Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Is “old style” intonation systematic?

I played some Bobby Casey solo fiddle recordings to a friend who isn’t familiar with that kind of music, and he said “he’s playing out of tune”.

It’s never actually occurred to me to think of it as “out of tune”, it sounds to me like Bobby is doing it right, but differently. So I have been wondering if there is a “correct” alternative intonation used by the older generation of fiddlers, or is it more that variable intonation is acceptable in these styles?

In other words, would a musicologist be able to say “these older players typically flatten the fourth”, or whatever it might be?

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There are thousands of different ways to subdivide the octave and Equal Temperament is only one of many.

Sometimes people nowadays get so used to hearing Equal Temperament that it’s the only thing that sounds “in tune” to them. But ET is fairly recent, being devised in the 18th century for Baroque/early Classical music. ET was heavily citicised when it was introduced. One critic said something like “Equal in what way? Equally out of tune in every key?”

That’s exactly what ET is, arbitrarily dividing the octave into mathematically equal portions to give a scale that’s not quite in tune in any key but fairly close to being in tune in all of them.

The uilleann pipes aren’t tuned to ET but to the older system which we call Just Intonation. In JI each note of the octave is a precisely in tune beatless consonance relative to the tonic. That means on a bagpipe that each note of the chanter makes a pure beatless interval against the drones.

To be specific, here’s how each note of a D scale in Just Intonation varies, in cents, from the Equal Temperament note:
Bottom D 0 (it’s the tonic)
E +4
F# -14
G -2
A +2
B -16
Cnat (there are various approaches to this note, one being the Harmonic Minor 7th at -31 which sounds the most “in tune” against the harmonics of the drones).

All you need to do to see why pipers tune this way is to hear somebody play a chanter tuned to Equal Temperament over their drones: no note will be exactly in tune and a few notes will be horrid.

Irish flutes and whistles are often tuned more or less this way too, though some are tuned to Equal Temperament. The big differences as you can see are the Major 3rd (-14) and the Major 6th (-16).

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Thanks Richard: is a fiddler like Bobby Casey therefore using an intonation system like that as his (unconscious?) model?

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PS you can Google “just intonation” and read all about it.

Classical players still use it often, it depends on the situation.

For example a Brass ensemble, when playing by itself, will use Just intervals so that their chords are clear and in perfect tune. If they were to play their Major 3rds at the ET location they would sound too sharp. Likewise with acapella choirs etc.

There’s a site, I hope it’s still up and running, called The Anatomy Of The Octave where you can see all the different ways of subdividing the octave on a big chart.

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Nice post Bernie..I would know little of musicology and bow to Richards knowledge.For something to be systematic it would have to be worked out I presume.I believe maybe some of the reason that the west Clare fiddlers ,in particular,have this wonderful sound is from having to play with two row concertinas and other limited instruments or else from listening to musicians who had that experience.Either way I think you are safe in your assumption that Bobby is doing it right.

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Hi Tab,

I think you can definitely have things like this that are systematic without being consciously worked out.

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Of course, sure.

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Richard, the problem that I have with your explanation concerns the use of open strings. Let’s say that our fiddler has his instrument set up to play in D, so he probably has his E string slightly sharp. Now for the next tune he wants to play in G. Now the E needs to be -16 instead of +4. He/She has either got to re-tune or else use the fourth finger on the A string for every E. I can’t believe they would have done either of those things.

Certainly a lot of the old fiddlers had non-ET intonation, but I think it is more likely that it varied from player to player rather than being systemised.

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We have a tool that should be able to answer your question. It was designed for flute but should work fine for solo fiddle. You just play the tune into it; it will bring together all the notes of the same nominal pitch and show you average and range. Then you can decide whether Bobby conforms closest to Just, Equal, Irish fiddler, Bobby Casey or pot luck!

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/RTTA.htm

Make sure you report back your findings!

A good clue to whether tuning is a temperament or an aberration is whether the octaves of all the notes are in tune. Temperaments are means of arranging the notes within the octave, and should apply consistently.

Terry

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I’d beware getting too technical about all this, temperament and all. For example lots of fiddlers “pinch” third finger notes slightly flat, even some excellent players. Is that systematic? Such things may be quite consistent but there may well be no “system” other than what that player’s left hand has got used to doing. Use slow-down software to listen to some top class players at speed and some notes are all over the place. They are “doing it right” and sound tremendous but I don’t think they ever planned to pitch those notes like that.

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Good cross posts by John & Terry. I should have just waited!

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Casey (when in his prime) was certainly consistent in his approach and strongly similar to his local contemporaries like Crehan and Galvin. Canny was consistent too but different, as was Rochford. In all cases the intonation was however deliberate.

Anyone aware of the playing of concertina players from West Clare these, and I am thinking particularly of some these men would have know closely and whose recordings survive, wouldn’t even consider their influence on the fiddlers’ intonation.

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Paddy Canny often plays one G on the E string when the scale is ascendant, and another on the way back down. It’s consistent, rather than accidental, though, like Tom, I’m not sure there is any consciously-constructed ‘system’ in place. However, a large part of it has to do with regional style, as well as personal choice. In comparison to his contemporaries from Donegal, he would be playing ‘out of tune’, but of course that is simply not true.

For an interesting perspective on Paddy Canny’s tuning of open strings, have a look at Russell M.Hopper’s article. The relevant section begins on page 10: http://www.scribd.com/doc/4983054/Critical-Regionalism-and-the-East-Clare-Fiddle-Style-of-Paddy-Canny

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It seemed to me that the older players I had the pleasure of knowing mostly had their E sting a little sharp.

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“ In all cases the intonation was however deliberate.“
Fair enough Prof. I’d be interested to know the source of that information.

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I gathered that from talking to the men themselves about the music.

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How could it not be deliberate?

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(Dragut’s link) “…Canny tunes the A string to G# -20 cents…”

…and there you go.

I’ve often dorked slightly around with my open string cents (sense?) in sessions depending on where the majority seems to be leaning, sharp or flat. With boxes, whistles, flutes and the like, you just kind of roll with the punches.

Basically, if I wince on a open string, I change it. Electric tuner, mimetic spooner, if my A or E is making me cringe (even though it’s in tune) when I play it with others I fix it.

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Or, I don’t and I just deal with it, depending on the situation. Meh.

