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Discussions => Instrument Design, Construction and Repair => Topic started by: Aaro on December 11, 2007, 09:26:27 AM

Title: Cajun tuning
Post by: Aaro on December 11, 2007, 09:26:27 AM
I have question. What is originally Cajun tuning. I Know that is dry, but how the sound is still differend what dry tuning.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: BruceHenderson on December 11, 2007, 07:11:49 PM
That's an easy question to get answered.  Just find three Cajun tuners and you'll get three answers in a hurry!
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Theo on December 11, 2007, 09:45:12 PM
Hi Aaro

The main thing as I understand it is that it does not use an equally tempered scale, but instead has the third and seventh notes of the scale flattened by about 15 cents, which is an approximation to just intonation.

So for example, and assuming the box is pitched in C, then E and B are each flattened by about 15 cents.

In equal tempered instruments the major thirds are significantly out of tune which is particularly obvious of you listen to the harsh sound that you get if you play G and B together in the top octave a D/G box.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Steve_freereeder on December 12, 2007, 01:12:16 AM
Hi Aaro

The main thing as I understand it is that it does not use an equally tempered scale, but instead has the third and seventh notes of the scale flattened by about 15 cents, which is an approximation to just intonation.

So for example, and assuming the box is pitched in C, then E and B are each flattened by about 15 cents.

In equal tempered instruments the major thirds are significantly out of tune which is particularly obvious of you listen to the harsh sound that you get if you play G and B together in the top octave a D/G box.
Is it also to do with the Cajun method of playing - i.e. playing in G on a 'C' box? Is the tuning done so that the scale of G is tuned to just temperament, and therefore when you try playing in C, as most non-Cajun players would do on a C box, it sounds very out of tune?
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: BruceHenderson on December 12, 2007, 01:58:22 AM
(snip) has the third and seventh notes of the scale flattened by about 15 cents, which is an approximation to just intonation.
So for example, and assuming the box is pitched in C, then E and B are each flattened by about 15 cents. (snip) 

__.  Is it the third or the fourth ... or have you and I been talking to different Cajun tuners??????
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Theo on December 12, 2007, 11:58:45 AM
Is it also to do with the Cajun method of playing - i.e. playing in G on a 'C' box? Is the tuning done so that the scale of G is tuned to just temperament, and therefore when you try playing in C, as most non-Cajun players would do on a C box, it sounds very out of tune?

Steve,  I don't think its a good idea to talk about 'out of tune' in this context.  It is really a matter of what your ears are used to.  To my ear a major third in equal temperament sounds harsh and I could say 'out of tune'.  A major third where the  third is slightly flattened sounds much sweeter.  A major third in just intonation (which is about 14 cents narrower that in ET) sounds sweet and pure.  In practice I use this when I'm tuning the left hand chords on a melodeon:  I usually tune the third of each chord slightly flatter than ET.  I normally go no more that 5 cents flat which is enough to improve the sound of the chord without introducing a noticeable clash with the same note on the right hand side.

Try listening to the second example on this page (http://www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/groven/compare.html)

Coming back to your example of a Cajun box in C played in C major then it has this pure third, so playing C and E together will sound sweeter, but playing the notes separately you may notice that the interval is 'different' from what you expect. 

This is a huge subject!  just try Google for "just intonation" "equal temperament"
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Andy in Vermont on December 12, 2007, 05:28:21 PM
Coming back to your example of a Cajun box in C played in C major then it has this pure third, so playing C and E together will sound sweeter, but playing the notes separately you may notice that the interval is 'different' from what you expect. 

Yes, and note that the "seventh" (in C, the B) is also tuned differently, and that B is the third while playing the G chord.  It sounds really nice to my ears.
To answer Bruce's question above -- the fourth is sometimes tuned differently, but this is not universally part of Cajun tuning, whereas the "flatted" thirds (E and B on a C box) are standard.  I put "flatted" in scare quotes because they are not actually flat except from the perspective of the conventions of modern tuning. 
-Andy
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Malcolm Clapp on December 13, 2007, 01:00:26 PM

From my (very limited) experience of Cajun style boxes and tuning, I have found the fourth (F on a C box) is tuned "sharp" by somewhere around 8 or 10 cents.
But that's from a very small sampling of such boxes.

