Re: equal and just tuned harmonicas

Rainbow Jimmy wrote:
>If you have problems with the chords and octaves on a Lee Oskar you will 
>have problems with chords and octaves on a piano or a guitar tuned to a 
>tuner since they are tuned to an equal scale.

Not surprisingly, I also use JI on guitars and keyboards. However,
temperament is much more of an issue with the harmonica for various

For starters, on a harmonica only certain notes can be played with
certain other notes. So it makes sense to ensure that on your C harp,
your G and D notes are in good tune with each other, but it doesn't
matter if your A and E notes are not in a perfect harmonic
relationship, as you cannot play them both at the same time. On a
keyboard instrument, you need to be able to almost any note against
almost any other note and have them all sound reasonably good.

Guitars and pianos have much less sustain than harmonicas. Chords on
guitars and pianos tend to die away before you really get a chance to
notice how rough they are. 

Also hammered strings, particularly of the type used in pianos, tend
to produce overtones which are somewhat sharper than the ideal
harmonic series. This means that Just Intonation on a piano would
sound much less smooth than JI on a harmonica, as harmonicas have
almost perfectly harmonic overtones. Actually, pianos are not even
tuned in strict 12 Tone Equal Temperament, but rather in something
which is intended to ~sound like~ 12TET. So a piano which is "in tune"
is really "out of tune". Sadly, as fjm points out, pianos are often
simply out of tune...

>If you want to play traditional gamelon music you will need a completely 
>different tuning. 

Gamelan tunings are designed to accommodate the even more extreme
inharmonicity of the typical metallic percussion instruments used in
these ensembles. No two gamelan are tuned exactly the same way and
taking any given gamelan tuning and transferring it directly to the
harmonica can be a painful audio experience, although there are some
JI interpretations of gamelan tunings that are kind of interesting...

 -- Pat.

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