Tuning-Technique

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    AvatarAlan Brinton
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    I would like to start a discussion at the intersection of Tuning and Technique. I recently used the Android Tuner-gString app to check the tuning on a new Yamaha P32D in relation to the A443 standard commonly used for harmonicas (apparently also the factory standard for melodicas). I will post the results below. I rechecked a couple of times, and, except for a couple of initial errors, found the tuning for the P32D to be pretty stable (I plan to take another set of readings after a few weeks’ use of the melodica, and then perhaps to do some fine tuning).

    This morning, I tried the same with a new Suzuki STUDY32D, and was surprised to discover that its tuning is much less stable; I got very different results in rechecking. I started experimenting and found that I could work the needle up and down quite a bit and get it to or close to the standard reading for particular keys, for example A4 at 443 hz. Partly by blowing harder or softer and by squiggling my mouth around (hard to describe, as you know). I also tried bending notes by pressing the key lightly to partially open the air vent, as some people have described. It was easier on the Suzuki STUDY32 than on the Yamaha. Jazzman1945ify told me that one reason it’s hard to bend notes on a melodica is because they are designed to avoid instability in the tones, but instability is what you need for bending.

    Something else that occurs to me is that more skillful melodica players than myself probably unconsciously vary the tones in their playing, compensating somewhat for keys that are slightly out of tune (and for other reasons of course), and this is one reason their playing sounds better.

    Out-of-the-box Readings on Yamaha P32D:

    A443 P-32D

    F3——-175.8——175.1—–[-.7]
    F#3—–186.3——-187.7—–[+1.4]
    G3——-197.3——197.3—–[on]
    G#3—–209.1——-208.4—–[-.7]
    A3——-221.5——221.5—–[on]
    A#3—–234.7——-235.1—–[+.4]
    B3——-248.6——248.1—–[-.5]
    C4——-263.4——263.3—–[-.1]
    C#4—–279.1——-279.1—–[on]
    D4——-295.7——292.4—–[-.3]
    D#4—–313.2——-312.8—–[-.4]
    E4——-331.9——331.6—–[-.3]
    F4——-351.6——350.7—–[-.9]
    F#4——372.5——372.2—–[-.3]
    G4——-394.7——395.2—–[+.5]
    G#4—–418.1——-419.1—–[+1]
    A4——-443——–442.5—–[-.5]
    A#4—–469.3——-468.7—–[-.6]
    B4——497.3——-495.9—–[-1.4]
    C5——526.8——-525.4—–[-1.4]
    C#5—–558.1——-557.7—–[-.4]
    D5——591.3——-591.4—–[+.1]
    D#5—–626.5——-628.9—–[+2.4]
    E5——663.8——-665.8—–[-2]
    F5——703.2——-705.3—–[+2.1]
    F#5—–745———747.6—–[+1.6]
    G5——789.3——-791.6—–[+2.3]
    G#5—–836.3——-838.9—–[+2.6]
    A5——886———888.3—–[+2.3]
    A#5—–938.7——-941.2—–[+2.5]
    B5——994.5——-996.7—–[+2.2]
    C6——1053.6——1054——[+.4]

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