Sigh... not today!

in Music2 months ago

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So, with this week's Coronavirus press conference in The Netherlands... the expected news that we are will be continuing the existing lockdown for at least another 3 weeks. With that, comes the now quite unsurprising calls and emails from the various ensembles and concert organisers who have to cancel the next few weeks of concerts... even the small ones which have divided audiences, and some recorded ones where it just isn't economically feasible to open a house and hire staff.

School is also not due to return back to in-person teaching until at least a week from now. In a week, they will hopefully be able to assess the impact of the new UK variant of the Coronavirus and if that will be an impediment to sending the basis-schoolers (primary school) back. Until then, parents like us will have to deal with the double whammy of lost work and trying to school kids at home as well. It could be worse, I guess...

Little things to try and keep myself productive this week. My wife was complaining that the Clavichord was out of tune and if I could tune it back up for her. It's a couple of hours of listening and tuning... in some ways, quite tedious... but in other ways, quite calming as well!

I use a variant of the early-Classical/late-Baroque Vallotti temperament for tuning the instrument... well, it's really the easiest of the tuning temperament for me to do quickly. Plus, as it is closer to equal tempered than other tuning systems, it also means that it isn't quite so sour in keys that are far from the centre of tuning.

Tuning by hand and ear (not using a machine) means that I tune the middle two octaves to the temperament system using a cycle of fifths that are a touch close in the flat-wise direction which should give purer thirds in the most common keys, whilst tucking the wolf fifth in a faraway key that shouldn't be used too much in Baroque/Classical music.

After the middle two octaves are properly tempered, I have to tune the rest of the keyboard with octaves. On a harpsichord, it is pretty fast... with a Clavichord (and the fortepiano) it is significantly slower as there are doubled unison strings for each note... which need to be damped and tuned individually. PAIN IN THE #@$%W$%!

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Starting at A=415 Hz as the reference pitch... I found that the clavichord had retained most of the tuning from last time... but had moved up quite significantly in pitch to probably around A=420Hz. So, it would be a bit of a chore to bring it all back down... and hope that it would retain the tuning and not start settling up towards the higher pitch again! Probably would need a retouching in a couple of days...

As I started with the tempering of the middle two octaves, I finished the flatwise circle of fifths and was starting upon the sharp-wise progression when I came across the E below middle C which was striking two completely different notes on the unison! Actually, it wasn't so bad... they made a nice chord... but not very good because they were supposed to be the same bloody note!

So, I managed to wrangle the first of the unison strings into the right spot... but as I was tuning the other string (which was very far away from the correct pitch), it kept slipping downwards... Well, as a violinist, I knew what that meant... I kept turning the peg, and the pitch would keep slipping backwards and flatter. Soon enough, it snapped completely...

That was the end of the tuning session as I called the harpsichordist from which we are loaning the instrument. He had several rolls of strings.. but I had no idea what the diameter of the string was as I don't own a set of callipers. Probably something that I should get, seeing as it would also be handy for measuring the string gauges on my violin which I just tend to memorise instead!

I probably could finish off tuning the rest of the instrument and just leave this particular note with a single string and install the replacement string later... but, for the moment, my concentration is broken and workers have started using power equipment outside the window (and a clavichord is REALLY REALLY QUIET!). I'll try finishing it tomorrow!


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So next time when your wife complains about out-of-tune Clavichord (never heard of this name, and may not have seen the instrument, until now in your photo), show her this post and see can do the tuning herself {LOL}

a guy thinking in solution ;)

Haha... I don't think that will go down well!

You can always try? {LOL}

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