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“How could it not be deliberate?”
To distinguish it from other players whose intonation was simply bad, I suppose.

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Wish there was some ‘why’ to Canny’s A string adjustment in the paper aside from “…darkening the timbre of the instrument…”

That seems to imply a systemic choice made as opposed to what it probably is, a local convention absorbed traditionally.

…but then again, who knows. Anyone? 😉

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I got a bit cut short there before I was done. I talked about music with most of the West Clare fiddlers (and a few more aside from the ones I mentioned above) at some point or other, a lot with Rochford and a bit with Canny.

They all had a firm understanding of what they were doing, maybe they didn’t formulate a system, they had a strongly formed sense of aesthetic that made them play like they did.

Rochford for example knew very well how to play the sad notes and did so consciously, to achieve the effect he was looking for.

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This is interesting but I do find most of the old timers hard to listen to

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I think that would be still deliberate john.What is interesting is that the few younger players that have traces of that sound rarely sound authentic.Its like they are trying.Maybe an exception is Breda Keville who somehow captures a flavour of that sound.James Kelly ,of course can capture it any time he wants to.

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Depends on who you listen to. You should hear Eimear Coughlan, Canny’s granddaughter, on the fiddle. Or Paddy Galvin’s granddaughter. You don’t get more real than that.

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Sure thing Prof.I try to listen to everybody.Eimear certainly is a lovely player.Of course it might not be natural to play like Canny even if one could.The great musicians are influenced but have got their own sound and in the modern world it might be more natural to play with the tuning that surrounds you.What is Paddy Galvins granddaughters name?

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The idea that people as musical and as skilled as Canny and Casey would not be playing the notes they wanted to hear is daft, frankly.

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Daft indeed! Canny and Casey had so much going on in their music that endless listening only unearths more lovely touches.I used to love when Paddy did those gigs with Kieran Hanrahan.Kieran played simple straightforward well known tunes and his honesty seemed to bring out the beauty in Cannys music even more than usual.Its a shame that no cd was made of the two of them. Of course it could appear yet.

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The internet is amazing! I ask a question about intonation, a couple of hours later I have the equipment to carry out a statistical analysis of Bobby Casey’s playing.

Thanks very much Terry!

I did a quick analysis of Casey’s playing of Sean O’Dwyer of the Glen (in my lunch break!) using Flutini. I don’t know if I have done everything right, but it seems like most notes are slightly sharp, but in the green zone, and C#5 is flat, into the yellow zone.

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I do believe all the stuff about pipes, concertinas, and “just intonation” is a bit of a red herring.

Also, it seems like perhaps there is some confusion from that article about Canny’s A string tuning. I think what the author was trying to say was that all the strings were tuned low, not just the A string!

Patrick Ourceau is one local to me that sounds quite authentic and Canny-esque. I’m with Jeeves on this.

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And may I ask what the source of that is??

(sorry Nico, only messing)

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Fascinating stuff. Be true to your ear.
If someone is said to have “perfect pitch,” does that then mean they can exactly identify whatever note is presented?

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No problem Prof. The source is my own ears. Well, that and Patrick and I have talked about Paddy Canny a fair bit, as well as hearing him talk about Canny’s influence on his playing in concert, session, lesson situations.

As far as the bit about Canny’s whole fiddle being tuned down… just a guess based on listening to some old recordings of him.

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That test isn’t very good. Since the notes all come from the diatonic C major scale, and you can go back an listen to notes again before clicking submit, it’s possible to score 10 out of 10 (as I just did) after being way off on the first guess (as I was) and correcting the mistakes later (before hitting submit).

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Er, so you cheated Gary?

No, I agree really, the test isn’t great, but it was the only one I could get to work.

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I suppose so, but the rules aren’t spelled out. As soon as they rule out sharps and flats as possible answers, give you more than one note per test, and allow you to change your answers, they’ve blown it. They should give you one note, at least 12 notes to choose your answer from, and force you to submit it before getting the next note. And some random music should be played between test notes.

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If a fiddler pinches a major third slightly flat what happens is that it is likely to resonate with an appropriate harmonic from an open string lower down. You can it out - first make sure all the strings are tuned in exact pure fifths, then play the G on the E-string. Move your finger about slightly until suddenly you’ll hear the resonance from the G string. You’ll probably feel a sympathetic vibration from the G-string. The G you just played on the E-string may well be slightly flatter than the G you normally play in that position.

Also, if you play the B on the E-string slightly flat it will resonate with another harmonic on the G-string. This B is slightly flatter than a perfect 5th above the E, so you probably shouldn’t play it quite that flat if you’re playing in an A or E key (mode).

I’ve heard of a professional string quartet where the cello and viola tune their C-strings a few cents sharp. This is so that the open E strings of the violins can resonate with a particular harmonic of the C-string.

The big disadvantage of an instrument (say a keyboard instrument) is tuned in just intonation in a particular key (say C) is that if you modulate too far from C it will sound progressively out of tune. Playing in G, F or D sounds satisfactory but F#minor would sound really out of key. Baroque composers using Just Tuning in keyboard music could use this phenomenon to effect to give a more emotional feel to the music by modulating from, say, Dmaj to F#min.

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“You can try it out - “

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« I’ve heard of a professional string quartet where the cello and viola tune their C-strings a few cents sharp. This is so that the open E strings of the violins can resonate with a particular harmonic of the C-string.»

I think it’s a fairly widespread practice, LH. My sis plays cello in string quartets that are not professional, semi-pro maybe, and she tells me she does this routinely, saying she has to if the quartet is going to sound in tune.And IIRC it’s quite a bit more than a few cents. I assumed it was an effect of the comma rather than having anything to do with the resonance with open fiddle strings - how common are they in quartet playing, anyway?

Now we’re well and truly off topic. To get back on, one of my favourite pieces of fiddle playing is Martin Byrnes’ The Blackbird, to Reg Hall’s piano. The clash of his intonation with that of the piano is really something you can taste, I love it.

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This has been an interesting thread, I think I am finally starting to understand this subject. Thanks everyone!

