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 Post subject: Equal vrs. Just tuning
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:59 am 
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I've noticed that some whistles, e.g., Reyburns, come in your choice of equal or just tuning.

What are the advantages of each type of tuning and what tuning is a "normal" whistle (assuming there is such a thing) in? If I pick up a stock Generation is it 1) Equal, 2) Just, or 3) Other?

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 12:10 pm 
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Oy, this is a huge topic. :wink:

Generations approach Just Intonation, with a slightly flat 3rd and 6th (F# and B). Most other whistles are laid out for 12TET (Equal Temperament) unless otherwise specified.

Irish trad tends to be oriented to JI. Pipes are usually tuned to JI in D, and fiddlers naturally tend toward pure 4ths/5ths and sweet 3rds/6ths. Flutes are all over the place. But then you have ET fixed pitch fretted strings and squeezeboxes in the mix. So the slight clash becomes a characteristic part of the overall session sound.

Composer and musicologist Howard Goodall does an interesting segment in one of his "Big Bangs" television series, discussing the impact that the introduction of 12TET accordions had on traditional music in the Balkans. As in ITM, the slight clash was adopted as part of the aesthetic.

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 12:38 pm 
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MTGuru wrote:
Generations approach Just Intonation, with a slightly flat 3rd and 6th (F# and B).

Any particular reason? Or "just 'cause"....

MTGuru wrote:
Most other whistles are laid out for 12TET (Equal Temperament) unless otherwise specified.
Irish trad tends to be oriented to JI.

If Irish trad tends toward JI, why are whistles set up with Equal Temperment? Or is this one of those things that almost nobody can hear or cares about anyway? Is this just splitting hairs?

MTGuru wrote:
Pipes are usually tuned to JI in D, and fiddlers naturally tend toward pure 4ths/5ths and sweet 3rds/6ths.

And what do you mean by a "sweet" 3rd/6th?

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

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~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:37 pm 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
Any particular reason? Or "just 'cause"....

Any concrete information about the history of Generation whistles design is buried next to the Holy Grail and guarded by the Knights Templar, Oswestry branch. Presumably because Gens were originally designed with JI folk music in mind.

Steve Bliven wrote:
If Irish trad tends toward JI, why are whistles set up with Equal Temperment? Or is this one of those things that almost nobody can hear or cares about anyway? Is this just splitting hairs?

Yes, splitting hairs a bit. All winds need to be blown into tune anyway, and ET whistles with good breath-pitch range can be underblown to Just 3rds/6ths, so they're perhaps a bit more flexible moving between the world of JI trad and the larger world of ET that most of us are conditioned to nowadays. Some people care more than others. :-)

Steve Bliven wrote:
And what do you mean by a "sweet" 3rd/6th?

Unlike perfect 4ths/5ths and perfect octaves/unisons, 3rds and 6ths were considered dissonant in early music. But JI 3rds and 6ths based on whole-number ratios of 5:4 and 5:3 are usually perceived as sweeter than tempered versions of those intervals.

If you look at the chart at the bottom of this page, you can see that ET 3rds and 6ths are very wide compared to JI: 14 cents and 16 cents respectively. As compared to a difference of only 2 cents for ET 4ths and 5ths.

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 2:09 pm 
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I have a question, MT. When a whistle is set up for JI, i'm guessing that it's tuned for the key of D -- so how does that effect the tuning when it's played in the key of G? Or in E dorian, for that matter? Is G close enough to D that it's not so far out of tune? Do the modes pick up their sweetest intonation profile from the corresponding (same key sig) major key?

I don't think I can really hear the difference between JI and ET myself, though I have noticed sometimes when playing with a drone while watching the tuner* that I will be off from ET in the direction of JI.


* drone needs to be across the room from human, whistle & tuner, for those who want to try it at home

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 2:17 pm 
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squidgirl wrote:
I have a question, MT. When a whistle is set up for JI, i'm guessing that it's tuned for the key of D -- so how does that effect the tuning when it's played in the key of G? ...

Yes that's right, JI is scale-specific. This is why when you use a JI-capable tuner like a Peterson, you also have to set the root pitch.

(more ...)

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 2:34 pm 
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squidgirl wrote:
* drone needs to be across the room from human, whistle & tuner, for those who want to try it at home


Why? I play pipes, and the drones are *right* there.

Seems to me that if the F# and B are both flattened then you've got your third and your sixth for D in just and your third (the B) in just for the key of G.

That may be part of the reason second octave Es are a little flat on uilleann pipe chanters... hmm, food for thought.

