A system which will positively insure the strictest uniformity of difference in pitch of any given interval in all the keys, and that makes use of the fewest intervals in tuning and the easiest ones—those in which a discrepancy is most readily perceived by the ear, is the best system to adopt and follow. Such a system is the one followed by the author for years with the most satisfying results. He does not claim any high honor by this statement, but does claim that, while his system differs but slightly from some of the others, it is more certain to produce the best results, is the simplest to understand, is the easiest to follow, and, consequently, is the best.
To become a piano tuner of the highest skill, many things are necessary; but what may be lacking at the outset may be acquired by study and practice. More depends upon the ear than upon anything else; but no person, however talented, has a sufficiently acute perception to tune perfectly without some culture. Some practice in tuning is necessary to bring the ear to that acuteness of perception so indispensable in certain portions of the instrument. It may also be said that no extraordinary talent for music is absolutely necessary, since many of the best tuners are not musicians in any sense of the word. Patience and perseverance, associated with conscientiousness and an insatiable desire to excel, are among the foremost requirements. Having these it only remains to gain a thorough knowledge of every detail of the work; a little practice will bring skill and dexterity.
Finally, we would impress the student with the strenuous importance of thoroughly mastering the lessons which immediately follow. You should be inspired with the utmost confidence, both in yourself and in the possibilities of the profession to those who merit a reputation. And, while this lesson contains little technical instruction, if by its study the pupil is impressed with the maxims herein presented, and is inspired to make earnest effort in his future work, both in acquiring and in practicing the art of Piano Tuning, the author will feel that its mission is, by no means, the least significant one in the course.
Some tuners favor the term, “laying the bearings,” others say “setting the temperament.” The former is more commonplace, as it merely suggests the idea of laying a number of patterns by which all others are to be measured. The latter term is extremely comprehensive. A lucid definition of the word “temperament,” in the sense in which it is used here, would require a discourse of considerable length. The following statements will elicit the full meaning of the term:
The untutored would, perhaps, not think of setting a temperament to tune by. He would likely begin at some unfavorable point, and tune by various intervals, relying wholly upon his conception of pitch for the accuracy of the tones tuned, the same as a violinist in tuning his four strings. To be sure, pitch has to be reckoned as a rude guide in setting the tones; but if pitch alone were the guide we would never attain to any degree of perfection in scale forming. We could never adjust our tones to that delicate fineness so much appreciated, which gives to the instrument its surpassing brilliancy.