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Apparently, that professional quartet was teaching that tuning to amateur quartets at workshops, so it’s getting around. They were talking about the improved resonance of the ensemble - the open E resonating with a harmonic from the sharpened open C - and vice versa. My experience with professionals (we have a handful in my chamber orchestra) is that they’re certainly not afraid to play open strings if it suits the music (always the over-riding consideration); it seems to me that it’s the occasional less experienced classical amateur who hasn’t really learned how to get a good tone out of an open string (the E especially) who tends to avoid them and play fingered equivalents instead.

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If you’re playing a stringed instrument your intonation will (or should) be based on the open strings, because even if you aren’t playing the open strings directly you will get sympathetic vibrations from them with the notes that you play, like lazyhound mentioned above.

Notes that are “in tune” with the open strings will ring out in a certain way, it’s very noticeable once you get experienced with it, and so on a stringed instrument your ear will naturally cause you to fall into something like just intonation.

But the real point is that you don’t need to know the technical details. Your ear will naturally lead you to this sort of intonation, as long as you listen for the sympathetic “ringing” of the open strings and you (very important!) make sure to play on an instrument where all the strings are in tune with one another.

And this is why electronic tuners are often considered inaccurate and unreliable for checking intonation, they normally display pitch for even temperament. And this is also why all pianos everywhere are always out of tune.

Anyway, it’s not old-style intonation, it’s just correct intonation. Even temperament is just plain wrong, but it’s what a lot of people annoyingly consider “in tune.”

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We need to remember that the only reliably tuned note on a piano is the A above middle C, which will (or should) be tuned to 440. All the other notes are tuned as compromises, limited by string length and other physical considerations. When tuning a piano, you try to get all the octaves beatless, which leaves the 4ths and 5ths with a slight beat to them. Thirds and sixths will have a fast beat. This allows you to be able to play in all keys.

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Bernie 29 said:

> The internet is amazing! I ask a question about intonation, a couple of hours later I have the equipment to carry out a statistical analysis of Bobby Casey’s playing.

> Thanks very much Terry!

No worries, Bernie, glad it seems to have worked.

> I did a quick analysis of Casey’s playing of Sean O’Dwyer of the Glen (in my lunch break!) using Flutini. I don’t know if I have done everything right, but it seems like most notes are slightly sharp, but in the green zone, and C#5 is flat, into the yellow zone.

Interesting. It would be worth running it on a few other of Casey’s tunes to see if his approach is consistent. It might be that in other keys you get a different result.

I was also interested by the observation somewhere above that a note on the way down might be consistently different from a note on the way up. Conceivably some intervals might produce the same variation. If you go on to try the Polygraph version of RTTA, you’ll see that it shows you the range of data too, and that can be a clue that something tricky is going on. The “violin” plot can be handy here (heh heh, amusingly). It shows more clearly than the box plot where there are clusters.

You do have to be careful in either system when the deviations from “standard” pitch get too great. For example, really flat C# notes will start to be recognised as really sharp C notes. Sometimes you have to fiddle the reference pitch in the setup section to be able to stay on the map.

Breathnach talked about the pipers C being somewhere between C and C#. People have also talked about the “C Supernatural”. I don’t know if those are the same thing and also what Bobby was doing with his flat C#.

Seems like there’s quite a bit of work needed here before we understand what some of our most famous players were up to!

Terry

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Wow some folks know lots don’t they, but you guys have solved why I thought the first electronic tuner I bought tuned the e string flat.

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Marklar, your last paragraph got me out of my chair and applauding. Thank you for putting this issue all so succinctly.

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PS You might have added at the end: “And they have their handy tuners to prove it.”

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Marklar said:

> Anyway, it’s not old-style intonation, it’s just correct intonation.

Are you saying Bobby’s is “correct intonation”? Bernie’s initial analysis seems to suggest that most of his playing (on one tune at least) is close to ET (assuming some of the notes are the open strings and that they are well tuned), apart from C# which is well flat. Bernie didn’t mention what key Bobby was playing in, so we don’t really know if it’s a flat C# or a sharp C. Either way, it doesn’t sound like Just Intonation. I’d suggest we need to know more to come to any conclusion. I’d encourage him to keep going.

As an aside, it always concerns me to hear people disparaging enquiry. Indeed, I’m reminded of going to meet Breathnach back in the seventies. I’d just spent some weeks at the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. Breandan snorted, along the lines of “it’s alright for them. In Scotland people admire education; over here, if I let on I’m attached to Government, people think I’m a tax collector.” Fortunately for us all, he persevered. Yet, 36 years later, someone asks an interesting question about how this music was played by one of the acknowledged greats, and many would prefer not to know. Weird or what?

Back to Marklar …

> Even temperament is just plain wrong, but it’s what a lot of people annoyingly consider “in tune.”

It’s probably a bit much to describe it as “plain wrong”. Random or seriously bent would be “plain wrong”. ET is perhaps more fairly described as the best compromise musical science could come up with, faced with the difficultly of tuning keyboard and fretted instruments (including concertinas) so that they could play satisfactorily in any key. Doesn’t make it any nicer, but it falls into the category of a necessary evil. Those of us with flexible instruments (fiddle, flute) adopt it (hopefully) every time we play with non-flexible instruments, so it doesn’t appear life-threatening.

The point of Bernie’s enquiry is what we (well, our illustrious predecessors) do when playing solo. I for one would like to know.

Terry

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Terry, you aren’t going to be able to get at this with empirical analysis, there is a lot more than intonation going on with a solo fiddler. This sort of approach reminds me of that scene in Dead Poets Society about mathematical analysis of poetry.

Pitch is used for expression by fiddlers, obviously with slides but also with individual notes. That will skew this kind of analysis. A fiddler may play the same note in the same key in a slightly different pitch from one tune to another, or from one part of a tune to another. That has little to do with temperaments versus just intonation.

Even temperament will lead you astray on a fiddle, there is no doubt. Playing drones is a good way to hear why. Even temperament is a necessary evil on pianos, not on fiddles, and we’re talking about fiddle intonation here aren’t we?

The only reason to use even temperament is if you are playing on or with an instrument that is forced to use it, like the piano. We’re talking about intonation on a solo fiddle here, and even temperament has no place there, it is wrong. Just because it is right (out of necessity) for pianos doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong for solo fiddles.

