Microtonal metal?

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by The Omega Cluster, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon If you’re lying...I’ll be back

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    Yes...you are
     
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Ahh, Tolgahan Çoğulu, a true pioneer! He's got those moveable fret pieces, because he likes to play around with a lot of different temperaments that are unequal, like various Werkmeister tunings, Just Intonation tunings, etc.

    I think that, as @The Omega Cluster pointed out, there should be no reason to have any sort of fancy fretwork on an equal-temperament fretboard, unless you wish to exclude certain tones, or if the scale length of the instrument is nonlinear. But, if I were to explain my 12/24-EDO guitars to people, I wouldn't just say that they were 24-EDO, I would say that they are 12-EDO (standard) with some 24-EDO (quartertone) frets added.

    I'm still totally foggy about "stretched 2:1 octave scale." Again, because, to me, it seems that a lot of folks learn the terminology differently. I, too, learned different terminology than the rest, since my introduction to microtonality was through a mentor who introduced me to world music many many years ago. I then developed my own terminology when I started experimenting on my own, unaware that others had already been developing more academic terminology for the same things.

    @The Omega Cluster : I thought True Temperament was just another sort of well-tempered tuning, to sweeten certain intervals in certain keys. The string's mass, tension, and vibrating length should only account for the typical perfect-string equation f = (1/2L) * (T/µ)^(1/2). Not knocking the idea, since I prefer the sound of TT over 12-EDO myself, but I do think that it does get oversold for what it is.
     
  3. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    I'm no user of TT instruments either, but it's not something like a well-tempered tuning or a just intonation tuning. TT works in all keys, and the position of the frets is not given by mathematical equations but by finding it by hand on every instrument. Since every instrument is different this will vary slightly, and also depending on the string gauge and tension you're playing with.

    It's just that when you hit a fret on your string and you see it on your tuner, it's usually way out of tune. We're all used to that sound now and I don't think it makes a huge different in the end whether or not your instrument is true-tempered, but I think it's a cool concept.

    Edit: just to be clear, True Temperament is NOT a microtonal tuning. It's in fact the opposite, as it was made so that each fret on every string sounds exactly like it's supposed to in the given tuning system – usually 12EDO.
     
  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I respectfully disagree. If it was perfect 12-EDO, then they would not have you temper-tune the open strings ( see http://www.truetemperament.com/how-to-tune/ ). There is a lot of confusion online about this, but I am fairly certain that the idea is an adaptation of the ideas started by the Buzz Feiten tuning system and so forth. The TT FAQ page mentions string gauge and how the bent frets address the tension of the third string, among other issues, but, honestly, the third string issue is solved at the nut (string relief), not at the frets. Moving the frets about to solve an issue with the position of the nut would be like replacing the engine of an automobile when you only need to replace the oil. I'm not 100% certain that they wouldn't do this, but they seem like a reasonable company, so I simply highly doubt it. Plus there is the fact of adjusting the temperament of the open strings.
     
  5. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    I did a bit of research and there is nothing too explicit but this video (after he finishes playing the song at the start) explains that true temperament is just that your notes are well intonate (according to 12EDO) all around the fretboard.

     
  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I'm afraid my position simply contradicts yours in this case. I don't take this lightly, since you are very knowledgeable about stuff like this.

    Here's the tuning according to the TT website:

    [​IMG]

    The G 4 cents high and G# 4 cents low means that the first fret on the third string should be 8 cents flat, which explains exactly the position of that fret. Same for the fourth fret, because Bb is also 4 cents flat. The twelfth fret is the only one that is perfectly straight, reinforcing that it has nothing to do with string tension and everything to do with the temperament used.

    There was a bloke in Australia who made a fretboard with Werkmeister III temperament, which looked very similar to this. He ended up facing some legal threats from whoever owned the fretwave system (which was shortly associated with Frank Gambale) at that time. If you pardon the colloquialism, if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...

    In addition, there is no logical reason whatsoever that correcting for changes in tension up and down the fretboard would have some fret positions moved one way and others moved the other way. It's simply impossible to explain with any sort of classical nor modern physics, so I have to assume that the claims I've heard that it is such are stemming from some sort of misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the actual idea here (of which I am 99% certain) is that the True Temperament system is just a well temperament, just like Fretwave or Buzz Feiten or Werkmeister, but with a fresh coat of snake oil.
     
  7. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon If you’re lying...I’ll be back

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    I think by “stretched” 2:1 they meant taking the 2:1 octave, stretching it to add 12 notes (48 frets total) thus doubling the notes within each octave from 2 to 4, breaking it into (half or) semitones...I’m learning here lol
     
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  8. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    I just want to point out that in your picture the 12th fret is wobbly. Obviously it is less so than most other frets but there is a slight curve to it I'm sure you can notice.

