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Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?

Mr Happy 10 Sep 02 - 06:30 AM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Sep 02 - 06:53 AM
Ralphie 10 Sep 02 - 06:55 AM
Gurney 10 Sep 02 - 07:06 AM
Declan 10 Sep 02 - 07:14 AM
greg stephens 10 Sep 02 - 07:19 AM
GUEST,Scabby Doug 10 Sep 02 - 07:28 AM
Mr Happy 10 Sep 02 - 07:53 AM
Declan 10 Sep 02 - 08:14 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 10 Sep 02 - 08:22 AM
Big Mick 10 Sep 02 - 08:45 AM
Mr Happy 10 Sep 02 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Sep 02 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,Russ 10 Sep 02 - 11:00 AM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Sep 02 - 11:59 AM
Dave Bryant 10 Sep 02 - 12:29 PM
Les from Hull 10 Sep 02 - 03:02 PM
Don Firth 10 Sep 02 - 03:16 PM
Mudlark 10 Sep 02 - 03:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Sep 02 - 03:43 PM
CraigS 10 Sep 02 - 08:03 PM
Kaleea 11 Sep 02 - 03:38 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 02 - 05:48 AM
Dave Bryant 11 Sep 02 - 06:38 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 02 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Bagpuss 11 Sep 02 - 07:00 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 02 - 07:01 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 02 - 11:37 AM
Kim C 11 Sep 02 - 11:44 AM
Don Firth 11 Sep 02 - 01:56 PM
Kim C 11 Sep 02 - 02:06 PM
The Shambles 11 Sep 02 - 02:45 PM
Don Firth 11 Sep 02 - 04:22 PM
Leadfingers 11 Sep 02 - 05:08 PM
The Shambles 11 Sep 02 - 06:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Sep 02 - 06:46 PM
Murray MacLeod 12 Sep 02 - 03:59 AM
Declan 12 Sep 02 - 05:07 AM
The Shambles 12 Sep 02 - 09:28 AM
Seamus Kennedy 12 Sep 02 - 06:30 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 12 Sep 02 - 10:11 PM
Gypsy 12 Sep 02 - 11:50 PM
JedMarum 13 Sep 02 - 01:15 AM
JedMarum 13 Sep 02 - 01:22 AM
Mr Happy 13 Sep 02 - 02:51 PM
Gypsy 13 Sep 02 - 10:29 PM
Don Firth 13 Sep 02 - 11:20 PM
Mr Happy 11 Mar 03 - 02:35 PM
CraigS 11 Mar 03 - 04:14 PM
JohnInKansas 12 Mar 03 - 04:01 AM
Pied Piper 12 Mar 03 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Rag 12 Mar 03 - 08:19 AM
Declan 12 Mar 03 - 11:06 AM
Pied Piper 12 Mar 03 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Rag 12 Mar 03 - 04:17 PM
Mr Happy 09 Sep 03 - 06:46 AM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Sep 03 - 10:26 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Sep 03 - 10:37 PM
Malcolm Douglas 09 Sep 03 - 11:23 PM
Don Firth 10 Sep 03 - 04:02 AM
GUEST 10 Sep 03 - 05:06 AM
treewind 10 Sep 03 - 05:20 AM
Pied Piper 10 Sep 03 - 05:31 AM
Leadfingers 10 Sep 03 - 06:09 AM
Pied Piper 10 Sep 03 - 06:41 AM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Sep 03 - 12:34 PM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Sep 03 - 12:39 PM
Don Firth 10 Sep 03 - 01:58 PM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Sep 03 - 11:24 PM
GUEST 11 Sep 03 - 05:20 AM
Mr Happy 05 Jun 04 - 07:28 AM
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Subject: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 06:30 AM

hi everybody!

me & some chums were in our local session last week, playing some song s & tunes. another fiend came in & also sang a number or 2. his guitar seemed a little out of tune with the rest of us,so we couln't join in with him. another pal offered an electronic tuner, so he could be in concert ptch [440hz] like everyone else.

he refused saying, traditional musicians don't use concert pitch.

we felt this was somewhat unreasonable- my pal asked had he brought his hrmonicas with him & could he do one of his blues numbers with harp accompaniment. he had. we said how could he accompany himself with fixed pitch 'traditional' instruments like these if his guitar was'traditinally' tuned?

he went off in a huff.

your thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 06:53 AM

Of course maybe he just didn't want the accompaniment. If he was trying to play along weith you without getting in tune with you, you'd have a right to object. If he wanted to play without you joining in, that's his right as well, and that shouldn't be seen as unfriendly.

It's quite true that traditional musicians often tune their instruments a bit sharp of concert piutch. Sometimes fixed pitch instruments aren't quite in concert pitcxh either - that's why electronic tuners provide an option for changing the pitch they are set at.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Ralphie
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 06:55 AM

Oh dear !!
What key was the huff in??
Some traditions revel in quarter tones (I'm thinking of some areas of Sweden) but, in general, it doesn't seem the best way to have a tuneful session.
Yes, everyone forgives (and helps) the novice, but this guy could obviously play...So, no excuse.
It would be like me playing in A flat in a room full of D/G melodeon players....!!
Ah Well, it takes all sorts!
Regards Ralphie


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Gurney
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 07:06 AM

I've been told that at one time tuning was a little flatter than now, when it wasn't possible to measure it. When tuning from free-reed instruments, especially the concertina, it pays to be careful, as they flatten when played more loudly than usual, which is why Salvation Army concertinas were tuned slightly sharp. Mind you, I've also heard an enthusiastically played guitar that was so far out of tune that changing chord-shape made no real difference, it still sounded like a drum. He had some great songs, though. Chris.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Declan
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 07:14 AM

Certainly sounds like a fiend to me !

I must admit I found myself getting upset at someone offering me an electronic tuner at a session before. He might have taken it as an unsubtle way of telling him he was out of tune and taken offence. Some people believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are better able to tune thier instrument without the aid of electronics. And as I said on another thread recently its pointless being in concert if nobody else is.

