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Sankyoku tuning

 
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Marek
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PostPosted: 2012-09-27, 10:51    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

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Hi guys,

I'm wondering what is the tuning usually used in sankyoku these days.

Equal temperament sounds wrong, is it Just? In honkyoku, on a 1.8, I'm taught to play about 1/4 below Eb for tsu no meri (however, in Just the Eb is actually 16 cents above the tempered Eb). It there a similar practice in sankyoku?

Thanks for any input.

Marek

PS: with regard to Just tuning, I am reffering to the enclosed file concerning tuning for sitar.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2012-09-27, 12:13    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

Some koto players play the 1/4 tones and some play western pitches.
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Marek
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PostPosted: 2012-09-27, 14:06    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

For the sake of clarity, please, 1/4 tones where instead of what?

Thanks. M.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2012-09-28, 04:42    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

Hi Marek,

I am not a very experienced sankyoku player but I have played with a number of koto players. Some have used an electronic tuner so the insempo scale for example on a 1.8 would look like:

D, Eb, G, Ab, C, D

But others have tuned by ear and it's more like:

D, a note that's between D and Eb, G, a note that's between G and Ab, C, D

In effect meri notes are quite flat of western pitches.

That's for the traditional pieces. For modern pieces they play western pitches.

Shamisen players in my experience use the very flat pitches where we play meri notes. Also for traditional music, I mean.
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James Nyoraku Schlefer
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PostPosted: 2012-09-28, 20:13    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

Hi Marek

I'll put in my two cents regarding the flatter-than-flat meri notes in Sankyoku. It depends on which scale pattern you are in. For example if the primary tone (the "tonic" in Western music terminology) for a particular section of a sankyoku piece is ロ (D), then the next tone up the scale from that tonic, ツメ、 will be a very flat Eb, as Brian says between Eb and D. If the tone center however is レ (G) then the Ab will be very flat (and the Eb is a true Eb); リ (C) then very flat Db. These are the most common "keys" (if you will) and many sankyoku pieces change keys several times. Some sankyoku pieces veer off into far removed keys (Aoyagi, Ima Komachi, Nana Komachi) creating great anxiety for us shakuhachi players (and sometimes the string players) as we must contort into unnatural positions in our attempt to play those notes in tune. But I digress...
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Marek
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PostPosted: 2012-10-07, 11:15    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

Hi James, Brian,

Thank you for answers. I was thinking about your replies which leads me to more follow up questions.

Just recently I got a small piano which I had tuned and refurbished and since then I'm focusing more on good tuning (and playing sankyoku), something which I should have done years ago, but anyway... I find the piano is a great tool to learn about tuning btw. Listening to the piano and different intervals produced by the shakuhachi, I was thinking about this: With regard to capability of the shakuhachi to manipulate the pitch very precisely and severely, would you rather prefer a player (of sankyoku) who maintains the very same intervals all the way through the piece, or the one who bends them a bit with regard to the particular interpretation of a section of the piece?

And James, and others, are there any structural clues how to recognise entering a section of a different mode (or "key"), outside instruction of a teacher of course.) Does a different mode combines with a difference in interpretation or mood?

Regards,

Marek
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2012-10-07, 17:15    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

Hi Marek,

I don't know about anybody else but after playing shakuhachi I find pianos and guitars to be horrendously out of tune, because they are! By definition they can't be tuned, they're compromise instruments. Still it's fun to play with them.

All scales have absolute intervals (those defined by nature such as the fourths, fifths and octaves) and culturally derived intervals (the other ones). Western scales are mostly the same ascending and descending whereas at least some of the eastern ones may be different in each direction, including the insempo scale and ragas. Ragas are beyond scales because they also have ways of approaching each note in the raga. We also have something like that in the sense that meri notes are soft and kari notes are strong.

You can tell when the japanese scale changes in the notation for the piece because they usually specify it at the beginning of a new section by referring to the tuning the shamisen player will be using. They sometimes tune the instrument differently at this point and other times they just play the new scale or mode.

Scales and tunings are a huge field of study in Japanese music and in all kinds of music in the world...........we could study that full time and never play a note.

To answer your question, I personally prefer the Japanese scales rather than western intervals inserted into the rough Japanese interval scheme. But when you're playing with the string players you're supposed to do it the way they like to, and they will not hesitate to tell you to get your meris lower if they're using the Japanese intervals or that you should raise your meris if they prefer western tuning.

