Piano Society
Free Classical Keyboard Recordings
It is currently Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:45 am

All times are UTC - 1 hour




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 18 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:42 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8407
I had my piano tuned last week. The piano tuner I’ve been using for about ten years(he came with my piano) has stopped tuning, and so I used another tuner for the first time. He is very experienced and was highly recommended to me. He tuned my piano the old fashioned way – using only a tuning fork and his ears, whereas my previous tuner used his laptop to visually see if the strings were in tune.

Here’s the thing….I’ve been playing my piano the past few days and it just sounds different to me. When I play certain chords or harmonic intervals, it almost sounds like one note is out of tune. But when I check it with the octave it sounds perfectly in tune. I’m wondering if my ears are simply used the way my piano sounded when it was tuned using the electronic way, and I will just have to get used this ‘new’ sound. Any thoughts on this matter?

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "pitch fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:25 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Posts: 297
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
I call it a tuning fork. "Pitch fork" conjures up images of a farmer with a checked shirt, a straw hat, and a blade of grass in his mouth, wielding said implement, often menacingly. :)

There must be loads of other tuners who use the newfangled method, so you don't have to get used to the old fashioned method if you don't want to. You could just use someone else. What you need to decide is which intonation you prefer; you might end up changing your mind. Compare your piano's intonation to that of other pianos. I don't know how much chance you get to play other good pianos which are well tuned. Maybe if you want to research this question you need to enter more competitions or give recitals in different places! :twisted:

You may find that the harmonies you try sound differently in or out of tune when you play the whole chord an octave or two up or down.

Where the difference is likely to lie is in the way tuners handle the phenomenon of inharmonicity (look it up), which is that each string vibrates not just at its fundamental pitch but has a whole bunch of harmonics thrown in. If you play an A440, muting two of its strings so only one of them is free to vibrate, you don't get a nice simple 440Hz sine wave, but a "chord" consisting of the fundamental A440, plus the first harmonic, the octave A880, plus the second harmonic, the twelfth E1320, and so on. The harmonics are weak, but together they mix into the cocktail of sound which you identify as the characteristic sound of the note you're playing.

Now here's the thing: Because of the way the wire bends when it vibrates, and because its resistance to bending isn't the same in the middle of the string as it is at the ends, the harmonics are not exactly in tune with the fundamental, the frequencies are not exact whole-number multiples of that of the fundamental. I think the harmonics are flatter the higher the note, and so when you play octaves, their harmonics are not in tune with each other even when the fundamentals are. What I mean is that the first harmonic of A440 (which is nominally 880 but will be a little out, flat I think) and the first harmonic of A880 (which is nominally 1760 but will be also a little flat but more flat than on the A440), and so even if the fundamentals sound true octaves, the harmonics will be out of tune. This is noticeable, and weird: The octaves sound out of tune even when they are really in tune! To compensate for this effect it is modern normal practice to deliberately tune octaves slightly sharp, hardly enough to notice, but enough to reduce the impression of the harmonics being flat. This is known as applying "stretch". An added bonus is that this stretch also makes other intervals, like fifths, sound more in tune than without.

The difference is that with newfangled tuning machines this stretch is applied in an objective way, while with the old-fashioned way it's done by ear, is more subjective, the tuner deciding almost subconsciously how to assess when octaves sound in tune.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "pitch fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:48 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8407
rainer wrote:
I call it a tuning fork. "Pitch fork" conjures up images of a farmer with a checked shirt, a straw hat, and a blade of grass in his mouth, wielding said implement, often menacingly. :)


:lol: :lol: I crack myself up.... :lol: :lol: I really meant to say "tuning fork", not "pitch fork".
(I changed it on my post)

Thanks for the information, Rainer. I'll have to re-read and process it before I respond.

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:07 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8407
Rethinking the tuning fork/pitch fork thing.... it could also be called a pitch fork because when struck, it sounds the correct pitch such as A440. So ok yes, we know pitch has different meanings. A pitch fork is used to pitch or toss hay. But if you bonk it on your head or knee, who knows what tone (pitch) you'd hear coming from it. Then again, you'd probably hear birds if you bonk it on your head....and a lot of swearing if it hits you in the knee.... :lol:

Anyway, about my piano....I do know all about there being harmonic tones coming out of the strings. I can hear them clearly on the organ. I'm sure the man who tuned my piano knows what he's doing. But still, I was just playing it a moment ago and the sound does bother me somewhat. Also, about trying other fine pianos - at the competition last week, I played on a Steinway concert grand and when I had my warm-up time before the competition, I was playing along and noticed some keys seemed a little off to me and I actually stopped playing because it startled me. I thought it very odd that they forgot to get the piano tuned. Then I heard other competitors warming up on the same piano moments later and it sounded fine (I was standing farther away). So now I'm thinking that my new piano tuner tuned my piano properly, since it's just like the big Steinway I played. I just have to give it more time and get used to it. And next time I am ready to have it tuned, I will call the same tuner and talk with him about it. Thanks again, Rainer! :)

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:59 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:07 pm
Posts: 649
Location: Carbondale, IL
Quote:
Here’s the thing….I’ve been playing my piano the past few days and it just sounds different to me. When I play certain chords or harmonic intervals, it almost sounds like one note is out of tune. But when I check it with the octave it sounds perfectly in tune. I’m wondering if my ears are simply used the way my piano sounded when it was tuned using the electronic way, and I will just have to get used this ‘new’ sound. Any thoughts on this matter?


That's interesting. You wouldn't think that there would be a difference between tuners. I'll buy Rainer's explanation :lol: At SIU we had a pianoteq on faculty and he used the "old-fashioned" method. I am pretty sure he had perfect pitch, because otherwise I don't know how he could do it without some type of pitch reference device, like having a laptop like your old tuner. Interesting topic!

_________________
"I don't know what music is, but I know it when I hear it." - Alan Schuyler
Riley Tucker


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:49 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 12:11 am
Posts: 681
Location: Edinburgh, UK
pianolady wrote:
Also, about trying other fine pianos - at the competition last week, I played on a Steinway concert grand and when I had my warm-up time before the competition, I was playing along and noticed some keys seemed a little off to me and I actually stopped playing because it startled me. I thought it very odd that they forgot to get the piano tuned. Then I heard other competitors warming up on the same piano moments later and it sounded fine (I was standing farther away).


Actually, for what it's worth, I thought the piano was slightly out of tune around the E'/F' (E5/F5) area.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:55 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Posts: 297
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
pianolady wrote:
Rethinking the tuning fork/pitch fork thing.... it could also be called a pitch fork because when struck, it sounds the correct pitch such as A440.
Of course it could be, and you said it so naturally that I even thought it was just another of those differences between British and American English, that "pitch fork" was the normal name for it on your side of the Atlantic. I only mentioned the farmer as a joke.
Quote:
But if you bonk it on your head or knee, who knows...
Speaking about transatlantic differences, be careful: Bonking has a very specific meaning over here. :wink:
Quote:
Anyway, about my piano.... I was just playing it a moment ago and the sound does bother me somewhat.
If, as you implied earlier, all the octaves sound fine, and the problem only arises with particular chords, it might be a good idea to keep a written log of what the problem chords are, and which notes in them bother you most. Do this before you get used to the new sound. Also, since you have the equipment, record them. Does the intonation sound equally off on the recording, or does it only seem so on the live piano, similar to how the competition piano sounded better when you were a bit farther away?
If it does also sound off on the recordings, then keep them until you think you've gotten used to the new sound. Then listen to the recordings again, and if they then sound less off than you remember, you'll know that your perception has changed. Of course the piano's tuning itself may have shifted too...

An experiment worth doing is to take the chords that bother you and transpose them into different keys. Up or down a semitone or two (or 3,4,5,6, i.e. try them in all keys). If they don't sound equally bothersome in all keys, this would tend to suggest the temperament isn't even and your new guy may have messed up. It would then be worth talking to him about it sooner rather than later.

pianoman342 wrote:
At SIU we had a pianoteq on faculty and he used the "old-fashioned" method. I am pretty sure he had perfect pitch, because otherwise I don't know how he could do it without some type of pitch reference device, like having a laptop like your old tuner.
Do you mean "perfect" as in absolute or relative? I think it would be extremely unlikely for someone to have absolute pitch accurate enough to be able to reproduce A440 out of the blue to the level of precision now generally expected. He would have had at least to use a tuning fork, provided his intention was to tune a piano to standard pitch. But if he was going around simply adjusting a few notes here and there which were a bit out with the piano's general level of intonation, to make sure the piano was simply in tune with itself, then no pitch reference would have been needed. A good sense of relative pitch would help to get all the semitones in the middle octave roughly right in relation to the fork, by using natural intervals like fifths, fourths, and thirds, but the fine tuning, which involves distorting the natural intervals to fit equal temperament, tends to rely more on special techniques like counting beats than on good relative pitch.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:58 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8407
andrew wrote:
pianolady wrote:
Also, about trying other fine pianos - at the competition last week, I played on a Steinway concert grand and when I had my warm-up time before the competition, I was playing along and noticed some keys seemed a little off to me and I actually stopped playing because it startled me. I thought it very odd that they forgot to get the piano tuned. Then I heard other competitors warming up on the same piano moments later and it sounded fine (I was standing farther away).


