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Old tuning fork

Dave the Gnome 24 Jan 20 - 05:37 AM
Stanron 24 Jan 20 - 05:54 AM
FreddyHeadey 24 Jan 20 - 06:24 AM
John MacKenzie 24 Jan 20 - 06:33 AM
punkfolkrocker 24 Jan 20 - 07:35 AM
Backwoodsman 24 Jan 20 - 07:53 AM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 20 - 08:08 AM
punkfolkrocker 24 Jan 20 - 08:08 AM
Donuel 24 Jan 20 - 08:40 AM
Stanron 24 Jan 20 - 08:57 AM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 20 - 10:45 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 24 Jan 20 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,DrWord 24 Jan 20 - 10:58 AM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 20 - 11:31 AM
Nigel Parsons 24 Jan 20 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,DrWord 24 Jan 20 - 03:22 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 20 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,DrWord 24 Jan 20 - 03:55 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 20 - 04:35 PM
GUEST 24 Jan 20 - 04:36 PM
FreddyHeadey 24 Jan 20 - 08:03 PM
Dave the Gnome 25 Jan 20 - 02:32 AM
GUEST,Henry Piper (of Ottery) 25 Jan 20 - 07:18 AM
Jack Campin 25 Jan 20 - 08:44 AM
Jim Dixon 25 Jan 20 - 09:22 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 25 Jan 20 - 11:10 AM
Stilly River Sage 25 Jan 20 - 09:43 PM
Dave the Gnome 26 Jan 20 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,jag 26 Jan 20 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Mudlurk 26 Jan 20 - 02:27 PM
Jack Campin 26 Jan 20 - 04:12 PM
GUEST 26 Jan 20 - 10:01 PM
GUEST 27 Jan 20 - 05:30 AM
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Subject: Old tuning fork
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 05:37 AM

I have a tuning fork that belonged to my Grandad. He used one to get the pitch for the singing he led as priest of the Orthodox church he ran. I don't know if the one I have is one that he used but it could be.

Although it is stamped "C", when I check it with a tuner it is about 1/4 tone flat of B. More than a full tone lower than it says. The question is, is this a fault on the fork or could old pitch be that far out? Next question, if it is a fault should I try to fix it with a file?


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Stanron
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 05:54 AM

As a rough guide you can say the older the flatter. Somewhere someone has G F Handel's old tuning fork. It is well flat of modern pitch. Northumberland Small Pipes consider themselves to be in the key of G. In modern pitch terms they sound anywhere flat of F# to sharp of F. It is possible to make a chanter that plays in modern G but as the pitch goes up the spacing gets tighter.

The truth is that agreed pitch has risen over time. In the UK the convention is that A = 440 hz. In Germany I believe it is higher. Conductors find that if they raise the pitch the music sounds brighter so over time it rises. It must be hell for singers.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 06:24 AM

fascinating, thanks, lots on wiki

"On at least two occasions, pitch inflation had become so severe that reform became needed. At the beginning of the 17th century, Michael Praetorius reported in his encyclopedic Syntagma musicum that pitch levels had become so high that singers were experiencing severe throat strain and lutenists and viol players were complaining of snapped strings."
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch#Pitch_inflation


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 06:33 AM

So high it hertz?


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 07:35 AM

Back at my mum's house under my old bed is a hard case containing my first ever electric guitar
purchase in 1976.
Inside the case is an A tuning fork which our band relied on after we stopped
tuning to pitch pipes, or gig venue / practice hall pianos..

Would that fork be 'new' enough to still be accurate by modern electic tuners...???


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 07:53 AM

Why not check it against an electronic tuner, and let us know? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 08:08 AM

Pitch higher than A=440 was common in the late 19th and early 20th century - "philharmonic" pitch was around 460. I have a Czech C clarinet about 100 years old that is now a C# clarinet and a B flat one which is now in B.

A=435 was fairly common in the 19th century but no lower than that.

