Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
DickT

1/5 Comma Meantone

Recommended Posts

Would anyone care to comment on the relative merits of these various temperaments when playing chords other than simple triads and their inversions? The dominant-7th chord is quite common, but you don't have to venture into jazz to also encounter the occasional 6th, major-7th, diminished, and more. In fact, my experience in recent "Irish" sessions is that simple 3-note chords seem to be a dying breed.

 

Maybe I should pose an example (for EC players): In a C-diminished-7th chord, do you use the Eb or the D#, and does the choice differ with the different temperaments... or perhaps with different pieces of music?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I should pose an example (for EC players): In a C-diminished-7th chord, do you use the Eb or the D#, and does the choice differ with the different temperaments... or perhaps with different pieces of music?

Ok Jim I gave this a try, much to our dog's disgust, and find C-dim 7 sounds pretty bad in 1/5 Comma with either Eb or D# ... and altogether much more agreeable in Equal Temperament.

 

 

For a quick listen to a 1/5th Comma Meantone tuned EC.... go to the Tune of the Month sub forum and look for the tune "Fiery Clockface' ( march 2013 )... There you will find my entry linked on page 3 (post 47). I suggest this as I played chords throughout... and it is for the sweetening of chords that I choose an alternative temperament.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not immediately relevant to this interesting thread about temperament and tuning, but I've

just had one of those light-bulb goes on moments, and realised that the title of J S Bach's

'Well Tempered Clavier' does not refer to a keyboard instrument which is generally well-disposed

towards the human race, but rather to the tuning of the instrument!

 

The relevant Wikipedia article:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Well-Tempered_Clavier

 

is interesting in its own right, and points to other articles about temperament and tuning

which may be of interest to other earnest seekers after knowledge...

 

Roger

Edited by lachenal74693

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

J S Bach's

'Well Tempered Clavier' does not refer to a keyboard instrument which is generally well-disposed

towards the human race, but rather to the tuning of the instrument!

 

There are several sites on the web where you can hear recordings of Bach's music played on keyboard instruments tuned to what is thought to be the tuning JS used. Quite a revelation to hear the sound the music takes on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The album, "Switched On Bach," one of the first to popularize the Moog Synthesizer, was created in the 1960s by the musician then known as Walter Carlos. It was in equal temperament. Thirty years later, Wendy Carlos released "Switched On Bach 2000," which covered the same musical material but used various meantime tunings. It also made use of MIDI, which had not been around when the first one came out. I have both recordings, and they make an interesting comparison.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In fact, my experience in recent "Irish" sessions is that simple 3-note chords seem to be a dying breed.

 

I would think Irish sessions are not the place to judge the survivability of simple 3-note chords. Why do you think DADGAD guitar tuning has become so popular in Irish music?

 

In a C-diminished-7th chord, do you use the Eb or the D#, and does the choice differ with the different temperaments... or perhaps with different pieces of music?

 

I would suggest that it depends on voice leading: how do you want it to resolve? If the note in question resolves up to an E in the next chord, use a D#. If it resolves down to a D, use an Eb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just played a concert today with my new music gamelan (Indonesian orchestra) , Son of Lion. No concertina in this concert, alas.

 

We play our pitched percussion instruments in the tunings/keys of Slendro and Pelog. These are traditional microtonal tunings that vary widely in pitch from ET and can vary even from gamelan to gamelan. Our set has a total of 12 pitches per octave between the two keys and only three of these 12 pitches match what you would hear on a piano. Still... we often include violin, trombone, clarinet, flute and guitar in our performances as they are able to compensate and accommodate for the most part. I remember an amazing sounding piece we did 20 years ago that featured highland pipes... and it worked amazingly well!

 

All I'm saying is that ET works only because the ear is very accepting. That is to say that the mind will bend a heard pitch quite a ways to match a cultural norm. We humans seem to strive to hear things "in tune".

 

As for the concertina, I've found that the pitch of our free reeds seems to be more focused than other instruments. More specific in its nature, more focused in its presentation to our ear's perception of its pitch. So... for the concertina, a little out-of-tune sounds like a lot of out-of-tune, more so that other instruments.