Its not clear from your post what the instruments in the session were. If they were all easily tuned instruments then its not unreasonable to suggest that everyone gets into concert pitch, if they want to play together. Music doesn't sound right if everyone is not tuned to the same pitch. If as you say the person joined you, I would have tought the natural thing to do would be for him to tune to you rather than vice versa. Did he expect everyone else to tune to him instead? Or does he think its traditional for everyone to play randomly out of tune?

Its hard to make rules about these things but locally there's a sort of etiquette about these things - If there's a box (accordeon or concertina) people will usually tune to that - its not so easy to tune the box to fit in with everyone else. If its all strings then a 'consensus A' is found, with or without the aid of electronics or tuning forks and everyone tunes to that. Often people will tune to a whistle, but these can be notoriously dodgy for tuning. If there's a piper and no fixed instruments, we'd normally tune to the pipes, but beware because the pipes tend to get a bit sharper as the night progresses.

Of course some people don't bother tuning at all, which can be a real pain. A friend of mine who's a piper tells a story about playing at a session somewhere in the west of Ireland. A guitar player came in and started backing a tune in A minor with chords in 'D'. My friend turned to him after the tune and said "that tune was in A minor" and the guitarist said "Ah sure I never bother with them oul keys meself !"


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: greg stephens
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 07:19 AM

Re Ralphie's post: faced with a room full of D/G melodeons, playing in Aflat seems the best thing to do if you want to sing a song.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST,Scabby Doug
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 07:28 AM

This guy sounds like a complete d**k.

Apart from the fact that a "traditional" musician would only ever have tuned by ear, and unless gifted with perfect pitch, this is the biggest lot of drivel I have ever heard. I bet this guy would also tell you that you were playing tunes "in the wrong key".

Even the most "traditional" of traditional musicians would recognise that if you're in a session situation, you tune to a common standard. Otherwise you're just out-of-tune. "In-tune" is not necessarily in-tune to concert pitch, most of the time, we settle for in-tune with one another.

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 07:53 AM

declan,

'Its not clear from your post what the instruments in the session were.'

me: 6 sting guitar & melodeon[no strings!]

others, guitars, banjo, whistles


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Declan
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 08:14 AM

In that case I think everyone should tune to the melodeon. If its in concert that makes life easier for everybody but even if its not, if everyone tunes to a different 'correct' note either you don't get to play your box or it sounds wrong when you do.

If your fiend refuses to tune to the rest of the session, he shouldn't try to join in. If its so out of tune with the rest of the session that its unbearable, or even messing things up for some people then ask him to stop (or offer him a tuner which seems to have the same effect. And don't feel bad about it - its him that's out of order.

You may still have trouble with the whistles. A lot of non-tunable whistles seem to me to be out of tune with each other and everyone else.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 08:22 AM

Since Scabby Doug has already offered the opinion that the guy is a dick, I won't bother to offer my opinion, which is that he is an arse-hole. Anyone who doesn't understand a basic concept like "all instruments in a session should be tuned to an agreed upon pitch" should not be allowed to own an instrument that requires tuning. Be sure that representatives of the tuning police are on hand at your next session so they can confiscate his guitar.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Big Mick
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 08:45 AM

Declan is spot on. It depends on the instruments. This other lad sounds like he had the "giant in his own mind" syndrome. When there are reeded instruments, especially Uilleann Pipes, then you would want to tune to them. The reeds are so fussy, that often the best one can hope for is for them to be in tune relative to themselves, that is the drones, regulators, and chanters in tune to themselves. But even on a "Concert D" set, they rarely are 440. Better to tune the stringed instruments to them, or as Declan points out, the melodian.

And wish your friend well, .............. as you show him the door.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 10:03 AM


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 10:28 AM

Re: "traditional musicians don't use concert pitch." There isn't any such thing as concert pitch. James Galway, the famous classical flautist, has toured the world, and he says that pitch has been highest in Germany and lowest in the United States. The A that symphony orchestras tune to is the A on the oboe, not a common instrument for sessions.

However, I think tuners are a great idea. When I got a tuner and tuned by guitar to it, the guitar was suddenly twice as loud and mellow as before. For once, it was tuned to its proper resonant frequencies. Also, if you don't use tuners, people can spend much of their time tuning instead of playing.

How many beers had the unhappy guy had? That's got to be part of the equation. I have no sympathy for him.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 11:00 AM

His claim that "traditional musicians don't use concert pitch" clearly indicates that he is NOT a traditional musician. He's just a wannabe from outside a tradition who doesn't get it trying to ape musicians he deems "traditional." It's a perfect example of a little knowledge (plus some attitude) being a dangerous thing.

It's not that traditional musicians won't tune to concert pitch, it's just that under certain circumstances they don't feel obligated to do so. They tune to a pitch that in some way works better for them than concert pitch.

The key phrase there is "under certain circumstances." If it is the traditional player's desire and intent to play solo, s/he can tune anywhere s/he wants. But a traditional musician knows that if you want to play solo you DON'T go to a public gathering to do it unless playing solo is a normal part of the activities. If it is NOT, then a traditional musician would expect that some tuning and retuning would be required until everyone is more or less together. Whether everyone would be at 440 is an entirely different matter.

Being a traditional musician is not simply a case of playing some tunes in a certain manner. It's knowing and respecting and trying to act in accordance with the "context" of the music as much as is feasible.

Which is not to say that traditional musicians do not include their share of jerks.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 11:59 AM

Well he may have been a pillock, but...

As I remarked, if he was trying to play with others without tuning to them, all the criticisms are justified. But if he was just preferring not to have them playing with him when he was singing a song or two, I can't see there's anything wrong with that. I've never known a session where that isn't perfectly acceptable behaviour.

It can be bloody distracting if people leap in with a backing when they don't necessarily understand the tune, or when you're still a bit shaky on how it goes yourself. Not being in tune might have seemed a more tactful way of achieving that than saying it right out, though clearly in this case it turned out not to be. Capoing up and playing in an impossible key is another way so far as some instruments are concerned.