Also, keep in mind that I said that fiddlers tend to play in “something like” just intonation. It has to do with the open strings like I was talking about before, and the fact that they are tuned to perfect fifths. I didn’t mean to imply that fiddlers do or should play in strict just intonation all the time, I was just trying to illustrate why using even temperament to guide intonation on a fiddle doesn’t sound right, and is a bad idea if you can avoid it.

Oh, and as for what great fiddlers do with pitch when playing solo, I can answer that question for you very simply: they do what sounds good to their ears.

You can’t get at this sort of thing by plotting graphs, only the ear can understand it. Music theory can be described in mathematical terms, but expressive solo playing cannot.

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Greg the piano tuner said: “When tuning a piano, you try to get all the octaves beatless, which leaves the 4ths and 5ths with a slight beat to them. Thirds and sixths will have a fast beat. This allows you to be able to play in all keys”

Could you expain this one to me? I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “beatless” when tuning ocatves. Do you mean that the frequency of the lower note is exactly half of the upper note so that the notes sound exactly in tune, or am I waaaaay off base?

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@jsmith, I’m sure that is what Greg means. However, when I was a lad, a piano tuner tuning my Dad’s piano explained to me that he always tuned the top octave very slightly sharp, otherwise those very high notes (3-4kHz) would sound flat - an example perhaps of a psychological factor coming into the equation.
A little while ago I saw on YouTube a professional violinist and pianist playing on stage one of Dvorak’s pieces for violin and piano. I noticed the difference between the violinist’s intonation and the ET of the piano. I suspect she was deliberately not trying to follow the tuning of the piano so as to add a little extra spice to the music.
A classical violinist uses vibrato more than the Irish folk fiddler does; this would tend to partially mask some of the intonation differences (not intentionally one hopes !), but intonation differences between the violin’s JT and an instrument fixed to ET would still be apparent.

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Like the folk fiddlers, classical violin soloists each have their own individual feel for intonation, sometimes sufficient for a listener to be able to identify the player solely on that basis.

There is the story about Heifetz joking (or perhaps he wasn’t) that when he played those difficult octave passages in a concerto he’d always make sure to play one octave pair very slightly out of tune so that the audience would know he was playing octaves.

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I’m curious as to why the assumption has been made that fiddlers arrive at just intonation. You can get pure intervals with Pythagorean or close to pure ones with the various mean tone systems. They may not do the kind of thing described above as common in playing fiddle though. I don’t play it.

I do recall that the founding director of the St. Olaf choir, for years famed for their precise intonation in all kinds of music but particularly Renaissance polyphony, used a piano to train his choir. He is reputed to have said “I would be delighted to get my choir to sing as well in tune as that piano.” when asked why.

That said, I think pitch is a very individual thing. I’ve had singers in groups who heard high thirds (Pythagorean) and singers who heard low thirds (Just) and singers who were happy with ET thirds. I’ve heard solo players who used all sorts of different intonation schemes. Some of which I suspect were not chosen..

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Fiddle strings are tuned to perfect fifths. That is the connection to just intonation. It is that simple, unless you don’t understand the connection between perfect fifths and just intonation.

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I’m not sure that the tuning of perfect fifths across the 4 open strings necessarily gets you into Just Intonation. Equal Temperament, and probably most of the others, assume well tuned fifths. The nasties are concealed in easier-to-disguise places, such as the thirds and sixths.

Going back to your earlier posting, Marklar, I think you might be assigning limitations to our analysis systems that don’t exist. Both systems (Flutini and Polygraph) can be set to Just Intonation, Equal or any other temperament, including custom ones. So there is no need to relate results to ET unless you want to.

And it doesn’t matter whether it turns out that a temperament is in use or not. The system collects all the data and displays it separately. If a temperament is in use, there will be repetition between the octaves. If not, there won’t. So that matter will easily be sorted out.

If a unique temperament can be detected, the custom temperament feature might be of value. For example, having determined what Bobby Casey does on one tune, one could easily compare with what he does on others, and what other old-time players do.

The Polygraph isn’t limited to indicating one value for say C#, but can be set (vioplot) to illustrate the distribution of values found. If say a player used a different tuning for a note at one part of the tune and another at a different point, that can be detected. Any such interesting phenomena can then be investigated going back to the original Tartini data, which can be exported to Excel if wanted for further analysis.

Slides in pitch can be most readily seen and documented from the original Tartini traces, and you can pick over these at your leisure. And you can listen to the audio and watch the measurements go by at the same time, allowing the use of both senses to detect and quantify interesting bits. Great stuff!

I guess the question is, if we didn’t measure what Bobby et al were doing, how would we ever know?

Terry

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“When tuning a piano, you try to get all the octaves beatless”

No you don’t. Look up stretch tuning.

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I think stretch tuning must have been what our piano tuner was talking about all those years ago.

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Jack, stretch tuning is what renders the octave beatless. Piano strings are thick, so that they will store and return a decent amount of energy from the hammer (as opposed to harpsichord strings which are thin, to permit plucking). Being thick means that they don’t vibrate as neatly as do harpsichord strings. Stiffness of the stings make them vibrate “inharmonically” - the harmonics all being successively slightly sharper than they should be. So when you tune from middle C to next c, you have to tune the octave a snidge wide, or you will hear beating. The shorter the string (square piano or compact upright) the wider the stretch; the longer the scale (concert grand) the less you need to stretch. So, paradoxically, you get a piano into tune by tuning octaves wide. Whacko, eh?

For those opposed to the notion of electronic tuners, the piano seems to offer hope. Tune the Goanna using your guitar tuner, and you will have the most miserable sounding instrument ever. But science is undaunted. Technological rascals have invented new forms of tuner that pick up on the harmonics of the lower strings, making it easier for the tuner to set the upper strings to the required stretch. It seems ears are quite passe’ in this brave new world!

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

I did look it up, and what Terry says is how understand it from this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stretched_tuning (yes I know its wikipedia but the explanation makes sense).
If the higher of two notes two octaves apart has to be stretched to match the fourth harmonic of the lower note then its fundamental will be beatless with the ‘matching’ harmonic of the lower note. What the other harmonics would do would depends on how the inharmonicity changed along the instrument but the effect may be what a piano tuner calls ‘beatless’.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Mind you, 35 cents across the range of a grand piano does not seem much. Just now I am more concerned over 25 cents across the range of someone elses tin whistle.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“if we didn’t measure what Bobby et al were doing, how would we ever know”

By listening to them, perhaps?