    I'm also not sure what you want to defend. Do you think TT is a microtonal fretting system or just that it doesn't do what it claims?
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Oh, ok. I suppose that makes sense. I think the term "stretched" might be a little confusing in the context of stringed instruments, since you are taking the same amount of length and just chopping it up into smaller pieces.
    I think most people would say that the chromatic scale is played (normally) with half steps (semitones), so, a scale played with 24 equal notes in one octave would be played with quarter steps or quarter tones.
    I still see different sets of terminology out there and different sets of notation. Especially when it comes to groups where people talk about many different microtonal tunings. Some of the diagrams involved look like Feynmann Diagrams, almost. It can be very confusing.
    I have a little bit of the same trouble here that I have been having with trying to carry on conversations with different groups of people with different lexical meanings. By "microtonal" do you mean "not 12-EDO", or do you mean something more specific than that?
    I'm 100% certain that the TT system is not the same as 12-EDO. It says so multiple times on their own webpage, which I've linked to in a previous post.
    I also contend that some of the claims made about TT by folks on forums and in videos simply don't make sense.
    So, in general, I put forth that TT is simply a tempered tuning. It's not some magical method for correcting problems introduced by the increase in tension when you fret a string. That increase in tension is dependent upon the player, and in most cases, is negligible anyway - less then what almost any listener would be able to note.
     
  10. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    Yes, I believe this system is meant to be a better approximation to 12-EDO than regular, straight-fretted guitars. I agree however that these improvements are negligible, as you can probably tell with the +/- a few cents the site mentions. If I remember correctly the human pitch resolution is about 5 ¢, although it varies from person to person and between high and low pitches. I also agree that the pressure with which you fret the string varies from person to person, but if, say, fretting the 1st fret always gives a slightly sharp note, then moving that fret back a bit will help. Of course, not everyone will hit the exact same pitch with 100.00 % accuracy, but on average it will be a better approximation.

    Now I think well tempered tunings are meant to work better in certain keys and poorly in certain others, which it is not the case here. I think the frets are only tailor made so that a certain string tuned to a certain note with a certain gauge and a certain length will produce exactly the note it is supposed to on all the frets. I think that it would sound much worse if you tuned your guitar differently or used different gauges of strings. In that way it is similar to the well-tempered systems, since it's made to sound better according to certain prerequisites, and will behave poorly if these prerequisites change.

    But again I want to repeat that I've never played such instrument and I know very little about how they make it and why, so there's a lot of assumption. The main assumption is that I believe this is not a scam. Of course, the improvements are probably unnoticeable to the human ear – maybe not –, but I think they do what they say, which is to provide a better approximation of the 12EDO system on guitars. If you assume this is true, then that's what I've come up with. It's a sort of mental reverse engineering I guess.
     
  11. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    You and I agree that it's not a scam.

    I do disagree with the notion:
    I don't think well-temperament really sounds "bad" in any particular key, just that it has some characteristics that some intervals sound better than others, and that which interval sounds which way is dependent upon which key. I believe that the TT system has exactly this same characteristic.

    I'm just saying that if the instructions are to tune your open strings as much as 4 cents off (some sharp, some flat) from 12-EDO, using an electronic tuner, then it cannot possibly be a better approximation of 12-EDO, right off the bat.

    Look at Werkmeister III tuning:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werckmeister_temperament
    It's the most commonly referenced "well tempered tuning," and other than one note that is 8 cents off from 12-EDO, the notes are generally 2-4 cents off, very much the same general idea of TT, according to the table I posted from the TT website.

    note / TT adjustment from 12-EDO / WM3 adjustment from 12-EDO
    E -2 -4
    F 0 +4
    F# -4 0
    G +4 +2
    G# -4 -8
    A 0 0
    A# -4 +2
    B -1 -2
    C +2 0
    C# -4 -4
    D +2 +4
    D# -4 0

    Certainly not identical, but it's the same idea, just with interval errors moved around.

    If you ever set up a guitar with a strobe tuner, you can note how many cents off the fretted notes are versus the open string. I'd say that 4 cents is pretty wide compared to what you would typically see on any decent properly-adjusted electric guitar.

    I mean, I guess there's not much more I can say. The website gives all of the deviations from 12-EDO, those listed deviations are on par with other well temperaments, and the fret plot matches pretty perfectly the tuning shift given. Conventional knowledge of how fretted instruments work is that if more string relief is necessary for proper intonation of fretted notes, it's solved by chipping back the nut a little. I conclude with a small margain of uncertainty that the TT system perfectly fit the description of well temperament. You disagree for some reason I may not be 100% clear about, but possibly because of an Ola Englund video. I might be wrong.
     
