minstrel: Tuning

Christopher Gregory krummhorn at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 23 22:10:44 PST 2000


> but i'm not only talking about the instrument, there is the issue of strings,
> which were lumpy, and not uniform. they streched and shrunk constantly, making
> it out of tune.
> part of the problem is fixed, not completely, but manufactured stings are less
> temperamental.

The matter of temperamental strings is not an issue.  If you had a piano
that kept going out of tune, would the music that you played on it be bad?
No, it would simply be out of tune.  And if the piano strings were out of
tune with each other, would you simply keep playing, not knowing that they
were out of tune?  No, you would call a tuner, because dissonant sounds
actually *hurt.*  It's not a matter of skill, it's a matter of sound.
That's why you learn how to tune a guitar, and then you learn E Minor.
Knowing that a note is not in tune with another is not something that can be
taught, because it is present in every person.  (Even having perfect pitch
doesn't matter, because that is only knowing if something is in tune with
the correct pitch of A being 440 Hertz.)  Medieval musicians were presumably
skilled enough, and human enough, to know that when Guillaume plays a G and
Francois plays F#, it kind of hurts.  And they would be able to take that
knowledge and tune their instruments accordingly.  You don't need a pitch
pipe tuned to A=440 to know how much to tune an instrument; you just twist
until the F# and the G match.

Thank you muchly!
Richard Crowder (the Sickly) of Burnham
"Well, why don't you just ask why I'm bald?"


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