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tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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I posted this in my 'musings' thread, but thought it probably deserved its own home... as it's likely to kindle some discussion...

I'd recommend watching the YouTube video below on temperaments. It's very well presented, there are some excruciating puns/jokes/references... and I think it really makes a good job of explaining it clearly in simple terms.

Some background. Those of you who have been here a while and who have read my scrivenings over the years will know that 'tuning' comes up regularly and a common issue with beginners is "watching the needle" on the tuner app on their phone or tablet.

I and others often interject with "not a good idea", except when just checking the basic tuning set-up of the instrument. It will then wander off down assorted rabbit holes including such abstruse words as 'temperaments', at which point most people glaze over and fall into a torpor.

I'm an early music 'fan' and over the years I've done entire summer schools and weekends of early music (generally defined as pre-1750, but I'm really talking late Medieval and Renaissance, so roughly in my case mostly 1350 - 1650 ish). I play a fretted string instrument call the viol aka viola da gamba. This is a six-stringed instrument, with similar tuning to a guitar - in 4ths with a 3rd between one pair of strings (they share a common ancestor - the vihuela). The main period during which viols were played is around 1400 to 1700 and what tuning / temperament to use is a big issue...

Anyway, the key point for us as sax players is to have an understanding at least at a basic level of what tunings/temperaments are and why ALL of them are compromises: tuning is not an absolute. One thing I hope this will bring out is that if you are playing in an ensemble, if you have a nice chord, especially at a cadence, in which you are playing the major third of the chord, religiously following the tuner's guidance on playing that note "in tune" will make that major third 'too wide' (i.e. 'sharp'): it will sound 'sweeter' if narrowed a little.

The big advantage of tuning apps though is everyone is likely to be more or less tuned to a common pitch.

Anyway, this is a very techie subject and I'm not an expert in it - but because I play the viol I've encountered it. I hope you find the video useful.

View: https://youtu.be/TgwaiEKnMTQ
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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The big advantage of tuning apps though is everyone is likely to be more or less tuned to a common pitch.
My view is that you need to be all on the same tonic. Every other note is in the ear of the beholder, unless you are playing in unison with another voice.
 

Vetinari

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Nice video. Interesting. Is this why cafe ????tet sound the last chord of older pieces sound realy nice?
 
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tenorviol

tenorviol

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My view is that you need to be all on the same tonic. Every other note is in the ear of the beholder, unless you are playing in unison with another voice.
What I mean is that if you are playing as part of an ensemble of some sort, then as a starting point, the instruments should be in tune with each other. The actual notes depend on what is being played. But it's not really going to work very well if the base starting point is not common.

An issue you can encounter when playing with a pipe organ is you will encounter organs which are not in tune with themselves i.e. a particular rank of pipes on a stop is out-of-tune, or even tuned differently. The organ in my local parish church which I have had to sing with in concerts over the years is a case in point. Some of the pipework dates to the old medieval church, so pre-1690. That fell down and the current 'new' church dates to 1713. Most of the organ dates from then, with unknown modifications in the C19th. When 'in' tune the organ in general is about 2/3 of a semi-tone sharp to A=440. Probably because the old pipework was tuned to a different 'A' - whatever the original organ builder used as his reference. But some of the pipework is more modern, so some registrations are an issue as they fight as they disagree over tuning...
 
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tenorviol

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Nice video. Interesting. Is this why cafe ????tet sound the last chord of older pieces sound realy nice?
;) Whoever has the third of the chord is permitted to be slightly 'flat'...
 

Pete Effamy

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What I mean is that if you are playing as part of an ensemble of some sort, then as a starting point, the instruments should be in tune with each other.
It's an interesting video. But as a wind player, you are at the behest of those around you. Classical or non-classical, the piano will determine tuning if you are playing with one. Keyboards too. Next will be guitar. In a modern orchestra the only consensus is that 440hz = A and is given by the oboe. The strings then decide the tuning to which all others play to.
It brings me back to another thought - that of "perfect pitch". Perfect pitch in whose money?
 
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tenorviol

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Nice video. Interesting. Is this why cafe ????tet sound the last chord of older pieces sound realy nice?
Realised my other response was not exactly what you'd asked... the answer is a sort of 'yes'. It mentions in the video that most music regardless of the overall tonality (which generally pre-1600 we would regard as 'modal') would have a final chord with a 'tierce de picardy' i.e. it would finish on what we would call a major chord with a major third in it. This provides an added sense of relaxation and 'resolution' to the sound.
 
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