 

Example: When my bands tune up before playing a dance, often I'm still setting up and the fiddle starts to tune to an in-tune piano or guitar. I better be quick to offer my concertina tuning notes or the strings will not be in perfect tune with me. It seems that in tuning to a piano, the fiddler will accept a wider range of "acceptable" than in tuning to my concertina. The piano is in tune, sure... but its pitch reference is somewhat vague. In my bands, only the concertina lays down the law and seems to define pitch with such fine specificity.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Example: When my bands tune up before playing a dance, often I'm still setting up and the fiddle starts to tune to an in-tune piano or guitar. I better be quick to offer my concertina tuning notes or the strings will not be in perfect tune with me. It seems that in tuning to a piano, the fiddler will accept a wider range of "acceptable" that in tuning to my concertina. The piano is in tune, sure... but its pitch reference is somewhat vague. In my bands, only the concertina lays down the law and seems to define pitch with such fine specificity.

Might that be because a piano tends to have three strings per note whereas a concertina normally only has one reed?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Might that be because a piano tends to have three strings per note whereas a concertina normally only has one reed?

 

It might also have to do with the piano tuner's practice/need to 'spread' the octaves to make the piano appear in tune, while actually the octaves are tuned increasingly 'out'.

 

equal temperament and some peculiarities of piano tuning

Edited by Peter Laban

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those several strings per note on a piano are not all tuned 'unison' and this can mean that the resulting note pitch is a wee bit vague.

 

I always recall someone telling me that a certain person's concertina needed tuning when I knew it was 'in tune' because I had recently checked it for accuracy. It turned out that all the string players at a certain session were tuning to the accordion at the beginning of the night... the concertina player, who always arrived late, was perceived to be flat (or sharp) overall because either the fiddlers had picked up one of the tremelo voices of the accordion or the accordion was the box that needed tuning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always recall someone telling me that a certain person's concertina needed tuning when I knew it was 'in tune' because I had recently checked it for accuracy. It turned out that all the string players at a certain session were tuning to the accordion at the beginning of the night... the concertina player, who always arrived late, was perceived to be flat (or sharp) overall because either the fiddlers had picked up one of the tremelo voices of the accordion or the accordion was the box that needed tuning.

 

Something like that happened to me once. I arrived late for a session and as soon as I started playing it was apparent that my pitch disagreed with everyone else's. One of the instruments was an electronic piano, so without saying a word, I stopped playing and looked at the back panel of the piano and noted that the tuning knob was not set straight up, but turned a little to the left, or flat. At the first opportunity (when that tune ended), I pointed it out and asked if it had been done intentionally. Nobody else in the room (including the piano player) even had a clue that such a knob existed, and several of the other musicians said they had been surprised at how they had to tune their instruments at the beginning of the session when the piano supplied an A.

 

 

Later, I learned that the piano had been used the night before by a band that included a hammered dulcimer that was a little flat. Rather than retune the dulcimer, they all (including the piano) tuned to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great tuning stories there. Sorry for the topic drift, but this seems somehow related, no?

 

Yes, I imagine that the three strings per note in much of the piano range help it sound a bit fuzzy in the pitch department, and that could be part of why the piano seems to blend with other instruments so well.

 

As I play an equal temperament tuned Anglo, obviously with only single reeds per note, my workarounds for the harsh ET sound have been three fold...

 

1. When I'm playing single line stuff, I often try to vary the dynamics widely, so as to move my pitch about. It is slight in the upper registers, but even up there, louder is flatter and softer is sharper.

 

2. I try to get messy and dense sometimes with complex arrangements. This can cover up glaring out-of-tune sounds (like thirds) by muddying up the waters a bit.

 

3. I try to spell chords as widely as possible in the low registers. Rarely do I play low close triads and especially avoid those out of tune thirds. Instead favoring octaves and fifths in the low ranges whenever possible.

 

----------

Perhaps I should try a sweeter temperament, but I would have to get an additional G/D Anglo instrument (my preferred key) tuned to that to try it out, as I fear that it would not work in all situations and I'm loth to over tune my working instruments. In my musical travels, I seem to play mostly in G, D, A, plus the minors in Em, Am, Bm and modal in A. I do play C and F#m chords and E major and B major material from time to time as well as a few diminished chords.

