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Piano Tuning History Part One

Piano Tuning History 1
Piano Tuning History 2
Piano Tuning History 3
Piano Tuning History 4

A Century Piano
Tuner Directory


"The Lost Sounds of Music" Presentation - was presented by
Eben Goresko who was inspired by the work of
Owen Jorgensen

Why "historical tunings"?
A diagram of tuning history.
More About Owen Jorgensen's work.
Presentation on video.

On June 2000, I gave a presentation to a group of pianists at The Philadelphia Piano Festival at the Philadelphia Art Museum called “The Lost Sounds of Music”. The purpose of the presentation was to articulate to a group of mainstream pianists the advantages of utilizing the ‘historical tunings” for modern musical practice and performance.

My presentation was derived from and based on to a large extent, the exhaustive work of “Owen Jorgensen”. I began to take notice of his work in 1980, when I read his first book on Historical Keyboard Tuning Practices. In 1991, I attended his presentation on Keyboard Tunings at the Smithsonian where he had just completed his second updated book on the subject. I later met with him and attended his class at the National Piano Technicians Guild Convention in Albuquerque, 1994, New Mexico.

Jorgensen’s work has had such an impact on the Piano Tuning Field that all of the electronic visual tuning devices and software that are now manufactured are designed to accommodate and enable the piano tuner to tune pianos with these historical intonations. That was one of the major reasons that I (who was a strictly aural tuner for 20 years) started to use electronic visual tuning software “Cyber Tuner”. I should also mention that I aurally tuned and experimented with some of the temperaments and tuned modern pianos from bearing plans. But the time saving potential of being able to tune a whole range of different tunings at any given time with minimal set up is what sold me on changing my approach from being an “aural tuner” tuning equal temperament to being a “hybrid tuner” utilizing the combination of modern technology and aural capabilities.

See Tuning History Part Two

What struck me about Jorgensen's work was that contrary to the impressions and opinions of many, that it was of an imminently practical nature. The average piano technician now can with little effort restore these lost intonations to the pianist and musician to enjoy and use. It is ironic that to this day, most musicians still consider this topic to be of a passé and irrelevant nature. It seems that the one size fits all equal temperament still wins out in most musicians palettes.

Yet there can be some hope that perhaps over the same length of time that it took equal temperament to take over their minds and hearts, that musicians will be reintroduced and reconverted, to these authentic intonations for the benefit of all, the listener and the performer.

 

 


 

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