A tuning fork 100 years old that's a semitone flat will probably have suffered metal fatigue or detempering - maybe somebody left it on a hot stove?


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 08:08 AM

BWM - now that I've been reminded it's there,
When I visit my mum next week, I must remember to dig it out..

Trouble is when I need to find something in her house,
it's never where I last knew where it was...

If the case is still under the bed, there's no guarantee even the guitar is still in it,
and not replaced with old shoes and dusty fluffy animal toys..


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Donuel
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 08:40 AM

Stanron since the temporing of the relative pitches in Bach's lifetime are you saying pitch has been sharpened another ~half step? If so , older grand organs have been adjusted upwards?


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Stanron
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 08:57 AM

An older grand organ wouldn't need to be re-tuned if it only ever played on it's own. Imagine re-tuning each and every pipe.

Instruments such as fiddles, flutes and guitars can change their tuning easily. In tunes sessions fixed pitch instruments such as concertinas and melodeons set the pitch for those that can re-tune. If instruments don't play together they don't have to have the same pitch.

Re-tuning concertinas can be a difficult task. Reeds have a different pitch in the instrument to when they're out of it but they need to be out to be re-tuned.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 10:45 AM

All organs get regular tuning, and yes it does involve retuning every pipe. Most pipes are designed to make that easy, it's quicker than tuning an accordion.

The state-of-the-art book on pitch history is Bruce Haynes's "The Story of A". It's a much more complicated pattern than a steady rise.

The classic example of Baroque weirdness is a Bach cantata whose score appears to call for recorders in E flat. In fact they were normal F recordersbit their reference pitch was a tone away from the organ. In Bach's time two pitch levels coexisted, "Chorton" for church music and "Kammerton" for small seculat performancea. Both of which varied from city to city.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 10:50 AM

I seem to recall David Attenborough using a particular tuning fork to get a flower to release pollen...maybe a visit to Kew is the solution, Dave?!


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 10:58 AM

As usual, a great Mudcat thread. Still on topic, but out of left field, to use a baseball metaphor: I have a shiny (looks nickel or chrome plated) tuning fork clearly stamped   A 426 2/3 [the two thirds would be .66]. So, fellow tuners and ‘catters, what on earth? ‘Twould take a wee bit of poking around to dig it out—I recall it DOES have a maker’s mark as well. In the meantime, I’m confident one of you lot can explain. And no, I haven’t oogled this query; it was prompted by the thread.
keep on picking ~ stay in tune
dennis


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 11:31 AM

That works out at Middle C = 256. Sometimes called "scientific pitch".


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 11:58 AM

C=256 sounds right (pun unintentional)
My tuning fork (seems lots of people have one somewhere) is marked "C 512" which would be the octave of the 256 noted above.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 03:22 PM

Thank you, Jack! I just knew a mad scientist on this forum would tell me! “Scientific pitch” it is.
picking @ 440Hz
dennis


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 03:30 PM

That pitch was quite often used in physics teaching laboratories and just about never by musicians. You probably have a school or university surplus item.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 03:55 PM

& what might I learn, in physics class, with the aid of a “scientific” tuning fork? Couldn’t share a 440Hz with the music dept (?) I’m a good listener:)   Dennis


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 04:35 PM

It makes the calculations simpler if your reference C is an exact octave of 1Hz. Helmholtz probably started it.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 04:36 PM

In physics class you are likely to be doing things with fractions and ratios of the frequency. 256 can be divided by 2 repeatedly till you get to 1. Not that you could hear anything after a few divisions.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 08:03 PM

A neat tone generator page.
Open in two tabs to compare
& you can set the balance L or R
& more
https://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Jan 20 - 02:32 AM

This one is definitely over a tone flat so I guess it is just duff. I will never use it in earnest so it doesn't need to work as intended. I think I'll just leave it as is. Thanks to everyone for all the info anyway.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST,Henry Piper (of Ottery)
Date: 25 Jan 20 - 07:18 AM

Over the years I have seen quite a few Melodeons (Particularly Hohners )dating from the '30s and even later tuned to A=435 Hertz so different pitch standards were still common well into the 20th century and indeed as has been already said some accordians/melodians are still tuned sharp by manufacturers for a Brighter sound albeit usually by only a few cents..


