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Tuning Of Old Lachenal English Concertina

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#1 banjojohn

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 06:07 AM

I started to discuss this particular instrument by posting on the topic 'New Reeds or Re-Tune'. But since re re-tuning of an English is really a different topic to re tuning for a key change, I thought I'd better start a new topic.

 

I thought this old concertina (S/N 32159) was in Old Philharmonic pitch (A=452), however I measured it last night and it seems that whilst a few of the sharps/flats do seem to be at this pitch, most of the most of the notes seem to be well flat by 20 to 40 cents... Is this to be expected on an old instrument which has not been never been re tuned?

 

I tried different pitches on the tuner and discovered that a note which is 30 cents flat at A=452, is only 10 cents sharp at A=440.  In other words the concertina seems to be actually closer to modern concert pitch, than it is to the old pitch standard...

 

I am still unsure as to how to re tune it, do I take it up to A=452, or down to A=440???

 

Please can anyone advise?

 

Tuning chart attached

Tuning result for 32159.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by banjojohn, 14 November 2015 - 08:01 PM.


#2 JimLucas

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 07:13 AM

I thought this old concertina (S/N 32159) was in Old Philharmonic pitch (A=452), however I measured it last night and it seems that whilst a few of the sharps/flats do seem to be at this pitch, most of the most of the notes seem to be well flat by 20 to 40 cents... Is this to be expected on an old instrument which has not been never been re tuned?

 

I tried different pitches on the tuner and discovered that a note which is 30 cents flat at A=452, is only 10 cents sharp at A=440.  In other words the concertina seems to be actually closer to modern concert pitch, than is is to the old pitch standard...

 

I am still unsure as to how to re tune it, do I take it up to A=452, or down to A=440???

 

The short answer is... no.

 

Reading your post, I had a suspicion.  Looking at your chart, it was confirmed.  That concertina isn't tuned in equal temperament.  The "duplicate notes" -- G#/Ab and D#/Eb -- aren't exact duplicates, but the differences are somewhat consistent, and deliberately so.

 

I'm not enough of an expert on alternate temperaments to hazard a guess as to which unequal temperament it might be, but there are others here who are experienced with various temperaments.  There are also threads here discussing them, with references.  It's not a simple topic.

 

But there are folks who actually prefer those alternate tunings, so once again I would advise that if you intend to make some money from selling the instrument rather than just use it for practice in tuning reeds, you leave it to the buyer to decide what sort of tuning should be done, and by whom.  You'll probably even get a better price.



#3 Greg Jowaisas

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 10:06 AM

At the risk of TMI (too much information)) here is a link to Wikipedia's take on different tuning conventions:

https://en.wikipedia...i/Concert_pitch

 

In practical terms as a repairman and one who refurbishes vintage concertinas I often encounter instruments that are tuned 48-50 cents high (around A=452)  and 12 cents and 18-22 cents high.  Occasionally I encounter an instrument tuned around 20- 24 cents low.

 

I do not claim to be an expert in mean tone tunings or their theory but in working with concertinas I've become acquainted with a few of the common alternative tunings.  1/4 comma mean tone tuning favors perfect thirds which when compared to equal temper means the thirds are an additional are 14 cents apart.  The enharmonic notes of D# and Eb and G# and Ab are 41 cents apart.

 

1/4 comma mean tone tuning appears to be a prevalent tuning in early english concertinas (pre-1870?).  Pitch drift in older instruments can complicate identification of the original tuning.  A quick glance of this instrument's tuning chart suggests 1/4 mean tone tuning to me.

 

Greg



#4 banjojohn

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 11:57 AM

Thanks very much to Jim and Greg for your repies on this....  It seems that the more one delves into these old instruments, the more fascinating it all becomes (and the more complicated!)...

 

What I nearly wrote in my original post, was that I was more than a bit puzzled by the fact that according to the tuning meter, the instrument's tuning appears to be 'all over the place', but at the same time it actually doesn't sound too bad when a tune is played on it.

 

This apparent contradiction would obviously start to make sense if the some of the notes are intended to be at slightly different pitches, pressumably as means of enhancing the perception of the sound as note changes are made in the progress of the melody....?

 

I must admit that I am finding this quite difficult to get my head around at the moment.  It seems that what I must do now is some further research into '1/4 comma mean tone tuning' to try to understand this better.  Must also devise a strategy/method which will allow me to tune this instrument to it's original tuning system.  I have now decided against tuning it to modern concert pitch, as I would like to keep it as antique as possible (it still has it's original bellows)

 

Is there anyone out there who can tell me how sharp/flat each note should be and at what frequency calibration setting my tuner should be set?

