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coughcapkittykat

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I've got a feeling that revealing my method of tuning may not go down too well but here we go anyway.

As far as I understand, Just Intonation tuning should be used for sitar. With this in mind, and with it being slightly foreign to me, I downloaded a tuner app that can give me notes in Just Intonation. It works very well and the sitar sounds beautiful when it is just right but I have a question about this.

The particular tuner i use (think it's called Chromatica?) has various types of just intonation and I cannot find any information about what the differences are. I have seen this in other places as well, such as when experimenting with synths in just intonation. Is there a particular one that I should use for sitar?

Also, is there a specific tuner that is geared towards sitar? I'm not too keen on using piano roll for get the notes.
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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #2 
I thought I could help you by reading a bit (trying to understand tuning systems better too) and now I realised that "just intonation" simply means, that all notes of a scale have a fairly simple frequency ratio to a common base note. I had read that before but I never paid attention to how vague that explanation is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_intonation has a section about indian tuning giving the exact theoretical frequency ratios. Perhaps that helps a bit. It is interesting to see, that all thirds have the same size (minor and major are different of course). I am not sure if this is the case in each flavour of just intonation. Indeed, the alternative Dha creates a larger major third between Ma and Dha as well as a smaller minor third between Dha and Re. Unfortunately, the article doesn't mention that there is carnatic and hindustani music and I am not sure if this intonation is valid for both.

Another very interesting website, if you are interested in tuning systems beyond this, is the homepage of Kyle Gann, who is very fond of just intonation: http://www.kylegann.com/tuning.html Also read the article "An Introduction to Historical Tunings" there. He provides many sound samples too. There is some pretty cool music using weird tunings as well - just intonation is neither limited to the chromatic scale nor to 22 shrutis.
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coughcapkittykat

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the reply. I completely agree, i thought it would be a fairly straightforward thing of getting a tuner that does Just Intonation and away I go. The tuning I was using with Chromatica was Just (Zarlino), which I believe is a historical tuning with Zarlino being the person who invented that particular tuning. I'm still not sure what the difference is though, it's such a huge subject.

I will check out the link you gave with the indian ratios. If I can find some software to input them into that sounds like a good way to go.

I actually downloaded another tuner, WinTemper - http://www.wilkosoft.com/ and that has one called Just Intonation No.1 (i think that's it) which seems fairly simple. I've tuned my sitar to it and it actually sounds incredible, definitely better than the Zarlino one. But it's funny you mention the Dha, that particular note doesn't sound quite right although everything else is very pure sounding. I will look in to the particular ratios but will stick with WinTemper for the moment.

Thanks again.

Edit: By the way, I read somewhere about using 432hz as a tonic rather than 440hz and someone saying that this sounds much better (due to the resulting frequencies being whole numbers) but I'm a little confused about this, I don't see how it makes a difference as the numbers we assign are only that, our made up numbers, right? If you use just intonation it shouldn't really matter what the tonic is?
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Dspeck

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "coughcapkittykat"
the way, I read somewhere about using 432hz as a tonic rather than 440hz and someone saying that this sounds much better (due to the resulting frequencies being whole numbers)
I think this is pure nonsense. The resulting frequencies might be whole numbers in relation to a second, but a second is a completely arbitrary time span which is not related to nature or natural hearing at all. In order to get whole numbers, you could as well redefine Hz to another base than one second.

The frequency that you should tune your sitar to is the one that the sitar has been designed for. Unfortunately, it will be quite impossible to find out, which one that was. From the length and thickness of the original strings, you could derive an idea, if you knew how to calculate optimal string lengths etc. A more simple method is to experiment and judge by ear.

Contemporary western classical orchestras often tune to higher references because it gives the orchestra a more transparent sound. In the past, there were many different tuning pitches and they all were probably chosen because of the nature of the instruments and the taste at those times. As far as I know, Indian music has no concept of a fixed reference note, although of course many instruments (flutes, harmoniums etc.) have fixed pitches and cannot be tuned easily or at all. So, unless you are playing alone only, you need to find a compromise between all musicians, and fortunately, sitars are quite flexible in this regard.

Now I have a related question to others on the board:

I recently learned about the concept of inherent harmonics of instruments. The opposite sides mentioned were classical music from Thailand and western classical music. The first is said to be utterly inharmonic and the second completely harmonic. The term "harmonic" refers to the consonance of the harmonics in a single note. From my own ears I would say that ICM is somewhere in between that but is that true?

PS: Couldn't you just ask the publisher of the program, which tuning comes closest to the Indian tuning? Or reverse the process, tune to one flavour and check the pitches to find out how they relate to the base note.
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CheesecakeTomek

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
I recently learned about the concept of inherent harmonics of instruments. The opposite sides mentioned were classical music from Thailand and western classical music. The first is said to be utterly inharmonic and the second completely harmonic. The term "harmonic" refers to the consonance of the harmonics in a single note. From my own ears I would say that ICM is somewhere in between that but is that true?
Harmonic/inharmonic refers to the overtones present in a sound.

If a sound contains overtones that are part of the naturally occurring series of overtones, then the sound is harmonic.
If a sound contains overtones that do not belong to this series, then the sound is called inharmonic.

Percussion instruments such as gongs and cymbals produce inharmonic sounds, and so music that is based around these instruments might be called inharmonic. Examples would be great!

I can't think of a single pitched instrument that does not produce a harmonic sound. In fact, the designation of "pitched instrument" suggests that the sound is harmonic. The acoustic (as opposed to electronic) production of a specific pitch results in the production of natural overtones. By this definition, the acoustic instruments of both Indian and Western classical music are "completely" harmonic. Thus the music is harmonic.

Hope that makes sense!

Cheers,
Tomek
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