Introduction: (Please read at least once - Jump to Table of Contents)
TemperTool was created as means for aspiring Piano Technicians to better understand Equal Temperament and hear the "Beats" that we use when aurally tuning a piano.
This virtual environment does lack the important component of "Piano String Inharmonicity" but this will not hinder the intent , and practical use, of this educational tool. That is, one can clearly hear the beats of the various tuning tests and practice creating an equal temperament.
This software has no official affiliation with The Piano Technicians Guild (PTG). However, this software has been created, in part, to encourage aspiring Piano Technicians to join the PTG and pass the PTG Tuning exam either completely aurally, or the aural portion combined with using an Electronic Tuning Device (ETD). Any further references to the PTG, or the PTG Tuning Exam, in this manual are included only to encourage PTG Associates to upgrade to RPT status by passing the PTG Tuning Exam.
As of this writing, TemperTool requires a Browser that supports the new Audio API. (see below)
Finally, TemperTool uses a sawtooth waveform as it seems to be the best currently available choice for the most audible detection of the "beat rates" used when testing intervals. This waveform is not very appealing so one will have to tweak volume settings to just loud enough to hear the beats, but low enough to tolerate the less than ideal tone of the waveforms.
The author, Tremaine Parsons, and Sierra Software Services, has taken due care in the preparation of this document and the associated programs. In no event will Tremaine Parsons, or Sierra Software Services, be liable for damages of any kind, incidental or consequential, in regard to or arising out of the use, performance, or form of this material presented herein and in the programs accompanying this document. No representation is made regarding the suitability of this product for any particular purpose.
Which Browser Should I Use
TemperTool was developed mostly using the Chrome Browser Version 34 Our personal preference is Chrome.
Windows Desktops and Laptops will likely need a recent version of Chrome.
Mac Desktops and Laptops will need a recent version of Safari or Chrome
Tablets and Smartphones: Android devices should have Android version 4.0 or higher . Iphones or Ipads should have IOS 4 or above.
Currently, TemperTool runs on an Iphone 4S so it is assumed to run on current or more recent Iphones, Ipods, and Ipads. A Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android 4.2 required some tweaking to get the sound working in Chrome and we still don't have the volume working as desired.
It is recommended that you use TemperTool on a Desktop or Laptop computer with a mouse for ease of use and headphones from your computer speakers is also recommended.
TemperTool can be run from the internet but we encourage all users to download the distributions and burn them to a CD for backup. It is also recommended that you install TemperTool "locally" on your desktop or laptop computer. TemperTool is comprised of one folder named tempertool which contains html, jpg, .js, and .txt files. You can also just copy this folder to a USB drive or CD to move to a different computer. The default install folder name is tempertool
If you have a username and password you can access everything from the following link:
You can run TemperTool from here but more importantly access the program distributions for Windows or Mac Systems. Once TemperTool is installed on your desktop of laptop, you can transfer the folder to tablet devices.
The accuracy of computer sound generating hardware and software can vary among different computer devices. With respect to using TemperTool to practice setting Equal Temperament, it will make no difference if your sound producing hardware/software is a little off. The frequencies generated using TemperTool, and the scoring, will all be based on the current existing hardware/software within the device. However, If setting Pitch (Middle C or A49) and your tuning fork is correct, and your soundcard is off, then there will be an appropriate error. This is one reason that the Detune button does not detune Middle C or A49. Currently, it is not advisable to practice setting pitch to a Tuning Fork using TemperTool. You can practice, but the scoring results may be unreliable if your hardware/software device is off.
The On, Off, +, and - Buttons located on each key:
On turns the Note On. Off turns the Note Off. The + Button increases/raises the pitch and the - Button decreases/lowers pitch. Every note that is turned on will display an O in the top row of the keyboard layout. Watch these O symbols to help learn the testing intervals.
The rest of the Buttons:
Kill: This kills any currently sounding notes.
