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David Pinnegar

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Posts posted by David Pinnegar

  1. It's not necessarily just about intervals - it's about beats, difference frequencies being discordant, and tone.

    When you're tuning an intrument and are close to the sound source, pipes or strings, an equal temperament major third will produce a difference note two octaves down but a quarter tone sharp which grates. If the major third is wider then the difference note is further away than the two octaves down and less associated. If it's purer, then it reinforces. The major third is the 4th and 5th harmonic of a fundamental, so create a false fundamental in just the same way as playing 5ths on pedals produces a false 32ft sound.

    On a well tuned instrument extra notes can sound resulting from harmonics, and this makes the sound richer. So play a C an octave below tenor C, an E above tenor C and then you'll find an extra note sounding as an E above middle C. In equal temperament it's merely a beating fuzz but on a well tuned instrument the note is there, solid.

    And it's in this that the resonance of the instrument and the acoustic can be changed, and for the better.

    Those of us who are brass players will lip notes into tune to bring perfect intervals together and string quartets likewise.

     The demonstration of the Kakaki, for the announcement of the arrival of the Emir, shows what happens when resonance is arranged properly:


    Later on I demonstrated with the Sesquialtera the relationship between beating harmonics with temperament:

    This has an impact on how Tierces sound in an instrument and the composition of the mixtures which have an enormous bearing upon the tone of the instrument and the tone colours which can be represented in the music.

    Best wishes

    David P

  2. 25 minutes ago, Colin Pykett said:

    The more important point is whether it was noticed by those who didn't.  This only goes to show what a slippery subject the whole thing is, not a million miles away from trying to pick up water.

    From one point of view I can agree with you but from the other, already in this thread we've heard from David Drinkell about the improvement of tone of the instrument that the subtle change of tuning has created - no bad thing - and by bringing nicer sounds into the aural realm there's their effect on more sensitive musicians who create music to make a beautiful sound, and so don't just go faster and faster. Certainly in the pianistic world the difference that tuning can have on performance is quite profound even if the audience themselves haven't picked up on the intervallic discrepancies from the norm.

    For this reason I believe the subject to be more worthy of attention than one attempting to pick up water. It goes to the heart of music and why we make it. Whether an organ or a piano and whether or what the builder or brand, the instrument is only the conveyance of the sound. Where does the sound come from? The pipes or strings. Where do the sounds of those come from? The vibrations of the air inside or surrounding them. Where do those vibrations come from? Their tuning.

    Tuning is at the heart of instruments, and of music itself. 

    Best wishes

    David P

  3. Colin - thanks so very much for your insight and comment on Padgham's researches and in particular with respect to differences between 5th comma and 6th comma Meantone temperament not being very dissimilar. It also clears up confusion where some say that Mozart liked Equal Temperament - in your point out that 6th Comma Meantone is an equal temperament in its way. As a musicological device I like 1/4 comma meantone beyond merely Couperin and the Baroque almost as an x-ray into the music taking to the extreme what other temperaments lead to and ensures that we don't miss it. We can then either remain in 1/4 comma or, having taken note, transfer nuances into more subtle 1/6 comma or Werkmeister >> Vallotti series of temperaments whilst retaining the spirit.

    I was put onto the effects of 1/4 comma meantone by Orde Hume's book on Barrel Organs. He said that it was very difficult to adjust our ears to their tuning as it made us wince and was intended to do so. So this led me to look at how music was heard, performed and appreciated in such a temperament. One of the pieces which demonstrates something really interesting is the Beethoven Tempest. In Meantone the ethereal passages come through making the connexion with Shakespeare's "Enchanted Isle" https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_tempesta (use google translate) as plain as daylight.

    When we take this into Kirnberger III

    and on a more familiar sounding instrument

    and by a different performer in Equal Temperament

    Whilst this relates to piano repertoire the same principles are relevant with organs and why Mander's venture into Kellner is particularly commendable and to be encouraged very much.

    Best wishes,

    David P.

  4. Thanks so much for drawing attention to this. Perhaps it explains why on my pipeorgan as a teenager in Werckmeister III I came to hate it absolutely on account of Ab major! However perhaps it was my aural tuning.