MC
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: henryb on December 13, 2007, 09:16:36 PM
Hi Aaro

Marc savoy has a DVD video out on the subject, 40 minutes of tuning instruction. Called The Accordion Gospel no2 or something, available at the savoy music center. His Cajun accordion tuning: 3rd and 7th 15 cents lower, and some tuners like Jr Martin even also tune the fourth slightly sharp. A lot of players like that. hb
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: melodeon on December 13, 2007, 10:49:49 PM
"Cajun " tuning  is "just" tuning

3rd and 7th flatted 15 cents and the 4th sharped 15 cents.. this was the "universal" "Cajun" tuning of past years

these are approximate but what most Cajun tuners used to do

Correct Savoy and a few others are now NOT sharping the 4th

and I have heard some where the flattening is lessened

The reason for the "just" tuning is to favor chords..

I have purchased custom made Cajun accordeons where

the tuner  did not first tune all the reeds to exacting tolerances in the tempered scale as reeds are delivered ,and simply flatted and sharped

tuning was wretched..  not only that but the base was left tempered

another recent trend is toward  wet tuning but still just... 



Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Rees on December 13, 2007, 11:06:52 PM
I also, have noticed that some recent imports from Louisiana have less flatted 3rds and 7ths (8 - 10 cents) and maybe 5 cents sharp on the fourth.
Mind you, Bruce Hendersons answer is nearest the mark!

Hey Theo, I wonder if this thread will provoke a huge rush of one-rows in for Cajun tuning?
Scrape, scrape, file, file, ping.


Rees Wesson
www.melodeons.com
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: BruceHenderson on December 14, 2007, 01:28:42 AM
(snip) another recent trend is toward  wet tuning but still just...  

__.  And on the other hand, I was in Louisiana last month.  Blake Miller (Larry's grandson, out of Red Stick Ramblers, yeah) had played my Beltuna and liked the "pivoted flappers".  He asked me to show it to Larry who reckoned that the pivots were snazzy and it really was air tight but "oh, Jee, that thing is *wet* -- why do they tune it like that ?????  I hate that sound".  So, it's another case of ... Cajun tuning!   ;D
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Andy in Vermont on December 14, 2007, 03:28:28 AM
His Cajun accordion tuning: 3rd and 7th 15 cents lower, and some tuners like Jr Martin even also tune the fourth slightly sharp. A lot of players like that.

That's my point: the sharp fourth is NOT done by all the tuners, but the flatted thirds are. (I'm calling the 7th a 3rd, because it is the third of the draw chord.)
What Rees mentioned about the 7 or 8 cent flatness (instead of 15) relates to my experience with boxes that Marc Savoy called "equal tempered."  I got a box from him for playing French Canadian music and specified equal-tempered.  It sounded great!  However, I checked it out with a tuner and discovered that the F# and C# (it was a D box) were between 7 and 8 cents flat.  Marc explained on the phone to me that this was a tuning that he had been delivering to French Canadian players.  I'm certain that Marc would not call it "Cajun" tuning, although I suppose that it is "Cajun" by virtue of who he is.  So there you go.
-Andy
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: C age ing on December 16, 2007, 12:34:28 PM
Coming from a jazz/blues/folk background following the standard teenage 'classical' revolt, the initial attraction of the melodeon for me was that Cajun sound. Following this learned discussion, it has clarified the similarities between the two genres. Flattened thirds are common to blues and Cajun with the same idea of playing the minor third on the lead instrument against a major third of the backing. This gives a feeling of tension and is frequently repeated on the seventh. Yet again there is a similarity on the fifth but the music theorists argue about whether the blues scale which is pentatonic plus the odd one, features a flattened fifth or a sharpened fourth but that's the theorists for you. The only drawback of the melodeon as a front line instrument for these forms of music is it's inability to reliably bend notes for the normal duffer like me, much easier on guitar and the single-reed woodwinds or the brass which can be 'lipped' up and down relatively easily.
Now, how much did Cajun give or take from the blues? ???
BTW Andy in Vermont, would you please shorten your user name to Andy IV. The original always triggers off the great Kenton Moonlight IV reading and I have to reach for an instrument for a quick chorus. ;)
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Andy in Vermont on December 16, 2007, 04:29:52 PM
C aging,
If I read your post correctly, you are saying that the thirds on a Cajun box are essentially minor thirds.  This is not correct.  They are at most 15 cents flat from the frequency required for equal temperament.  This actually makes them PERFECT major thirds, not minor thirds at all.  What you say about the sound of these "flatted" (actually perfect) thirds versus the "in tune" (i.e. actually sharp) thirds of the accompaniment is true, however, to my ears -- it produces tension. 
For anyone interested in why this topic is controversial to some musicians (and instrument builders), I wholeheartedly recommend the book _Temperament_:
http://www.amazon.com/Temperament-Became-Battleground-Western-Civilization/dp/0375703306/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197822283&sr=8-1
This goes a long way to explain why, for some of us, the notion that the Cajun thirds are "flatted" needs to be put in scare quotes.  In fact, they are true thirds, whereas all of my "in tune" accordions are actually "out of tune".  This may sounds theoretical to some, but there is a reality in the difference that tuning can make, and the default, which we get when tuners rely of the equal tempered scale, is in fact a kind of hegemony of chords that don't sound as good as they could, which is a compromise that we make for instruments that can play chromatically.
Best regards,
Andy
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Theo on December 16, 2007, 07:25:32 PM
which is a compromise that we make for instruments that can play chromatically.

