Pianotech

Subject: Harpsichord tuning question

1.  Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 01:59
I know that since harpsichords are a low tension instrument they exhibit very little inharmonicity. Should a harpsichord be tuned chromatically or should it receive some semblance of stretch?

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Geoff Sykes, RPT
Los Angeles CA
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2.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 04:54
Geoff, I've had good luck tuning chromatically. Set a FAC if you have a SATlll and go. I've used the Thomas Young Well template also. Both have worked well for me.

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-Phil Bondi
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3.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 06:29
Ron Koval's WT has a 17 cent 3rd and not 21 cents as the Young on F# which might be more tolerable to modern perceptions. My default temp. is his Victorian. The EqWell (Koval 1.3) is a good ET substitute, it's ET tuned in a Well format.

If you have. VT, you can opt for narrow partial sample.

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Regards,

Jon Page
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4.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 07:20
Geoff,

It appears that you are using the term "tuned chromatically" to mean "without any stretch." Is that correct?

At any rate, I usually tune harpsichords with a very mild stretch--but some stretch, just the same--that corresponds to the minimal harmonicity present. Maybe this is just a carryover from tens of thousands of stretched piano tunings, but nevertheless, it sounds good to me and the harpsichord users as well.

Alan

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Alan Eder, RPT
Herb Alpert School of Music
California Institute of the Arts
Valencia, CA
661.904.6483
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5.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 10:59
Alan --

It appears that you are using the term "tuned chromatically" to mean "without any stretch." Is that correct?

Yes, that is what I meant. What would have been a more correct term?

I've been using Dean's harpsichord setting in RCT but noticed that it's still listening to upper partials. I just wanted to check in on what my actual goal was on a harpsichord.

These answers help a lot. Thanks, everyone. 


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Geoff Sykes, RPT
Los Angeles CA
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6.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 12:46
I don't know what the correct term would be, but I understand what you mean now, and that's the important thing. Thanks for the clarification.

IMHO, a harpsichord can sound OK without any stretch whatsoever, but sounds better with a little stretch (especially in ET).

Alan

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Alan Eder, RPT
Herb Alpert School of Music
California Institute of the Arts
Valencia, CA
661.904.6483
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7.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 17:25
Excellent. Then I'll just keep on using the harpsichord setting in RCT as the results are always good.

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Geoff Sykes, RPT
Los Angeles CA
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8.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 08:04
Tune whatever temperament you like and then tune the rest clean by ear and it will all fall into place. You may want just a wee bit of stretch as Alan says but only detectable in the tests, certainly no audible beat in the octaves. Harpsichords are very clean sounding and reveal any beating clearly. Which is why they sound so good in historical temperaments.


---Dave

Sent from my phone, forgive typos!




9.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 11-09-2017 09:27
Page 60 of my trusty SAT 11 is my generic  FAC  equal temp. for most  of the harpsichords on inventory and  I set it up  at 2.0 at each measurement.

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Martin Snow
Boston MA
617-543-1030
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10.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 29 days ago
I use Pitchlab to tune harpsichords first pass, and it makes them sound fine (first partial of each note, tuned to zero). I agree that a wee bit of stretch is a good idea - just use the ETD to find out how much, as in reading the upper partials of a lower note (4th partial is probably as far as it is worthwhile going). It will usually be in the 2 - 4 cent range. Having done that, you can enter progressing cent values in a tuning record. And you can tweak them as desired. I have found that better than using the calculating function of ETDs, which often won't read all the notes adequately.

Pitchlab is nice because it simply goes and reads the note, wherever it is. Since many harpsichord tunings (e.g., end of summer) involve MASSIVE pitch changes, this makes life much faster. Especially for those 150-200¢ pitch changes. It is a free guitar tuning app, with a $3.99 in app purchase to get all the bells and whistles. It also does all sorts of historical temperaments. Lots of harpsichordists use it, as attested by testimonial posts on the enormous Harpsichord Facebook Group.

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Fred Sturm
University of New Mexico
fssturm@unm.edu
http://fredsturm.net
http://www.artoftuning.com
"We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same." - Carlos Casteneda
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11.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 29 days ago
Fred and others,  I've been using Pitch lab Pro for a few years and really like it.  Provides an easy visual for customers with pianos needing a pitch raise. I used it when I built a 5 octave marimba a few years ago in order to tune the bar''s fundamentals and harmonics. Great tool. 

Gary Bruce
Registered Piano Technician





12.  RE: Harpsichord tuning question

Posted 28 days ago
This is a great discussion.

As a a general rule for me, it depends on the hall, the musicians, and the harpsichord. I agree with the point made about the harpsichord in particular will show pretty obviously any little bit of out of tuneness so I opt for as clean as possible, as much as possible.
That said, if I'm working with, for example, string players who have spent a good deal of their career in Germany, it's very common for them to want 442, and more stretch.
I will definitely have to check out Pitch Lab and see what's there.

Elizabeth

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Elizabeth Pearson RPT
Clarksburg MD
240-751-5900
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