Thursday, September 04, 2008

Medieval Surgery Kit?

Several weeks ago I blogged about tuning the piano I had moved into my classroom. To that end I went on-line and ordered a piano-tuning kit. When I returned from vacation, said kit was waiting for me in the post office. Its essentially a small black bag with an electronic tuner and several small gizmos that a medieval surgeon may have had lying around in his cupboard. I haven't had much time to tinker around yet, but it looks like this tuning business will be an interesting little challenge.

For most of the notes there are three strings which all have to be tuned individually to match the others or you end up with a really funky-sounding chord. The trick is to isolate 2 strings so you can get a unison and then tune the third string to the other two. Easier said then done. At one point I had two adjacent keys producing the exact same sound and I also somehow managed at one point to get one key to produce a rather pleasant 3-note chord. This was actually pretty cool but still left me with the problem of changing the note back to its original single tone. There are some small rubber wedges to jam fit in between the strings to prevent the hammer from striking all three strings at the same time, but I haven't figured out how best to position these wedges yet. They keep falling out on me. So far I have tuned a grand total of zero strings...and there are 219 strings altogether. (Give me a simple guitar any day).

Added to the mix is a guidebook published in 1907 with near indecipherable drawings and the fact that my "musical ear" is a tad rusty. But I'm bound and determined to see what I can do. Good thing I have the entire school year ahead of me. Looks like I'm going to need it.