Detune: this will detuned alternating notes by + 2 cents and - 2 cents with the exception of Middle C and A49. You can practice Setting C or A by manually detuning them. However, this is not rally recommended (other than practice) due to possible sound hardware innaccuracy.
Tune: The sets all note frequencies to theoretical Equal Temperament.
Temperament Testing Buttons:
Important Note: When activating two notes to sound a 4th, 5th,
and Octave, the following rules should be followed:
T4L < T4O Buttons: These two buttons are the Tempered 4th test buttons. T4L will play the major 3rd below, and with, the lower note of the 4th, and we compare this beat rate with T4U button which is the lower test note against the upper note of the 4th being tested. T4L should beat slightly slower than T4U. ( T4L <T4U )
A Buttons: This is an alternate tempered 4th test. The left side A button will play the botton note of the 4th with a Major 6th above the bottom note of the 4th. The right side A button will the top note of the 4th with a Major 3rd above the top note of the 4th. Left side A button should beat slightly slower than right sise A button.
R4 Button: This button replays the current 4th.
T5L > T5U Buttons: These two buttons are the Tempered 5th test buttons. The T5L will play the minor 3rd above the bottom note with the bottom note and compare this beat rate with the T5U button which plays the Major 3rd below the top note along with the top note of the 5th. T5L (m3rd) should beat slightly faster than T5U (M3rd).
V Buttons: The testing note of any tempered 5th may be dropped one octave to yield a slower and sometimes easier to hear beat rate. When using this variant, you would compare the left side V against the right side V and the left side V should beat slightly faster that the right side V. (V<V)
R5 Button: This button replays the current 5th.
7 8 9 10.5 Buttons: This test sequence is often used with the "Braide
White" Temperament but applies with any temperament system. It plays the
following interval sequence
The remaining interval test buttons will sound based on the last note turned on so you will often turn a starting note on, and then off, and then run the test.
M3 = M6 Buttons: The test takes any major 3rd and compares it with with a major 6th based on the note one whole step below the lower of the major 3rd notes. In Equal Temperament, these beat rates should be equal. This also happens to be the 3rd inversion of a Dominant 7th chord.
Dom7/2L = Dom7/2U Buttons: This test is based the 2nd inversion of a Dominant 7th Chord. The beat rate of the lower interval should be fairly equal to the upper test interval. This test is set to auto increment up by half steps each time you repeat the test. This test is not quite as common as the M3=M6 above.
M3Aug Button: This test plays the three major 3rds that equally divide any given octave each time you click the button. An example would be F to A, A to C#, and C# to F. This test is often referred to as playing "Contiguos Major 3rds" where the top note of the lower Major third becomes the bottom note of the next Major 3rd. This test is used in several methods of setting temperaments. The beat rates should speed up evenly at a ratio of 4:5. That is, for every 4 beats of the lower M3rd, the next higher M3rd will have 5 beats in the same amount of time.
4:2L = 4:2U Buttons: These two buttons are the 4:2 Octave Test. The 4:2L button plays the major 3rd below the lower note with the lower note of the octave. The 4:2U plays the major 3rd below the lower note of the octave with the higher note of the octave (M10th). For a perfect octave (and when using this program) these beat rates should be equal. In practice, on a real piano, it is common for the M10th to beat ever so slightly faster than the 3rd due to piano string inharmonicity.
6:3L = 6:3U Buttons: These two buttons are the 6:3 Octave Test. The 6:3L button plays the minor 3rd above the lower note with the lower note of the octave. The 6:3U plays the minor 3rd above the lower note of the octave with the higher note of the octave (M6th). For a perfect octave (and when using this program) these beat rates should be equal. In practice, on a real piano, it is common for the M6th to beat ever so slightly faster than the 3rd due to piano string inharmonicity.
M3U Button: Repeatedly clicking this button will play major 3rds ascending chromatically. the beat rates should gradually and smoothly increase in speed moving upwards.
M6U Button: Repeatedly clicking this button will play major 6ths ascending chromatically. the beat rates should gradually and smoothly increase in speed moving upwards.