  12. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Indeed it's definitely a temperament intending to hit different notes than 12EDO, the website shows this and even says it will be slightly out of tune with a keyboard, though not to any practical negative effect. My image below also shows adjustment in the correct directions closer to Just Intonation ratios for major and minor thirds in popular keys, as is usually the goal with temperaments.

    Yeah @bostjan I mocked up TT tuning offsets with a synth and the difference is so subtle, and just on the popular chords of course. The TT guys are certainly into microtonal temperaments, and it seems like TT was their most subtle offering which works for the masses. I do wonder how good they really think it is, versus how much they see it as just a marketable business idea. Certainly it's about as good as you can get for a tuning that works in all 12 keys without bringing a noticeable weirdness to the more distant keys (like Well Temperament does for example). But as a result, it's so incredibly subtle it's almost pointless, especially on an instrument like the guitar where the strings sway out of pitch and such too.
    The TT guys do indeed say they have compensated for some gauge behaviors and such with the fret patterns too, so I wont draw my final conclusion with a synthesizer. I intend to try them. But I've always been quite firmly of the opinion that contrary to popular belief the guitar does not have to be such an imperfect instrument as people say. Maybe that's just because I run fairly high tension strings and low action and relief, but I've never found any intonation issues on regular 12EDO frettings. I put most of that stuff down to things such as peoples nuts being too high (resulting in the "zero frets intonate better" thing), high relief, and such. Indeed if you prefer high action then of course a fix for intonation is very valid.
    It is a temperament that does change the more outside keys for the worse, in favour of the most popular ones. But yeah, it's incredibly subtle.

    I've attached an image of the triad chords resulting from the chromatic offsets listed on the TT website. Alongside are my initial thoughts when comparing the 12EDO to the TT triads side by side. I do not have an audio file as I was just doing it live on keyboard and didn't save anything yet. Improvements are in green, worse notes in orange. I didn't colour the 5ths for some reason.
    Perhaps these adjustments would become more significant adding in the gauge and action compensations that TT speak of, but like I said, I reserve judgement on that for now and never had any issue hitting 0 cents on every fret with a good setup (to within any measurable tolerance that a human hitting a string could expect, of course, there is some movement, as would be the case in TT too).

    And certainly Bostjan I agree, absolutely zero people using TT have offered any insight online or in videos on what TT is actually doing or given any indication that they understand it. From videos I've seen and things they've said, I feel like they would say the same when blindfolded with a well set up 12EDO guitar. Not to say they usually have bad setups of course.

    This thing needs proper analysis and a demonstration with proper back to back blind comparisons to 12EDO. I do intend to provide this video as soon as I finish my first build (which will have interchangeable fretboards). Alas, my business is not allowing me time for luthiery, as has been the case for some time :lol:
     

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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Wow, that's an interesting take on how things sounded.

    Tolgahan Çoğulu had a video not too long ago (few months, maybe), in which he compared some different well temperaments with 12-EDO by playing the same piece with different fretboard configurations (classical guitar). I thought the differences were subtle yet clearly noticeable, if you focused on the way each tuning sounded. In the youtube comments, most people who left feedback seemed to prefer 12-EDO over any of the other options presented.

    I have an ap for my android tablet which allows me to play with different tunings, but has the added ability to follow along with you - it's difficult to explain succinctly, but every time you play a note, it centers on that note. So if I play a C, it will start with regular old 12-EDO C. If I set it to JI, then play a G, it will play the G as a perfect 3:2 just interval. If I then play a D, it will go 3:2 from G, but, if I had instead started with C and played D right afterward, it would play it as 9:8 from the C, so the tonal center is always recalculating with each note...

    Anyway, I'm absolutely useless on a tablet keyboard, so I usually just upload midi files and listen to how it interprets them. It's very nice how the JI sounds, but going back to different well temperaments, I can always tell the difference between each of those and 12-EDO if I know I need to listen for it. If I just relax, though, or I just hear music playing, then it really doesn't matter at all, IMO.

    The TT is very slightly toned down from Werkmeister III, which was already the closest well temperament to equal anyway, so I doubt anyone listening to a TT guitar would really notice it was a TT guitar, honestly, but I'd still bet that whoever is playing it would be able to tell the difference with certain chords and whatnot.

    What I would be much more interested in trying, would be a fretboard, TT or otherwise, with a more aggressive character to its well temperament, maybe Werkmeister IV or Werkmeister I. These are the tunings I believe people are vaguely referencing when they say stuff like "D minor is the saddest key." Obviously in equal, this makes no sense, but when you play a Dm chord in WM4, with the slightly sweeter minor third and the slightly more sour fifth, it does seem to give just a subtle boost to the emotion in a sad song.
     
  14. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    Yeah, I'm far from being sure I understand how this thing works. If it really is like you say then it's not what they are claiming at all is it?
     
