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LateToTheGame

position while playing effecting tuning

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I have a trivial question.  I was at a session last night and loaned a young player my Dipper.  Since she's a Jeffries player she was playing my Wheatstone system on the quiet, leaning over it to get her head close to hear while raising the instrument and tilting her hands towards her lap a trifle, sort of curling in to a fetal concertina playing position.  Two pros with excellent ears said her positioning was making the notes sound flat, with such confidence that it implied that this was common knowledge. If your hands are pointing down, the one who plays concertina himself said, you will sound flat.  I didn't think so myself, but my ears are not as highly refined.  I wouldn't play with my hands pointing down for long in a seated position, just to avoid pain, but one might if they were standing.  I would think with her curling herself around the instrument the sound might be muddled or muted, but not necessarily flattened.  Anyone else have experience with this?  The physics of the concept didn't add up. Again, this is super trivial and totally irrelevant, but peaked my curiosity.

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It seems contrary to physics itself that a change in the positioning/orientation of the instrument could cause a change in the physical pitch.  However, interference from other factors -- background noise, local reflection and absorption, possibly other things -- can affect the human perception of pitch.

 

In particular, while playing tin whistle on a NYCity subway platform, I have experienced the roar of an approaching train to cause an apparent change in pitch of as much as a half tone.  Though I know that such a change in actual, physical pitch is impossible, something in the processing by my ear and brain made it seem so.

 

So although I can't say definitely whether such a perception might be expected in the situation you describe, I wouldn't say definitely that it can't.  8^)

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6 hours ago, Doug Barr said:

If she was playing quiet it is more likely that the box would be sharp.

 

are you sure? from tuning reeds I seem to recall that a reed would quite likely start flat, then - at increasing pressure - would go spot on or even slightly sharp, and then - forced to the max - might go flat again (or even more so, if it’s a larger reed)

 

best wishes - 🐺

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10 hours ago, Doug Barr said:

If she was playing quiet it is more likely that the box would be sharp.

 

That's right. If the Dipper was tuned to be in pitch at a reasonably high volume then it would be slightly sharp (if anything) at low volume. Maybe the "pros" could detect it was out of tune but mistook sharp for flat. Or maybe they were just having a laugh!

 

LJ

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You could objectively test this notion using one of the many free tuning apps available for smart phones.

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Thanks for your responses.  It did fall into the category of "Only dogs can hear," to my less than perfect ears.   I've always thought of the concertinas and accordions the aircraft carriers of tuning at sessions.  Everyone needs to gravitate towards them since they cannot change.  I play the flute and find that I often will  consciously or unconsciously look at the box or concertina player as I hone in my tuning.  With flutes and whistles and fiddles we set our tuning to a note or two or 4 then manipulate our embouchures or fingers to stay in tune note to note. 

 

The  "interference from other factors" makes sense.  As it is summer in my hemisphere I was reminded of that last week when I tried to play in a small room very close to an electric fan.  I sounded demented.

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