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1413Re: [clairseach] Re:: Who uses sister strings (na comhluighe) in tuning their harp and...

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  • Joe Ennis
    Feb 6, 2015
      Hi Andy

      I read your post and there is a lot there, some I agree with, some I do not.  I notice that we are talking about a range of time of thousands of years of music history and to me, there are 5 generations born and 3 generations die off each hundred years. So what is history for the first generation is not even legend or myth to the 50 generation.  As the generations go by there is name changes, they invent a new name for the same thing and give the same name to two or more different things.  Confuses things.

      Most disagreement in your first three paragraphs.  
      I do not use the term Natural Scale, this tern is misleading.  I note that the British Musical Tradition does use the term: "Pythagorean tuning" or "Pythagorean scale" and usually I just let this pass, but .... Pythagoras did not have a scale.   Maybe this is the theme music of the London  Pythagorean Society :-)   The term  Pythagorean tuning originated in England in the Middle Ages by creative monks.  Pythagoras was a Music Philosopher (a man) that lived about 600 BC, he founded one of the Greek Philosophy Schools and his school got in trouble about 300 BC and all the teachers and students were exterminated.  What I quot about  Pythagoras comes mostly from Euclid's criticism of Pythagorean Philosophy (about 300 BC).  All of the Pythagorean School documents were burned.  When Claudius Ptolemy  wrote his thesis on music in 140 AD he could not find a single copy of Pythagoras' writings anywhere in the world.  Please do not call anything just a Pythagorean Tuning and then dismiss as a failed musical scale.  BTW, Euclid does have a musical scale, two of them (the Greater Perfect Scale and the Lessor Perfect Scale).

      To me what makes a musical scale is the ratio of the interval of pitches (frequency) between notes .... If two tunings have the same ratio of pitches between notes, then they are the same scale inspite of their names or how they were formed, but if even one pitch ratio is different then they are different scales.  To me there are a very large number of possible Just Scales, but only 6 that are useful.  There are a very large number of Mean Scales, maybe none useful; there are a large number of possible Well Scales, maybe 3 are useful and only one possible Equal Scale which is the most commercially useful of all, but not necessarily the best sounding.  My authorian source for tuning the na comhluighe is a Tuning Fork which is not period :-)  My source for tuning Harps in general is a KORG OT-120 because it has several Mean and Well Scales built in as well as the Equal Scale very much not period :-)  When I discuss musical scales I talk in Cent ( a logarithmic musical term), there are 1600 Cent between a fundamental and its first harmonic.  In the Equal scale there are 100 Cent to a Half Tone and 200 Cent between Whole Tones.

      I agree with you on your paragraphs 
      Talking about vibrating strings and Bunting.

      I have no opinion about your paragraphs on Bagpipes and Trumpets as they are not something I know about.

      On the European Organs during this period ... yes there is a Historical Organ Society just like there is a Historical Harp Society; except there are a lot more historical organs.  I do read some of their thesis.  I do question some of the comments of the exact frequency of some of the old organs.  


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