Author Topic: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?  (Read 8936 times)

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KB7DQH

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I guess one of the problems with enjoying every minute of ADHD is that one thing generally leads to another...

In the Electronic Organs board are links to a performance by a young talented organist and an intriguing performance of one of the (in my humble opinion)   most "overperformed" piece of music in the Organ repetoire...  Which for the purposes of evaluating "all things Organ" is a really GOOD thing...   A Yardstick against which things can be compared directly or indirectly as it were.

So how many "copies" of Toccata and Fugue in D minor does one need in the music library to make
objective observations?  I certainly have no idea...

But in listening to a couple including the "Maxwell Hammerwood Beast in Meantone" leads me to get a few more just to make sure my initial observations have some basis in "reality"...

Especially as to how it relates to the title of the subject of this post...

A contributor to the Contrebombarde Concert Hall website posted a short piece of music performed in Equal and Unequal temperament, for which I have included  a link in the Questions of Temperament board under "A Hauptwerk Temperament Experiment"...   In addition to the obvious
differences in the "emotion" ("Affekt") I concluded also that there was a significant change in pitch between the two performances.  After reading around a bit on the Hauptwerk forum I discover that the software

changes the pitch :o

with

changes in Temperament ???

The reason this is done is to overcome a technical situation involving "reclocking" the individual samples to obtain the required interval in the "shifted" temperament from the "sampled" temperament.  Older versions of Hauptwerk were written for computers that obviously don't have the processing power of "state-of-the-art" (as of right this second anyway) and dedicating resources to compensate the entire compass during a temperament shift sufficiently to place everything "on pitch" would compromise the operation of the rest of the software so the pitch shift that accompanies a temperament shift would necessarily be "ignored" at least for the time being.
Later versions plan on addressing the situation sometime in the future......................

I am guessing that similar technology employed in processing equipment designed specifically for the purpose of "being an organ" also is limited, probably more so, and thus similar compromises
have been made?

I have run across some rather exhaustive documents on the WWW which describe mathematically
various temperaments and list the "middle A" audio frequencies (pitch) of a number of pipe organs
and tuning forks used by various orchestras and bands in Europe over a two century period...
I can understand why one of the FIRST standards developed by the International Standards Organization (ISO) was "Concert Pitch"... (ISO 13) or A=440......................................

Not surprisingly there are "artistic"  arguments "out there" for changing concert pitch ??? :o ::)

May it then be argued that the Human Brain may be a sufficiently well-developed information processor that "we" can actually  "perceive"  these differences in Pitch vs Temperament?

To conclude (for a moment, I may change my alleged mind later ;) I am making the argument that
"absolute pitch" may in fact need to "shift" according to the temperament employed upon the instrument in question--  That in fact the "key color" imposed by temperament can be altered by
shifting pitch...  That what we actually heard on David's Youtube post in Meantone temperament may NOT have been the Toccata and Fugue in D minor but C minor! (Or C#minor, or Db minor ;D

Eric
KB7DQH
« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 04:30:35 AM by KB7DQH »
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

revtonynewnham

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2011, 04:01:45 PM »
Hi

No-it was in D min (A=440Hz) - those of us with perfect pitch tend to notice such things!

I'm convinced that absolute pitch does introduce key colour - even in equal temperament tunings - D major sounds brighter than Eb major for example.

Every Blessing

Tony

David Pinnegar

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2011, 04:59:20 PM »
Hi!

Well perhaps with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHOcCLvUeH4 we made a real difference to hearing the most overplayed piece in history sounding like you've never heard it before!

I believe that for people with perfect pitch there is an association of pitches with pieces which, having been composed for _temperament_ effects congregate in groups of pieces written in the same spirit, and for those familiar with music enough to have perfect pitch, those individuals will have a pitch association. But for others the absolute pitch is meaningless.

The Hammerwood performance was with A at 440 whilst the St Maximin organ is a tone down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSf7-4t_SWc

It might sound like C but it's still performed in D minor. Keys are absolute, pitch is relative . . .

Best wishes

David P

David Pinnegar

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2011, 10:23:29 PM »
The book on organs and tuning by Elliston in 1895 reports
Continental or Normal pitch C=517
Society of Arts (medium) C=530
Philharmonic (concert) C=540

Certainly "Mathematical" pitch C=512 was not around 120 years or so ago. . . and instructions for tuning are given for equal temperament. Mention is made of unequal temperaments - use is clearly recent enough to have been within living knowledge but clearly its use is considered to be regressive . . .

Unequal temperament is described as bringing the most used keys C, G, D, A, F, and Bb into something approaching just intonation throwing the error into the mor remote keys such as Gb, Db Ab etc.