So a chromatic instrument can play equally out of tune in all keys!

Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Andy in Vermont on December 16, 2007, 07:53:43 PM
So a chromatic instrument can play equally out of tune in all keys!

Hi Theo,
That is so true!
The sad part is that we have become so accustomed to this that it sounds normal to us.
I've had some interesting discussions about this with friends who have "perfect pitch." 
I think that it would be fun if the Streb melodeons could be programmed to play in multiple temperaments.
-Andy
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Johnf on December 18, 2007, 11:02:36 PM
What would happen if you took an instrument such as a club accordion and tuned it Cajun style with "perfect" thirds? Would it sound sweeter as well? And what if you did it to Irish boxes: B/C, C#/D etc ? 
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Andy in Vermont on December 19, 2007, 01:15:59 AM
What would happen if you took an instrument such as a club accordion and tuned it Cajun style with "perfect" thirds? Would it sound sweeter as well? And what if you did it to Irish boxes: B/C, C#/D etc ? 

John,
If you did that, which "thirds" would you re-tune?  On a Cajun box, there are only two chords and a limited number of keys in which tunes are played.  So, on a multi-row box, you'd have to choose which notes to consider "thirds" by choosing which keys would have perfect thirds.  Especially on a B/C box I think that this would present some difficulties unless you limited the changes to sweetening the B and the F#.
I have played on non-equal tempered multi-row boxes -- the difference in sound when playing "single notes" can barely be noticed.
-Andy
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Stiamh on December 19, 2007, 02:58:55 PM
As a former fiddle player, equal temperament is one of the less attractive aspects of playing traditional music, especially Irish music, on the accordion. Some time ago I had an exchange of correspondence with Paul Groff, who has done a lot of thinking about non-ET tunings for concertinas and other squeezeboxes. I asked him specifically about the implications of trying to tune a C#/D box to 1/4 comma meantone (which is used by some players and tuners for Anglo concertinas particularly).

He said that 1/4 comma meantone would have a number of disadvantages on a C#/D box and a better idea would be to "maybe best to pick one or two key centers, like the pipers do, and optimize them."

After pondering on Paul's replies I decided that the idea of any sort unequal tuning on my C#/D box was too much of a can of worms for me at the moment, but I'm still thinking about it...

I read a post recently on one the yahoo irish box lists by someone who had had his box tuned by Peter Hyde to "Kellner"  (I think) tuning. And I have been wondering whether tuning the entire box to the system advocated by harpsichordist Bradley Lehman (http://www.larips.com/ (http://www.larips.com/)) would work - can't see why not.

Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Johnf on December 20, 2007, 07:59:14 PM
I don't know enough about the subject of tuning to really have any opinions. I do know I love the sound of my Cajun boxes. There are obviously many variables including playing compatibility with other instruments.  One thing that makes music so interesting.  The comments I read here can be quite an education. Thanks for that.
Title: How it's done
Post by: CajunBoxPlayer on February 10, 2008, 08:23:44 PM
All E's and B's are tuned 10 CENTS FLAT.  Also like that on the bass side.

It is done to make the chords sound perfectly balanced. This is Cajun tuning.

There is no such thing as a perfectly tuned instrument.  There will always be a chord on every instrument that has a note that doesn't sound right.  That's what drove me mad about guitars.

Cajun accordions are nearly perfectly tuned instruments.

Unfortunately the F on the C box is not changed (unless you want to throw off the whole root!).  So the F chord wavers a bit.

Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: CajunBoxPlayer on February 10, 2008, 08:26:38 PM
Also Cajun tuning doesn't have anything to do with Dry tuning.  Many Cajun players prefer dry, but that's not the main thing.

It's the Es and Bs that make it sound so sweet (chord wise).   On a Cajun accordion they can be flattened 10 cents....  You'll never play in E or B on a C accordion, so you can get away with it to make nice perfect G chords and C chords..
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: falcanary on February 16, 2008, 05:48:43 PM
Honestly, if want a real good answer to this, post this question on this forum.  I guarantee before the week is over, you'll have tons of input from real Cajun accordion players, tuners, makers and enthusiasts. 

http://pub21.bravenet.com/forum/1722942123/ (http://pub21.bravenet.com/forum/1722942123/)

Enjoy!

WF
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Aaro on February 17, 2008, 04:32:28 PM
OK,  thanks every one the answered.
Let see when I get the cajun box`s ready ;D

falcanary, thanks the web link.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Aaro on May 07, 2008, 10:32:07 PM
Hello

Now I ged ready FAW Smokey D tune box. This is make Lapland redwood and the wood is heat-treating.
Box is very loud and easy play.

Thanks all  information the tuning.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: pushpullefty on May 08, 2008, 12:59:13 PM
I keep having this horrible, bigoted notion that Cajun (Acadian via Louisiana) is an inherited thing, a tragic family experience and not a tuning. And folks, you just can't help what your family name is, and where they're from. Just as the Acadians couldn't help being in Govenor Lawrence's way back in 1755.

It is also a spirit. And when you play in that spirit, doesn't matter if your'e from Louisiana or New Brunswick, or from your little tiny Acadian family in Melbourne, Australia, You tend to for some illogical reason, be proud of being of that Acadian thing, and that your family has survived. You have a little cry for the pains of your forebears, if you like. You know, the Scots and Irish are good at that too!

I have Larry Millers (Bon Cajun) tuning chart (1992 vintage) if anyone is really interested. Also there is a great Cajun Accordion chat room on the internet too. Larry is in my experience a really helpful and friendly person. And one of the things about Cajuns is that they really like to have a good yabba. Why doesn't someone try to get a response from a 'real' CAJUN maker and or tuner. Just remember, they're freindly people, but don't really quite trust English people yet. But they love Accordion players! Ask them about their tuning philosophies.



Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Rees on May 08, 2008, 05:46:36 PM
I'd like to see Larry's tuning chart. Any chance you could send me a copy?
Thanks.
Title: Cajun Tuning
Post by: Andy Simpson on October 24, 2009, 08:48:10 PM
What exactly is it?.

It's something often referred to here but I'm not sure precisely what it is, is it just a particular amount of tremolo or something else more arcane that has a particular effect on the sound?.

If nobody comes up with a Sander or other decent used 3 voice D/G, I might give in to temptation and put my name down for a Clipper and although it'd be used to sound more like I'm in Thaxted than the bayou, my interest in Cajun accordion is growing and I was wondering if the mysterious Cajun tuning was particularly important.
Title: Re: Cajun Tuning
Post by: Steve_freereeder on October 24, 2009, 09:38:04 PM
It just so happens that Miklos (of this forum) has posted a video clip of him playing a Junior Martin Cajun box. Cajun tuning is not in equal temperament; it's more like 'just' temperament (I think - I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong) with the scale containing slightly flattened thirds and sevenths. It sounds nice for Cajun music. But it would sound distinctly 'out of tune' on straight English tunes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Jw53Cgs_8

Miklos is selling his box here if you're interested.
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,2772.msg31786/
Title: Re: Cajun Tuning
Post by: Theo on October 25, 2009, 08:43:33 AM
What exactly is it?.