    It might be appropriate to take issue on one thought:


     Like some other authors on temperament both then and today, Padgham seemed obsessed by the subject to the extent he fell victim to his own zealotry. One of his more outrageous statements accuses those whom he saw as restraining the widespread adoption of unequal temperaments of "conservatism, fear of the unknown and ignorance". 


    On account of a fellow member 

     perhaps his conclusions explain exactly why Padgham and I and the other member might come to similar conclusions.

    Certainly in the piano world it is a matter of ignorance and fear of the unknown. Temperament has not been an issue on the table for pianists and those having spent monies of significant sums on a precious instrument fear the idea of someone suggesting to them that the "experts" to whom they've abrogated tuning care of their instrument don't know the whole of their subject and that alternatives are available. This is what our forthcoming seminar is aiming to address, and gratifyingly a number of piano technicians are actually interested and coming. So times are changing.

    Another issue that I'd take in defence of Padgham is that certainly in the case of strung instruments, probably harpsichords of relevance to the historical temperaments and most certainly pianos of today is that the sounding pitch drifts easily + or - 1 cent so one's really lucky to be able to tune within one cent. For that reason and before the days of digital tuners taking Padgham to task about being relaxed by the detail of 1/2 cent might be a little severe. When 1 cent at 440 represents only 1 beat in around 4 seconds, as far as piano tuning is concerned the sound has significantly died away in that time whilst organs might be a little more critical. . .  False accuracy is a bane of the digital age and when modern writers specify a 1.98 cent deviation it's appropriate to remind them to call it 2!

    Best wishes

    David P

  5. There's a delightful instrument in an Anglican church in the Kew or Kingston area built by Matthew Copley. It was audibly unequally tuned and very exciting. It sounded to me like Meantone but upon asking Matthew he swore it was Werkmeister III.

    What's really interesting about strong unequal temperament on organs is that one doesn't need a large specification with which to convey emotion. As briefly mentioned above and explained in the link on Academia the Mozart fantasias for Mechanical Clock did all they were meant to achieve, and all that it takes modern organists the resources of a huge specification to achieve, with just a single rank of stopped pipes and short resonator reeds in the bass tuned to meantone.

    which I simulated from knowledge of the Colt Collection Holland Barrel Organ at Hammerwood Park.

    It's a great pleasure and privilege to be welcoming Martin Renshaw to the tuning seminar at Hammerwood on Monday, the programme of which is in  the attached PDF, as he tuned for many of the experiments conducted by Padgham et al and resulted in Padgham's book "The Well Tempered Organ". Research that started with the organ has a lot to give to the organology of other instruments, particularly the piano world, and to music more generally.

    Best wishes

    David P



    Programme HP 6th May Tuning Seminar.pdf

  6. On 12/05/2005 at 15:22, deadsheepstew said:

    I have bulldozed many instruments, large and small, 1850's and much later, into some form of unequal temperament (usually Thomas Young's, as described by Charles Padgham) with never less than startling results and absolutely no loss of functionality:

    1) The difference in tone is clearly discernable to the layman and manifests itself with greater clarity and travel, greater perceived volume, and much less shrillness

    2) Extended mutations are generally more useable

    3) Tierce mixtures (and, to a lesser degree, quint mixtures) are INFINITELY more pleasant to listen to (hearing the difference, one could never go back again - and one can understand why someone with such taste as J.C. Bishop went around ripping out Cornets and Sesquialteras when equal temperament started to spread)

    4) It is far easier to tune

    Repertoire-wise -

    5) Most things, if not everything, works fine if you've chosen the tuning well. Howells in particular often works better - look at the Psalm-Preludes - like any composer (especially Bach), Howells builds tension by introducing unexpected harmonies, so the temperament serves to amplify the effect that is already in the music. These are generally resolved onto "pure" chords where, again, the lack of beats will amplify the sensation. Sometimes, it may be necessary to miss out some notes to avoid too close proximity of slightly unhappy 5ths on the final chord.