Best wishes

David P

David Pinnegar

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2011, 10:51:00 PM »
Hi!

There is another vision of pitch typically described by the website http://www.omega432.com/ which calls for A=432

I don't think that arguments based on 72 degrees fahrenheit as being termed as the perfect human comfort zone on http://www.omega432.com/natural.html help an academic call to this pitch with any justification, the numbers appearing to being plucked at random out of the air to the convenience of the ebb and flow of the argument at the time. . .

However other more compelling reasons

Best wishes

David P

revtonynewnham

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2011, 11:28:27 PM »
Hi

Equal temperament , speaking in generalities, was intoduced to the UK organ world after c.1850 (the Great Exhibition, which marked a sea-change in organ design).

Every Blessing

Tony

David Pinnegar

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2011, 12:20:17 AM »
Yes - I have been working with an expert in piano tuning as well as having been invited by piano forums to explore piano tuning: there may also have been a problem with the advances of piano design into high tension strings, iron frames, trichord stringing and the inharmonicities of piano strings, especially short ones. These could be overcome by fudging everything so that nothing accorded with anything except octaves (and even that on pianos is arguable . . . ) and nothing stuck out. Equal temperament aided that fudging . . .

The 1850s were when the beginnings of modern concert pianos as we know them really started . . . and I'm sure there are references to people in the late victorian period complaining that the colour was being robbed from the music . . . ?

Best wishes

David P

revtonynewnham

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2011, 02:36:04 AM »
Hi

I suspect many complaints - although perhaps not too many, given the Victorian's love for new developments.  S.S. Wesley was one of the last major proponents of non-equal temperament tuning (and GG manual compass) - The Willis at St Geroge's Hall, Liverpool being perhaps the last major organ involved.

Every Blessing

Tony

KB7DQH

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 07:20:04 PM »
Quote
Hi!

Well perhaps with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHOcCLvUeH4 we made a real difference to hearing the most overplayed piece in history sounding like you've never heard it before!

(snip)

The Hammerwood performance was with A at 440 whilst the St Maximin organ is a tone down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSf7-4t_SWc

And if I am not mistaken... St. Maximin is tuned in "quarter-comma" Meantone?

I have downloaded and saved onto local machines "acceptable" quality files which allow me to
"tear and compare"...  and I think I may have adequately described the  audio amplification and reproduction equipment at my disposal elsewhere... certainly NOT in the "transistor radio" category...  (at some point in the future I will make my rant on the quality or rather the lack thereof of what is available over Youtube :o :( >:( 0  ) so bearing those limitations in mind, I have "torn and compared"...
 more than once...
 and have, hopefully correctly, drawn the conclusion that there is something "wrong"( ???)

with "Meantone" when tuned to A=440...

Especially the in the "fugue"...  The St. Maximin performance does not appear to have the
"sadness" present in the performance on the  "beast" :o ;)

Eric
KB7DQH




The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

David Pinnegar

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2011, 12:37:35 PM »
Dear Eric

I think that the performance you might be referring to on The Beast was in Meantone - but St Maximin is tuned to a delightfully mild but effective unequal temperament.

We have been working on restringing an 1856 viennese fortepiano and my friend who's been helping me has put it at 440:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk12p0eJ9uI

Quote
I brought Betsy to A=440 based on my historical findings. The History of
Performing Pitch is a mine of information based principally on organ pipes
and other historical fixed pitch instruments and 440Hz was very much in use
in Wien around 1845. The other pitches we used at Glyndebourne were A=430Hz.
And A=415Hz. The last being exactly a semitone flat from A=440Hz makes it
possible to play with modern fixed pitch instruments by transposition.

As a footnote, the recording on YouTube here is after only 3 tunings and it needs 2 further tunings before it will stabilise. It's also on a camera with automatic volume control which smothers the dynamics.

Best wishes

David P

KB7DQH

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Re: Temperament and Pitch and what it "does" to our musical experience?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2011, 02:02:11 PM »
Quote
s[word requiring editorial approval]s

Possibly this could be accurately and "without the need for editorial approval" replaced with "squeezes" ;) ??? :(

Completely unrelated and off-topic... I have a videotape of a Steam locomotive pulling a passenger excursion "up to speed" which I made many years ago, whilst  riding in the open cargo area of a "van"... being alongside for nearly a mile.  The frequency response with the built-in monaural microphone is quite good but the dynamic range suffers mightily, the crescendo resulting from the throttle opening at one point is completely suppressed by the AGC :'( 

"Squeezes" in this case would be an understatement-- I guess you would have to have "been there" to understand...

Eric
KB7DQH

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

 


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