And if he was pointing out that there's really no universal "concert pitch" and that traditional musicians are often nowhere near the pitch of electronic tuners, that's true enough.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 12:29 PM

I must admit to capo-ing up to keys like Gb when there are melodeon players around and I don't want them joining in on certain songs - mind you I've once had one playing G natural (sort of, his instrument was rather flat) to my Gb without seeming to worry. There are many times that you don't want someone else joining in - If you have a quiet voice (I don't) one enthusiastic Castagnari could easily drown you out. You might also be wanting a bit more control over the phrasing/tempo than you'd be allowed otherwise. It's easy to state at the beginning of a song that you'd like to do it solo.

On the other hand, if a musician deliberately tunes out of standard pitch, then they are also making it impossible for themselves to play in with the others - which might be a good thing for the others !


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 03:02 PM

It should be OK in any session to say if you don't want people joining in with you if you are singing a song or playing a tune. But joining in is the essence of a session so this should be the exception rather than the rule. Of course, if he'd joined in with you lot with his non-concert pitch, you'd have been right to point it out.

If he only wants to do stuff on his own, you should point out that he might be happier at on open mic.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 03:16 PM

The idea that "traditional musicians don't use concert pitch" is a bucket of idiot-drool. Maybe he didn't want anybody playing along with him, which, at times, is understandable—but if true, why didn't he just say so? Where is it written that "traditional musicians don't use concert pitch?" First of all, since when is this bozo a traditional musician? Sounds like he's trying to act "folkier than thou."

There is any number of practical reasons for using concert pitch. First of all, there are the fixed-pitch instruments—those whose pitch can't be changed, or, like a piano (or autoharp), would require a major effort to retune. Good quality fixed-pitch instruments are set at the 440=A (the international standard), for the simple reason that no professional musician, such as a clarinetist or flautist, is going to buy an instrument, no matter how good, that can't be played in tune with other instruments. [Musicians who play in Baroque or Early Music ensembles often use a different standard, but it is an agreed-upon standard.]

Variable pitch instruments, such as strings (violins, violas, cellos, harps, guitars, etc.)—especially good, concert-quality ones—are built with a particular string tension in mind, and they're a whole lot happier if you let the soundboard get used to that tension, and keep it there consistently. A new instrument "opens up" a lot better and a lot faster if you tune it to concert pitch and don't keep cranking it up and down. I've been told this by a couple of luthiers. Also, I own a couple of top quality Spanish-made guitars, I keep them at concert pitch, and they just keep getting better with time and playing.

Another practical reason to tune to a standard is that if everyone uses the same standard (and since most tuning forks come in 440=A, electronic tuners use 440=A as the default, and almost all fixed-pitch instruments are set at 440=A, what easier standard can their be?) is that if you and everybody else tunes your guitar, banjo, mandolin, of what-have-you is tuned to this standard before going to a session, you'll spend less time in the "tuning-up ritual" and can spend more time making music.

Kinda stupid not to. I really fail to understand the mentality of folkies (and they're generally the only ones who do this) who would rather commit suicide than abide by any of the same standards that other musicians abide by. These standards allow musicians to communicate and to work together—if they so choose. Not to do so is self-defeating. Sort of like "Rebel without a Brain."

Of course, if he really is a traditional musician and all he wants to do is sit on the front stoop, play his $10.00 Sears Roebuck guitar, and sing to the raccoons lurking in the underbrush, then it won't matter much how he tunes his guitar—or even if.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mudlark
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 03:33 PM

Great story, Declan.

The first time I ever sang with a mic I worked up the nerve to do Hong Kong Blues. And it went well until a guy on the stage with a mandolin started "helping me out." He revved up the tempo, dumbed down the phrasing, until finally I got so distracted I tangled up in some tricky chords at the end. Grrrrr.... So I agree, if you don't want "back up" be sure and say so.

On the other hand, as someone rightly pointed out, session playing is about communal music making. When singing on my own I tune my guitar down a bit to match my voice. But I always tune "properly" before arriving to play with others, and then make sure I'm in tune with them, as I don't use an electronic tuner. Even if this puts some songs out of my range, I can still harmonize, or just play rhythm.

Mr. Happy, it sounds to me like going off in a huff was the best thing this fiend could do for you.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 03:43 PM

"But joining in is the essence of a session so this should be the exception rather than the rule."

Sessions vary. I know some where it's the other way round - every now and then it turns into a jam, either a tune, or everyone playing on a song, but most of the time it's people taking it in turns, singing unaccompanied or with an instrument.

Of course I'm all in favour of people tuning to instruments that can't be tuned, or to the standard electronic tuning standard, if that's the same thing, which much of the time it is. Or if a bunch of people are tuned to some other pitch, the newcomer tunes in to that. And if you aren't in tune with the rest, you don't play at the same time as them and they don't play at the samer time as you. Stands to reason.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: CraigS
Date: 10 Sep 02 - 08:03 PM

Sometimes you play tunes or sing songs in sessions which are not for joining in - but usually this is when everybody feels like a rest from playing and ASKS you to play or sing solo. Re: Melodeons - there are chromatic C/C# melodeons available, which can play in any key if you ignore the bass side - quite popular in Eire!


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Kaleea
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 03:38 AM

Yes, traditional musicians use concert pitch standard tuning. The person is daft! The question is: what is concert pitch for that place & time?! Thre are orchestras in the USA which are now tuning strongly sharp in order to sound "brighter." I have been playing & teaching guitar & other traditional musical instruments for many years--I tune to A=440! I tune my guitar to--better sit down for this: EADGBE!!!!! Golly gee, how could all those immigrants from all over the planet get together in the colonies or the wild west & play together? They must have tuned to the accepted pitch of the times. I even tune my Bodhran! I tuned my washtub bass after I got it--but that's another story.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 05:48 AM

How many beers had the unhappy guy had? just the one


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 06:38 AM

Ah - but what tuning was his beer in ?


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 06:49 AM

maybe a bit flat?


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST,Bagpuss
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 07:00 AM

Unless it was Harp.....

(stays sharp to the bottom of the glass)


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 07:01 AM

or 'old peculier'!


