Piano out of Tune?

So I have this slight disagreement with a young friend about this video.


I say the piano i's flat. She says it's just "electric."

Who is right?

Well if it's electric it's tuned to sound flat, I'm with you.
There’s a lot more going on with that digital piano than just being flat. I think someone has been messing with the settings without realizing it or knowing what she is doing. First of all, electric pianos are not tuned to sound flat. It is true that some electric pianos may sound flat, not in absolute terms, but because the absence of the naturally occurring harmonics heard from an acoustic piano gives the aural impression of being flat even when the fundamental pitches are in tune. Digital pianos have settings for "transposing".  For instance, when striking a "C" key it can be made to sound a "D" or whatever note the player wants. Additionaly, via the technique known as "stretching", different "temperaments" can be used. Some of these "temperament" settings can make a piano sound out of tune to modern ears accustomed to "equal temperament". There are even settings for deliberately making the piano sound out of tune; regardless of temperament.


This digital piano has been programmed (accidentally?) to sound this music a full Major third lower than as composed. Faure’s composition was written in the key of Ab Major, but as this piano was programmed, what the listener hears is in the key of E Major. So, from that standpoint, Erik is correct, this piano is WAY flat. But, not so fast, it is actually a very sharp E major; and to add insult to injury the chosen temperament setting makes the music sound out of tune. Notice how all is well for the first four measures of music when only the left hand is playing. When the right hand starts to play along with the left hand the melody (right hand) sounds out of tune relative to the accompaniment (left hand). Someone needs to read the manual and reset the settings. This is what it’s supposed to sound like:

On a in tune digital piano:

On the real thing:

I'm very grateful for such a complete analysis!

First, I was worried AudioGon would decide this was too off-topic for the board. Second, I was worried that no one on Audiogon could actually play music or knew enough to tell. :D :D :D

I'm very happy to stand corrected on both issues!