Jump to content
Mander Organs
David Pinnegar

How many instruments in Unequal Temperaments by Mander?

Recommended Posts

8 hours ago, innate said:

Are you not remotely interested in how music would have or might have sounded to our favourite composers before Equal Temperament was adopted? 

I ought to be - did I ought to be? - I'm not sure - but I don't think I am! I've read all of the thread and, in truth, it has left me completely cold! I haven't felt that I wanted to contribute or that I could contribute.

The conversation as to present performance, of any period of music, will go on and on. Some will present this argument others presenting that argument. A similar comparison might be - Are you a 'tubby' Bach man - or a 'skinny' Bach man?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whilst there are a number of aspects to consider within the debate, not least of which is a perception of musicality which is undoubtedly subjective but also emotional, one small but I think key factor was almost brushed over above. The comment about the Oxford college being unaware of it's use of an unequal temperament. 

When pinned down to absolute precision, equal temperament is a mathematical exercise, sometimes reached by accident when tuning but very regularly approximated to and identified as such, actually erroneously so. All temperaments are like this to some extent and by existence in the real world and the influencing factors found within it, are only as reliable in many instances for the duration in which they have been laid, and in some instances not even that long.

Perhaps the debate leaves S_L cold because it is largely theoretical and at least with organs lacking in constancy.

This in no way contradicts the amazing way in which some music comes alive when played on a period instrument with a period type temperament, and indeed the way some instruments themselves come alive when tuned as such.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, innate said:

Are you not remotely interested in how music would have or might have sounded to our favourite composers before Equal Temperament was adopted? 

I’m not, no. Maybe something I can’t really appreciate, in the same way that HIPP does absolutely nothing at all for me (but let’s steer well clear of that debate please!). 

It’s a question of taste and personal preference and maybe I lack a bit of the former and made bad choices in the latter but that’s how it is and I see no reason to be persuaded otherwise.

There is most certainly a great deal of learning and research into both topics and I’d be the last one to attempt to stifle or repudiate any of this scholarship. It remains up to the listener, in the end, to decide what is or is not to their own preference. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm. I understand the issue leaves some cold and seems only theoretical, but the way in which the scale notes interact with the harmonics of the instrument has a great bearing on what the instrument sounds like, its tonality in its acoustic. This is why I have included here the examples from St Maximin. It also affects, limiting or broadening the tonal structure of stops that an organ builder can include in the instrument.

Yes - one can fake it 

 

but it's not the same.

Best wishes

David P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Hmm. I understand the issue leaves some cold and seems only theoretical, but the way in which the scale notes interact with the harmonics of the instrument has a great bearing on what the instrument sounds like, its tonality in its acoustic."

OK! So what!!!

Perhaps it leaves me cold because I am, first and foremost a musician and not, in any way, shape or form, a Scientist. It is my proud boast that I don't have a Science O level to my name! There are others on here who are, also, first and foremost musicians but do have interest in scientific thought and different temperaments and have contributed to the thread. One of the good things about this board is that we are a diverse bunch of individuals and, I had hoped, the days of patronising and talking down to other contributors were over!    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm . . . as a musician the tonality of the instrument might just possibly be a matter of interest.

I've actually had this debate in the piano world, being bludgeoned over the head by equal temperamentalists who swear that ET was used exclusively from the time of Montal, but it's the tonality of the instrument that wins the day when heard and experienced by musicians now offered a choice on how their Steinway, Bechstein or Bosendorfer can sound. It's nothing to do with HIPP but the limitation or enlargement of tone colour that throwing the scale off the mechanical contrivance of the twelfth root of two can achieve. 

Best wishes

David P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, David Pinnegar said:

Hmm . . . as a musician the tonality of the instrument might just possibly be a matter of interest.

I'm sorry - but, on the innumerable times I played a 'cello concerto with a symphony orchestra, in a strange concert hall, often in a strange land, I had other things on my mind than the tonality of the instrument!! 

……………………….. but there are, of course, members on here for whom this is hugely interesting. I, and a couple of others of us, aren't among them though!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve spent countless hours over the last few years reading the debates over various aspects of historically informed  performance which have “raged’ in the musical world. I say ‘raged’ because these debates are probably limited to a very tiny part of what is already, for most people, a niche market within a niche market. What strikes me more than anything about these debates is that they quickly become heated, with representatives on either side even resorting, to put it mildly, to intemperate language. These debates often seem more indicative of human nature generally, and aspects of our own era rather than those of the past.

