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Re: How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony

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  • Thomas Hastay
    Brad You are not the first to feel this way...The Just Intoned Scale was devised to adjust the Musical Scale Intervals to more natural spacing. Most
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 1, 2009
      Brad

      You are not the first to feel this way...The "Just Intoned Scale" was devised to adjust the Musical Scale Intervals to more "natural" spacing. Most musical harmonics are based on the Golden Mean Ratio found in Nature. I believe, like you, that most people sense the "right" in some mis-matched Equal Temperment Intervals and crave adjustments.

      The Just Intoned trend, and others, are gaining popularity as a means to correct this Equal Temperment "Disharmony". I believe the Human ear is a much more capable "discriminator" of disharmonic tones than any machine. What's your opinion?

      Thomas Hastay.

      --- In panflute-world@yahoogroups.com, Brad White <bwhite@...> wrote:
      >
      > I just started reading this book.. fascinating. I downloaded it to my
      > iPhone from Amazon. They sell it on paper back as well ...
      >
      > As panflute players we have a lot of very fine control over our
      > pitch. But we play in an environment of equal temperament. This has
      > an effect on how we perceive playing "in-tune".
      >
      > Have you ever played into an electronic tuner but felt that what it
      > was showing as in-tune sounded flat or off?
      >
      > ------
      > For nearly a century, equal temperament—the practice of dividing an
      > octave into twelve equally proportioned half-steps—has held a virtual
      > monopoly on the way in which instruments are tuned and played. In his
      > new book, Duffin explains how we came to rely exclusively on equal
      > temperament by charting the fascinating evolution of tuning through
      > the ages. Along the way, he challenges the widely held belief that
      > equal temperament is a perfect, "naturally selected" musical system,
      > and proposes a radical reevaluation of how we play and hear music.
      >
      > http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall06/006227.htm
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Aloha
      >
      > Brad White
      > Honolulu, Hawaii
      >
      > http://pan-flute.com
      > Now with hours of free music and videos!!
      > The sound of the panflute inspires mystery & wonder...
      >
      > For AOL ..
      > <a href="http://pan-flute.com">click here</a>
      >
    • luckepanflute
      But we play in an environment of equal temperament. This has ... For nearly a century, equal temperament—the practice of dividing an ... The way I
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 2, 2009
        "But we play in an environment of equal temperament. This has
        > an effect on how we perceive playing "in-tune"...

        "For nearly a century, equal temperament—the practice of dividing an
        > octave into twelve equally proportioned half-steps—has held a virtual
        > monopoly"



        The way I understand it, is that the equal temperament scale was never intended to be a "perfect, naturally selected musical system" (to quote the book review). It was known from the beginning to be an imperfect compromise, so that keyboard instruments in particular could have more freedom to modulate through the different keys. Bach wrote a number of exercise and demonstration pieces for the Well Tempered Klavichord to use the new tuning system, but purists of the time protested that the chords sounded rough. The practicality eventually won out, but the old system of simple ratios still lives on, especially in musical forms that are slow enough to enjoy the clean harmonies (Gregorian Chant for example).

        So the Just Intonation system is not a modern invention, but a back-to-the-roots re-discovery of original harmony systems. I generated some scales on my computer and the difference is not obvious when notes are played sequentially, but with chords you can hear the rough interference beat from the equal-tempered system, compared to the smooth blending of simple ratio chords in the Just Intoned system.

        Since panflutes play in G and D most easily, it makes sense to tune the tubes for nice intervals using G as the root. Personally I can't control the pitch well enough for this to be an issue- the differences are really small if you do the arithmetic. When playing along with other instruments, you can bend the notes a little to get the chords to sound better. We were given a "crib sheet" for this in a little community band I play in (saxophone, not panflute). You have to know what chord you are forming to make this work.


