minstrel: Tuning

QuestTMK at aol.com QuestTMK at aol.com
Wed Mar 22 17:54:24 PST 2000

replying to two posts in one.

<snipping my words>
>Thomas M. Schallaböck wrote:
>Also Bob Dylan and Carlos Santana are professional >musicans and play guitar and I am shure there guitars
>were costing a good deal of money. - Could they play
>at your court?

If they wanted to play period or periodish music, then hell yes, I'd be happy to have them play at my court, and I think a lot of people in Caid would enjoy it.

>To get really good period instruments is no more that >much problem, at least here in Europe.

well we've looked every place we can and have been
disappointed with what we've found.

Vivien wrote:
>Excuse me?  That's an extremely sweeping statement. 
>I will not say that it is necessarily inaccurate, as
>modern music is often "out of tune and out of 
>time."  That's a matter dependent on the skill of the

Thomas wrote:
>I would not like it either. Yet before I must ask you >to tell me how you know that "medieval music was often
>out of tune and out of time". You got some records???

now there is really no reason to take that tone or be condescending. I apologize because I was not clear enough in my statement.  What I meant was, Medieval instruments are often out of tune, not that they use a different (and yes, an equally valid) scale. That is a
whole separate issue. What *I* mean is that the instrument technology was a much lower level. Even if you are playing an instrument who's top string is supposed to be an eigth step above A flat, it is almost impossible to KEEP that string at an eight step above A flat, because the tuning pegs slip, the natural gut strings stretch with humidity changes, etc. So it would
be more appropriate to say (to satisfy Vivian) that it is very difficult to keep Medieval instruments *IN* whatever tuning and scale they are *supposed* to have. And thus it often sounds like they are out of tune, (at least if you're biased enough to like the music to stay in the same scale throught the whole song. I know, some people are just music bigots...) Not the music's fault, not the scale's fault, not the musician's fault. Just technical difficulties with the materials used. And yes, I KNOW it is period for your instrument to go out of whatever tuning/scale it is supposed to have. They
didn't have any way to prevent it, so they just got used to it. But for those of us with near perfect pitch and a modern musical education, whether it is period or not, an instrument that slowly goes out of tune during the course of the song is downright painful on the ears, and frankly I'd rather listen to fingernails on a chalkboard. (Whether they use a Pythagorean scale or not.)

Rowen Seer
with help clarifying from Lórien

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