I've merged this with on older topic on the same subject which should help answer your question.

BTW it's always worth doing a quick search before starting a new topic.  The search function on this forum works quite well
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Chris Ryall on October 25, 2009, 09:07:22 AM
And there was I fooled into thinking 31 well informed posts on a single topic through the night was from the clocks going back :P 

I've never owned a 1 row,  but have tried Cajun stuff on eg the D row of a light D/G. Instructive to learn why that has never sounded right.

I can see why Theo has done this merge - but try posting anything on an old thread - the melnetnanny prints this

   Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
   Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic.



Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Theo on October 25, 2009, 09:24:17 AM
Thanks for pointing that out Chris.  Its the SMF nanny really, but I've told her to ignore this one in future.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: triskel on October 25, 2009, 02:38:50 PM
I can see why Theo has done this merge - but try posting anything on an old thread - the melnetnanny prints this

   Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
   Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic.

I've been known to ignore melnetnanny before now...  ::)
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: melod-ian on November 02, 2009, 01:59:18 PM
I can see why Theo has done this merge - but try posting anything on an old thread - the melnetnanny prints this

   Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
   Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic.

I've been known to ignore melnetnanny before now...  ::)

Thatís 15mins on the naughty step 
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: -Y- on April 18, 2018, 04:34:57 PM
I'm digging out this topic to ask some questions I have. I'm thinking about using just intonation for my next box (which will be a 1 row).
As it has only one key, it had some kind of appeal to me, especially since I'm playing mostly with violins.
Anyway, if I understand the discussion correctly, the Cajun tuning consists in shifting 2 to 3 notes on the key? It's surprising, in the sens that apparently the just intonation are shifting all the notes except the base note. One possible way is to tune with the following discrepancy from the equal temperament, in cents: 0, 4, -14, -2, 2, -16, -12, 0. So, not only the E and B (if we speak in C).
Do you know on which temperament the cajun tuning is based?
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: TomBom on April 18, 2018, 09:22:20 PM
I think modifying only E and B in Cajun tuning is a very good compromise. Sharpening the F makes a just tuned D minor chord, but if you want to play tunes in F you would be out of tune when playing with other instruments. For me, I prefer to not have the sharpened F - and I keep playing a thirdless D minor chord.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on April 19, 2018, 12:39:18 AM
Is it to possible to achieve a tuning in G and Em, that gives the major benefits of justified tuning, on a DG?

Ediit: I realise that this is a divergence from the OPs question, but I am really interested in the answer. I'll start another thread if that's appropriate.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: squeezy on April 23, 2018, 12:40:56 AM
Any instrument can be tuned to just intonation or any other of the naturally tempered scales, but only to be sweetest in one key.  A two-row could be easily tempered to be just tuned in G - but would sound less sweet in D.

All this talk of these temperaments as being "out of tune"  on certain notes does my head in ... because equal temperement is the most out of tune scale there is, but equally so in every key ... it's just that our ears have become so used to the intervals of equal temperament which is ubiquitous in modern western music that we have all developed an ear that finds it hard to cope with more sensible intervals.

I have never played one - but I imagine a 2 row D/G that is just tuned to G would be a lovely thing to play, but you would struggle to play it with anyone playing another instrument unless it was a very sensitive fiddle or other fretless string player who could harmonise in the same intonation.
Title: Re: Cajun tuning
Post by: melodeon on April 23, 2018, 01:40:12 AM
"Cajun " tuning is much like a "Cajun" accordeon... tuned or made by a "Cajun".

The self proclaimed king of all things Cajun, to include accordeon construction, does NOT tune as do other Cajuns. His "Cajun " tuning is different from other Cajun box maker's  "Cajun" tuning"

Miller's tuning is "by the numbers".