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

The top notes of a concert grand - those above the a’’ (3520KHz) of a domestic upright - can be quite tricky to tune, or even to produce a recognizable note. I once heard a CD of John Ogdon playing a piano piece which went up to the top c’’’ (~4096KHz). That note and the one below it were nothing more than clicks with no discernible pitch.

On the violin I suspect that a good quality gut E can have the edge over the steel E when it comes to fingered really high notes (i.e. not the harmonics) - those at the end of the finger board and even higher. The reasons I have for this include the compositions of Paganini and, a century before him, the Baroque violinist-composer Locatelli, both of whom sent the player’s fingers skittering into the stratosphere. I think Locatelli in his Opus 3 concertos called for even higher fingered notes than did Paganini, and Locatelli didn’t use stopped harmonics. Neither composer, both outstanding virtuosos of their time, would have dared to do this if their gut strings weren’t up to the job. They didn’t have recording studios with creative audio-enhancing software at their beck and call, either.

I have two recordings of the Locatelli concertos - one on a Baroque violin with gut strings, and the other on a violin with a steel E. On those recordings the sound of the gut E in altissimo is superior to, and clearer than, that of the steel E, which sounds a little tight and forced by comparison.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Lazyhound, It’s easier to bow a gut E string when you’re way up on the fingerboard, because the tension of the string is much lower than with a steel E.

Gut Es do sound better but they aren’t worth the hassle and they don’t do well at A=440. I think you’re mainly hearing the overall tone difference between gut and steel, rather than anything specific to the high frequencies.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

David_h

> Mind you, 35 cents across the range of a grand piano does not seem much.

No, but consider a chord with three fingers of each hand. Now we are not hearing just two beating notes, but several harmonics of each of 6 notes, all theoretically nicely blending, but actually throbbing at different rates. Yetch!

> Just now I am more concerned over 25 cents across the range of someone elses tin whistle.

Heh heh, I guess that can be described as a short sharp pain versus the mistuned piano’s dull throbbing ache!

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Terry had said:
“if we didn’t measure what Bobby et al were doing, how would we ever know”

Marklar responded:
“By listening to them, perhaps?”

Listening to them will certainly alert you to something unusual going on, but unless you have quite remarkable analytical skills it would be hard to take it much further. We need to know the relationship of all the notes in the scale, which is a lot of data to keep in the mind while listening, even if you have the skills to evaluate the relationship of each pair of notes without instrumentation. Especially if there is any possibility of a note being played at more than one pitch, or a slide.

One can only admire the tenacity of 19th century musical acousticians who relied upon simple devices such as measuring cylinders containing different amounts of water (and therefore leaving different amounts of air column above) to help them analyse musical phenomenon, well before the advent of electronics.

Now I hope we haven’t scared Bernie off his exploration of Bobby’s intonation!

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

How do you explain the players who played the same style and intonation Terry? Paddy Galvin, Michael Downes, Junior Crehan. They understood the style and the aesthetic that formed it.

Your method doesn’t create understanding. It merely quantifies. You can print a graph. But it doesn’t make you understand it at all, at all.

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“Listening to them will certainly alert you to something unusual going on, but unless you have quite remarkable analytical skills it would be hard to take it much further.”

I can’t agree with this, you can certainly tell a lot more than “something unusual is going on.” It doesn’t take superpowers to hear that a fiddler is playing a particular note slightly flat.

And you seem to be overlooking the very simple method of playing along with a recording and matching pitches to see what’s going on. Trying to understand this kind of thing without using your ears is like trying to understand a painting with a blindfold on.

It doesn’t matter to me much whether Bernie continues his analysis or not (and I’m not sure why it seems to matter so much to you, if you think it so important why aren’t you doing it yourself?) that’s his business and he can make his own decisions. I just think there are much easier ways and much simpler explanations for what he’s asking about.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“How do you explain the players who played the same style and intonation Terry? Paddy Galvin, Michael Downes, Junior Crehan. They understood the style and the aesthetic that formed it.”

Do we know they played in the same intonation? Exactly the same, more-or-less the same, slightly the same? Who knows? Where is it written? How did they determine it?

If we can’t answer those questions, then we don’t know, although we may believe we do.

It will be very interesting if we can prove they did. That would be a very nice outcome! Then we’d want to know why! They influenced each other? Someone influenced all of them? It’s just natural? It’s regional? Other please specify? And that’s just for starters …

“Your method doesn’t create understanding. It merely quantifies. You can print a graph. But it doesn’t make you understand it at all, at all. “

Certainly having the numbers doesn’t guarantee understanding, but not having the numbers makes it impossible to understand. To recognise maybe, but not understand.

Do you expect your doctor to cure you without taking your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, a few x-rays, blood samples, listen to your chest, tap your reflexes, etc? Do you accuse him of not understanding? Or do you prefer to engage the services of a faith-healer?

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“And you seem to be overlooking the very simple method of playing along with a recording and matching pitches to see what’s going on. Trying to understand this kind of thing without using your ears is like trying to understand a painting with a blindfold on.”

The RTTA method is much quicker and more accurate than playing along. Once through and you have your answers. And I’m not arguing against use of ears - I’m advocating appropriate and collaborative use of ears, eyes and brain.

“It doesn’t matter to me much whether Bernie continues his analysis or not (and I’m not sure why it seems to matter so much to you, if you think it so important why aren’t you doing it yourself?) that’s his business and he can make his own decisions. I just think there are much easier ways and much simpler explanations for what he’s asking about.”

Heh heh, I have enough of my own fish to fry, see for starters:

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/FluteTone-Picklist_of_Potential_Investigations.htm

And that’s just on flute tone. I’m also working on the development of a software package for designing flutes, plus heaps of issues yet to investigate relating to flute pitch.

So, if someone else can do a bit on fiddle pitch, that’s good for me. I’d be keen to see if there are any discernible correlations between the flute players and fiddle players of a region. That might tell us that they were both responding to a regional influence, rather than to the physical imperatives of their chosen instruments.

It would also be interesting to compare results of Irish fiddlers and expatriate Irish fiddle players. We benefited over here (in Australia) by the presence of Jack Canny, brother of Paddy. Jack’s tuning sounded unusual too. Was it the same as Paddy’s after spending 40 odd years in Australia? Our National Library has good recordings of Jack that we could test.

