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Discussions => Instrument Design, Construction and Repair => Topic started by: Anne Croucher on February 12, 2018, 11:10:31 PM

Title: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Anne Croucher on February 12, 2018, 11:10:31 PM
I picked up a cheap Made in Saxony single row two voices, in D and it has now been repaired.
One of the pallets was missing, but it has now had new pallets, and mechanism fitted.
The reeds were quite dirty and a little corroded - it has steel reeds.
I cleaned the reeds, gently, with chrome cleaner and cotton buds, and it sounds quite well now they have been rewaxed into position - but it was very flat to start with - before the cleaning. Now, however, my tuner is telling me that most of the notes are in tune, but with the tuner set to 432 rather than 440.

It sounds sweet, by itself, and with a bit of work the out of tune reeds could probably be put right -I'll see if I can manage to put it more in tune with itself without breaking anything.
I have managed replacing valves, and waxing and himself built the new keyboard - I'll put a video up once it is properly run in.
What do you all think about the tuning though - is it worth trying to up it to 440?   
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Calum on February 12, 2018, 11:26:55 PM
Might be talking nonsense here, but is it old enough to predate the A=440 standard?  If so it might originally have been built to A=435. 
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 13, 2018, 12:15:26 AM
...
It sounds sweet, by itself, and with a bit of work the out of tune reeds could probably be put right -I'll see if I can manage to put it more in tune with itself without breaking anything.
I have managed replacing valves, and waxing and himself built the new keyboard - I'll put a video up once it is properly run in.
What do you all think about the tuning though - is it worth trying to up it to 440?

It depends on what you want to do with it. There is something to be said for leaving these old instruments in their original pitch, and just doing touch-up tuning within that pitch context. As you have said yourself, it sounds sweet, which may also be because it is in meantone temperament rather than equal temperament. You might lose some of that sweetness if you attempted to tune it up to 440 pitch and to ET.

Clearly it is not playable alongside modern instruments based on 440 pitch. But I believe you have other instruments which already fulfil this purpose, so perhaps leave this one as it is, using it for solo playing or song accompaniment. Only you can decide really.
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: triskel on February 13, 2018, 01:05:27 AM
As you have said yourself, it sounds sweet, which may also be because it is in meantone temperament rather than equal temperament. You might lose some of that sweetness if you attempted to tune it up to 440 pitch and to ET.

It's most likely in just intonation, like a 10-hole vamper harmonica.
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: pgroff on February 13, 2018, 03:03:40 AM
As you have said yourself, it sounds sweet, which may also be because it is in meantone temperament rather than equal temperament. You might lose some of that sweetness if you attempted to tune it up to 440 pitch and to ET.

It's most likely in just intonation, like a 10-hole vamper harmonica.

But possibly a variant of just intonation where the third and seventh note of the scale are about right, but with a rather flat fourth note of the scale, compared to the usual examples of just intonation quoted e.g. here:
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory27.htm

PG
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: MarioP on February 13, 2018, 04:08:42 AM
Leave it in original tune. Those boxes even the material used to built them was meant for this softer tone.
When I want to play loud I play my Corona II and preCorona III Corso and Pre Corso Otherwise them oldies to keep it nice and quiet.... they must have been made for chamber music or something where audience was just watching. :|||:
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: triskel on February 13, 2018, 12:28:00 PM
It's most likely in just intonation, like a 10-hole vamper harmonica.

But possibly a variant of just intonation where the third and seventh note of the scale are about right, but with a rather flat fourth note of the scale, compared to the usual examples of just intonation quoted e.g. here:
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory27.htm

Indeed I'd think of "just intonation" as implying a system, or philosophy, of tuning - rather than any one "absolute" - and like other such systems ("meantone" for example) it has variations, degrees, and extremes...

My internet friend, harmonica tech., Pat Missin has some interesting pages about it on his website: Tuning and the Harmonica (http://www.patmissin.com/tunings/tunings.html)

He also has a very interesting early history page (with some relevance to early melodeon fingering history) that we conferred over: So just who was this Richter guy and what exactly did he invent? (http://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/q37.html)
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: pgroff on February 13, 2018, 03:09:45 PM
It's most likely in just intonation, like a 10-hole vamper harmonica.

But possibly a variant of just intonation where the third and seventh note of the scale are about right, but with a rather flat fourth note of the scale, compared to the usual examples of just intonation quoted e.g. here:
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory27.htm

Indeed I'd think of "just intonation" as implying a system, or philosophy, of tuning - rather than any one "absolute" - and like other such systems ("meantone" for example) it has variations, degrees, and extremes...