 

Even though this is a limited chromatic pallet, I wonder if 1/5 comma meantone would sound in tune for me. The only way to find out is to try it. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to get to play one that is tuned that way somewhere down the road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you here Jody that I would also like to have a chance to hear a concertina tuned to 1/5 comma meantone and make up my own mind as to its use for my purposes; although buying another instrument or having mine re-tuned (less likely) would stretch my finances somewhat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great tuning stories there. Sorry for the topic drift, but this seems somehow related, no?

 

Yes, I imagine that the three strings per note in much of the piano range help it sound a bit fuzzy in the pitch department, and that could be part of why the piano seems to blend with other instruments so well.

 

As I play an equal temperament tuned Anglo, obviously with only single reeds per note, my workarounds for the harsh ET sound have been three fold...

 

1. When I'm playing single line stuff, I often try to vary the dynamics widely, so as to move my pitch about. It is slight in the upper registers, but even up there, louder is flatter and softer is sharper.

 

2. I try to get messy and dense sometimes with complex arrangements. This can cover up glaring out-of-tune sounds (like thirds) by muddying up the waters a bit.

 

3. I try to spell chords as widely as possible in the low registers. Rarely do I play low close triads and especially avoid those out of tune thirds. Instead favoring octaves and fifths in the low ranges whenever possible.

 

----------

Perhaps I should try a sweeter temperament, but I would have to get an additional G/D Anglo instrument (my preferred key) tuned to that to try it out, as I fear that it would not work in all situations and I'm loth to over tune my working instruments. In my musical travels, I seem to play mostly in G, D, A, plus the minors in Em, Am, Bm and modal in A. I do play C and F#m chords and E major and B major material from time to time as well as a few diminished chords.

 

Even though this is a limited chromatic pallet, I wonder if 1/5 comma meantone would sound in tune for me. The only way to find out is to try it. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to get to play one that is tuned that way somewhere down the road.

I think you are right on the button here. There are options that don't require re-profiling the reeds, though I may tune one of my hex instruments to 1/5 comma. My Aeola, however, will remain in it's original old pitch, equal temperament.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now I'm getting myself confused. Don't all these other tuning schemes outside of ET require a home pitch? That's probably not what it's called, perhaps reference pitch?

 

If you use A=440, that will result in a different set of frequencies than if you use say... D=293.66 (That's D in ET) or C= 261.63. Is there a standard? BTW, I'm getting these frequencies from this chart... http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.html

 

Given my needs

 

"I seem to play mostly in G, D, A, plus the minors in Em, Am, Bm and modal in A. I do play C and F#m chords and E major and B major material from time to time as well as a few diminished chords."

 

wouldn't D=293.66 give me the most centered reference pitch?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For your case, it's slightly better to use A=440Hz.

 

Taking A as the reference, you'd get a chain of fifths like this (I've included the 14 notes of an EC):

 

( -7 -6 ) -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 [number of fifths away from reference]

( Ab Eb ) Bb F C G D A E B F# C# G# D#

 

In ET, each step along the circle of fifths is +/-700 cents,

in 1/5MT each step along the circle is +/-697.7,

so you're picking up ~2.3 cents of discrepancy per step as you move away from the central reference pitch.

 

 

With D as a reference it goes (-6, -5) -4, -3 ...+6,+7, so your D# would

be even more off from ET than if you centered at A (16.4cents instead of 14.1 cents)

 

I dropped the first two of the 14 EC notes since you indicated that you'd use B major

(and thus D#) and not C minor. Someone else who wanted flat keys in tune might

put the reference note further to the left and drop the D# and G#.

 

Though in principle, you could select any pitch as the reference pitch, I can't see a reason why you wouldn't want to put the pitch-reference

near the center of your chain of fifths.

Edited by DaveM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DaveM,

I do not think the numbers you are giving are correct, leastways they don't tally with my figures given elsewhere on this site and in the ICA magazine.

 

I can certainly see the point of shifting the centre note to spread the well tuned keys through those most used by the player. This will move the enharmonic gaps ( the G#/Ab and D#/Eb as used on an EC) accordingly. The normal method (on an EC) is to have an equal number of good sharp and flat keys... thus the centre point of this would be C even when the reference 'Zero' is some other note... usually A 440hz. I cannot see what would be wrong in choosing another centre key but have the zero note somewhere else that would balance the offsets around Standard ET .

Edited by Geoff Wooff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm. Now I'm even more confused Geoff. Isn't the "reference zero" note you mention the same thing as the "center point, key or note"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×