Sigh, plenty of work to do ….

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Terry..Would love to hear some of the music of Jack Canny.Never knew about him.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Surely it stands to reason that playing regularly with an Uilleann piper would mean the fiddler picks his intonation from the Pipes? I know I do, so my high B is the same as the pipers, My C’s reflect the several C naturals the pipes have at their disposal. and if the chanter has a quirky C# then so do I! Thats what its all about surely? being in tune with each other.
The piper will tune to where each note resonates and is in tune with the fundamental and the Main Harmonics of his drones, or as close as possible.
The same or similar intonation is recommended when playing with drones, otherwise the notes and overtones clash horribly.

Presumably we then have software available that can prove or disprove these assertions could anyone be so bothered.
Or it could be possible to drone a Set of UP drones, tuned up to the fiddles D and listen to the effect. Or simply use a synthetic drone .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Terry, this thread is about solo fiddle intonation. Do you play the fiddle? It’s a different world from flute intonation. Do you understand what strings tuned to perfect fifths and the ability to drone mean for intonation?

Also, you seem to assume that each fiddler has a distinct pattern of intonation that they use for every tune and in every situation. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t get at it in a systematic way, it isn’t done that way in the first place. Intonation is done with the ear, not by following a system, and it can be understood by the ear without bringing numbers into it.

Academic analysis is fine, but the results are just that, academic. The only thing you need to do to understand how a fiddler plays a tune is to learn it by ear from that fiddler.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Marklar, fiddlers may play by ear and by feel, but there are loads of them out there who’s ears and fingers run largely astray. It’s not uncommon for such people to dramatically improve when they learn how to listen more closely and with more understanding. Sure, it’s not *essential* to quantify intonation, but it won’t do any harm, either. And we may be surprised by what we learn from it.

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Fair enough Will, I just think a simpler answer is to check intonation by droning against adjacent open strings, and finding consonance. I’m not really against quantifying intonation, I just think it’s going about things the hard way.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Couple of observations:

A) Not all notes correlate to an open drone string. Your intonation will change depending on the root note of the key/mode of the tune. So a first-finger B note on the A string is different in G major than it is in E major.

B) Quantifying intonation is less about *playing* the fiddle and more about delving into the nitty gritty of intonation. It may be the “hard way” of learning the old sound of players like Casey and Canny, but it’s not merely academic, nor is it particularly “hard” work. Just a different approach to understanding human perception of an acoustic phenomenon. Some of us are simply interested in these things.

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

@Marklar So, you say the perfect fifths of the violin tuning imply just intonation, presumably based on the resonance of the unbowed strings as discussed by lazyhound. Refer me to your reference please. Resonance generally happens when the relationship between the frequencies of the sounding pitch and the resonating one are in a small whole number ratio. That is how JI is derived also. But JI needs to be based on a single note and not on the fifths of the violin. So, I don’t understand your statement.

Further, my other point: Some folks hear Pythagorean intonation, not just. Some folks might even hear ET. I resist the implication that one of these groups is somehow better musicians. It simply does not follow.

Seems to me that mechanical analysis (as opposed to “just listening”) is a very good way to understand how others may have developed a consistent intonation scheme (if they did). The results do not, however, indicate better or worse musicianship nor quality of performance. There are all sorts of instances in music where intonation is deliberately obscured to gain a musical effect. And there are situations where perfect intonation might well seem…well…boring.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

cboody, I never said that it implied just intonation exactly, I said “something like” just intonation, as opposed to even temperament. I put that “something like” in there for a reason, I was mainly trying to draw a distinction between even temperament and the intonation that is natural on the fiddle. Pythagorean intonation is part of the “something like” that I meant.

Here are some references for you:

[http://wapedia.mobi/en/Tuning_system]

“A Pythagorean tuning is technically a type of just intonation, in which the frequency ratios of the notes are all derived from the number ratio 3:2”

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playing_the_violin]

“When playing with a fixed-pitch instrument such as a piano or accordion, the violinist must tune to accommodate that instrument. The other strings are then tuned to the A in intervals of perfect fifths by bowing them in pairs. This puts the open strings in just intonation, which means the lower strings may sound flat compared to their nominal equal-tempered equivalents.”

[http://www.hasseborup.com/ahistoryofintonationfinal1.pdf]

“First of all, the reason for being concerned about intonation has mainly occurred
when string players need to play together with other string instruments or with a fixed
pitch instrument. In the classical period many string players were opposed to adopting a
method other than just intonation, but a number of pedagogues advocated the use of
tempered pitch to beginners and most other musicians, thus easing the problems arising
when playing with keyboard instruments….

Mean-tone temperament is in some ways
a compromise between Pythagorean and just intonation, utilizing key elements of both
systems….

a compromise invariably resulted between meantone
temperament (which was the most commonly used in tuning eighteenth century
keyboard instruments), equal temperament and substantially just intonation….

Galamian advocates the often-stated twentieth century opinion that violinists
cannot adjust intonation according to ‘mathematical formulas.’…..

The use of the term ‘natural intonation’ by Galamian, and
twentieth century violinists in general, likely suggests an intonation that adjusts each
pitch to agree with the ear and not a defined fixed pitch tuning whereas a century before,
other pedagogues would refer to just intonation. “

This is what I meant when I said that the natural intonation on the fiddle is “something like” just intonation. This natural intonation is often compromised when playing with other instruments, but things are different in solo playing. From the history of string intonation I linked to above, you can see that “something like” just intonation has been traditional on violin for a long time, and deviations have mainly been to accommodate other instruments.

Maybe a better way to bring the point home is to think about how just intonation is related to the harmonics of a vibrating string. This has obvious implications for fretless stringed instruments.

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_intonation]

“Harmonic intervals come naturally to horns and vibrating strings. Vocal music imitating such sounds would naturally tend towards just intonation.”