I frequently use the Japanese intervals even when playing jazz. Sometimes the players say, "Every time you play Eb and Ab it's really flat". I say "Yep! You play your note, I'll play mine."
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Paul Gardner
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PostPosted: 2012-10-07, 23:53    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

Hi Marek,

Just to echo what Brian was saying I wouldn't put too much faith in a piano to give you the best guide to playing in tune unless you are simply wishing to play Western classical or 'Pop' tunes.
One of the features of the compromised tuning system for the modern piano is that it is given an 'equal tempered' tuning. This is a compromise which tries to make the piano sound 'right' when playing in all different keys. If the piano was tuned using the cycle of fifths throughout the keyboard, with each pair of notes tuned 'pure' so that there were no wavering beat-frequencies encountered on the partials that you chose to tune by, you would find that a quick check of the tuning using the cycle of fourths would show that the piano was still not in tune! A compromise must be achieved when tuning so that the octaves are always pure but there are certain 'allowances' that must be made in order to tune other chord types. Listening to, and tuning, two piano strings is about being able to listen to two separate series of Partials and isolating certain frequencies which are then calmed to allow a set number of beat-frequencies to be audible. It is a subtle and impure wavering tone that acts to give the piano it's characteristic sound.
BUT more importantly the piano tuning is also about the quality of its 'stretched octaves'. This means, in basic terms, that as you play the notes further up the keyboard the notes will flatten out slightly and as you play down to the bass end the notes will sharpen slightly. This has evolved over centuries and is a way of making the instrument sit comfortably with European tastes.
A standard 'domestic' piano will have a tuning that fits its position, usually the main harmonic instrument in the house it will not sound too 'out' to most players. The octaves won't be stretched too much. However, a piano that has been tuned specifically for the concert platform will have a much wider tuning within its stretched octaves. The reason being that it has to 'blend in' with a whole host of different instruments, each with its crazy idea of tuning and temperament.
Piano tuners often can recognise the signature of each others work by the subtleties of their 'stretched octaves'!
This means that the piano will have subtle but audible pitch variation across its keyboard. If you check your tuning against the centre section (middle three octaves) you should be fine, just be aware that there are differences in pitch at its extremities.
Appologies for being a little off-topic but pitch is fascinating. I have played both Indian and Persian music and have always found a heightened sense of emotion expressed through subtle pitch variations. Something which I have rarely encountered within the European classical tradition after 'Equal temperament' tuning took hold.

I am only now beginning to explore Japanese music throughout the shakuhachi but already I am seeing small similarities with Indian classical music. Might be nothing in it but intriguing nevertheless.

I only play the black notes on the piano. If I played the white notes everyone would know that I can't really play it! Very Happy
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graham
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PostPosted: 2012-10-08, 00:08    Post subject: What would J.S. bach have made of the shakuhachi? Reply with quote

What would J.S Bach made of Shakuhachi music?

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CharlesKoeppen
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PostPosted: 2012-10-09, 15:25    Post subject: Re: What would J.S. bach have made of the shakuhachi? Reply with quote

graham wrote:
What would J.S Bach made of Shakuhachi music?



I think J.S. would have found shakuhachi as an instrument limiting, he wanted to move beyond a few easy harmonies. This fit along well with the coincidence that one-key flutes were first appearing right around when he was born ( http://www.mostlywind.co.uk/flutetym.html ). In general, knowledge of mechanics was accelerating rapidly, so adding a bunch of clutches and levers to a tube to allow the flute to play all the chromatic notes easily, while challenging, was well within the means of technology at that time. Technology being what it was, with mechanical clocks having been invented during his lifetime, I would imagine that most Europeans at that time would dislike the freely-timed, non-rhythmic strains of honkyoku.

However, if you go to his predecessors, Purcell, Tallis, Byrd, Corelli, etc..., you might find some who would have loved the instrument.
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graham
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PostPosted: 2012-10-12, 02:54    Post subject: Sankyoku tuning Reply with quote

Thanks Charles... maybe in the 21 c some of us like going back to renaissance and pre renaissance
to explore a different way of hearing / playing music. I play recorders and often music of this period.
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