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 11:37 AM

your comments on this issue have reinforced our first notion that standard tuning is the 'norm' in sessions etc. & that if someone wants to be exclusive giving the bullshit about 'tradition'as an excuse, then they ought to be well enlightened by this thread.

i'm printing the whole thing out & will take it along to our next session.will report back with responses.

cheers,

mr h


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Kim C
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 11:44 AM

I have been told, by People Who Know A Lot More Than Me, that way way back in the old days, tuning may have been a few Mhz lower than it is now, for whatever reason. I am under the impression that people who recreate music of the Renaissance & such, routinely tune lower. Indeed, even the great folks at the Boulder Early Music Shop sell an A415 tuning fork as well as an A440 one.

If he wants to play low, fine. But if he's going to play with everyone else, then he's going to have to get over it.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 01:56 PM

The 415=A tuning fork (about a half-step below 440=A, or very close to Ab) is standard for Baroque music, and I believe that a lot of Early Music groups use the same standard. This, along with using authentic instruments, or at least accurate replicas, is in an effort to recreate what this music actually sounded like. Since (for some reason) there is a severe shortage of CDs from those times, it's all guesswork, but a lot of musicologists have applied their best efforts to the question.

In the meantime, there has been a "upward pressure" applied by some musicians, to raise the standard pitch so instruments will sound "brighter." Why, I can't fathom. When Vivaldi or Mozart or Beethoven specified what keys they wanted their compositions to be played in, they had specific sounds in mind. And although folk musicians change keys with impunity all the time and think nothing of it (it really makes little difference what key a ballad is sung in, it's the story that counts), specific keys—and the overall sound of those keys—were important to these composers for various good reasons.

A change in standard (concert) pitch means that a lot of fixed-pitch instruments played in ensembles and orchestras have to go into the Dumpster. All the string players have to do is tune their instruments a bit higher. Oddly enough, it seems to be the string players who apply this upward pressure because they say it makes their violin or whatever sound louder and brighter. I say "oddly enough" because a good Stradivarius or a Guarnieri del Jesu sounds plenty loud and bright already. And these instruments are very rare, exceedingly expensive when and if you do find one for sale, and somewhat delicate. How far can you crank one up before it explodes in your face? Nobody who owns one wants to find out. I'm guessing here, but I think this pressure may come from owners of instruments that are good perhaps, but not great, and they want to make them sound better.

Recently there are those who want to raise the current standard of 440=A to 444=A. Why? To make their instruments "sound brighter." My response to this is "Why don't you just crank it up until the only creatures that can hear you play are bats and very small dogs!!??"

The current standard of 440=A is a good one, all well-made instruments (save for old and rare instruments) are built with that standard in mind, and I know a world-class clarinetist who would be pretty unhappy if he had to toss his current excellent instrument and shuck out a pile of money for a new one. Tune it to 440=A—and weld it!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Kim C
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 02:06 PM

You don't have to raise pitch to make an instrument sound brighter, at least on a stringed instrument. Experiment with strings till you find a sound you like.

I have gut strings now on one of my fiddles, and the sound is ANYTHING but "bright." But since I do period music, they're on there for a reason. I also have discovered why something better was invented. :-)

One thing I wonder about, though, Don, is that if tuning wasn't really standardized, how do we know that Mozart's Ab wasn't Beethoven's F#?

Mister and I have been in the situation once or twice, where we simply had to tune to each other and not worry about whether or not we were in "concert" pitch. It works out pretty well that way.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 02:45 PM

One thing I wonder about, though, Don, is that if tuning wasn't really standardized, how do we know that Mozart's Ab wasn't Beethoven's F#?

As long as they were not playing in the same session, I don't think it wouldn't matter too much.??

Anyone played with these guys?


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 04:22 PM

Well, there some fairly strong attempts at standardization early on. Much earlier than one might think. But apparently, things are still pretty fluid.

Organs first found their way into churches in the tenth century and by the fifteenth, they were well established as an essential part of the liturgy (interesting website here). Since much early music played on instruments other than the organ was liturgical in nature and often played along with the organ, it was the organ (a fixed-pitch instrument) that set the standard of pitch for the other instruments. But not all organ builders used the same standard, so pitch varied somewhat with locality.

By the time Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven came along, there was a lot of agreement, but there was still a lot of variation. This website (blicky) gives a pretty good overall picture. Also, I stand corrected. It isn't violinists and such that want to raise the pitch to 444=A, it seems to be pianists in some Eastern European countries (last paragraph of the web page).

My personal hobby-horse is that I don't want to keep cranking my guitar up and down. Not good for it. And if we all came to a songfest tuned to the same standard, then all we'd have to do was fine-tune and it would save a lot of time—not to mention disagreements as to who should tune to whom. Just about everyone I jam with tunes to a 440=A, and to most people, it just makes sense. Since that's the current international standard, I figure, why fight it? Use it. It's easier that way.

But if it's just a couple of musicians who want to play together by themselves, I guess it's sorta like sex. Whatever you do between yourselves is nobody else's business. Just try not to frighten the horses.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 05:08 PM

Traditionally songs were NOT accompanied and instruments only used for dancing except for Church Music,or so I am led to believe.So if it was a song session,what was a traditional musician doing there?


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 06:39 PM

Starting the long tradition of arguing about tuning, what was folk anyway, horses and many other such things?


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 06:46 PM

How do those people who are said to have perfect pitch cope with it when the standard pitch gets moved?

Getting in tune together so we can play together is common sense if we want to pay together. Worrying about getting into some standard pitch, even to the point of junking instruments because they can't be re-tuned is a bit crazy.

Yes, I know big orchestras have different needs there - but I hope what happens is the instruments concerned move off into the folk world, where we tune to each other; and where we know how to use the facility to adjust our electronic tuners so that they coincide with the tuning of our friends, if they have instruments that can't be tuned and aren't in whatever is currently seen as concert pitch.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 03:59 AM

Don, I would have to disagree that "cranking the guitar up and down isn't good for it". Many luthiers advocate just such a practice, especially when the guitar is new. (I am talking about lowering the tuning a quarter tone down from concert)

Admittedly it is all, by necessity, pretty subjective, whatever opinion one holds as to the merits or demerits of such a practice, (unless somebody has carried out a controlled experiment of which I am unaware).

