Questions tagged [temperament]

For questions generally relating to systems of note frequency assignment. Questions will often include the tuning and/or alternative-tunings tag.

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49
votes
9answers
23k views

Why are orchestras tuned differently?

In 1936 American Standards Association (and the International Organization for Standardization in 1955) accepted that A would be tuned at 440 Hz (or cycles per second). Yet despite the fact that a ...
45
votes
5answers
29k views

Why are pianos traditionally tuned “out of tune” at the extremes?

My understanding is that the vast majority of western music uses equal temperament, i.e. all semitones have a frequency ratio of the 12th root of 2. However I can hear in my piano that the notes at ...
41
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5answers
26k views

Does it really make difference to play a song in a different key?

I hear sometimes players and composers say that this song won't sound good in F Major for example, and you should play it or write it in G Major (this was just an example). In other words, it seems ...
37
votes
10answers
14k views

Software that allows playing in different temperaments

Do you know of any software out there that will allow me to play in different musical temperaments (e.g. Well temperament and Meantone temperament)? I'm especially interested in software that accepts ...
29
votes
5answers
3k views

Examples of songs or phrases played in different temperaments

I've read about the fact that 12 tone equal temperament is a relatively recent phenomenon, and that historically, each key would have a different character due to the unequal temperament. I'm curious ...
25
votes
9answers
5k views

With modern electronic technology is temperament unnecessary?

I am a Physics student but also love math and music, and know a little bit about tuning because it is related to mathematics. So as far as I understand, Just Intonation is more consonant than ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there a sound theoretical reason why a capella choirs “drift off” of the starting pitches in a piece?

Is the "comma pump" an empirical problem, or merely theoretical? It's a standard music theory exercise to show that certain chord progressions don't actually quite work. For example, in the I-IV-ii-V-...
22
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is B♯ higher than C♭ in 31-ET?

I was looking into microtonal series, and started reading a bit on the 31-ET series, and came across something that doesn't quite make sense to me. I noticed this chart on the wiki page for 31-ET ...
22
votes
4answers
5k views

Software for microtonal MIDI? [closed]

I'm looking to make some microtonal music (19/22 tone equal temperament). I want to produce it with midi. Timidity++ used to be able to produce a WAV file from a microtonal tuned .MID file, but it is ...
17
votes
6answers
2k views

Do classical pieces sound different today than the originals due to temperament?

I was reading how classical music used to not be in equal temperament. So each of their keys sounded completely different and that's why they named their pieces after the keys they were playing. ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

How does the harmonic series affect consonance?

NOTE: for the purpose of this question, assume we are talking about 12-TET and assume that references to overtones in the harmonic series are being referred to in relationship to the 12-TET note that ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

What kind of temperament to play Monteverdi with?

We would like to perform excerpts from Monteverdi's Orfeo on period instruments. According to recent research, what is the most authentic temperament that could have been used for the keyboard ...
12
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2answers
1k views

Whereabouts is G?

In 12TET, concert G is always at a particular pitch, frequency, etc. However, on instruments such as violin, players will stray slightly to make a note sound more in tune, dependent on key. (As in ...
12
votes
1answer
154 views

How were tuning/temperaments indicated on scores (if they ever were)?

Bradley Lehman claims that the details of the intended tuning for the Well-Tempered Claivier are encoded in the squiggle at the top of the manuscript (related wikipedia link). Are there other (...
10
votes
4answers
12k views

What frequencies should the violin and viola be tuned to?

I'm using this app to tune my violin, it supports many temperament options. What I want to do is tune the A string to 440Hz first, then comparing the other strings sympathetically to the adjacent ...
10
votes
5answers
336 views

“∞-TET”: Is there music that doesn't use discretely pitched notes?

Is there music that doesn't use notes with discrete* pitches, but rather has instruments playing continuously changing frequencies? I know there are microtonal tunings as high as 72-TET, but is there ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How can I play my new tenor recorder (a'=440) along with someone playing a harpsichord (a'=415)?

From an article I read online, I believe I've understood that it's possible to treat the middle C (fingers covering all holes) on the tenor as if it were a D flat, and all higher notes on the ...
10
votes
2answers
381 views

Do the EDO and TET acronyms mean the same thing?

