Hi Andrew and all,
Well, I was comparing the results we got using ClearTune, to the
results we got using PitchLab, on the harpsichord we're fostering at a
friend's house (which is a very good harpsichord, we're really lucky
to be fostering her for a while). And I record with my little Tascam.
We don't have 2 identical harpsichords to do this on. And yep,
totally agree that sometimes "I think X sounds better" is just "our
culture has made X the standard therefore anything not-X is not
liked". But last night, playing the instrument after her first
PitchLab tuning -- quarter comma meantone --
-- she sounded BIGGER (I wasn't the only listener using that term)
-- There weren't some high dissonant harmonics, in several of the low
bass notes, that had been there before (which stood out because
adjacent bass notes didn't produce them at all).
-- some chromatic notes still sounded pretty out there (it's quarter
comma meantone!), but they sounded much more connected, somehow, to
the other notes (I don't know terminology for this!)
-- and that phenomenon wasn't just an evening-out you get , like going
to sixth comma meantone from quarter comma
Re a comparison panel -- well, last night we had me, housemates Jean
and Bonnie, and Cathy, whose house we were at, and all of us exclaimed
that we thought the PitchLab-assisted tuning was much better than the
ClearTune. Cathy's been to a zillion opera performances, Jean and
Bonnie have been to many early music gigs, helped with many, Jean's
played rock guitar for years and has taught rock keyboard when we
needed another teacher at girls rock camp.
Re thinking digital stuff is always correct -- I was writing, to me
the quarter comma meantone we were getting, using ClearTune, was a
little off, and I had asked Owen Daly for advice. We know digital
stuff isn't always correct or the best-way!
Billions of years ago, I DID do my own tuning! but since my hands got
significantly disabled in 1992, I physically cannot do that (turning
things is especially hard), and I have reduced feedback in what I do
with my hands. One of my housemates, who's been to many early music
concerts with me, and is a guitarist (she was in 2 rock bands I was
in, I met her since we'd both been students at Caltech at different
times), graciously offered to learn to tune, a couple years ago.
But last night, listening to the results after Jean used PitchLab for
the first time, there's no question that the results are better!
I loved getting up at 4 am, in the noisy city of Pasadena, CA, way
back when, so I could do tuning by counting beats, on the harpsichord
I was renting. In the broken consort I ran for some years, I played
renaissance alto recorder, we'd play around with, "could we get that
difference tone to appear again" -- and we'd sit, wait, I hear you
(1), I hear (2), (3), and (4)....and I hear a 5th tone (there were 4
of us). Then we'd try to reproduce these things. If I recall right,
some use of this was made in the renaissance.
Re particular strings on a particular instrument -- yep, there are 2
higher notes on this harpsichord, who always need to be fussed with,
who don't act like the other notes. (Not just our experience -- have
heard several concerts on this instrument, and the people touched up
those same notes).
One aspect of this "is it OK to use phone aps to tune harpsichords" thing is --
fine, say you have a glorious way to tuning by ear....now, say it's
the half hour before the gig, the weather has suddenly gotten much
warmer, the harpsichord tuning is slipping because the particular
instrument is sensitive that way. The tuning you did the previous
hour is slipping. People are already in the venue, making a lot of
people noise! (and raising heat and humidity). Now, I've told other
MUSICIANS, hey, shut up please, we're tuning! but you can't really
tell the gathering audience that, if it's close to gig time. So --
standing at the harpsichord then, you can hardly even hear her. In
those situations, a phone ap is extremely helpful!! (And this
scenario has played out a couple times when Jean was tuning, when I
was playing Messiah gigs).
And now as then, everything is a spectrum --
Should I stop trying to come back to playing harpsichord, because my
hands are significantly disabled, I'll not be able to play the way I
want to? The perfect can be the enemy of the good. Yes, I hope Jean
and I *do* eventually learn to tune quarter comma meantone, by ear!
but I'm pretty overwhelmed getting ready for this big-to-me gig of
mine (which of course is really a quite small gig in the fringe of the
festival), so, not now!
Will I (or most people playing harpsichord today), ever, ever learn to
do all the stuff a keyboardist back then was assumed to be able to do?
(improvise fantasias! my attempts at this so far are very baby).
Our environment, urban, is VERY noisy -- would I ever be able to hear,
as they did back then? Probably not. Playing rock keyboard for
years, I believe I've learned how to do some of the stuff they may
have done then, in terms of thinking of the music as different than
classical-era-cast-in-stone-no-personal-choices. So, I know I'll
never ever play as they did -- but do I think they would be cheering
me on? Yes I do! (and then they'd be saying, but, you know, you
really need to do Y......)
And I utterly agree, it's good to try to learn as much of how they may
have done it, as possible -- my working on learning early fingerings
has shown that to me very definitively.
Utterly agree that string players need to learn to tune string to
string! by ear!
In girls rock camp, I pounce on guitar/bass teachers who ONLY show the
girls, the cheezy electronic tuners --
One time, I was teaching at the pre-session training for instructors,
and everyone rotated through an intro on bass/guitar, keyboards,
drums, PA -- in the bass/guitar one, the meta-instructor had an
electronic tuner.....I had just piped up, oh, get a pitch from
something, but important to learn to tune by ear......she smiled at me
(you old person with grey hair! this is the modern way), and just then
-- the tuner stopped working, couldn't be gotten to work again. The
universe has a sense of humor! (She did get the joke).
So anyhow! My point is, PitchLab is AWESOME! and far more accurate
than ClearTune (who we loved til now!).
It made much more of a difference, than I had imagined it might.
Note: opinions expressed on HPSCHD-L are those of the individual con-
tributors and not necessarily those of the list owners nor of the Uni-
versity of Iowa. For a brief summary of list commands, send mail to
[log in to unmask] saying HELP .