It does seem to me that allowing the soundboard to vibrate at frequencies it would not normally experience could only be beneficial as far as allowing it to "open up" is concerned.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Declan
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 05:07 AM

We had an interesting tuning "incident" at our session last night. I'll spare you the detailed story but two people who had tuned to tuning forks were clearly out of tune with each other. An electronic tuner was produced and it turned out that one of the tuning forks was spot on and the other was a quarter tone flat - both were marked A=440.

Get rid of the gadgets and learn to use your ears !


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 09:28 AM

It just hurts when I try to put the tuner jack-plug in my ears!


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 06:30 PM

In a session I always tune to the loudest non-stringed instrument, usually an accordion, occasionally a flute, and once a sax. great session, that one!

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 10:11 PM

Ah yes, I can see it now.... The boys are all gathered around the burning log heap after a long night of hunting raccoon. Each one is bragging about how well his dog did, and one of the boys wants to sing a song about his dog, Old Blue, who led the pack. He calls over to Zeb, "Hey Zeb, I feel like singing one a them treeditional tunes, did you happen to bring your pitch pipe along?" :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Gypsy
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 11:50 PM

Tune it! And agree from the get go what is "tune" I play hammer dulcimer, so with my 78 strings, i tune before everyone arrives. Then they tune to me. Or my tuner. I tune to melodeons, when they come. If you have a good ear, great, but don't be insulted if some one suggest that it is less than perfect.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Sep 02 - 01:15 AM

At the risk of sounding like a braggart; I'll bet you I can walk up to any guitar in the guitar shop and tune it to perfect concert pitch by ear. I have lots of experience and a damn good ear. I can always tune my own instrument perfectly and can "sweeten" my tuning on the fly to approximate the jam session's relative tune (they are usually out a bit). I say all this because I firmly believe in the use of electronic tuners! Especially at sessions. They are the polite way for being sure that you will sound good with your neighbors. When instruments like harmonicas, whistles, some accordians, banjos - other instruments that may be less precise then a guitar are being played - it is most important that YOU are precise, to blend better. You can't do much to fix the harmonica or the whistle or the accordian - so your precision on the guitar is very important - if then you discover that the whole room is out a bit, but is relatively OK - you may want to "sweeten" your tuning to accommodate. But knowing what is precise tuning is the all important starting point. I vote for good ears AND electronic tuners!


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Sep 02 - 01:22 AM

having said all that about tuners, I do use it discreetly and don't offer it to people who might be out of tune - and I do often just tune to the "room" rather then the tuner - if the room is already going when I get there ...


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 13 Sep 02 - 02:51 PM

i spoke to our mutual fiend's wife on the phone this evening. i needed a favour doing & she suggested he might do it. i told her i thoght i wouldn't be exactly the flavour of the month with him, since the session 'huff'incident. he hadn't mentioned the 'tuner incident'to her, but she just laughed & said'well he just hates tuning anyway!'.

so maybe he'll be back to the session some time & poss. we can come to an arrangement to suit all. i hope so.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Gypsy
Date: 13 Sep 02 - 10:29 PM

Jeb, can i clone you and get you to our sessions? Me hats off to ye for good sense!


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Sep 02 - 11:20 PM

Well, mebbe so, Murray, but I'm going by what Arcangel Fernandez wrote me in 1961 about the flamenco guitar he made for me. Tune it to concert pitch (440=A) and keep it there. I got the guitar for 6,000 pesetas (about $116.66 American), 35% duty, and about $20.00 air freight from Madrid, which brought the total up to about $175.00. It took about a year and a half after I ordered it for it to be delivered. Fernandez was back-ordered. It sounded pretty darned good right from the start, but over the next few years it really opened up, developing a definite Spanish accent in the process.

In 1962, I took some lessons from Antonio Zori, a genuine flamenco guitarist who was playing with a dance troupe at the Spanish Village at the Seattle World's Fair. He played my guitar some, and I could tell he was almost resentful that this rich American (!!????) had such a good guitar—considerable better than his, actually, even though his was a pretty good instrument.

My guitar could really bark when you were playing flamenco on it, or you could back off and mellow it out nicely. I play some flamenco (I'm not that great) and I also play classic on it (although I also have a nice classic guitar), and it really sound good for song accompaniments (it has enough bite to really sound good when fingerpicking). And in sizable halls, the sound goes all the way to the back wall. I've kept it tuned to concert pitch all this time, and it just keeps getting better.

A recent internet search for information on guitars made by Arcangel Fernandez turned up a couple of interesting web sites. I found two 1961 "Arcangel" flamenco guitars with signed, dated, and numbered labels for sale by concert guitar brokers. In the pictures they look exactly like mine, and one of them—the number on the label, and the exact same rosette—was made just a week or two after mine. One was going for $12,000, and the other (a few numbers from mine) was going for $18,000. Arcangels in good condition are rare and eagerly sought after. But I love that guitar, and I wouldn't part with it for any amount.

Methinks the guy knows what he's doing. So I'm not going to mess with something that I know works.

But Fernandez was talking about nylon-string classic and flamenco guitars. I'm no expert on steel-string guitars, so that might be different.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 02:35 PM

i'm getting a little worried about my frend, 'no c.p. trad. muso/siner'

i wonder if he's getting a bit deaf & doesn't notice he's out of tune with everyone else.

i've spoke to his parnter about this, she's not sur, as she relies on him to tune her mandolin.

but she's peformed v. well recently at 'mr happy's' using a borowed guitar & sung brill!


me & 'Menage', one of the goups i'm in, went to a Bluegass sesh last week & although bluegrass isn't our usual thing it was a good sesh + included some gentle 'old tine' singing.