A good example is that of the ‘controversy’ over so-called OVPP (one voice per part) performance of choral works. Anyone looking at the Bach Cantatas website will be amazed at the hundreds of thousands of words expended attacking or defending either side of this debate. Whilst fascinating in its own right, I have concluded that Bach and his contemporaries would probably be astonished if they could return today and witness these kinds of controversies. OK, scholars discover that Bach’s cantatas and other works appear to have been performed with no more than one singer performing each part, including choruses, with perhaps another 4 ripieno singers occasionally reinforcing them. Hardly surprising if that’s all the singers who were available. Bach had to make do with the resources provided. He was, after all, an eminently practical musician. In addition, choruses (if you exclude the final chorale) made up only a small part of most cantatas. Why would courts and churches employ or educate large numbers of singers at great expense if they only performed for a few minutes each week? What Bach really thought about the matter we will never know (even the numbers he put forwarded in the famous Entwurf are hotly debated over).

The problem is that the assumption is made that the concerns of musicians in the past were the same of those of musicians today. The world generally, including the musical world, is utterly different. In the 18th century it was common practice to transfer (and alter!) music written for one instrument or instruments to (an-)other(s), as was the case with Bach’s organ concertos. To this day there seems to be no agreement about which instrument Bach wrote The Art of Fugue for. A reading of Charles Burney’s Commemoration of Handel indicates that 18th century musicians and music lovers were both able and willing to organise huge bodies of orchestral players and singers very skillfully in performances of the Messiah and were thrilled by the results. (The comments Burney makes about how well tuned the instruments were also makes interesting reading).

When Bach was organising his weekly cantata performances, he was faced by such concerns as: Would there be enough time to copy the parts? Would the singers and players on hand be up to the job (boys who sang wrong notes had to pay a fine)? Would the stove next to the organ be lit? Was there enough time to transpose the organ part (because of Chorton) and figure it? Would the music be a fitting reflection of the day’s Bible readings? But our concerns are: Will there be enough people in the audience? Will the instruments and tunings be historically informed? Will the media reviews be good? 

Debates about OVPP,  historical fingerings, instruments and tunings may be fascinating for some. But in the end, music and musical performance are a matter of taste and personal preference. Unequal temperament may be fascinating to some, but my personal preference is for equal temperament (to put it mildly). It doesn’t matter how much evidence is presented to me about pure and impure intervals, beats and so on. I just don’t like it. I’ve listened to, and played, many instruments with unequal temperament, and I have found the experience most unpleasant. I’m very sorry about that, but it’s how it is. As was the case in the 18th century, I’m much more interested in the Affekt of the music and whether or how it moves me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/05/2019 at 19:39, David Pinnegar said:

The interesting thing about Kellner as chosen by Mander is that the very "worst" thirds aren't very much more unacceptable than equal temperament thirds.

Best wishes

David P

I'm afraid that I can't comment because I am unfamiliar with Kellner or any other unequal temperaments.  I only remember listening to organs in ET.  Ideally, I'd very much like to hear the same piece of music played on organs with ET and Kellner temperament for comparison.

However, from your description, Kellner does sound a very attractive alternative.

Is it the case that in Kellner there are no 'unusable' keys as there appear to be in other unequal temperaments?

If such is the case, why is Kellner not more widely used?

For accompanying choirs, the slight differences in temperament would surely hardly be noticed, and even less so by the average congregation, yet the music would likely be more 'musical'!

If the organ were to be played alongside other instruments, if I understand it correctly, most of them would automatically (naturally or through the player's modifying their playing technique) sound in the same (Kellner) temperament.

Apologies if I have misunderstood, and I look forward to being corrected if so, but if Kellner really is an attractive temperament compared to ET I'd love to hear it used more widely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

John - you're spot on about Kellner and this is why I'm really curious about the success of Manders in building instruments in Kellner and the reaction thereto. The conversion of the Cranleigh instrument to equal temperament was a travesty and a significant loss to the musical world. It's for this reason I'd love to know where there are others.

Zimblestern - I come from both sides of the fence. When I was a boy I rebuilt an organ in my parents' house and we knocked down four walls and ceilings to fit it in. Then came the challenge of tuning it. These were the early years of BIOS and the early Journals carried an article about historical methods. Without apps on a mobile phone those were different days. I chose Werkmeister III as it was apparently simple - and from which I gained a love of key colour but hated WIII as it was hideous in A flat.

