow from NY. He saw me do this a couple more times. Finally, he came over to me and said,

"carl, you should never share your knowledge with those field techs. Because then they will know as much as you and they might try to steal your job!"

I said, "Really? Hmmmm?

David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 26 May 2004 10:55 AM     profile     
Carl, yes, there are many more than 12 tones in Western music. For each note on a piano, there are several tones that fretless strings, horns, and vocalists will use, depending on whether it is being used as the tonic, third, fifth, etc. (blues musicians have a bunch of other tones, especially around and between the minor and major third). It's all done unconsciously, and it poses no problem except for fixed-pitch instruments. It is no accident that most instruments in orchestras and wind bands are variable pitch. Over the centuries, they found that is what works best. I think this is also part of the appeal of slide and steel guitar, we can hit all the tones and everything in between, just like the human voice, which is the model for all music.

As a practical matter, I wouldn't ever try to tune a six neck to pure JI. There are too many close invervals between the strings, that provide too many inversions of too many complex chords. And then when you throw in the pedals and knees, it just wont work. The more you work up and down the strings at the same fret or box, the more you need ET. JI (or closer to it) can work on E9 for tunes with simple chords, because you move the same JI chords up and down the neck. It's a simpler tuning that really sticks with the major JI chords.

The same thing happens with regular guitar players. They may tune straight up to a meter, but when playing simple chords and progressions many will strike the root chord of the next song, and tweak it slightly by ear, moving closer to JI. If you've tuned like that for a song in G, you might be able to play a song in C. But if you move to the key of E or A, you're in trouble. Many players will hit that E chord, and tweak things again, moving closer to JI for that key. They are going back and forth between the JIs for the different keys. But people who play jazz and more complicated stuff are more likely to tune straight up to the meter and stay there.

Actually, what seems to be happening is that a lot of steelers (like me) say they tune JI, but they really put their thirds somewhere between JI and ET. And a lot of steelers say they tune ET, but likewise will really put their thirds somewhere between JI and ET. We're probably all closer to each other than we think. And when using the bar, good steelers will put that third by ear where it sounds good with whatever else is going on.

I don't think the fifths matter much, because JI and ET are so close for fifths. On E9, if I tune my Es to A=440, and I tune everything else by ear to get everything working together as good as it can be (I don't listen for beats, just good sound), when I check with the meter, my thirds are around 437-438, and my fifths are 440-441. Am I tuning JI or ET?

The uni presents the biggest problem, because you have to make both "necks" work together on the same strings. I tune the E9 stuff like above, and sort of let the B6 stuff fall where it may. By the meter, maybe it's a little more out of tune than the E9 stuff (considering either JI or ET). But it seems tolerable to me, because the dissonance of the typical six neck style chords hides it.

Stephen, if you ever heard my amateur hack work, you wouldn't mention my name in the same breath as those above. I'm only in this conversation because I'm drawing on information I got in music theory, and playing piano, and horns in bands and orchestras, and playing guitar, dobro and pedal steel. The pedal steel made me think about all this stuff way more than anything else. I think the overtones come through stronger on steel than on piano, so pure ET sounds less tolerable on steel than on piano, and that's why so many of us have to temper things a little more toward JI. We have a variable pitch bar, but at the same time, we have too many fixed pitch strings, pedals and knees to play pure JI, and that's why many players turn to ET. I think the consensus is somewhere between the two. Now I'm in so far over my head, I gotta stop for air.

Franklin
Member

From:

posted 26 May 2004 11:43 AM     profile     
Stephen,

Ditto's to what Buddy said Music sure would be boring without the exchange of ideas and personal experiences. Hangin' here is fun

Paul

chas smith
Member

From: Encino, CA, USA

posted 26 May 2004 12:33 PM     profile     
quote:
You're right about fiddles. Once they tune their A string to 440, then tune their others in fifths to that, they are pegged to ET A=440 throughout their range.
Ummm, actually, they're not pegged to ET, because it's not a fixed pitch instrument. With all the string player tuning jokes aside, the only time an orchestra will play in ET is when there is a piano involved and then they make the appropriate adjustments.
David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 26 May 2004 01:42 PM     profile     
But, Chas, they are pegged to ET by their four open strings. I don't think it is an accident that those strings are tuned in fifths, intervals for which JI and ET are almost identical (basses are tuned in fourths, which are also close between JI and ET). By not having fixed thirds, they are then free to play JI, while their four open strings stay pegged to ET. In the same way, the keys or valves of horns are designed to be centered, or pegged, on the ET pitches. But the variable pitch mouthpieces allow them to be played JI in spite of that.