My internet friend, harmonica tech., Pat Missin has some interesting pages about it on his website: Tuning and the Harmonica (http://www.patmissin.com/tunings/tunings.html)

He also has a very interesting early history page (with some relevance to early melodeon fingering history) that we conferred over: So just who was this Richter guy and what exactly did he invent? (http://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/q37.html)

Agreed! Yet in recent years I've often seen examples of particular diatonic or chromatic scales presented as "the scale in just intonation (in the key of C, for example)."  That might be handy for an electric keyboard etc (there is one such option on my Yamaha P80). But any such simple set of 8 diatonic or 12 chromatic different pitches per octave will fail to produce all the just-tuned intervals or triads that you might want.

PG
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: triskel on February 13, 2018, 07:55:58 PM
But any such simple set of 8 diatonic or 12 chromatic different pitches per octave will fail to produce all the just-tuned intervals or triads that you might want.

That's where something essentially simple starts to get nightmarishly complicated, and you finish up with monstrous keyboards like that of
Joseph Alley's enharmonic reed organ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enharmonic_keyboard#/media/File:Alleyorgan.jpg) of c. 1867, in 5-limit just intonation...  :o
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: triskel on February 13, 2018, 08:27:44 PM
Might be talking nonsense here, but is it old enough to predate the A=440 standard?

It is indeed. Though A=440 was agreed on as "concert pitch" in 1939, it couldn't be implemented until after WW2, and in the case of the Salvation Army not until 1964... (Think of all the instruments that needed to be replaced/modified! :o)

Quote
If so it might originally have been built to A=435.

It might, except it's in D and therefore a "transposing instrument" - so the pitch of B (the "relative A") is likely to be more significant.
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Anne Croucher on February 14, 2018, 12:26:38 AM


It's most likely in just intonation, like a 10-hole vamper harmonica.
[/quote]

But possibly a variant of just intonation where the third and seventh note of the scale are about right, but with a rather flat fourth note of the scale, compared to the usual examples of just intonation quoted e.g. here:
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory27.htm

PG
[/quote]

I am not sure how they are counted, which note is the 4th note of the scale?
I'd hate to spend time tinkering a reed to get a note when it should still be flatter than the tuner things it ought to be.
I have tried to understand the dots and keys stuff but it just doesn't seem to make any sense - I can just about follow the dots of a tune when it is played, but I can't look at the dots and make a tune out of them. Keys seem to be something that happen to other people. Apparently my putting together chords or notes which sound right often breaks the conventions or makes what I play something obscure and modal.
"Oh really?" I say. "How interesting." and after years of practice I can almost sound as though I mean it.
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Anne Croucher on February 14, 2018, 02:55:24 AM
I just thought - the fourth note is going to be G is the first one is D (key of D - big clue there) - so D, E, F#, G - and the Gs are flat, then A, B, C#, D - with the tuner set to 432. The #s are just a little low, all to the same extent, those would be the 3rd and 7th notes.

It has to be deliberate.
I am a bit amazed though. This is an elderly box, so I never expected that it would be possible to bring it back even to the state it is in now.
I will give it new pallet linings and see if that makes it more air tight.

I do have other instruments I could play with those with the 440 tuning, but I have been playing the Diana all evening as even as it is, it sounds very well indeed.
Next I must look at the basses, as one of them rattles dreadfully still - the other one did, but I cleaned it up like the RH side ones and that seemed to help a lot - fingers crossed they will all come back into operation.
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Gena Crisman on February 14, 2018, 03:43:37 AM
Well, here's a hot take: forget music for a minute and think physics alone. Your tuner is thinking of a vibrating wave form, and you could stand to think about it like that too, at least for now. Forget what note the tuner says, and write down the frequencies (here, ideally). If your tuner doesn't report frequencies, you're not going to have much luck with it and will need to find one that does.

The purpose of Just Intonation is to make make certain harmonies combine in the best way possible; you take a certain frequency as your starting point and ensure that the important Major and Minor Triads interact in a specific way to create the most pleasing harmony, but at the cost of less important combinations. The purpose of Equal Temperament is to (logarithmically) even out the gaps between each of the 12 semitones that us humans who live in this region of the world have decided exist. Turns out: these two concepts are at odds with one another, and your tuner is most likely going to give you Equal Temperament, whatever you set your A reference to, because it makes all combinations work mostly ok.