From around 1983 I started tuning the piano for concerts. Strict equal temperament. After all, who'd tune a piano in anything else? Then around 15 years ago I was listening to a performance of the Chopin 2nd Sonata when I realised that Chopin had chosen the key of Bb Minor because it would have an effect sympathetic to the subject of the music and that therefore Chopin must have been exploiting unequal temperament. This was a turning point. But which one? After reading Padgham's book I plumped for Kellner, aided by the fact that a new electronic tuner had the facility. It turned out to be a hole in one in terms of applicability for the instrument, adding greatly to the sound and not detracting from anything.

Then when the Cranleigh instrument was built and advertised I discovered that Manders had come to the same conclusion with the organ that I had reached for the piano . . . 

I hope that people have been enjoying the recordings chosen in this thread and particularly St Maximin. Built in 1775 by Isnard on principles of Dom Bedos it's very much at the heart of the organ. And that instrument is in a temperament considerably stronger than Kellner, a modified meantone.

When we venture as far as Meantone, then things get really interesting. 

When the Finchcocks and Colt Collections came up for sale I minded to aim to keep some landmark instruments out of the fate of stulsification in museums. One of those instruments is the 18th century Holland barrel organ preserving significant Handel repertoire, but others include a Stodart grand of 1802 which I tuned first in Kirnberger III and then in Meantone. Dr Percy Scholes in the 1930s was under the impression that 18th century pianos were tuned in Meantone in England and so asked "How could Bach's 48 have been played in England in the 18th century?". That's another question but it led me to experiment.

F minor and C minor are crucially interesting keys. F minor, the key of the grave, of darkest grief and despair. Here we have the Pacelbel Chaconne on the 1856 Sprague chamber organ at Hammerwood tuned to meantone - a sound that will grate on your equal tempered ears but which actually expresses the characteristics of F minor very supremely, and brings a sound so much more interesting for its meaningful wailing - 

On the 1802 Stodart the Haydn F minor variations become really interesting - at around 1:35:50 it starts to go into a passage that explores the weird. This does not happen in equal temperament at all. 

Of course I expect you to hurl insults at me of the worst sort for having the gall even to suggest that such tonalities have any place in what might be called music - but we do know that meantone was used and it's mind-expanding at least to ask why, and possibly find experience. On Thursday a friend brought his old piano teacher to try my instruments, the lady being quite renowned and very revered by some, and she started playing Chopin on the Stodart. I was shocked, knocked sideways. Only such a musician could handle it and how was utterly extraordinary.

Another friend had recorded the Beethoven Tempest on it. 

and this is a recording I really like. It's particularly interesting because the connexion with Shakespeare had been purely anecdotal and legendary. But upon hearing this and reading https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_tempesta&prev=search through this performance it's entirely apparent that the plot of "The Enchanted Isle" is the plot of the music, and the mysterious, the strange, the etherial and supernatural becomes palpable.

The equivalent recording by Paul Badura Skoda 

is very lovely, but less palpably mysterious. You might find closeness of the playing - the two pianists were friends.

Perhaps you might find the equal temperament modern instrument more pleasant to listen to. But those passages describing the distortion of reality by Beethoven weren't composed to be pleasant. They are delightfully expressed in Meantone, just as some 20th century music is not composed to sound pleasant. This was the 18th and 19th century equivalent just as the premier Kyrie of Couperin of his Mass for Convents and Parishes lurches from calmness to pain, again, not well expressed without Meantone.

although perhaps I prefer the more recent performance by the late Pierre Bardon to that of Chapius 

The forays by Mander into Kellner are the bridge between our accustomed tonality and the wonder of something very special.

Best wishes

David P

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

‘The conversion of the Cranleigh instrument to equal temperament was a travesty and a significant loss to the musical world.’

Really? I’m sure there must have been sound reasons for this change. I might here recall an experience with this temperament switch and why it sometimes has to be done.

Some years ago when in Braunau,Austria,  I had a few hours on a fantastic Metzler instrument. As you may know Metzler specialise in historic reconstructions and this instrument was probably the finest thing I’ve ever played. No playing aids, straight pedalboard and you could hardly reach the stops. I got chatting to the Kantor and, surprise surprise, he’d requested a complete retune to ET! They’d had to use an electronic organ for the holy hymns, it was that bad. He said it was almost unusable beforehand save for arcane early German stuff in about 4 keys. I think that Metzler were a bit miffed about it all really but it was outstandingly good, the most beautiful flutes and the principal chorus was stunning. 