    Viz - end of Bach Orgelbuchlein "O Mensch, bewein dein wotsit oojimmy" - those notes are there for a purpose and the tension created by the tuning is paramount. Listening, slowly, to these last two bars in a good unequal temperament will change your life, and dissolving all that tension and discord into the radiantly sunny slopes of the pure final chord will make you a disciple. (This is why there is no dominant in the final chord; because it would have burred just a little bit, he left it out. Brilliant.) Then, play the second movement of Trio Sonata I and tell me what's different about the rising dominant 7ths and semitone clashes. Finally, if you will, play the C major prelude from the 48 and - guess what? - yep, same thing again, each time with an awesome resolution into a pure key. If one more person tells me Bach invented equal temperament, I shall most likely punch him in the hooter.

    If you're still not convinced, go for Piece Heroique and listen for the right hand F#-G-F# in about bar 4 (or 8 - can't remember the time signature), the staccato pedal bit in the middle where the potentially contentious notes are on a different stop, and the big chords at the end. It all works.

    So, as you may have gathered, I am something of a fan of unequal temperaments as long as they are carefully and thoughtfully chosen because:

    a) they improve the sound of all mutations and mixtures

    :P the vast majority of repertoire sounds better, and all of it can be played

    c) equal temperament has been around for by far the minority of the organ's lifetime, and created the startling difference in tone that directly led people to build instruments with nothing above 4' pitch

    Keep equal temperament on the piano if you must (even though mine is currently Werckmeister III) but let's all go out under cover of darkness and retune every organ in the land. Please!!!!

    I was searching for the BIOS issue which first covered Padgham's tests with unequal temperaments and this thread popped up.  If anyone's summed up the reasons for putting temperament on the agenda more generally in musical considerations, pianos as well as organs, member here deadsheepstew summed it all up very succinctly.

    If I come across as a little bit enthusiastic about temperament, even stark raving nuts of course, it's because classical music and instruments needs an impetus of new inspiration, and boring equal temperament and sticking to it is simply not engaging people emotionally.  When heard through the lens of other tunings music we think to be familiar can take on a new light.

    Best wishes

    David P

  7. It would be really appreciated if anyone could bring further enlightenment about the numbers and possible whereabouts of Mander Well Tempered instruments!

    What's really interesting is that in the piano tuning world some tuners are erring towards perfect fifths and stretched octaves. Using Pianoteq software simulation the thirds are widened in the stretched tuning scheme more and more unpleasantly than the thirds in remote keys that people refer to being as unpleasant in unequal temperaments. But in the stretched octave scheme no-one seems to notice. Organs of course are tuned "straight" so thirds are not widened further than they start out to be . . .

    Best wishes

    David P

  8. Since hearing of the Mander organ at Cranleigh School having been built in Kellner temperament I've had strong admiration for Mander's work in bringing forward alternatives to equal temperament.

    It's really sad that Cranleigh had to be returned to Equal Temperament but I'm wondering how many instruments have been built by Mander in Kellner or other temperaments and the tuning has survived to be available to be heard?

    How many people play organs not in Equal Temperament? Of those who regularly play in Kellner on the organ how universal is it as a tuning for the whole repertoire? Is there anything really objectionable heard through its lens?

    In the past few years I've focused on harpsichord and piano tuning in particular and am trying to introduce the piano world to non-equal temperaments, and piano technicians and tuners especially with a seminar on 6th May.

    In my youth I grew up with an organ I'd tuned to Werkmeister III and eventually it got to me and I grew to hate it. Ab major was killing, and more recently I tuned an upright piano to it and B major was hideous beyond description. But temperament can be particularly vital as last year I demonstrated with a talk to the Friends of the London Mozart Players in which I demonstrated that the tuning was key to the Mozart Fantasias for Mechanical Clock https://www.academia.edu/37951978/THE_COLOUR_OF_MUSIC_IN_MOZARTS_TIME_A_journey_from_Couperin_to_Chopin_Examination_of_reconstruction_of_Mozart_Fantasias_K594_and_K608_for_Mechanical_Clock

    With regard to the piano my thesis is that Equal Temperament has led to people not listening to the sound that the're producing, and that the instrument for many has been reduced to a mere technical challenge of playing fast, loud and accurately - a mere entertainment rather than a communication of emotion through the literature of musical vibration. As a result, it being permissable to cut budgets for entertainment, we're losing education in the essentiality of classical music as part of what makes us human.

    For four decades since the early issues of the BIOS magazine in which historic temperaments have been espoused on the organ, organs and organ builders have led the way. Can such a revolution be achieved with the piano?

    Best wishes

    David P



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