4thsU Button: Repeatedly clicking this button will play 4ths ascending chromatically. the beat rates should gradually and smoothly increase in speed moving upwards.
5thsU Button: Repeatedly clicking this button will play 5ths ascending chromatically. the beat rates should gradually and smoothly increase in speed moving upwards.
Pitch Test Notes: The G#2 and F2 Buttons: These are included if you want to practice setting Middle C or A49 (440) to a pitch fork. As there is no piano string Inharmonicity in TemperTool, we have not yet determined the accuracy of this test but it can be used as practice. The DeTune button does not detune middle C or A 49 so if you want to practice setting middle C or A49 to a pitch fork you must manually detune these notes first. In either case, if practicing this, the beat rate of G#2 (really should be G#1) against your C fork should equal G#2 with Middle C (MC40) in TemperTool. If practicing A 440, the beat rate of F2 against your A fork should equal F2 with A49. As discussed previously, this concept is not recommended for scoring as we have no way the determine tha accuracy our your computer device sound hardaware and software.
The Score Button: The Score Button will score your aural Temperament by the PTG Tuning Exam scoring standards. You must identify the bottom note # of temperament octave that you wish to score in the line below on the display screen.
The Score All Button: The Score All Button will score all notes in the PTG aural portion of the PTG Tuning Exam scoring standards. These are Notes C28 - B51.
Note: It should be remembered that Middle C and A49 (440) are not detuned (a gimmie!) so don't get too over confident.
+-HzFine Button and +-Hz Course Buttons: TemperTool defaults to the course setting of .05 Hertz when using the + and - pitch adjustment buttons. The Course setting equals a little less than 1/2 cent and the fine equals a little less than 1/4 cent. However, the Hertz differential of a cent changes within each semitone (halfstep) note on the piano. As a rule, you can practice with the Course setting, and once you get the hang of wide 4ths and narrow 5ths, you'll probably pass with a high score more times than not. However, if you desire, the fine setting will get you a closer score and require more mouse clicking when practicing.
The Save and Load Buttons: The Save Button opens a window with your current tuning data which allows you to Select All, Copy, and Paste your data into a text file if you wish to save your practice tuning data. If you open a saved text file and Copy and Paste into the Paste Data box, and then click Load, you will be working from your previously saved file.
The Temperament Octave: The program defaults to the F33 - F44 Temperament Octave. For an A37 - A49 temperament octave we would set Temperament Bottom Note Starts on Note # [ 37 ].
Since the mid 1970's to present, the development of Hardware and Software Electronic Tuning Devices (ETD's) * has, to some degree, mitigated the need to learn to tune pianos aurally.
Aural Piano Tuning has been practiced for the past few hundred years and we feel that it may be headed towards becoming more of a "Lost Art".
We also believe that it would be best to become proficient in aural tuning before purchasing an ETD.
Aural Tuning has a "magic" that is just not present when using an ETD. Some will even argue that using an ETD "takes all the fun out of tuning". On the flip side ETD's have their definite benefits.
We encourage all aspiring Piano Technicians to learn to tune aurally. The $800.00 - $1600.00 investment for an ETD will go a long way towards a decent upright practice piano and tools to get started.
* As of this writing, we would consider only the following ETD solutions
It should be noted that any tuning fork should be checked aganst a correctly calibrated pitch source. Furthermore, tuning forks are temperature sensitive and the pitch will differ some between a cold fork and a warm one so getting a feel of an approximate temperature where your fork is most calibrated to the pitch source will produce more accurate results.
Tuning A 4 to an A 440 Tuning Fork:
Tune A 4 so that the beat rate of F 2 and A 4 equals the beat rate of F 2 and the A 440 tuning fork.
Tuning C 5 to a C 523.3 Tuning Fork:
Tune C 5 so that the beat rate of G# 2 and C 5 equals the beat rate of G# 2 and the C 523.3 tuning fork.