        Jim
      • Brad White
        ... Lets take the note B.. in the key of C it is a leading tone and my ear wants to hear it a bit sharper.. but then I play that same B in the key of G and I
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 2, 2009
          On Aug 2, 2009, at 2:56 AM, luckepanflute wrote:

          > When playing along with other instruments, you can bend the notes a
          > little to get the chords to sound better. We were given a "crib
          > sheet" for this in a little community band I play in (saxophone, not
          > panflute). You have to know what chord you are forming to make this
          > work.
          >
          >
          > Jim

          Lets take the note B.. in the key of C it is a leading tone and my
          ear wants to hear it a bit sharper.. but then I play that same B in
          the key of G and I want to play it a touch lower as the 3rd rather
          than the 7th...

          That's the type of thing I notice when I am playing solo, all alone,
          but then I get together with a piano :) ... brad
        • Ken Harstine
          I have only read revues of the book and am waiting for my copy. But the reviews say that the shift in tonal systems was not an either or proposition and that
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 2, 2009
            I have only read revues of the book and am waiting for my copy. But
            the reviews say that the shift in tonal systems was not an either or
            proposition and that in particular the modern equal temperament did
            not exist in Bach's time. That in fact Bach's well tempered clavier
            was a system that was in between complete equal temperament and
            previous systems. The reviews mentioned the existence of keyboards
            with different sharp and flat keys. In other words some intervals
            had a different key depending on whether it was the sharp or flat
            that was desired. So it was complicated.

            Best,

            Ken Harstine

            To: panflute-world@yahoogroups.com
            From: "luckepanflute" <luckepanflute@...>
            Date sent: Sun, 02 Aug 2009 12:56:16 -0000
            Subject: [panflute-world] Re: How Equal Temperament Ruined
            Harmony
            Send reply to: panflute-world@yahoogroups.com

            temperament> "But we play in an environment of equal temperament.
            This has
            > > an effect on how we perceive playing "in-tune"...
            >
            > "For nearly a century, equal temperament-the practice of dividing an
            > > octave into twelve equally proportioned half-steps-has held a virtual
            > > monopoly"
            >
            >
            >
            > The way I understand it, is that the equal temperament scale was never intended to be a "perfect, naturally selected musical system" (to quote the book review). It was known from the beginning to be an imperfect compromise, so that keyboard instruments in particular could have more freedom to modulate through the different keys. Bach wrote a number of exercise and demonstration pieces for the Well Tempered Klavichord to use the new tuning system, but purists of the time protested that the chords sounded rough. The practicality eventually won out, but the old system of simple ratios still lives on, especially in musical forms that are slow enough to enjoy the clean harmonies (Gregorian Chant for example).
            >
            > So the Just Intonation system is not a modern invention, but a back-to-the-roots re-discovery of original harmony systems. I generated some scales on my computer and the difference is not obvious when notes are played sequentially, but with chords you can hear the rough interference beat from the equal-tempered system, compared to the smooth blending of simple ratio chords in the Just Intoned system.
            >
            > Since panflutes play in G and D most easily, it makes sense to tune the tubes for nice intervals using G as the root. Personally I can't control the pitch well enough for this to be an issue- the differences are really small if you do the arithmetic. When playing along with other instruments, you can bend the notes a little to get the chords to sound better. We were given a "crib sheet" for this in a little community band I play in (saxophone, not panflute). You have to know what chord you are forming to make this work.
            >
            >
            > Jim
            >
            >
            >
            > ------------------------------------
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >


            ---------------------------------------------------------
            Ken Harstine
            Holyoke, Massachusetts
            k.harstine@... (use this alias for correspondence)
            http://www.nonotuck.us
          • luckepanflute
            The reviews mentioned the existence of keyboards ... After the development of logarithm tables they could really go far with the arithmetic. There was one
            Message 5 of 8 , Aug 2, 2009
              The reviews mentioned the existence of keyboards
              > with different sharp and flat keys. In other words some intervals
              > had a different key depending on whether it was the sharp or flat
              > that was desired. So it was complicated.


              After the development of logarithm tables they could really go far with the arithmetic. There was one serious proposal of a keyboard instrument with 53 notes per octave, on different levels like an organ layout.

              A book like that should come with a CD for sound samples. Maybe it does?


              Jim
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