Excerpt from "Being Musical" -Tuning- ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Imagine that you are listening to a violin-piano recital. Think about the things that take place before the duo actually starts to play. The musicians enter the stage. Applause. The pianist strikes middle "A", thereby establishing the Standard (probably 440 Hz). The violinist tunes his "A" string in accord with the piano. Thereupon he tunes the other strings to this now common standard. The concert can begin! In this simple, commonplace situation we can find a world of meaning. The theme here is obviously tuning, being in tune. And it is not without interesting variations. Witness the different levels in operation. 1. Violinist tunes his "A" according to the piano 2. Violinist tunes his other strings to that "A" 1) means that there is accord within the group, in this case a group of two. 2) means that there is internal accord (harmony) within the solitary instrument. Actually, the tuning business starts even earlier. For example, the piano has to be tuned before the concert. In this simple act we can see an example of the guiding principle in music. If we had the same quantitative thinking (efficiency, saving time, etc) in music as we generally have in society, the piano tuner would approach the pianist before the concert, and ask: "So, which keys are you going to play on tonight? No use to tune strings that aren't used."    This would be a bad joke. Of course every string is tuned. Not only because it would be disrespectful to do otherwise, but also because the unstruck strings contribute somewhat to the overall sound. Overtones, undertones -- every string matters. There are more aspectsto consider. The two musicians not only have to tune their instruments, they also have to be in tune with each other as musicians. One cannot play wildly romantically while the other goes for dry objectivity. They have to find a mean. Of course, many musicians play together exactly because they have similar musical temperaments. But you cannot always choose your partner. You might have to play with somebody who has a totally different view of the music. The tuning process then becomes more difficult; one or both sides will have to compromise. But it is not just you and the other musician(s) who have to harmonize. You also have to tune yourself to the music, to the composer. You and your partner may form a great team playing a hideous Beethoven; in tune with each other but not with the music.    Or the other way round. There are rock groups and even string quartets where the individual members don't speak to each other, even travel in separate cars. They are obviously not in tune on the personal level, but during the concert they still play the same piece in the same tempo in the same key! Even for people who are not on speaking terms music is a sacred zone. Cease fire! Then there is the room. You have to take the acoustics into consideration, too. That's one more tuning process. You don't play the same way in an intimate salon as in Carnegie Hall. And the room is filled (we hope) with listeners, people. Another factor to harmonise with, acoustically and psychologically. The audience can be seen as, and treated as, an instrument; a many-headed, many-stringed lyre. Especially in rock and jazz there is much playing on this instrument. (Shall we call it "Audiophone"?) Sometimes even more than on the regular instruments. So now we have a whole series of "strings" to tune. The musician, the instrument, the instruments together, the musicians together, the music, the room, the audience. Out of this increasingly complex model I would single out three main factors. Let us call them the Individual (1), the Group (2), and the Whole (3).    In terms of Musica instrumentalis this could mean (1) one instrument, (2) all instruments and (3) the room. Or (1) musician, (2) all musicians and (3) all musicians and the audience.    Seen on the level of Musica humana this could mean (1) a single human being, (2) a group (small or large; a couple, family, cicrle of friends, nation, etc.) and (3) the Earth, a classical Whole. (3) could also be the solar system or the galaxy. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------ © Ladislaus Horatius