There are two ways to take the PTG Tuning Exam: Completely Aurally, or passing an aural portion of the exam and then completing the tuning using an Electronic Tuning Device (ETD).
For the purpose of this software, and manual, we will cover only the aural portion of the tuning exam. Any Piano Technician who can pass the aural portion of the exam can also pass the entire exam aurally. However, many Technicians may already be too comfortable with their ETD 's to make the effort to pass without an ETD.
How the Aural Portion is Scored. (We think we have this correct)
All portions of the PTG Tuning Exam require a minimum score of 80% to pass.
Pitch Scoring: You will be tested on A440
Technicians should make sure that their tuning fork or pitch source is correct and if not, calibrate the tuning fork or pitch source to a reliable alternate source.
When setting pitch, the Technician is allowed a 1 cent (100th of a semitone) + or - error at no penalty. Beyond that, any additional errors are multiplied times 10 and subtracted from 100.
So if the pitch setting is measured a -1.5 cents or + 1.5 cents, the score
would be 100 - (.5 *10) = 95%
The Temperament Scoring:
When the temperament is scored, any reading that is 1 cent off (+ or -)
will lose 1 point.
However, there is multiplier of 2.5 applied to lost points in your temperament section. So, you can only lose 8 points in the temperament section (8 * 2.5 = 20 | 100 - 20 = 80) to pass.
The Mid Range Scoring:
When the Mid Range is scored, any reading that is 1 cent off (+ or -)
will lose 1 point.
However, there is multiplier of 1.5 applied to lost points in your mid range section. So, you can only lose 13 points in the mid range section (13 * 1.5 = 19.5 | 100 - 19.5 = 80.5) to pass.
The "Virtual" tuning environment is slightly different from tuning real piano strings as there is no "String Inharmonicity". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inharmonicity
However, these diferences will not prevent the ability to use this program to practice temperaments, use standard interval checks, and acheive a good "Equal Temperament".
In fact, most pianos have different amounts of inharmonicity, so aural tuners, and ETD's calculationg temperaments, have to adjust for these slight differences from piano to piano.
However, there are some small pianos that are very difficult to achieve a good consistant temperament and we can only do the best we can with these pianos.
In the end, regardless of "Virtual" or "Real", we want equally wide 4ths and equally narrow 5ths where beat rates of intervals (3rd, 6ths, 4ths, 5ths, 10ths, etc.) gradually increase while playing the intervals and ascending chromatically.
If one learns the interval tests and and can get correct results, get chromatically ascending intervals that smoothly increase in beat rate speed, one will achieve a good temperament that will also pass the PTG tuning exam.
The following is a collection of some additional temperament patterns or tuning articles that may prove helpful to aspiring Piano Technicians. This resource list will grow so please check back from time to time.
The Sanderson 2 Octave Temperament:
Piano Tuning Tutorial (18 page Word Document - 1997):
Bill Bremmer RPT - CTE:
Indiana University - Jacobs School of Music - Piano Technology:
We are complete advocates of Equal Temperament! However, as Historical Temperaments have been around for quite a while, we decided to investigate this further.
A good number of Historical Temperaments have been added to TemperTool for educational purposes. It should be noted that these temperaments have been taken from 3rd party sources on the internet and a few are only accurate to .1 Hz. This should be fine for experimental purposes. However, we have no way to verify the accuracy of the different temperaments and they should not be used as any kind of Tuning Reference.
It is likely that there are digital keyboards that allow you to select Historical Temperaments but TemperTool allows you to experiment easily to get a quick idea of of these temperaments.
While rather uninformed as to the depth of this subject, we are still scratching our heads as to why it took so long for Equal Temperament to evolve as the the most widely accepted standard.
The easiest way to asses one of these Temperaments is to select one, then select a starting note by turning it on and off, and finally using the 4U or 5U buttons to play the 4ths or 5ths ascending chromatically. It is also interesting to play some triads to get a feeling for the tonal colors.
It is interesting to note that the 1/10 Comma Temperament passes the Temperament score at 87.5%.