This discussion came from Eric's fear that if the JI E for a C chord was flatted (from ET), then if you changed to the key of E, would the whole E scale be flatted. The answer is no, for a variable pitched instrument. With its variable pitched instruments, the orchestra will play the E of a C chord JI flat. But if they play in the key of E, they will start from their ET centered instruments and the tonic E should be A=440.

The point is that the variable pitched instruments are tuned, or centered, on the ET scale, but can be played JI. Whereas, a fixed pitch instrument has to choose one or the other, and so is better off choosing ET, so that all keys can be played. The steel guitar is a variable pitched instrument, but one that has some fixed 3rd intervals. Therein lies the problem.

John Steele
Member

From: Renfrew, Ontario, Canada

posted 26 May 2004 02:33 PM     profile     
quote:

tuned in fifths, intervals for which JI and ET are almost identical (basses are tuned in fourths, which are also close between JI and ET)

I have to respectfully disagree with that. It depends what your definition of "almost" is though.
-John

------------------
www.ottawajazz.com

[This message was edited by John Steele on 26 May 2004 at 02:34 PM.]

David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 26 May 2004 03:01 PM     profile     
John, the JI third is flat from ET by about 13cents. The JI fifth is about 2 cents sharp, and the JI fourth is about 2 cents flat.
http://home.earthlink.net/~kgann/Octave.html

People don't generally notice diffences less than about 5 cents (or maybe it's 3 cents, I forget). That would be about 2 hz around A=440. So for practical purposes the JI and ET fifths and fourths are tolerably the same.

David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 26 May 2004 03:35 PM     profile     
I once got interested in what would happen to various chords if you tuned a fixed pitch instrument like a piano to the perfect JI chromatic scale. What will that do to the thirds in various chords? It turns out the thirds in the I, IV, V and VIm chords work out tolerable well. But the third of the II chord and the VI major chord would sound horrible. So beyond the most simple progressions, a fixed pitch instrument cannot sound good tuned to JI, even if you only play in one key.

But with a steel guitar and its movable chords, once you tune that JI third in the I chord, your bar carries that perfect JI interval to any major chord you play on those same strings. That's why you can tune JI and play alot of stuff JI with no problems on E9. But once you start using that flatted third string as anything other than the third, you've got a problem. When you mash the AB pedals to get the IV chord, the string that was the third, now becomes the root. But with the pedal stop you've tuned that new root so that it works okay. But now when you try another inversion using the F lever and A pedal, that string that was tuned flat is exposed and is no longer the third. It's just flat. You can fix it with a compensator. But eventually, with all conceivable inversions and pedal/lever combinations, you run out of the ability to compensate. So you can get by with sweet sounding JI tuning for simple progressions, but for more complicated stuff only something closer to ET will work.

Graham Griffith
Member

From: Glebe, N.S.W., Australia

posted 26 May 2004 04:44 PM     profile     
For fear of sounding like a complete dummy, I was always under the impression that pianos were "temper" tuned by professionals with an "ear" so that various chordal combinations would all sound "okay" (whatever that is) to our ear. By this I assume that we're talking some sort of compromise between JI & ET ... but this discussions has seemed to indicate that pianos are ET ... if this is so then why do we have piano tuning professionals? ... I sure haven't seen one using accurate electronic measurement. I thought only electronic keyboards were 440 across the board.

Apart from the above I must state that I play a form of universal tuning and have been playing ET for well over a year after blindly accepting the JI approach for many years ... a session where I had to come back to add a tones 1 & 3 octave slide to the end of a previous session (the easiest $200 fee I've ever earned) also clued me in ... my JI tuned guitar was noticed and the third went up to 440 for that slide.

I also play Eharp with a tuning as follows: C# E F F# G G# A B C# E ... you can imagine the dilemma here (it's about as intense as the most complex pedal steel guitar) ... straight 440 seems to be the go for the jazz tunes but for Hawaiian, which I also play, I lean to a modification as I'm often playing with just a single guitar or uke.

