Harrison's tuning

oakcroft13 bill at UyEQ97lw49mi05H058DQLdyjVjXpjPmfPE2WS1eFiY1_azUcsobZc2KM4XMLdDTnNQXVaD1dyXkR.yahoo.invalid
Sun Sep 20 17:04:01 BST 2009

Charles Lucy:

> the perfect opportunity to retune all the major Western bells to John Harrison's specs, using his methods of course

I have been meaning to send a reply to your previous messages for a few weeks but have been busy on other things :-(. I won't post a detailed  response here - established list members will roll their eyes and say 'not again'! - but will send you a private message with a detailed response. In summary:
* in bells, unlike almost all other musical instruments, the higher partials cannot be used to provide clues as to correct tuning of fundamentals
* as a result, pitch judgement in bells (e.g. the answer to the question 'are these bells exactly in tune with each other') is to some extent a cultural rather than a scientific question - our choice of preferred temperament is a question of taste
* there is a very important distinction to be drawn between pitch (the note assigned by our aural system) and frequency (what we measure with instruments)
* due to the unusual upper partial structure in bells, there can be a major discrepancy between pitch and frequency (25 or 50 cents) that far exceeds any differences in frequency due to temperament
* experiments have shown that this discrepancy between pitch and frequency provides a good numerical explanation for stretch tuning.

It's a tragedy about Taylors. Let's hope for a good outcome for all their staff.

Bill H


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