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MMD > Archives > April 2001 > 2001.04.27 > 06Prev  Next

Tuning the Piano for "That Honky-Tonk Sound"
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,

First, a big thank you to all of the people who responded to
my posting. It's an extreme pleasure to be a part of this group
of kind-hearted and giving people who stop what they're doing
to share their knowledge and opinions with others.

There is unanimous agreement about one thing. There is a
method for creating the 'Honky-Tonk' effect via tuning. However,
there is no agreement about exactly how it should be accomplished.
One point of agreement is that the effect is created by shifting the
pitch of one string per note in the entire tri-chord section by 2-5 Hz,
which causes a very noticeable 'twanging' sound. A few people
also said that the lower couple of octaves should be left alone.

Another point that was mentioned by a few people was the need
for a fairly high degree of consistency. Realistically speaking, this
seems to eliminate deviating the pitch by any particular number of
cents since a 3 Hz shift at A-440 would be about a 12 cent shift,
while the same cents shift at A-880 would be about a 7 Hz shift in

This coming week I will experiment on my own player piano (which
needs to be tuned anyhow) and perhaps I'll record a couple of
variations to hear which method sounds 'good' (or "Honky").... ;-)

It's actually kind of comical to think about making a piano sound
bad on purpose because it's exactly the opposite of what I've been
trying to do for all of my adult life. And it reminds me of something
I heard about clowns; they have to be able to do things right before
they can do them wrong and make it look funny!


John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Sat 28 Apr 2001, 12:28:13 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Honky-Tonk, Piano, Sound, That, Tuning

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