About 20 to 11pm, the 'traditional non-tuning' person came in.

we hadn't seen or heard him sing or play for ages & the last couple of times, [during the xmas/new year break] had made the effort to be in concert pith.[which showed he was aware that some discord in sesshes in both pubic & private partes]

Well, what a suprise!- he still wasn't in tune, but belted out some blues nos.   

we didn't express any disfavour towards him this time tho', cos we all concluded amongst ourselves that his preference must be to be slol & not have others joining in.

we'd been to this same venue last spring/summer & there'd been a lot of novice/beginner instrumementalists participants not in tune- other than being in tune with themselves- but this tine, all were in c.p. -the leaning curve!!

we knew 'trad. non tuned musician' attended this sesh a lot & now understood why. if other novice players thought his was the 'right way' of going along, then they would've been retarded by his continual insistence of not being in c.p.

but lucky for them, there'd been some other muso/siners from the other N. welsh seshes attending + other blugras muso's from chester to point 'em in the preferred direction- giving hints & tips etc.

in other respects, i like my fiend who's been a realk good buddy in the paste.

Anyone have any thoughts on hearing deficits being the problem + a reluctance to own up to this?


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: CraigS
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 04:14 PM

As I get older, I find my perfect pitch is not so perfect as it was.
But these electronic tuners are not always as perfect as the makers want you to think they are. I've borrowed the bass player's tuner a couple of times lately, and I still find myself tuning a little bit sharper than the tuner - then the harmonica player turns up, and I'm in tune with him! What I have found in the past is that I can be distracted by hearing external music before I tune the guitar, then I tune it a semitone or a tone out of tune. As 50 approaches I'm not even a perfect interval out nowadays, but some fuzzy little bit off - and yes, I hate admitting it!


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 04:01 AM

Happy -

"Traditional tuner" reminds me a little of a guy I attempted to play with a while back.

"Traditional" maybe means "plays mostly alone" - at least that's what my guy did. He was also pretty good, and could sing a little along with his playing, but never owned a tuner and didn't know how to use one. Offering your tuner may have been, to him, like asking him to set the clock on your VCR.

Wife's commment about "hates to tune" may mean that he "does it the hard way," and is frustrated enough that he just doesn't want to face "getting in tune" - since he sees it as an ordeal, rather than just something you do as a matter of course. Chances are, if he "dislikes tuning" he doesn't even have a good, systematic, understanding of how to get in tune with himself without just "messing with it until it's good enough."

Unfortunately, if he's only around on rare occasions, there's probably not much you can do to help him - but a sympathetic approach may be more effective than criticism, since - if the above view is close - he's probably already more than a little defensive about the whole subject.

On the other hand - I met a spectacular player who tuned his Dulcimer to Eb just to be sure noone tried to play along.

John


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Pied Piper
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 06:01 AM

Hi CraigS

I'm afraid that your perfect pitch will move, as you get older. If I remember correctly it will go flat. I'm glad I don't have it for this reason.
I hope I've not pissed you of too much, but forewarned is forearmed.

All the best PP


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST,Rag
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 08:19 AM

In one of our sessions we don't seem to have much of a problem with tuning - everyone sorts it out by finding a note and tuning to it. On the other hand, we have another session where despite the fiddles being initially in tune, the players always tweak them up, never down, so during the course of the night all the fiddles go sharp and then other instruments try to follow, until a box joins in then there's lots of accusing glances and more tweaking. But mentioning instruments out of tune in a session can set off some touchy people. We usually just say, "I think I've gone out of tune, anyone have an A?" then most folks get the idea and retune.

By the way, there's a wonderful collection of Irish tunes collected by Dr George Petrie a couple of hundred years ago. He made the mistake of carrying around a tuning fork and then writing down lots of the tunes exactly in the key they were played... so we have lots of tunes in Gb, Ab, Db, Eb, Bb minor, F minor and so on. The music is peppered with accidentals and the easiest way to figure out what's going on is just to rewrite them out in a sensible nearby key.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Declan
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 11:06 AM

From what I hear, a lot of Uileann pipers had chanters in flatter keys in the older days, whereas "the peoples key" is now deemed to be 'D', many uileann pipes would be pitched in 'C' or even B or B-Flat.

A lot of fiddlers would tune down to play with these chanters. As a result in some areas of Ireland, where the Pipes were prevalent, notably in Clare and East Galway there in a lot of fiddle tunes in keys that would be awkward on alot of instruments. This means a lot of Reels & Jigs played in C and F Major and Dm and Gm.

Most of these are awkward to back on the guitar without the aid of a trusty capo. However they are really nice keys to listen to in moderation. A long session all played in flatter keys can be a bit wearying after say the first 3 hours !


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Pied Piper
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 11:14 AM

As I understand it Uillean Pipes changed up to D in order to get more volume for playing in Vaudeville.
PP


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST,Rag
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 04:17 PM

On the Uillean pipes, it seems according to Tomas O'Canainn's book on Traditional Music of Ireland, that until the mid C18th, the pipes were tuned with two drones both tuned to D an octave apart and then a third drone was added, again tuned to D, an octave below again.

The standard pipes were designed early in the C19th with chanter, bellows, three drones and three regulators, though some have four regulators. The more normal setup, we are assured, is to have a tenor regulator of five keys from F# to C in the treble clef, a baritone for D to A in the same clef, and a large bass regulator giving G to C an octave below the tenor regulator.

O'Canainn argues that the extra regulators were only added to suit the nineteenth century ears.

Since the regulators can be tuned, as can the drones, it seems that since the chanter can also be replaced, the whole thing is hugely tunable.

And there was me thinking the fiddlers in Clare were doing it to shut up the boxes... Seriously though, I've seen pipers in Ireland tuning to all manner of keys.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 09 Sep 03 - 06:46 AM

at Mr Happy's Come-All-Ye last week http://www25.brinkster.com/folkorbit/localvenues.htm#wednesday
, a scottish chap brought a chanter from highland pipes (but without the pipes themselves). it sounded really indescribable-but maybe due to highland pipes being tuned somewhat different to other instruments.

he didn't seem aware of the tuning incompatability & also played a flute which seemed equally discordant.

even so he didn't piss anyone off by any 'superior posturing about 'traditional' etc, & opted just to play solos- not joining in while others were playing.

hence everyone enjoyed the evening & if folk are concious of differences of this sort it's still possible to achieve a healthy balance.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Sep 03 - 10:26 PM

A while ago KimC said "One thing I wonder about, though, Don, is that if tuning wasn't really standardized, how do we know that Mozart's Ab wasn't Beethoven's F#?"
and Don Firth said "When Vivaldi or Mozart or Beethoven specified what keys they wanted their compositions to be played in, they had specific sounds in mind."