Graham

Bobby Lee
Sysop

From: Cloverdale, North California, USA

posted 26 May 2004 05:39 PM     profile     
quote:
I once got interested in what would happen to various chords if you tuned a fixed pitch instrument like a piano to the perfect JI chromatic scale. What will that do to the thirds in various chords? It turns out the thirds in the I, IV, V and VIm chords work out tolerable well. But the third of the II chord and the VI major chord would sound horrible.
The problem there is that you are assuming that there are only 12 intervals in the "perfect JI chromatic scale". Harry Partch stopped at 43 intervals per octave, which most JI theorists agree is a reasonable limit.

When it comes to the II chord, you have the same dilemma that JI steel players have on their F# strings: which interval should you use? You can use the 9/8 interval and be in tune with the B strings, or you can use the smaller 10/9 interval and be in tune with the A and C# notes.

This is why many steel players have compensators that lower their F# strings a wee bit when they press the A+B pedals. The F# dilemma is a pretty strong argument for equal temperament.

------------------
Bobby Lee - email: quasar@b0b.com - gigs - CDs, Open Hearts
Sierra Session 12 (E9), Williams†400X†(Emaj9,†D6), Sierra†Olympic†12†(C6add9),
Sierra†Laptop†8†(E6add9), Fender†Stringmaster†(E13,†A6),
Roland†Handsonic, Line 6 Variax

Eric West
Member

From: Portland, Oregon, USA

posted 26 May 2004 06:35 PM     profile     
Dave.

I think "fear" is a term I save for a 25 ton trac hoe starting to slide off a lowboy deck in downtown situations, or brakes becoming useless where there's nowhere to jump and no road to begin with...

I actually started realising how futile it would be to "JI" flatten the thirds on virtually anything, and be able to play much more than a tonic chord, let alone with a Well Intoned Guitar Player. ( there ARE such creatures)

Not least is that half the combinations available on a 3pd/4kl E9 would be "problematic", or at least a royal engineering nightmare to become "Just".

Then you have single string phrases that constantly need to be taken into account. Both linear and vertical. Nightmares eternal.

For instance, there's that ancient "V-IV-I" substitution played over a I chord in all the old ET ( Ernest Tubb), Carl Smith etc songs. Now, they are all "major" chords, and all have thirds that would need flattened. C'mon...

I"m going to say right here and now that my tuning ET has little to do with mountains of research, or even much thought for the first twenty years and couple thousand live gigs.

I guess you could say that the reason Mr Emmons tunes that way is that he's smart, whereas the reason I do is because I'm stupid. I'm happy with that, and it is probably not far from the truth .

When somebody in a band wants an E note, I play what's perfectly centered in my Korg. I don't ask them if they are using it as a Third, Sixth, or Fifth. Similarly with a B, D, G, or any other note.

Here's a fancy way to look at our little 12 note system:

Indian scales, notes, and music composition often sounds out of tune when played by Masters such as Shankar and his daughter. They aren't. It is just that "our ears" are not sophisticated enough to discern the nuances of the complicated scales.

Myself, I know that when I hear a major chord, it has the right amount of "beats", or to me, it loses it's "sparkle". Maybe that's because I've played the way I do, straight up, for 24 or 5 years and am used to it. I learned early on that tuning beats out of some of the chord notes would put me a mile off on others. I didn't even really know why.

If this gives me an air of sophistication in anybody's mind, I must warn against overestimating me..

As far as the participation by the Greats of Our Craft, I'm totally in awe. I'm surprised that I wasn't just referred to the endless strings that had at first blush been "done to death". Turns out it hadn't been, because I still had nagging questions after reading all of them that I could find. It's GREAT to be here when some of these "changes" come about.

The "Great" are great for valid reasons, at least around "here".

I thank them immensely.

If either Mr's Franklin, Emmons, Green, Rugg, Hughey, et all jumped over a cliff, I'd at least go up to the edge and look off longingly.

I'm glad Buddy Charleton didn't, or I'd have followed him for sure..

...even if I never did get a Sier.. well... one of those guitars..

So b0b..I'm glad you found some of these "arguments" convincing...

EJL

[This message was edited by Eric West on 26 May 2004 at 06:36 PM.]

