Help! Preferences for tuning

Help! Preferences for tuning

Hey everyone,

I need guinea pigs for a little experiment that will be written up into a paper for a music psychology class. Basically the idea for the paper grew out of the observation that there are great differences in intonation among Irish fiddle players. There was a study published in 1995 that “confirmed that conception of accurate tuning is determined by musical experience rather than by characteristics of the auditory system.” So for one portion of the paper we wanted to have a lot of data regarding people’s perceptions of intonation, divided into three groups: Irish musicians, classical musicians, and non-musicians. If you want to help, please send an email to my member profile and I’ll send you an mp3 of the exercise. It only takes three minutes to do and involves simply listening to sets of three pitches, do-re-mi, where the third note (mi) is tuned differently in each set. Your job would simply be to reply back and tell me for each one whether it sounds too flat, too sharp, in tune, or you can’t tell. That’s it.
Incidentally the second part of the paper analyzes intonation of thirds in recordings of five well-known fiddlers: Paddy Glackin, Brendan Mulvihill, Liz Carroll, Kevin Burke, and Martin Hayes. it’s taken a lot of technological and mathematical wizardry to get it accurate, but the results so far are very interesting. I’d love to hear any and all opinions relating to this topic and particularly anything relating to the intonation of the five players mentioned above. Thanks for all responses! And I would be really grateful if even a few people are willing to do the little exercise. It literally takes only 2 minutes 50 seconds!

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

I’ll be a guinea pig, ostrichfeathers, but though I mostly play trad (GHB) I also play Blues, Reggae, and Indian Classical.
Have you analysed the intervals in terms of their frequency ratios, in relation to each other and the tonic of the tune?
“confirmed that conception of accurate tuning is determined by musical experience rather than by characteristics of the auditory system” Have you got the details of this paper?
If this is true and the accurate tuning of intervals is “cultural” how did they arise, and because you get something “culturally” doesn’t mean that it has no musical effect related to the Ear Brain system.
Sorry if that seems a bit negative but the thrust of the research appears to be looking to confirm "cultural relativism” but I’m shore you’ll be objective about the results.

Good luck

PP

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

I’ll do it, ostrichfeathers. But how is the experiment designed? Are the data weighted by the musical history of the guinea pig? What kinds of control is there for subjects who might have passed out next to the speakers at a Grateful Dead concert in their youth? Do the g. pigs get a copy of the paper when it is published? Interesting.

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

Sounds interesting, OF. Count me in, please, though I suspect all you’ll learn is how bad my own ear is…

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

Add me in. (Just popped you an email.)
Although I may queer the data, belonging as I do to two of the test groups…

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

Thanks guys! A bunch of you emailed me privately and I got out the mp3 to everyone who gave me their email address. I should have mentioned in the original post that I need an email address to send it to since it is an attachment. So any of you who posted here who would like to do it, if you haven’t already given me your email, you can send it to my profile.

Several people have asked about the paper I cited; it is by Franz Loosen and appeared in the journal Musical Perception, Spring 1995, pp 291-306. The title of the article is “The Effect of Musical Experience on the Conception of Accurate Tuning.” You can probably find it in the periodicals section of a college library or maybe even the public library. Violinists, pianists, and non-musicians evaluated scales in various tuning systems. The idea is that people have different perceptions of what “being in tune” means, and these different perceptions have to do with what they were exposed to musically. The exception to this seems to be the whole idea of perfect pitch; I don’t claim to understand how that works, but I’ve always thought that it must be somewhat related to environment/experience since the definition of how many vibrations per second equals “A” has changed quite a lot over time. Simply put, I think the point of the article is that there is no one definition of “in tune.”
PP, I have done work with frequency analysis before, and it is definitely interesting. For this particular project I needed to focus on people’s perceptions of pitch more than the structure of the tunes themselves, although the tonality/modality of Irish music must certainly influence people’s intonation. Thanks for the idea--if only I had time to use it! I think having done some basic research and more importantly developed and refined some mathematical techniques for it, I would love to do a second, broader study with a bigger pool of data and more controls.
Batlady, ideally the data is weighted with musical history; I hoped that most of the people here would be coming at it from and Irish music perspective. People’s preferences for intonation seems to vary a lot in Irish music--there is the classic example of whether people play c, c#, or somewhere in between, blurring the lines between major and mixolydian, and a similar though less extreme case seems to exist with major thirds, which is what I chose to focus on. Assuming the paper turns out halfway decent I would provide copies of it to everyone; I will certainly post analysis of all the data received from you guys! If I can make certain that my method of measuring frequencies of pitches on the recordings is accurate, I’ll post those results too. Incidentally, if any technogeek out there has any ideas on how one might go about accurately measuring the frequency of an isolated pitch from a cd, I’m all ears.
Thanks again~

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

Hi everyone,

So far I’ve sent out between ten and twenty emails to people who’ve responded, and received 3 responses from people who’ve done the test. Thanks!!! If anyone has volunteered who has not yet received the email with the mp3, please email me thru the profile ASAP. For anyone who has received the test and has not sent me your results yet, I’d really appreciate it if you could get back to me sometime this afternoon or evening. When I get all the results back I’ll post them as promised!

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

I did it and now I wanna know the answers out of curiosity. Am also a bit worried that I might muck up the results because I had classical training during childhood…

Re: Help! Preferences for tuning

There’s no question as to what’s right or wrong. If you play a major third on 2 instruments together you’ll hear the ‘difference tone’ that is the vibrations (Hertz) of the higher note minus those of the lower (This works very well with 2 tin whistles) If the difference tone is exactly 2 octaves lower than the lower note of the major 3rd, then it is in tune.
Curiously, if you flatten the lower note, the difference tone goes up and vice-versa.
The thing which muddies the waters here is ‘equal temperament’ an ill-conceived idea to enable keyboard players to play in any key.
jez

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