 

One thing I did try last night was to try different frequency settings on some of the notes which were reading 30 cents flat @ A=452, the best fit seemed to be around A=448 or 449, so this instrument may be in the category that Greg mentioned in the previous post (concertinas tuned 12 cents high)?


Edited by banjojohn, 14 November 2015 - 08:02 PM.


#5 Greg Jowaisas

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 12:42 PM

Do not confuse cents (100 to a half tone) and Hz (4+ cents to a HZ)

 

A=452 would come out about +50 cents or so high of modern standard pitch.

 

Greg



#6 banjojohn

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 01:21 PM

Just been reading up all about mean tone etc, all seems pretty complicated, and very mathematical!  I must admit, I had absolutely no idea about any of this stuff... Up until now I was living in a safe little world where there were 8 steps in an octave with a few sharps and flats in between and all could be simply checked with a tuning meter!  Now that world seems to be falling apart! 

 

Is an octave 1200 cents?


Edited by banjojohn, 14 November 2015 - 01:22 PM.


#7 JimLucas

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 07:21 PM

This apparent contradiction would obviously start to make sense if the some of the notes are intended to be at slightly different pitches, pressumably as means of enhancing the perception of the sound as note changes are made in the progress of the melody....?

 

 More as a means of enhancing the "sweetness" of harmonies and chords... i.e., more than one note played at the same time.  At least some folks say the intervals -- particularly thirds -- of an equal-tempered scale sound harsh to their ears, while the same intervals in mean temperaments are more pleasant.



#8 cboody

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 01:09 AM

This link will let you hear three temperaments played on mountain dulcimers.  I think this set of examples is the easiest to hear differences in.  Worth a listen, and a good argument for mean tone tuning, though 1/5 comma I think works better across many keys.

 

http://everythingdul...lit=just tuning

 

There are other examples on down the page.

 

For those who are compulsive check out.

 

http://leware.net/temper/stimm.htm

 

 

To figure out what tuning, if any, the old instrument has try this:  Figure out what Hz makes the "white notes" (inner two rows) the least sharp and make a chart.   Find the "white note" that has the lowest cents "inaccuracy," and set that note to "zero" by subtracting the inaccuracy (so if the closest note is +5 cents subtract 5).  Subtract that same amount from the cents inaccuracy for all the other notes.  Now find a chart of tunings that show the difference from equal temperament (100 cents) and compare to see which tuning comes closest.

 

Yes an octave is 1200 cents.  1 cent is 1/100th of an equal tempered semitone.


Edited by cboody, 15 November 2015 - 01:10 AM.


#9 banjojohn

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 08:27 AM

Thanks Cboody, the dulcimer demo is very clearly explained...

Just found a tuning chart for quarter comma mean tone at http://xenharmonic.w...-comma meantone

I guess I just pick out the notes which are relevant to my instrument, then work out the deviation from equal temepered notes and use my Korg tuner to tune to these said deviations.  Starting to feel like I'm almost there now...

 

Going to design and make sounding/tuning rig, thinking of adapting the plastic bellows of one of those cheap and cheerful air bed foot pumps to supply the suction...

 

Just been looking closely at my Korg OT-120 tuner...  It has a temperament mode, which it says can be used if you are tuning a transposing instrument (what's that?) or tuning to a classical scale.  It has a variety of options, including Mean Tone Eb and Mean Tone D#, can anyone tell me if either of these will do for 1/4 comma mean tone?


Edited by banjojohn, 15 November 2015 - 01:50 PM.


#10 banjojohn

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 06:20 PM

Also just noted that my tuner has a Kirnberger III setting, I've just researched this and copied the text below from Wikipedia...  Is this 1/4 comma mean tone? or is 1/4 comma wolves something else???

 

Kirnberger III[edit]

After some disappointment with his sour, narrow fifths, Kirnberger experimented further and developed another possibility, Kirnberger III. (These names were not used at the time and are of modern invention.)

This temperament splits the 1/2-comma wolves between four fifths instead of two, allowing for four 1/4-comma wolves to take their place. 1/4-comma wolves are used extensively in meantone and are much easier to tune and to listen to. This also eliminates two of the three pure thirds found in Kirnberger II. Therefore, only one third remains pure (between C and E), and there are fewer Pythagorean thirds. A greater middle ground is thus reached in this improvement, and each key is closer to being equal to the next. The drawback is an aesthetic one: fewer chords have pure thirds and fifths. But every temperament system has a give-and-take compromise; each has to find a way of dealing with the comma.


Edited by banjojohn, 15 November 2015 - 06:22 PM.


#11 DaveM

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 09:11 AM

Kirnberger III uses some fifths that are reduced by 1/4 of the syntotic comma,  but it is pretty different from 1/4 meantone.