In the context of dividing an octave into n intervals, I understand n EDO to mean n Equal Divisions per Octave and n TET to mean n Tones Equal Temperament. Do the EDO and TET acronyms mean the same ...
10
votes
2answers
137 views

Why does this tonal scale from 1737 have both F and E♯?

I've recently encountered Jean Féry-Rebel's "Les Élémens". (Check out that wild opening; it's hard to believe it was written in 1737!) In the fifth measure of the third staff, why does this ...
9
votes
3answers
861 views

What is the difference between temperament and intonation?

We talk of equal temperament but just intonation. From wikipedia, tempering is described as "the process of altering the size of an interval by making it narrower or wider than pure." where ...
9
votes
3answers
262 views

Continuous Music Theory

Is there a musical theory of harmony or a system of chord-understanding that does not rely on the 12-tone temperament? For example, a fretless instrument has (theoretically) an infinity of tones ...
9
votes
3answers
373 views

What is a 'temperament', in the most general sense?

In Does this scale have a name: 1, 15/14, 15/13, ..., 15/8?, some commenters to the question opined that the OP was looking for a 'temperament', not a scale. This surprised me as I've while I've ...
8
votes
6answers
29k views

B -> C and E -> F, No Sharp?

The keyboard has these notes: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G# Why do B and C and E and F not have a sharp note between them? If they did, the keyboard would look like this: A A# B B# C ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What do you call a scale with 19 notes per octave? Howabout 17 notes per octave?

I know that a 12-note scale (as in the currently ubiquitous 12 equal temperament) is called "chromatic". In a chromatic system, there are sharps and/or flats, but no neighboring sharps and flats. ...
8
votes
1answer
431 views

Non-fixed-frequency instruments playing by themselves versus with fixed-frequency instruments

[I don't know a better term than "non-fixed frequency instruments" but I mean things like string instruments, voice, trombone as opposed to things like a piano which has a fixed (typically 12-et) ...
8
votes
3answers
431 views

“Tritone” intervals in n-tone equal temperament

In 12-tone equal temperament, the tritone interval is made of three whole tones (six semitones) and is considered, if I am not mistaken totally, as the most dissonant interval. I have two questions: ...
8
votes
1answer
269 views

Why is 16/9 used for the minor seventh instead of 7/4?

Does the 16/9 sound less dissonant than 7/4 (less uncomfortable) due to consisting of only the 3rd undertone (squared), or the 7/4 would sound "better" (I know, it's quite subjective what sounds good ...
7
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3answers
272 views

Are there any tuning differences between the C# Major Scale and Db Major Scale? [duplicate]

I am looking for a little clarification related to the differences between sharp (♯) and flat (♭) notes in music theory. Some people say C♯ and D♭ are the same, but some say they are not. Some say ...
6
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5answers
1k views

Why does it take 700 cents to get to a perfect 5th, which is 3/2 (one and a half) from the root?

I think I have the wrong perspective. If you take an octave and express it in cents, you get 1200. Half of that is 600. A perfect 5th is 1.5 (3/2) of the root. But 600 is not a perfect fifth, 700 ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Natural vs tempered semi-tones

I am reading "Fundamentals of Musical Composition" by Arnold Schoenberg. Chapter XI, page 99, states: Chromaticism is difficult partly because the natural semi-tones differ in size from the ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the significance of Pythagorean comma (as in why is there a need to end in the same place)?

The following two links provide a brief introduction to Pythagorean comma: Pythagorean Comma - Indiana University The "Pythagorean Comma" - Jody Nagel The wikipedia article on this subject is also ...
6
votes
1answer
534 views

Evidence of Just Intonation in Recordings with Non-fixed-frequency Instruments

I wonder the extent to which string quartets or a cappella choirs are non-ET. They are often cited as examples of the tendency towards just intonation when not using fixed-frequency instruments but I'...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Can we tell by ear if a piece is in sharp or in flat without relative or perfect pitch?

