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Thread: Greetings from a piano tuner

  1. #1
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    Default Greetings from a piano tuner

    It's great to have found this forum and specifically as a result of searching for "Ennike Chopin" and finding not only mention here but someone enthusiastically referencing a piano that I'd tuned.

    Tuning has been a corner of my life promoting concerts for over 35 years, finding it difficult to find commercial tuners and then occasionally when I wasn't able to tune for a concert finding that a commercial tuner did horrible things to my piano, it going out of tune rapidly, so I've tuned ever since and won't let many others near my instruments.

    As a teenager I was interested in organs and found an interest in historic tuning of organs - why is another story.

    Around 10 years ago I was sitting in a concert listening to the Chopin 2nd Sonata wondering in the last movement why Chopin wrote in such a hideous key to read as Bb Minor. That was a Eureka moment as I realised that Bb minor in the historic organ tunings would have a specific emotional effect, and sure it does with a typically narrow minor third in the triad of Bb minor with an uncomfortably wide Db to F, sadness and strain combined. Perfect for the expression of the cold desolate wind blowing over the gravestones.

    So this started a passion to explore the tonal landscape from the point of the very starting point of music - vibrations. Vibrations which are either together, solid, certain and harmonious, working together, or unrelated, grating, of uncertain relationship, liquid rather than solid . . . and discovered that the 19th century classical composers were using these contrasts in dimensions unavailable to our hearing in standard one-size-fits-all twelfth root of two equal temperament tuning.

    As I go to friends to tune their pianos the delight I find on their faces when they discover the solidity and sweetness of their instrument in hearing their musical scale tuned to many of the exact overtones of the lower octaves of strings on their instruments is a real reward. Occasionally tuning for a concert I get the message back from the performers sometimes from people whom I'd told about a performers -
    Thank you for alerting us to this event. We were blown away by the music and the exceptional talent of the three musicians. A truly memorable and wonderful experience.

    I thought you would like to know that the violinist paid tribute to the way in which the piano had been tuned, saying it made all the difference to the music they were able to create together
    Over the years I've tried to do recordings for YouTube and hope that many people will particularly enjoy the fruits of the work. Searching "Chopin Ballade Unequal Temperament" or "Brahms unequal temperament" or "Steinway Boston Demo" or "Chopin Alderney" or plainly "Chopin Unequal Equal Temperament" will start to uncover what I hope people will find as a treasure trove for enjoyment and inspiration. It's a real pleasure to be able to work with and experience the fruits of top performers for whom one's able to provide a substrate for them to perform beyond any hope of improvements of my own abilities.

    I've recently been enlarging experimentation so searching for "Beethoven Tempest Meantone" or "Mozart Sonata Meantone" will turn up recordings which apply an X-Ray to the music for those who enjoy curry of a stronger variety. Importantly it's necessary to forget the tonality of the scale one's used to and hear such recordings enough to have familiarity with the tweaked intervals, but when one does, the music speaks. "Pacebel Chaconne Meantone" is perhaps a good place to start in F Minor, the key of despair, desolation, despond and grief. Modern standard tuning no longer does it for me.

    Best wishes

    David Pinnegar

  2. Likes Granate, Manxfeeder liked this post
  3. #2
    Senior Member Tikoo Tuba's Avatar
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    Cool . I once gave a hippie chick's piano hippie tuning . All that music happens in the belly , in the middle .

    I enjoy your writing !

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    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Wow. Welcome to Talk Classical, David. Such amazing stuff.

    Enjoy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    Wow. Welcome to Talk Classical, David. Such amazing stuff.
    Thanks for the welcome.

    I found the forum upon one of my Youtube videos having been picked up here
    I’m just so tired of the HIP mafia! and so started to contribute later in the thread.

    On account of a pianist friend staying with us for a couple of weeks we were able to contribute to Chopin's Nocturnes and to try out some different pianos and different tunings with Beethoven's Tempest Sonata on 19th Century instruments, a feast for HIP enthusiasts!

    In seeking more informed guidance on Historically Informed Performance, HIP often felt to be flawed, recently I've been have been working on HIP hints - guidance from Chopin's letters examining Chopin's letters for hints on sound, performance, pianos he liked, contemporaries he particularly respected. I hope this thread will be permanently helpful and perhaps might be made a sticky therefore.

    One name comes up - Kalkbrenner as worthy of much greater interest than he's generally shown. He refers to liking Graff pianos rather than Stein, and later complains that Pleyel has sent him a bad piano. He refers constantly to delicacy and sensitivity, but says he'd like to learn from Liszt in performing his own Etudes.

    In preparation for a seminar on the restoration of unequal tuning to the piano and the advantages for the sound of the instrument as well as to restore colour to the classical realm on 6th May 2019 I've started playing with Pianoteq www.pianoteq.com as a good way of being able to demonstrate an unequal temperament against a modern equally tempered instrument.

    Best wishes

    David Pinnegar

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