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Temperment vs. multiple positions

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Peter H
Apr 03, 2009 3:15 AM GMT

Ok, so it is a known fact that temperment is a mystical lad of mystery to most. Also, tempement affects a instruments ability to play in may keys. SO, I was wondering: do those of you who play in several positions notice tht an equal tempered harp works better in alternate positions (ie, not 1st and 2nd) than a just or compromise temperment? Just curious as to everyone's opinion.

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Comments (8)

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Apr 03, 2009 1:33 PM GMT
John P Replied:

Yes. ET works better for playing in multiple positions. Btw, i think i sound more in tune with the rest of the band playing ET in ANY position.

Apr 03, 2009 1:52 PM GMT
André D Replied:

The thing is the difference between Just Intonation and Equal temperement are on a microtonal scale most of people don't even hear that. Let say 1st to 5th positions will work well for Just Itonation otherwise if you wanna go further maybe you should go to Equal.

Apr 03, 2009 2:16 PM GMT
John P Replied:

5th position does NOT sound as good in JI or compromise as it does in ET. I play 5th regularly for minors, so i have a practical basis for comparison. The difference is definitely audible. In fact, for single note playing, JI sounds out of tune to my ear, in ANY position, but chords are supposed to sound smoother in 1st, 2d, and 3d positions in JI.

Apr 03, 2009 6:57 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

JI that many harps have used, which is 7 limit just intonation, once you get past 3rd, 5 draw may be too flat for you, and in 7th position, that note is gonna be way too flat for a root note. With ET, it won't matter, as long as you use very few chords or double stops in your playing. 7 limit is not the only JI ever been used, and the other one commonly used is 19 limit (presetnly the new wood combed version of the Hering Master Blues uses this) and the main difference is how 5 & 9 draw are tuned. With 7LJI, those notes are tuned 31 cents flat, and in 19LJI, those two are tuned 3 cents sharp. You still have a pure sounding chord either way.

Apr 03, 2009 6:57 PM GMT
André D Replied:

Well maybe your right,5th could sound slightly flat, for me postions are comfusing i learn all scales by name not using so much positions name.

Apr 03, 2009 9:08 PM GMT
John P Replied:

You know, I play split interval double stops quite a bit on my ET harps and they sound fine. Some say there is a "beating" sound from chords played on an ET harp. While chords on a JI harp are unquestionably smoother, the so-called "beating" sounds more like a shimmer to me (on my ET Suzukis). Actually, I think it sounds sort of cool. especially when playing amplified. But I don't play chords very much anyway.

Btw, if one is numbering positions according to the circle of fifths, 5 draw is root for 12th (or 1st flat) position (key of F on a C harp, Lydian mode). But there has been other terminology used for numbering positions before the circle of fifths method became conventional in the 1980s. And I suspect Bob was playing harp long before then.

Apr 04, 2009 11:43 AM GMT
Peter H Replied:

Thank you all for the response. I notice that my harps, even when new, sound a little out of tune playing melodies in 1st position because I am used to equal temperment. I think I'm going to go for ET harps when it comes time to buy another harp.

Apr 04, 2009 6:16 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

The thing to remember here also is when you tend to play really hard all the time, pitches flatten out even more, plus the harsh upper harmonic overtones, especially the odd numbered ones that you'll really hear from ET becomes 100 times more magnified to boot. ET sounds fine as long as you avoid chords and double stiops and if you play them, don't stay on them too long and don't play hard or it can sound really dissodent as hell. It's like the more breath force you play with, the more out things can often sound.

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