I remember a masterclass where the piano teacher commented a piece from Chopin with something like "and after this modulation we enter the world of sharps". This left me wondering if it was a poetic ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Appropriate temperament for violin

I'm new to violin (and music in general). I am learning through the Suzuki method, but after I get down the fundamentals I hope to learn Irish and American fiddle tunes. I recently discovered an IPad ...
5
votes
2answers
258 views

What is the savart unit in Persian music theory?

i was heard about savart unit in persian music that divides a chromatic interval into smaller units. persian musicians using an interval smaller than the chromatic intervals, called: kron. they ...
5
votes
2answers
232 views

software to determine the tuning (temperament) of a recording?

Case in point: Glenn Gould's recording of the WTC. The liner notes mention nothing about the tuning (in fact, I doubt the author understood the difference between equal and well temperament). This is ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

On Tuning: What's in a Temperament? (Well-Temperament vs. Equal Temperament)

I just had my whole world shattered this morning when I was unwise enough to do a "quick" Google search on what exactly "equal temperament" means before I had started my work. Of course, the loudest ...
4
votes
5answers
715 views

Is there any support for microtonality and temperaments in (or beyond) the MIDI specification?

The number of tones (or notes) per 8ve is just one of many potentially customisable aspects of any instrument. Standard midi, however, is pretty much clamped to western 12-tone equal temperament. ...
4
votes
2answers
545 views

What note(s) are a diminished 3rd above D-flat?

In What is the interval between Db and D# some of the comments indicate that the interval Db->Eb can be considered as a diminished third. I would think that Fbb (double-flatted F) is a diminished ...
4
votes
1answer
195 views

How to interpret trills in renaissance music?

So I suddenly want to try some 16th century music... I downloaded this sheet music https://imslp.org/wiki/Parthenia_(Various), which includes keyboards works by Orlando, William Byrd, and John Bull. ...
4
votes
2answers
356 views

temperament - its effect on a key

Most of Western music is now played in 12et/edo, where a key change won't make an appreciable difference to how it sounds - providing voicings are the same. Back in other temperamental days, let's ...
4
votes
1answer
132 views

Is this music (flow my tears) here being played in 31 TET or a form of renaissance unequal temperament such as quarter comma meantone?

While looking for 31TET music I stumbled across this recording of "flow my tears" my John Dowland The video description and the album artwork indicate that it's ...
3
votes
5answers
17k views

What does a capo really do to chords?

Practically, a capo will shift each string by a half tone per position, but what does it do to the intervals they produce with each other? My shot is that e.g. * without capo if we fret the simplest ...
3
votes
1answer
489 views

What is the frequency interval length of k semi-tones? (k = 1…11)

Go up 12 semi-tones from frequency f on a guitar, and the frequency interval difference in terms of f is f = 2f - f. What is the formula for the intermediate 11 non-trivial intervals? So for k=2, ...
2
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6answers
2k views

How do I tune my cello to play the second Bach suite(prelude)?

None of the videos on youtube are is concert pitch.
2
votes
3answers
666 views

Colour of keys in the era of equal-temperament

As I understand it, the great bulk of music from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras are at least these days performed on equal temperament instruments. And yet there is still a great deal of ...
2
votes
3answers
511 views

Tuning a string instrument with well temperament

When I practice the cello, sometimes it is noticeable that, when playing big chords, they tend to be out of tune - the C string sounds a bit too flat. This is the issue of tuning by 5ths for any ...
2
votes
2answers
181 views

How do you flatten a pure fifth by a fraction of the syntonic comma?

According to Wikipedia, the size of the perfect fifth in 1/4 comma meantone is "flattened by one quarter of a syntonic comma, with respect to its just intonation used in Pythagorean tuning (frequency ...
2
votes
2answers
250 views

Does 'just' or 'well' temperament center around the key of a given piece, or is it key-agnostic?

I'm going to be recording some piano music in the near future, and I'm interested in the (possibly crazy) idea of tuning the piano to a non-equal-tempered system for the recording. I am recording ...
2
votes
1answer
429 views

In C major, if the third note is 14 cents sharp from JI, does the V/VI have a third that is 28 cents sharp?

In the key of C major, the note "E" in equal temperament is 400 cents above the root, but in just intonation it would be a ratio of 5:4, or 386 cents above the root. If this is true, is it not also ...