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jan 20 - 08:44 AM

That mention of A=435 pitch was very useful.

I have a pair of recorders in D (tenor, voice-flute) and A ("sopralto") made for Peter Harlan in Germany about 100 years ago. That was the kind of recorder Paul Hindemith wrote his "Ploener Musiktag" trio for - it's one of the classics of 20th century recorder repertoire, but is never played now on the original instruments and as far as I know, no recording at that pitch exists.

I haven't had much luck playing the D one in tune. The A one does work, pretty loud. But when I try A=435, they work just fine, and I'm playing the A one at a more reasonable volume to balance the D. So, thanks for the hint!

Incidentally the pitch of that "scientific" fork is a just intonation A above the 256Hz C, not an equally tempered one. Probably once part of a set intended for experimenting with JI.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Jan 20 - 09:22 AM

The auld tuning fork, the auld tuning fork,
The one me father's father brought from Dublin to New York,
It's caused me heaps o' trouble since I found it in his trunk,
And now no one will play with me; it's got me in a funk.


Anyone who wants to continue, have at it.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 25 Jan 20 - 11:10 AM

You may say - "just another fork in the road,"
But it's awful quiet now in this abode...


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 Jan 20 - 09:43 PM

My 140-year-old upright grand piano has the original strings, and a few decades ago a tuner broke several trying to bring it to modern tuning levels, so he repaired those and tuned it a whole note low. Everything is rather dark unless I transpose into a higher key, which is a lot of work but was something our childhood piano teacher had us regularly do.

I grabbed the tuning fork out of my father's guitar case after he died; it's one of the earliest things I remember about his learning to play guitar, the magic of the hum on wood after striking it on the side of the sole of his shoe. I'm sure we all took turns trying it out when we were small. It's chrome plated, 440 A. (Bob Nelson, aka "Deckman" had the same idea about the guitar case, and I think he took home a capo as a souvenir.)

I need to get the piano restored; it's one of the type that has a fairly good value when reconditioned. It's an expensive proposition, however.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Jan 20 - 07:24 AM

Weird stuff! I have just double checked and below the "C" stamped on it is a small "b" so it could be trying to say C flat! But why would it do that when C flat is B? If is is B, it is only a bit flat of that so could be just down to an old tuning.I

Checking online and there does seem to be a scale of C flat but I don't know enough about music to know why :-(


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 26 Jan 20 - 07:57 AM

Perhaps it failed as C at quality control so they added the b stamp and sold as a 'second'.

Something similar, and carefully thought out, is/was done with electrical resistors.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST,Mudlurk
Date: 26 Jan 20 - 02:27 PM

Helmholtz.? Hertz, perhaps?
mr Dixon: continue!


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Jan 20 - 04:12 PM

No. Helmholtz's "On the Sensations of Tone" (1862) was by far the most influential book on musical acoustics and would have set any such trend.

But, I just looked up my copy, and he doesn't appear to use C=256, even right at the start where simple arithmetic might have been pedagogically useful. Instead he goes straight to A=440, which he credits to Scheibel in 1834. (And says how he's pissed off with the Academie Francaise for adopting A=435). There is a heck of a lot of arithmetic in the book and he manages to make it all pretty comprehensible without any "scientific" simplification.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jan 20 - 10:01 PM

Cheers, Jack. Thanks for the title.


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Subject: RE: Old tuning fork
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 05:30 AM

Helmholtz's "On the Sensations of Tone" English translation is available online. The illustrations are more readable than in the modern reprint.

https://archive.org/details/onsensationsofto00helmrich/page/n8/mode/2up


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