His main point was that it was in a working church and not a museum, I think he had a perfectly reasonable point and I’m sure that neither he or I would consider it a travesty. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Such experiences are the reason why unequal temperaments have had a bad press. There is a spectrum of unequal temperaments and of course the most extreme are there to be used for very specific purposes and with intention as I have with the musicological explorations with the 1802 Stodart piano. Certainly Kellner can be used universally on both historic and modern pianos but where I've heard an organ in Vallotti or Young, I haven't been obviously conscious that it's not Equal, as for me the flavour is not enough. But it's there and people report very good experiences with pianos tuned so. One of the reasons for possible better experiences with pianos is that their tuning is stretched to fit inharmonicity of strings and this makes the equal temperament give a very hard tonality.

This is why Mander's explorations with organs are important and why it would be really nice to hear of experiences of their other instruments and recordings.

Best wishes

David P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The discussion here, as with virtually all others I have ever come across, seems to assume that the attributes of various temperaments are independent of the instruments they are set up on.  This is quite untrue.  The organ is unique among all other keyboard instruments in that different registrations can dramatically influence the aural effect of whatever temperament is in use.  The following clip is of the same hymn tune played on an Open Diapason stop using ET and then quarter comma meantone.  Note that the key of A flat was chosen deliberately to illustrate the sheer awfulness of the Wolf fifth:

http://www.pykett.org.uk/OpenDiap-ET-4thComma.mp3

Now listen to the same hymn using a Stopped Diapason:

http://www.pykett.org.uk/StopDiap-ET-4thComma.mp3

This time the fast-beating Wolf has virtually disappeared, and this key in this temperament, while not necessarily to everyone's taste, has now become more or less useable.  This could hardly be said for the previous Open Diapason rendition.

Why is this?  I'm afraid you'll have to read the whole article to find out because the explanation is too involved to give here.

http://www.pykett.org.uk/temperament-and-timbre.htm

Something to take away from this is that, in the days when unequal temperaments were the norm, it is quite likely that organists were fully aware of this and were perhaps (or probably?) capable of ameliorating the worst effects of the poorer keys by selecting their registrations carefully.  In the article I have gone further to suggest that Bach might even have teased us in his output by writing at least some of it in such a way as to highlight the direness of the worst keys, or not, depending on how skilful the players were at disguising the dissonances with a suitable choice of stops.  Obviously this is highly speculative, but I couldn't resist mentioning it.  It is a phenomenon that someone of his intellectual mightiness must have come across.  I mean, if I as a mere amateur musician have noticed it, surely he would have done without scarcely thinking about it?

I must also apologise for having recorded these examples using a virtual pipe organ rather than the real thing.  I regret not being in a position to have undertaken the necessary retunings on a pipe organ just to make these demo recordings of a few seconds in duration. However the historic instrument which was sampled (St Mary Ponsbourne, Walker 1858) was fully restored not long ago by our hosts, so I hope I might be forgiven to some extent for this heresy.  I should also like to thank the organist there for having recorded the raw samples - he has written articles about this interesting instrument in Organists' Review, and he as well as these articles are acknowledged more fully in my web article referred to above.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes - Colin - spot on as always and most valuable examples.

I came to a similar conclusion and demonstrated this with Bach's 48 last year doing a lecture about the Colour of Tuning in Mozart's time - 

 and of course likewise apologies for using electronic simulation. Here we demonstrated examples of the very worst keys.

What's rather interesting is Schubart's description of D major, the key of trumpet fanfares and which we find Bach writing in his D major Prelude in Book II of the 48, indicating Bach aligning his use of keys with the documented effects to be expected in an unequal temperament of some sort. See pages 9 and 10 of https://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

Best wishes

David P

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 03/05/2019 at 20:09, David Pinnegar said:

.... 'On account of a fellow member 

 ....'

 

On 03/05/2019 at 20:09, David Pinnegar said:

.... 'On account of a fellow member 

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

 

Quote

 

I believe that the identity behind 'Deadsheepstew' was the late David Coram, who was certainly greatly interested in various types of unequal temperament tuning.

 

(I have no idea why the passage which I quoted has appeared twice. Neither am I able to remove the duplicate.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...