I won't repeat it all here, but in the One-Chord Songs thread there was a lot of music theory (some may pass over the head of some, but that's OK!) about "Just" and "Tempered" intonations (there are other threads about this theory too.)

Don's comment is interesting, because it skims over the real reason WHY they did this. The "Just" system as the referenced thread elaborates, means that for instruments tuned to say C Major in "Just" Intonation, playing in other keys means that the notes are "out" for any keys other than the "base" key that you tune the instrument to.

"Equally Tempered" Intonation tuning did away with all that, with both positive and negative results:

Positive; all instruments could now play with all others in any key without retuning (other than for purpose of absolute pitch - the relative pitches were now all in agreement!). The Well Tempered Clavier was the big demonstration piece for this - which is WHY is was composed! It was a BIG HIT of its time!

Negative; the particular sounds of certain keys (sad, happy, etc) relative to the original "Just" tuned base key now disappeared entirely, as the relative distances between notes was the same in ALL keys. This is what is really meant by Don's remark, perhaps more than he conciously intended - although I don't know (and don't care, it really doesn't matter to me cause I was not trying to insult him!) his level of experience in Classical Music Theory! :-)

I don't know of too many electronic tuners that can be set to pure "just" intonation - if anyone does, I'd like to know! - they are all in "Equally Tempered" intonations tuning!

So --- depending on how old the particular Tradition is   :-) (see the other thread!) a "Traditional Musician" perhaps could be performing in "Just" - a relatively easy thing to do on an unfretted string instrument or the human voice - it merely relies on his sense of "Perfect Pitch"! Playing along with such a muso with "Equally Tempered" instruments would be "interesting" to say the least... and everybody else would try to claim that he was "wrong"!

Interestingly "Traditional" singers may NOT be in Pure Modern "Equally Tempered" Intonations - there were countless "Temperings" before the mathematically based modern "Equally Tempered" (often confusingly abbreviated to merely "Tempered") system swallowed everything else - some still exist on this planet! (The Orient - Africa, etc)

A comment was made about 19C "collectors" putting collected tunes into particular keys - they were also struggling with the "Temperings" and the Modalities (Also see the referred thread!) - classically trained musos believed only in "Equally Tempered" - Folk Temperings were only finally killed off by the spread of the "Equally Tempered" Piano Accordion! Other free reed Squeeze Boxes added their nails to the coffin too... Pianos were tuned "Just" or some form of "Tempered Just" until Portable "Equally Tempered" Tuners were available. Most people (Folkies!) normally tuned to a piano. Orchestras traditionally tuned to the oboe.

Of course I doubt that the original muso that started off this thread was aware of the above ... :-) the discussion has already gone over that ground!

Pardon Me for repeating this...
QUOTE
Came across an interesting reference in Irish Traditional Music. Seems that it was considered bad manners to advise a fellow session fiddle player that he was out of tune. The accepted courtesy was to say "Sean, can I borrow your wee fiddle for a moment to try out that tune you was playin'?"

Then play a tune, and stop and say "I'm sorry Sean, the thing's gone out of tune now while I was playin' it"

and then retune it... and pass it back :-)
UNQUOTE

Robin


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Sep 03 - 10:37 PM

Reading what I just posted, I left this out:

I can't tell any difference in "emotion" - sad, happy etc between keys (of the pieces of the periods when such was all the rage) as played by Orchestras nowadays, for the reasons I went thru above - These pieces are now all perfomed in "Equally Tempered" Intonation. My pitch sense is OK, but I don't have "Absolute Pitch" often referred to erroneously as "Perfect Pitch".

I have a treasure in my collection. A beginners book for the Recorder.
It has the famous "Air in G" (Major) - the Author has cleverly transposed the piece to F Major to allow him to present it to the student who can at that stage can only play F Major notes, as the F# key hasn't been taught! :-)

Most people can't tell the difference aurally! - although some Classical Musicians may get a little uncomfortable...

Thaks for reading my rant...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Sep 03 - 11:23 PM

It makes a good deal of sense. Folk song collectors in the early part of the 20th century often noticed that singers appeared to be using intervals that pre-dated equal temperament, and non-classically trained fiddle players (having no frets) often still do that, though we have to make adjustments when playing with fixed-pitch instruments. To my ear, that means that I often have to play a bit sharp or flat on certain notes so that they fit with, in particular, the free-reeds.

You can get electronic tuners that will do just as well as equal temperament nowadays; unfortunately I don't remember who makes them. A friend (classically-trained fiddler escaped from the straitjacket) has one, and I'll try to remember to ask.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 04:02 AM

Robin, actually, I skimmed over the matter of pure or equal temperament because I didn't want to add another element to a subject that some people seem to find unduly complicated already. I've had discussions with a lot of folk musicians who've had little or no formal musical training (sometimes shunning any knowledge of music theory for fear it will pollute their purity as folk musicians) who have some peculiar ideas about what equal temperament actually is. I've actually had it used as a verbal club against anything I try to say about music: for example, "because you've studied music theory, you're limited to just playing certain notes, whereas I'm free to play any note I want," and other such twaddle. Since the original question had to do with someone refusing to tune with other people at a session, I was plumping for the acceptance of a standard of pitch accepted internationally and which most instrument makers have in mind when they build an instrument, be it fixed pitch like a clarinet or an instrument that has to be kept in tuned, like a guitar. My idea was to save everybody a lot of time and aggravation by accepting and tuning to that standard, not clinging to some misconception about what "traditional" musicians do or don't do.