Actually, for what it's worth, I thought the piano was slightly out of tune around the E'/F' (E5/F5) area.


Actually, it's the area around middle C and about an octave below. Same area on my piano and also the competition piano.

rainer wrote:
pianolady wrote:
Rethinking the tuning fork/pitch fork thing.... it could also be called a pitch fork because when struck, it sounds the correct pitch such as A440.
Of course it could be, and you said it so naturally that I even thought it was just another of those differences between British and American English, that "pitch fork" was the normal name for it on your side of the Atlantic. I only mentioned the farmer as a joke.
No, we call it a tuning fork too. I just didn't yesterday :lol:

rainer wrote:
Speaking about transatlantic differences, be careful: Bonking has a very specific meaning over here. :wink:
hmmmm...ok, I'll take your word; my imagination is causing me to blush... 8)

Those are good ideas about writing down which notes bother me. Also making some test recordings. Thanks you! :)

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 4:28 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9479
Location: Netherlands
pianolady wrote:
I do know all about there being harmonic tones coming out of the strings. I can hear them clearly on the organ.
That is pretty amazing, considering an organ does not have strings. :P

_________________
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:10 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8407
techneut wrote:
pianolady wrote:
I do know all about there being harmonic tones coming out of the strings. I can hear them clearly on the organ.
That is pretty amazing, considering an organ does not have strings. :P



ahahaha....you know what I mean. :)

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:07 pm
Posts: 649
Location: Carbondale, IL
Quote:
That is pretty amazing, considering an organ does not have strings.


I'm sure this is what Monica was thinking of:

Image

:lol:

@ Rainer

Yes, the counting of beats (auditing that there are none) seems to be a popular method of tuning, especially in ensembles. In symphonic band at SIU two instruments would play the same pitch and Maestro Brozak could tell immediately with the number of beats that the two pitches were off by. With piano I would think once you have the first note you can use relative pitch. I imagine there are some with absolute pitch, but I imagine most people would be off by something on the order of a micro tone :? They have pitch whistles too. My Dad sings in a barbershop quartet and it gives them the tonic. Maybe tuners use that?

_________________
"I don't know what music is, but I know it when I hear it." - Alan Schuyler
Riley Tucker


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:24 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8407
pianoman342 wrote:
Quote:
That is pretty amazing, considering an organ does not have strings.


I'm sure this is what Monica was thinking of:


Oh yes, that's called a Porgano. :P

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:30 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:14 pm
Posts: 477
Location: Illinois
pianolady wrote:
pianoman342 wrote:
Quote:
That is pretty amazing, considering an organ does not have strings.


I'm sure this is what Monica was thinking of:


Oh yes, that's called a Porgano. :P


As in "Porgano and Bess"?

BTW, "Bonking" may have a particular meaning across the pond (we add an "i" after the "o" for what I am sure is a similar meaning), "Knock me up in the morning" has a very different meaning over here ;-)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:08 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8407
RSPIll wrote:
As in "Porgano and Bess"?

BTW, "Bonking" may have a particular meaning across the pond (we add an "i" after the "o" for what I am sure is a similar meaning), "Knock me up in the morning" has a very different meaning over here ;-)


Porgano and Bess...funny!

How did we get started on "knock me up?" Anyway, I know what it means here, but I wonder what it means there? (whisper it to me if it's too risqué...)

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tuning - "tuning fork" versus "electronic device"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:56 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Posts: 297
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
pianolady wrote:
RSPIll wrote:
BTW, "Bonking" may have a particular meaning across the pond (we add an "i" after the "o" for what I am sure is a similar meaning), "Knock me up in the morning" has a very different meaning over here ;-)
How did we get started on "knock me up?" Anyway, I know what it means here, but I wonder what it means there? (whisper it to me if it's too risqué...)
We got to "knock me up" because, over there, it can happen when you boink. Over here, it's not risqué at all, quite innocent in fact. One could say it involves bonking (in your sense), and simply means "wake me up by knocking on the door".

Enough of this childish nonsense, we should ponder much sexier cultural differences, such as that between a demisemiquaver and a 64th note. How long do you need to think about it before giving the answer?


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 18 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 1 hour


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group