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Fantastic stuff here folks.
Thanks for all the insight.
I’ve spent many an hour pondering the reasons why my pipes will resonate with joy to my ear (probably because I can’t hear anything anyway) just to have some player who supposedly has perfect pitch struggle like the devil to play in tune with me. Then they complain that I’m out of tune.
I’ll take a tuner and show them how I can pressure the A by itself to be in tune with them but when I turn the drones on it’s not quite right and it needs to be pressured a bit sharper to resonate happily. But really, only a couple cents.
Then there’s F# and B, ooo 😲 ooo, those notes are way off, right?
But wait, I say, listen here, they do sound good with the drones even though the tuner says they shouldn’t, Ha Magic 🙂
They look at me funny like I’m an idiot who knows nothing. 🙁 Sometimes that’s what I start thinking too.
Next time that happens, I’ll just have them read this thread. Thanks again folks! 😀

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Can I just go back to the stretched tuning business again ?

If the wikipedia article is correct that the inharmonicity of plucked and struck strings is such that higher harmonics are higher pitched then they ought to be (thats the physics)

and we regard octaves (and fifths) as ‘in tune’ when the beats are minimised (some psychology in that)

then ever since plucked or struck multi-string instruments were invented their octaves will have been slightly wide.

So that would include O’Carolan’s harp and a guitar. A regular poster here has twice commented that the bottom string of a guitar needs to be tuned slightly flat to sound right - is this the explanation ?

So in that sense, quite apart from Just/Pythagorean/Equal or whatever issues, an electronic tuner really would be wrong - for plucked strings.

Terry - If I understand it there are two things going on on the piano. The ET tuning is a compromise that makes those chords sound slightly wrong, the stretched tuning is actually there to make things sound more right.

Do I remember seeing fiddlers tuning open strings by plucking until the final few tweaks which are bowed ?

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Heh heh, good Boatpiper. Even if they don’t find the answer in all the above, it’ll confuse them enough for you to escape to the bar!

One thing I’ve often wondered about with pipes is how much do the drones change pitch as you squeeze the bag more to get to the higher notes? If they do change appreciably (say more than 15 cents), then the piper is not playing a Just Scale, but a stretched one! Scary!

F# and B are the thirds and sixths, aren’t they. They’re the ones that are right off in ET and will thus look offensive on the tuner, and sound worst played against a concertina. But if they were tuned to ET, they would sound gruesome against the drones. You can’t play ET and JI at the same time!

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

… higher pitched thAn they ought to be …

But then there is the ‘octave equivalence’ in our heads - can that get stretched through familiarity ?

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

David

We don’t generally see significant inharmonicity in plucked strings, probably for at least two reasons I can think of:
- plucked strings are usually fairly thin (or your plucker would get stuck!), and
- when they risk getting too thick, we move to wound strings, so that they be heavy without getting stiff.

So we shouldn’t see much inharmonicity in guitars and harps, but that’s not to see there isn’t some.

In hammered strings, eg piano and big dulcimers like the cimbalom, inharmonicity is really noticeable and has to be dealt with.

Guitars are especially tricky because you have wound and unwound strings of differing thickness with approximately the same length. And as you fret the strings in various parts of the neck you change the tension slightly and differently. Stuff of nightmares, eh? Good guitar makers do their best to minimise the chaos, firstly by twisting the bridge (treble strings slightly shorter than bass), and sometimes by filing the bridge in various directions to fine tune the lengths. Of course, they can only do this fine adjustment for a particular set of strings, so if you then go and use a different brand, or weight, or if you fiddle the string height or use a capo or just about anything else, you can expect some trouble.

I certainly find on my guitar that nothing (using a tuner, tuning by ear, or tuning by harmonics) will get everything quite right. But I also find if I then tweak one chord to be really nice, all the others will be much worse, so I conclude it’s probably the impact of those pesky 3rd and 6ths, showing up the limitations of ET. Given all that scope for confusion, I’d not readily jump to any conclusions about what a guitar player reports!

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“But then there is the ‘octave equivalence’ in our heads - can that get stretched through familiarity ?”

It’s already a bit of a moveable feast. I can think of three situations at least:
- two simultaneous notes without inharmonicity an octave apart - we expect them to be beatless, which will occur when they are an exact 2:1 frequency ratio
- two simultaneous notes with inharmonicity - we expect them to be beatless, which will occur with a slightly stretched frequency ratio
- two subsequent notes an octave apart in a reverberant environment - we expect them to be beatless, so depending on the level of harmonicity, one of the cases above
- two subsequent notes in a dry environment - no beating is possible (as the notes do not coincide in time) - we actually like them slightly wide of an octave.

But, essentially, if we can hear the notes together, we expect them to be beatless. Whether that requires an exact 2:1 ratio will depend on the harmonicity of the sound sources. If we hear them subsequently with no reverberent overlap, we like them a bit wide. So we could expect our fiddle player to play a wider octave solo than with accompaniment, unless the sound field is reverberant (or the fiddle player is double stopping).

“Do I remember seeing fiddlers tuning open strings by plucking until the final few tweaks which are bowed ?”

I wonder if that’s part of the wide octave solo business? It might reasonably be expected to apply to other intervals. Tune the two strings by plucking, then adjust for zero beats bowing.

But it could be simply that higher levels and continuous sound make it much easier to hear the beats. I wonder if fiddle players usually find that the plucking leaves the intervals wide, and that whey they switch to bowing, they always have to narrow the interval. Or is it random, because they can’t hear well enough when plucking?

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Terry your analogy with a doctor is cripple.

There is no need for a cure here, there’s nothing broken. As I told you: the men playing the West Clare style fully understood what they were doing. They didn’t need to quantify what they were doing, they understood the aesthetic. And that’s all they needed and that’s all any musician needs. A pair of ears and a heart.

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Yes, point taken about the guitar Terry, too many fudges going on to be sure that a flat bottom string is not one of them. Just that the member who brought it up is usually a reliable source of information but had no answer.

“And that’s all they needed and that’s all any musician needs. A pair of ears and a heart” So no tuners - or internet discussion boards …?

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

No. Non of that nonsense.

Let’s face it, how many really serious players you see on the internet, other than to plug a CD, tour or sell an instrument?

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“Just that the member who brought it up is usually a reliable source of information but had no answer.”

I should make it clear I’m not arguing with the guitarist; I’d just have to think through a process which could separate the issues and allow us to examine them in isolation. It’s rare, in my experience, that there’s only one force in action. People leap to conclusions - it’s Just Intonation, a few poorly worded emails is enough to negate tens of thousands of carefully recorded climate records, my aunt smoked twenty a day and outlived my uncle who didn’t, etc. Things are rarely that simple!