Just for the record, three years at the University of Washington School of Music, two years at the Cornish School of the Arts, and private theory lessons with Mildred Hunt Harris, plus lots of private lessons in voice and classic guitar. I'm always open to learn more.

It's my understanding that Vivaldi, Mozart, et al often did maintain that different keys had different emotional qualities, and it may very well be because they were using just tuning and it struck them that way. I have met musicians, both classical and jazz, who insist that each key has it's own quality: "D is bright and sunny," or "G, even though major, is dark and somber," and on around the circle of fifths, ascribing qualities like this to each key, major and minor. And this, even when dealing with instruments tuned in equal temperament. I tend to think that this may be a bit of "one-upmanship." To me, different keys on the guitar do seem to have different qualities of sonority, but not any particular difference in emotional quality. But this is because of the different voicings of first position chords in each key. Other than the way different keys sound on specific instruments, I can't hear such qualities inherent in each key regardless of instrument. If it is there it's too subtle for me.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 05:06 AM

String pianos (ie not eloctronic) are tuned using stretched tuning. This means that the lower notes are flattened and the higher notes are sharpened: without this the harmonics of the low notes would be out of tune with the corresponding high notes. Why? Because the harmonic stucture, or overtones if you like, are between those of a perfect string and a metal bar.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: treewind
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 05:20 AM

Scriabin and Alkan were famous for having synaesthesia - seeing colours when they heard music, and associating particular colours with particular keys.

The idea of keys like D being "bright" and flat keys being more sombre, for example, probably has a lot to do with the use of open strings in the string section. When a violin is played in D or A the open strings may be used or may vibrate in sympathy. In keys where the open string notes are not used or are not on the notes of the key chord they have less effect. In G the open G string will resonate, but that's the lowest string of the instrument so imparts less brightness to the sound. Also, for instance, some of Bach and Handel's works use a high D trumpet which only works properly in that key.

Interestingly this has nothing to do with absolute concert pitch. If concert picth in Handel's time was flat, the strings were tuned flat (by modern standards) so a work is D would still have those bright sounding open strings.

I'm sure the wind instruments of the time had key related peculiarities too. A baroque flute sounds very different in different keys, because some notes are stronger than others, while a modern instrument is designed to be more uniform.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Pied Piper
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 05:31 AM

Being a Piper I am very aware of intonation issues.
I tune my pipes to a scale of just intervals. The problem comes when playing with 12ET instruments.
The lower the pitch of the other instrument the better, if the instrument is in the same octave, beets can be a serious problem.
This applies particularly to the low G (actually Ab) which is a 7/4 ratio and a lot larger than a 12ET tone down from the tonic A (Bb).

All the best PP


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 06:09 AM

A lot of very useful information in this thread,but the basic problem is - IS it a session or an Open mike/singaround.I have been to events advertised as sessions which most attendees used as a place to ego trip and play complicated arrangements in weird keys.Despite the organiser insisting it was an'Every body will join in'session.
IMHO a 'Session' is somewhere where everybody can join in and learn by playing with other musicians,so turning up at a session and NOT tuning in to everyone else is at the very least impolite.


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Pied Piper
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 06:41 AM

Spot on, but they don't lissen.
PP


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 12:34 PM

1) Don, I agree with almost everything you said theory wise. Respect your training! I can't hear any emotion in the KEYS, but sometimes in the pieces (the intervals, timimg, etc).

Yes to hearing colorations (treewind).

Yes to the open strings things, but some of this myth about emotions was applied to keyboard pieces, harpsichords, etc BEFORE PianoFortes were invented, and to non-stringed instruments (woodwinds etc which do have certain resonances...). Yes (treewind), some woodwinds have totally different characteristics in different parts of their ranges, which means that any "electronic imitation" has to usually be some sort of compromise sound. Midi can be great fun, but they have to pinch the sound from "Real" instruments... and usually lose most of the expression that the real instrument has. I can usually tell when someone is electric keyboarding an accordion sound...

2) Stretched tuning for pianos: Primo, my Piano accordion tuning man, says similar things about P/A's - they can also be a bas**** to tune anything else to, especially since some (smaller ones) of them have unswitched multiple reeds intended to be slightly out of tune and thus beat ... (vibrato/musette etc) ... also the vibrato effect (wet/dryness) is usually not constant over the keyboard in the smae manner as the pitch stretching ... :-)

3) Piedpiper: I agree.

4) Leadfingers, you're perfectly right you know... :-) I did get a bit carried away, didn't I? :-)

5) I had thought that it might be almost impossible to tune my triple strung hammer dulcimer, but discovered that if one of the three strings for a note was just a little a bit off, it tended to get "pulled" into tune sympathetically (but once all 3 are spot on the volume is greater!) ... and once the damn thing WAS in tune, it tended to STAY pretty well, provided that the temp & humidity could be controlled. Funny, I don't seem to have quite the same amount of troubles that others claim about having to be tuning all the time...

6) and Don, I'm sorry, I'll put on my dunces cap and stand in the corner...
(puts thumb in mouth, shuffles, scratches floor with toe) ...

for about 5 secongs... :-)

Robin
(who plays more than one instrument, but not at the same time... and is NOT any expert on guitars or harmonicas...) :-)


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 12:39 PM

Oh one more thing about "tuning"

A good whistle/flute player can "blow" the instrument into small pitch shifts by ear.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 01:58 PM

No problem, Robin. You obviously know what you're talking about.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Sep 03 - 11:24 PM

Thanks Don

Now I wish _I_ knew what I was talking about....

:-)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Sep 03 - 05:20 AM

"A good whistle/flute player can "blow" the instrument into small pitch shifts by ear." Brass players do the same - they call it 'lipping in'


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Subject: RE: Help: 'Traditional musicians' & Tuning?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Jun 04 - 07:28 AM

'Traditional Musician' attended Mr Happy's Come-All-Ye this week with brand new guitar!!

All cheered when he took it out of equally brand new case & commenced to play all in- wait for it!- 440Hz concert pitch!

After he'd finished & the applause & huzzahs had died down, he quipped, 'it was in tune when I bought it!'

All's well that ends well, eh!


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