As a singer, you're probably used to singing at frequencies that directly harmonise in some way with another singer. In that case, you're singing at some ratio of that other person's current frequency, perhaps a ratio of 1.25, 1.5, or 0.75 etc. This will cause not only your note to combine with theirs after only a few repetitions of the wave, without any gradual phase shift, but also many of your harmonics/overtones will compliment one another. You don't have to think about it particularly; this combination resonates/forms a stable waveform and sounds sufficiently pleasing when done correctly that you'll home in on it. You can pick whatever the right pitch is for whatever frequency someone else is singing, but sadly a tuned reed has to be fixed in a particular place. A key, then, really, is just an accepted progression of ratios from a root frequency that we think sounds nice.

And that's exactly what Just Intonation is about; it picks a root frequency; in this instrument's case perhaps it's somewhere around 290hz I guess, something someone might consider D4. If it is indeed tuned by the concept of Just Intonation, the person tuning it then picked out frequencies that harmonise with that root frequency in a particular way and stuck them on your melodeon's buttons. In this case, the 'forth' is literally counting up in the different notes from your root note (which you might call the 1st). In this case, your 3rd button down is your root note, so, you can start at your root note, and count up or down as you scale up or down in pitch. For an example, all on the push, if your root button (3rd button down, hence 3rd button start) was 290 Hz, you might find on a Just tuned instrument that your 4th button push is 362.5Hz, your 5th button push is 435Hz, and your 6th button push is 580Hz, or 1 x 290, 1.25 x 290, 1.5 x 290 and 2 x 290. You can see that these would harmonise in a lovely manner. For a fixed diatonic instrument like the melodeon, Just Intonation could make a lot of sense.

The down side is that, applying certain integer based fraction ratios like this, you end up with a number of 'odd notes out' in your scale. Your 3rd button and 5th button pull (2nd and 6th note in the scale) would also be separated by the same number of semitones, and form a relationship that would also be called being separated by a fifth, but may not share the pleasing 1.5x ratio your 1st and 5th did - their pitches work in relation to your root note, but, don't seem to harmonise correctly with one another when they are played away from that root. And, you just have to accept that dissonance as a consequence of this kind of tuning. You can take different approaches with the same techniques, but, to quote wikipedia; "each adjustment breaks something else" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five-limit_tuning). Equal Temperament fixes that problem by making everything just a little bit wrong, but, at least everything is equally a little bit wrong.

Feel free to hit me up in 'meat space', which is to say, the real world at some point and we can talk about it like humans, if you think that might help. I'd definitely see if you can jot down the base frequencies of each of your reeds onto a spreadsheet or find some way to share them, although given this is a 2 voice instrument IIRC that will somewhat confound your readings. At the very least though, then other people could point out things that might be going on instead of guess at concepts.
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Jozz on February 14, 2018, 08:59:25 AM
I found myself in the same dilemma with a WW2-ish era instrument (Preciosa in CF), after trying to play it alongside a guitar. Fortunately, we have two of them and decided to leave them alone and play them together  :|||:  :||:

Both end up around A 432 with tremolo. But with all new reeds and stuff, so it was intentional.
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 14, 2018, 11:18:35 AM
If you ever feel you would benefit from a better grasp of musical thory Ann, you could do worse than try this.

https://www.earmaster.com/music-theory-online/course-introduction.html
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: GPS on February 14, 2018, 11:22:21 AM
This is exactly the situation with my gorgeous little Hlavańćek;  it's somewhere between Eb and E, but it sounds so "right" that I haven't changed it. OK, so I can't play it along with other fixed-pitch instruments, but I almost never have to, so it's not as great a problem as it might be......

Graham
Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: Calum on February 14, 2018, 06:33:54 PM
in the case of the Salvation Army not until 1964... (Think of all the instruments that needed to be replaced/modified! :o)

We in the bagpipe world are only just getting round to it now.  There were a lot of brass bands kept going at high pitch especially as there were lots of second hand instruments knocking around!

Title: Re: Diana accordion A - 432?
Post by: triskel on February 14, 2018, 07:53:20 PM
in the case of the Salvation Army not until 1964... (Think of all the instruments that needed to be replaced/modified! :o)

We in the bagpipe world are only just getting round to it now.  There were a lot of brass bands kept going at high pitch especially as there were lots of second hand instruments knocking around!

Yes, I was avoiding the topic of bagpipe bands, and flute bands too, that still play at the old high pitch. And then there are the Northumbrian pipes, in "F blunt"... :o

Whilst plenty of orchestras tune to 442, even 444, and many accordions are that way too.