But, as interesting as this conversation has been, I’m afraid I’m going to have to back out of it. Early tomorrow morning, I drive to Canberra to do some work on the National Carillon. Now there’s an instrument with frightening physics. Fifty-five bells, forty tons of bronze with cast iron clappers, quite inharmonic overtones (you couldn’t reasonably call them harmonics!). It’s played with keys that require the side of the hand and the feet to press down, and we revoice it with an angle grinder! (And there’s one in Ireland, in Cobh.)

And the next day, I submit myself to a double-kneecapping. These poor old flute-maker’s knees are quite shot, and I’m going to be shot of them. So the best I can hope for is being back in a week. The worst is not worth thinking about!

See you all soon!

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“Mean-tone temperament is in some ways a compromise between Pythagorean and just intonation, utilizing key elements of both systems….”

Not really. Pythagorean thirds are even further out of tune than ET ones. Meantone doesn’t use anything significant from Pythagorean tuning.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

[Site ate my post - I’ll tray and recreate …]

You’re way better at this stuff than me, Jack, but that’s not right, is it? Meantone has lots of pure fifths (and some that are too narrow) so that does make it a bit like Pythagorean, doesn’t it? At least for the sections of the scale which have the pure fifths, and therefore sharp thirds. I thought meantone was actually a development out of Pythagorean tuning, wasn’t it? A way of ‘improving’ it? Or am I way off?

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Meantone fifths are not pure. That’s the point of it. It was designed to get the thirds sounding right, in an era when they had become more harmonically important than fifths - it disregards the Pythagorean system entirely and tries to solve the temperament problem in a new way. If you want to play music where the fourths and fifths are what really matters, you use Pythagorean like a mediaeval harpist (or for that matter an ancient Sumerian harpist, since the procedure goes back that far).

Presumably Carolan used some form of meantone, since he was composing in a variant of the Italian Baroque style. I don’t think we have any descriptions of meantone tuning procedures for the harp. I’d bet somebody’s tried to figure out what he did, though. You have to wonder about inharmonicity - how uniform could his strings have been? Where would he have got them from?

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Only just noticed Terry’s comprensive reply on the octave equivalence. Thanks if you are still around, and all the best for the op. This carillon tuning sounds far removed from the luthiers ‘do nothing that cannot be undone’ but then I guess luthiers don’t have the fallback option of recasting and calling it the same thing.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Best of luck to you Terry, and a speedy recovery. I had both hips done a few years ago, it took a long time to get the full benefit but it was well worth it.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

“Now I hope we haven’t scared Bernie off his exploration of Bobby’s intonation!

Terry“

Hi Terry, no, you haven’t.

But I have run into a problem: I can’t figure out how to get the sort of graphic output you show on your website at http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/RTTA.htm

The graph with the notes in yellow.

@marklar: “I’m not really against quantifying intonation, I just think it’s going about things the hard way.”

Well, it depends what you want to know. I have already done what you suggest and used my ears, and I think I’ve unconsciously assimilated whatever it is that BC is doing, which is why his playing doesn’t sound at all “out of tune” to me. Also I think I have almost certainly started to use something like his intonation, again unconsciously, when I am playing certain tunes solo. When I’ve been playing at a session I’ve noticed other musicians glancing at me at times, and I think they are probably noticing the same thing.

I have found that there are certain aspects of life that always interest me, namely things we don’t know we know, and this matter of variant intonation is an example of that.

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

I’ve just realised something: I don’t want to sit and listen to Bobby Casey, trying to identify when he is playing with variant intonation. That would spoil my enjoyment of his music. But I am interested in knowing the answer to my questions about how systematic the variation is, how consistent Casey is in his playing, how consistent he is with other players from the same region and/or time.

And the software can provide answers to questions like those, without spoiling (“dehumanising”) the music for me.

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

…and there was I thinking about starting a discussion saying that it’s all very well to discuss intonation and temperament at length, but that these are much less important than rhythm, then I found I can save everyone a great deal of time, as it was done three years ago…..

https://thesession.org/discussions/19890#comment416838

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Bernie:

“But I have run into a problem: I can’t figure out how to get the sort of graphic output you show on your website at http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/RTTA.htm

The graph with the notes in yellow.“

OK, that’s an example of the output from the other RTTA system, called the Polygraph, created by Graeme Roxburgh at my request. So far you’ve used the other system Flutini.

Both are based on Tartini, created at a New Zealand university. Flutini is a reduction of Tartini, plus the RTTA stuff. Graeme’s polygraph uses Tartini (or Flutini) as a starting point, then you export the data into the polygraph. You’ll find all the details of how to get it going on the web site you mentioned. I’m about to go up to Canberra so I can’t help you any further this week - if no success contact Graeme - he’s very helpful and will be interested in what you’re doing.

I’d suggest you load Tartini and actually get to see Bobby’s playing set out in graphical form. It might alert you to some other interesting issues. Have fun, and talk to you when I’m no longer legless!

Terry

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

@Marklar

“I said that the natural intonation on the fiddle is “something like” just intonation”

And I missed the “something like.” My error and I apologize.

As to all your references I hope they help someone because they are basically good ones. I guess I should mention that I’ve taught that stuff and have a year’s worth of class time on physics of sound and some fairly advanced stuff in terms of tuning the sound devices on early computers in my background. So, I’m fairly familiar with the things you are discussing. Good to check up though we all forget!

And, as always (or at least darn near!), Jack is right in his comments about mean and phythagorean tunings.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

… in which case, I’ve fundamentally missed the point of the meantone system. I’ll have to go back to my books …

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Thanks Terry, good luck with the op.

Posted .

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Excuse me for jumping in as I have not been following this discussion. Just thought it might be worth posted this link I happened on this morning;
Tuning & temperament bibliography
http://www.huygens-fokker.org/docs/bibliography.html

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Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Not only was that in interesting article (Tuning the Tabla), but now I know I can expand my “creative potential” with the VoiceCapo.

Re: Is “old style” intonation systematic?

Interesting Random_humour, I use a real-time spectral analyzer for very non-trad purposes (programming synth patches) and never really though about using it with my fiddle.

Now I want to run my fiddle through it, that should be fun and interesting. I bet I can find some good information about how my fiddle responds to different strings that way.