Earnest Bovine
Member

From: Los Angeles CA USA

posted 26 May 2004 07:30 PM     profile     
quote:
I once got interested in what would happen to various chords if you tuned a fixed pitch instrument like a piano to the perfect JI chromatic scale.

You can do this with most modern synths.
They give you several pre-programmed choices, as well as the chance to program your own.

You usually get a choice of various Just Intonations such as Pure Major, Pure Minor, Pythagorean, etc. Of course you have to choose a key for these and keep your chords close to home.

Also you can call up more versatile historical temperaments such as Kirnberger, Werckmeister, etc. These sound sweeter in C major, but are still playable in F# major. I enjoy playing these because each key actually has its own sound.

chas smith
Member

From: Encino, CA, USA

posted 26 May 2004 07:36 PM     profile     
quote:
But, Chas, they are pegged to ET by their four open strings.
David, ET, equal temperment, and JI, just intonation, are interval relationships. Scales are sequences of interval relationships, typically between octaves.

So, the piano is usually tuned to 12-tone equal temperment, which means that (theoretically) the space between each note is equi-distant and is the distance of the 12th root of 2 (don't get put off by the numbers).

If you wanted an 8-note equal temperment scale, each note would be the 8th root of 2 apart.

Both are equal temperment and both are very different from each other. I think you may be confusing pitch, A-440, with having something to do with temperment, since pianos, equal temperment and A-440 all kind of go together.

Just intonation is based on the relationships of the harmonics in the harmonic series and tends to have very friendly mathematics. You could think of it as tuning the way nature intended.....

Ernie Renn
Member

From: Brainerd, Minnesota USA

posted 26 May 2004 08:44 PM     profile     
After reading all of this technical stuff, it occurs to me that we're probably making too much out of it. It should come down to "does it sound out of tune?"

I remember when a common saying on the bandstand was, "Gimme an E." Now it's, "Where's the tuner?" or "The batteries are dead in the tuner!"

If you sound out of tune, tune up. If you sound in tune don't. Guess it's really pretty simple...

------------------
My best,
Ernie

www.buddyemmons.com

David Doggett
Member

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

posted 26 May 2004 09:17 PM     profile     
Right, Chas, in that quote I was using "ET" as shorthand to mean 12-tone stretched ET with A=440. That brings us to Graham's question about whether pianos are really tuned to that. Maybe somebody who really knows will jump in. My impression was that piano tuners aim for the above, and have beat counting rules that allow them to get there using a few tuning forks. Maybe some tuners deviate from perfect ET for the sake of some of the more common chords and keys. There have been some comments about that in previous threads, but I forget exactly what was said, so I'll shut up on that now. It should be obvious I'm no expert on this stuff. I'm just piecing together a bunch of stuff I'm remembering from past threads on this here.

Earnest brings up the other historical tempered tunings. I've read about them, but haven't heard them (my $300 Casio doesn't seem to include them).

Now I gotta go practice a little for my Friday night gig. We (Gas Money) will be the middle act at the Tritone in a battle-of-the bands staged by Modern Drunkard. The other two are the Sideshow Prophets and Roadhog. I'll be the one sitting down behind that horizontal string thing, with no tattoes (yet), and playing somewhere between JI and ET. We'll be taking no prisoners.

[This message was edited by David Doggett on 26 May 2004 at 09:35 PM.]

Eric West
Member

From: Portland, Oregon, USA

posted 26 May 2004 09:37 PM     profile     
I've always had an E, G, B, C, and an A tuning fork handy in my brief case. Haven't missed with my Korg, or now my Pod xt internal.

Dad left a complete set of tuning forks for his piano tuning forty some years ago, and I'll have to look and see how they were marked.

As I think somebody said, it's also who it sounds in tune to..

EJL

[This message was edited by Eric West on 26 May 2004 at 10:47 PM.]

chas smith
Member

From: Encino, CA, USA

posted 26 May 2004 10:59 PM     profile     
quote:
After reading all of this technical stuff, it occurs to me that we're probably making too much out of it. It should come down to "does it sound out of tune?"
No argument, I just think it's fascinating. I have a friend, who, in the middle of a technical discussion on something or other, just stopped and said, "I don't want to know how the brakes work, I want to push the pedal and stop the car." Can't argue with that, but I have to know what the brakes are made out of.

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