I'm tip-toeing quietly into this room, awed by the gaggle of great builders and repairers who have been posting in this thread. I have a question that relates to tuning, but also perhaps to temperament, so I will ask this question quietly, else the discussion descend into temperament madness!
I've been working hard for some time now learning, by careful transcription, the tunes of Faan Harris, who recorded in South Africa in 1932. It is complex music....lots of chords, and many keys. Harris played a 30 button metal ended CG Lachenal Anglo in high pitch (this was just before the Boer folks started buying up 40 button Wheatstones, so an interesting time in the evolution of their fingering styles....but that is for a different discussion). He was omniverous with his keys, playing almost equal numbers of tunes in G, C, F, and Bb. He used lots of jazzy chromatic notes, so not just the standard 7 note scale of most folk music. He played almost everything in octaves, then ladeled on partial chords and chromatics and odd rhythmic punctuations to dress it up. But what is most difficult (for me) is his constant habit of chording on the right hand, usually by playing third intervals, with a bass note an octave below one of them. These chords are not the quick sixteenth note bounces of a Kimber chord, but long drawn out whole note partial chords that are quite high, being on the right hand.
By now, you may be sensing my pain.....those long high third intervals. On my metal-ended Dipper, which is a bit of a screamer anyway, it gets so that I usually practice with musicians' ear plugs, as too much of that hurts! This was a very professional musician at the top of his game...he played for several dances a week, I'm certain. The old recordings aren't too helpful in figuring out how he alleviated the problem or whether he even noticed, as the recording quality is not great. Any ideas from a tuning perspective about what he may have been doing with his instrument?
Had he played in only C and G (like Kimber) I would have suspected some sort of uneven temperament....but then he is, as I said, somewhat omniverous about keys. He didn't play those flat keys to be showy; my transcriptions seem to be showing that he carefully chose the key to suit the piece. For example, he had a sad waltz composed for his son, who was killed by a drunk driver. That waltz is in Bb....which allows the tune to be played almost all in one direction, hence in legato (he was a pioneer in his day in this experimentation with alternative keys). The waltz has tons of long third intervals....one would think that dissonance would have detracted from his musical mission (sadness). Any ideas appreciated....what would you do for a player like that?
One thing that I should add is that he was not a solo player in the Irish or English (Morris) fashion. He was always backed up with guitars and cello. Maybe that mellowed it - or masked it - a bit?
Edited by Dan Worrall, 19 March 2014 - 11:48 PM.