Tuning: A Physics Lesson
It’s fascinating to study the mathematics of intonation. All musicians will benefit from a basic knowledge of how the musical scale is created. As a flute teacher, I think my students should have a working understanding of the harmonic series.
When playing with other instruments, flutists will strive to create perfect intervals without “beats.” But when playing with the piano, the flutist must match the imperfect tuning of equal temperment.
I love this video titled “Why It’s Impossible To Tune a Piano.” Watch it a couple of times — the delivery is fast but there’s a lot of good information:
My dear husband is a piano technician. He studied at the North Bennett Street School in Boston for a year before taking the test to become a Registered Piano Technician. Yes, it is possible to tune a piano with an electric device. But there’s a difference in a piano that has been tuned by ear. Only human beings can make subtle changes to the intervals to make them sound just right. In fact, I can always tell when Bryan Hartzler has tuned a piano. It sounds different than a piano serviced by another tuner. There’s something special about the human ear that can’t be duplicated by a computer.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy watching the video. Music and mathematics. Beauty and physics. And even though the scientists can calculate precisely, music will always require the human touch.