  15. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    @bostjan I know exactly what you mean. Adaptive Just Intonation. Like this: https://www.retuner.net/ Wouldn't it be great if that was possible on a guitar? Maybe as we enter the digital age. Tends to result in a colossal amount of pitches throughout an entire piece of music haha. This is largely how I come to settle on 31EDO, as it completely nails most of the 12edo ratios and allows you to move around for example modulation in perfect thirds eventually spanning all 31 notes.

    Yeah, Adam Neely has a nice video called "Which is the saddest key?" that goes over that stuff.

    @The Omega Cluster Not really, they aren't lying anywhere. They market it as "making the guitar more in tune". The nerdery of what's actually going on wouldn't be marketable. Most customers do seem to believe "making the guitar more in tune" means to a 12EDO tuner though, which is not the case. But it is slightly more in tune to the ear in common keys (and nothing to complain about in the others). I would say it's an improvement overall on the synth experiment I did, but so subtle it's hardly worth the trouble I found. Then of course there are the gauge offsets and such they speak about which are presumably implemented to help with slightly higher action setups. So both the things they say they are doing are true.


    "The TRUE TEMPERAMENT™ Fretting System is a revolutionary new way to construct guitar fingerboards which tune accurately along the whole neck.

    TRUE TEMPERAMENT™ does not imply Just Intonation. It is physically impossible to implement Just Intonation in more than one specific key (and its relative minor) on any instrument with only 12 intervals in the octave. (Except perhaps for computer-controlled instruments using electronically generated sounds.)

    What we mean by TRUE TEMPERAMENT™ is that our fretting system will give you super-accurate intonation over the whole fingerboard in the temperament it is constructed for."

    They know that temperament microtonality will be over the heads of most customers and offputting, so they don't expand on this any more than giving the tuning offsets which people with knowledge can then analyse. For everyone else, they just need to know that their guitar will sound slightly better. The fact that it sounds slightly worse in some keys could be the only misleading thing about their marketing really, but I don't think it matters too much given how slight we are talking. Their approach certainly does leave most people with no real idea what TT actually does, but I can see why they do it the way they do and I don't think it really matters too much that users don't understand fully what's going on. I'd still like to cover, analyse, compare, and explain it though, just so that resource is out there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  16. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    If that's not lying, then that's really misleading.
     
  17. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Yes i agree with bostjan and Winspear, TT is several different versions of 'Well Temperament', see sections 3 and 4 here http://www.kylegann.com/histune.html
    Their site 10 years ago used to be more detailed and technical, now it is fairly hard to find out exactly what is going on. It's really dumbed-down and more commercial now, which is reflected by TT becoming more well-known and the guitarists not understanding it and making wild claims about it. The misunderstanding of it makes it sound much better than it actually is.

    I agree that most proponents of TT don't seem to understand it and just say 'the guitar is more perfectly tuned', when what is happening is that they are playing major / minor triads in a few of the more commonly used keys and noticing they are slightly closer to Just Intonation (perfect natural tuning).
    As soon as you free yourself from the common keys it's not so good as the triads of less common keys are now less well tuned. Also of course the system is designed only for the conventional major / minor triads and scales.
    Also, you can't use any alternative tuning.
    Overall i believe it's not worth using and the misleading hype is annoying :)

    Those who study Just Intonation know that a JI guitar that can play in all keys is impossible, our current equal-temperament is the result of that impossibility leading to the choosing of a poorly-tuned tonal system for the sake of being able to instantly change to any key. Nothing wrong with 12ET though i love it and almost all of my favourite music is iin it.
     
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  18. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    Well, yes, it's possible, look up those 31-tone pianos they made back in the days. They were especially made so that JI was possible in every key, or something like that. So you have 31 notes in your octave, but most of them are really close due to being there for different tonalities.

    Other than that, thanks for the detailed answer. It's really strange that they are so opaque about their system, and it seems that my assumption that they were genuine was wrong. Oh, well, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and the presumption of innocence, but all they're left with now is my contempt and disdain.
     
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  19. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    31-ET isn't JI though, it's an equal temperament. But yes it does estimate the majority of the popular JI ratios with very good accuracy. We settled on 12 for a simpler system with slightly less accuracy.
     
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  20. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    It gets pretty complicated if you get into a lot of notes. JI even starts having different people saying some intervals should be one thing and other people disagreeing. The best example of this is how the sixth is approached in classical Indian music, where some ragas specify 27:16 and others 5:3. In fact, if you dig really deep into Indian classical music, you can find 4-5 variations for each note in the scale other than the root and fifth. If you set up your sitar to have 23 or 24 notes, you can cover all of them. With equal tuning, particularly on a guitar, I get the feeling that anything more than 34-EDO is going to start being "not worth it." From a notation standpoint, that also seems to be about the tipping point where things start getting a little too complex.
     

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