There's an article (and if anyone knows where it is and can send it to me or me to it) from the 17th, 18th or 19th century from a highland pipe major decrying the invention and increased usage of small pipes (like the union pipes, but I gather mostly the scottish and french parlour instruments) which were used for "folk" music but also for classical music and hence could generally play in "all the keys". The basic gist of it was that they were no good for true pipe music (in JI) or for proper classical music (due to the fact they they had a small range, weren't really in tune in all the keys, and had the drones which are unsuitable for that kind of music).

Anyway!


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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 3:21 pm 
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MTGuru wrote:
squidgirl wrote:
I have a question, MT. When a whistle is set up for JI, i'm guessing that it's tuned for the key of D -- so how does that effect the tuning when it's played in the key of G? ...

Yes that's right, JI is scale-specific. This is why when you use a JI-capable tuner like a Peterson, you also have to set the root pitch.

(more ...)

shaku8 is a free software tuner, which can show red dots with a frequency ratio for just intonation tuning. You set the root pitch with the 'key' buttons bottom right corner. You can also let it sound a drone note of your choice. When you play your whistle against it in equal intonation you can hear sub harmonics (are they called that?) when you hit the right pitch. Quite interesting checking whistles against it. They may not all be as equally tuned or as just tuned as one might expect.

http://www1.ocn.ne.jp/~tuner/tuner_e.html
Scroll down for auto tuner to download the software.

Difference in cents for just intonation (in D):
Code:
I  II  III  IV  V   VI   VII  VIII
D  E   F#   G   A   B    C#   D'
0  +4  -14  -2  +2  -16  -12  0

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 4:37 pm 
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NicoMoreno wrote:
squidgirl wrote:
* drone needs to be across the room from human, whistle & tuner, for those who want to try it at home

Why? I play pipes, and the drones are *right* there.

If I don't put the drone across the room, the tuner picks up on the drone and not the note coming from my whistle, or it twitches back and forth between the drone and my pitch.

How would one use a tuner with pipes, since they have drones built in? Is there some way to make the various parts sound on their own? I know little of pipes...

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 6:11 pm 
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(Continuing ...)

Hans' table suggests what happens when you play a G scale on a JI D instrument.

Code:
I  II  III  IV  V   VI   VII  VIII
D  E   F#   G   A   B    C#   D'
0  +4  -14  -2  +2  -16  -12  0

If you normalize the table to G = 0, and rotate it around, you get:

Code:
I  II  III  IV   V   VI  VII  VIII
G  A   B    C    D   E   F#   G'
0  +4  -14  -10  +2  +6  -12  0

Now the C-nat 4ths are 8 cents flat (-10) and the E 6ths are a whopping 22 cents sharp (+6) with respect to JI.

In other words, the notes that are in tune are exactly in tune. But the two notes that are out of tune are now very out of tune - worse than their 12TET equivalents would be (+2 and +16 respectively). So that's the trade-off. The funky pitches become a part of the overall effect of G tunes on the pipes or JI whistles, except to the extent that the player shades the "bad" pitches to compensate.

Of course, when fiddlers and fluters switch to playing in G, they can mentally adjust their root pitch to G, so the effect is less noticeable if at all. And ET whistles probably have a bit more flexibility to do this, too.

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 7:11 pm 
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My head hurts.


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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 7:17 pm 
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Steamwalker wrote:
My head hurts.

That's because you are obviously not well tempered. :P

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 8:12 pm 
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hans wrote:
shaku8 is a free software tuner, which can show red dots with a frequency ratio for just intonation tuning. You set the root pitch with the 'key' buttons bottom right corner. You can also let it sound a drone note of your choice. When you play your whistle against it in equal intonation you can hear sub harmonics (are they called that?) when you hit the right pitch. Quite interesting checking whistles against it. They may not all be as equally tuned or as just tuned as one might expect.

http://www1.ocn.ne.jp/~tuner/tuner_e.html
Scroll down for auto tuner to download the software.


Shaku8 in its current version (3.01) is not fully compatible with Windows Vista. I contacted the Shaku8 developers when I upgraded to Vista and they said a fix was in the works but nothing yet. That was some months ago and the version on their website is still unchanged. The sound check feature, the "record control" and the drone don't work with Vista. The tuner works and displays the JI dots but that's about all. If anyone has a fix for this, I'd like to hear about it as I liked the software when I was running pre-Vista Windows.

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 9:41 pm 
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Here's a site that's all about Just Intonation. The best part is you can actually hear examples of different tunings and such. Enjoy, but don't spend all day playing with it and forget to do your weekend chores!
Image
http://www.justintonation.net/

Or just look at the logo graphic. It explains everything. (Really!)

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 9:59 pm 
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Hi Steve,

There have been a lot of threads on this topic. They invariably get way over my head.

Suffice to say, that I love just temperament. It does something wonderful to your bones.

Fiddlers and singers love it and women go crazy.

Doc

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