Based on the description on the wikipedia page (and using the same notation), I get that it would be:

C----G-----D-----A-----E-----B-----F#-----C#-----G#-----Eb-----Bb----F-----C
 -1/4  -1/4  -1/4 -1/4    p     p     p       p      p      p      p     p

C-E is pure (386 cents)

G-B is not quite pure (391.7), but closer it than say ET (same with F-A)

D-F# is less so (397.1) (same with Bb-D)

A-C# is worse than ET (402.4) (same with Eb-G)

E-G#, B-D#(Eb) ... are all pythagorean thirds (407.8 cents)

 

This is not a meantone temperament -- the fifths have different sizes (some pure, some contracted by 1/4 of the syntonic comma).

It's also not clear how you'd want to generalize it to take advantage the ability to differentiate g#/ab and d#/eb (if that's what you'd go for).

The more I think about it, the less I like the use of the terms "1/2 comma wolfs" and "1/4 comma wolves" in that article; wolf intervals usually relate to

the place where you've "cut" the line of fifths, not merely contracting the fifths by a fraction of a comma.


Edited by DaveM, 16 November 2015 - 09:12 AM.


#12 banjojohn

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 04:27 PM

Thanks for this Dave, so what you are saying is that using this Kirnberger III setting on my tuner would not be the way to check the tuning on this instrument, which Greg (posted on this thread earlier) feels may have originally been tuned to 1/4 comma mean tone?

Can anyone advise on a suitable tuning method?



#13 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 03:00 AM

I can give you the Cents deviation from Equal Temperament for 1/4 Comma Meantone as it relates to the EC keyboard; You would just have to centre the values to the pitch of your instrument .

It is possible that these numbers are already on Cnet as this has been discussed before.

I've used Meantone on my own EC's for many years now.

#14 banjojohn

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 04:01 AM

Attached File  Mean Tone Tuning Chart rev01.pdf   23.11KB   121 downloads

 

Hi Geoff,

I have just come up with this chart (prior to reading your post), does this make sense and agree with the values you have been using for tuning ECs?


Edited by banjojohn, 17 November 2015 - 04:34 AM.


#15 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 04:36 AM

A quick perusal of your chart suggests it is incorrect. I'll have to look closer because my values have A as Zero but as a basic rule all the 'sharp' notes will be flatter and the 'flat' notes will be sharper. This means that in your chart the Ab's should be plus values and the G#'s need to be minus values, likewise with the D#'s and Eb's.

Well as I am a busy person it is just quicker for me to give you my values and you can see for yourself. For 1/4 Comma:

C C# D D# Eb E F F# G G# Ab A Bb B
+11 -13 +4 -20 +21 -3 +14 -10 +7 -17 +24 0 +10 -4

This way the differences at D#/Eb are about equal .

PS; looking again at your chart I think someone has confused themselves with the plusses and minuses... if one were to tune an EC to the values on your chart it would sound horrible!!

PPS: I see that the auto correct programe has made a mess of my chart, Pah !

I'll try again.

Best of luck with your tuning,
Geoff.

Edited by Geoff Wooff, 17 November 2015 - 04:55 AM.


#16 banjojohn

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 04:59 AM

Thanks, for this Geoff, I have already corrected that mistake on my spread sheet (subtracted the two values the wrong way round, so the + and - signs were interchanged)  I believe it makes no difference which note is taken as a 'starting point', as the pitch increments in cent valus are always relative to that first note?



#17 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 05:24 AM

I found more mistakes than two... I'm just waiting for some glue to dry so I'll write the chart again in a simple form;

C+11, C#-13, D+4 , D#-20, Eb+21, E-3, F+14, F#-10, G+7, G#-17, Ab+24, A'0' , Bb+18 and B-6 .

Now it can be seen that as the keys get progressively sharper or flater the values increase in an opposite way.... so that the sharp keys get flatter and the flat keys get sharper which is a simple way to check that the Major Thirds get narrower.

Personally I use 1/5th Comma as the deviations are only half as much but the increased sweetness of the thirds makes them playable to my ear and, so far, I don't get "you are out of tune!" comments from other musicians I play with.

#18 banjojohn

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 06:06 AM

The cent values I quote in my chart are form this chart, found on https://en.wikipedia...-comma_meantone  ...

I don't believe there are mistakes in rev 1 of my chart (if all my values are adjusted by +10, they are all within 1 cent of your values)

As I said before, this is all relative and depends upon which note the tuner decides to use as a reference point, I started with C because that had been given the cent value of zero in the chart on the above site (tried to paste it in here, but it looses it's table format)


Edited by banjojohn, 17 November 2015 - 06:16 AM.






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