CAJUN ACCORDION DISCUSSION GROUP
__. As the posters mentioned above, the "correct" way of setting up reeds for Cajun tuning is H, L and one M set to "pitch" and the other M off with as much wetness as is desired. Boxes set up this way just sound right.
__. But there's a different kind of tuning out there. In this one, the H and L reeds are set to pitch (appropriate to their octave) but the M reeds are set up one a little below pitch and one above. Because of the dynamics and mathematics, it's necessary to make the lower one a little less off pitch (lower number of cents). The reason for all this is that the ear hears the two off-pitch reeds as making a sound at a pitch between the two individual reeds. When reed group is set up this way, the ear hears the three octaves as being "in tune" with each other ... although a lab instrument will tell you that there is a complex mixture of tones in there.
__. As I said before, this isn't the sound you want for Cajun music (and I'm told that it drives fiddlers crazy trying to tune to it and play by ear to it) but it's a great sound for traditions that use "standard orchestral tuning" and it works very well with accordions that are played in a band with pianos and are therefore tuned to "equal intonation"/ the Cajun tuning that Ganey describes is very much like what music theorists call "just intonation" -- it sounds better (more "perfect pitch") with fiddles but not so good with pianos. And thinking about it shows how complicated all this tuning stuff is.
__. The theory behind this is also linked to why Larry Miller's "graduated tuning" works so well. You need to have the octave buttons (for instance, the third button and sixth buttons) sound as if they're in tune with each other and graduated tuning helps with this. I've also heard tuners set up a graduated tuning by setting "beat rates". If you set the tuning for the third button to the wetness you want, you'll hear the tremulo beating at a given frequency. You have to change the amount of cents on the different buttons but when you have each button playing the same* beat rate, you have the same wetness up and down the range of the instrument.
__. Hope this helps, Bruce Henderson, Wallace NC USA
(* Actually, it's pretty much impossible to get exactly the same beat rate on the highest button versus the lowest one but the idea is to flatten the curve as much as practically possible. Larry's method is a pretty good way to do that.)
And complete dry tuning (all reads "dead on" pitch) isn't that great either. My pref would be dry with one of the middle reeds barely sharped (or flatted whatever the case) so there's a certain "chorus" effect such that it just mixes in and sweetens the sound.
I guess this is pretty much the typical cajun sound and that's what I expect out of an accordion.
Marc Savoy uses an old Korg guitar tuner with a an analog needle to set the pitch on his. I think he puts the middle reed about 5 or 10 cents off for that barely wet sound. We should call it DAMP tuning lol. By I like the idea of the graduated tuning. Therefore you get the same amount of beats across the board.
If you want to hear some wet tuned accordions, listen to most of the old (pre-1950) stuff like A Ardoin, and Iry Lejeune to name a few.
Is there an absolute value as a percent wavelength that is a 'cent'? I understand the stuff about beats but not how to get different tones to beat at the same time based on the degree of wetness (expressed in 'cents') the the tuning varies from dead on. Thanks for the info.
__. There are 100 cents in the interval between one note in a scale and the next. The kicker on this is that the number of Hertz (vibrations per seconds) varies between adjacent notes. So, 1 cent is one percent of the distance between one note and the next but the "true distance" varies based up whether they're low or high notes.
__. Um, this isn't a very good explanation, is it?
I looked up on the link to listen to the samples.
There isn't a huge difference. It's very interesting anyhow.