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Re: [tuning] Re: Open letter on forthcoming Lehman article in "Clavichord International"

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  • Michael Zapf
    It probably wasn t too good an idea of mine to post he open letter here also, because I had just entered this group several days before because of my interest
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 27, 2005
      It probably wasn't too good an idea of mine to post he
      open letter here also, because I had just entered this
      group several days before because of my interest in
      Turkish tone systems. I had checked the messages
      section for the WTC question out of curiosity,
      stumbled into the long discussion some 2000 posts
      back, and therefore decided to circulate my open
      letter. The purpose wasn't to create an open dispute
      here, and so far I have answered to responses directed
      at me off-list. Bradley has in the meantime posted a
      long explanation and apology in the harpsichord list
      which explains a lot. For those interested, I am
      adding my response to this post, hoping it isn't
      considered spam. Now, where was that ney of mine?

      Having read Bradley’s explanation and apology in the
      HPSCHD-L list, I get the impression that he is also a
      victim, a victim of a questionable editorial process.
      He states that the reference to the original
      discoverer of the squiggle hypothesis originally was
      in the body text of his paper, but was buried in the
      appendix by the editors. As a result, the reader was
      forced to get the impression that the discovery was
      Bradley’s. One must suspect, that the editors of Early
      Music wanted to create this very impression, thus
      upgrading the article to a “first”, which would rub
      off on the magazine as such. This has nothing to do
      with content but with procedure. It shows once more,
      that journalistic principles of quoting and crediting,
      the principles of conduct of scientific argument, are
      a guideline which avoids what happened in the
      aftermath of this article – that its content gets worn
      down by procedural arguments.

      I am not a tuning expert and never claimed to be one,
      and I never published anything on the Sparschuh
      hypothesis because I felt that the quick and dirty
      solution which I had presented with the announcement
      of Andreas’ discovery back in 2001 to the clavichord
      newsgroup was far too conjectural to survive a decent
      editorial screening. It matched with some of the
      anecdotal evidence on Bach’s harpsichord tuning, i.e.
      that he needed little time for tuning and that his
      thirds were a bit sharp, but there were other
      solutions possible for that. The important thing to me
      was to present the original Sparschuh idea, which by
      itself was also only hypothetical, but had a strong
      intuitive appeal, and therefore it deserved to be
      thrown into the arena of professional discourse. That
      the draft opinion of mine ever made it into the
      appendix of Early Music is embarrassing for me, I
      never had claimed it to be a defensible theory, and I
      never put any additional work into it. Worse, this
      little sketch of mine is now presented in the EM
      article as the theory of Andreas Sparschuh, who has
      nothing to do with it. I outlined my opposing variant
      because I felt that Andreas’ tuning, which he
      presented in 2001 to a class of music students in
      Frankfurt and which he backed by a table from the
      mathematical yearbook, was highly questionable by

      The procedural mistakes which overshadow the content
      of Bradley’s paper thus were:
      1. The credit to the original inventor of the squiggle
      was deleted from the body text and pushed into the
      2. The discussion of the Sparschuh thesis in this very
      annex never concerned the Sparschuh thesis at all, but
      my own sketchy post which never claimed to be a
      scientific solution, and it was an opinion opposing
      not quoting Sparschuh. Somebody, be it Bradley or the
      editors, should have had a look at the source which
      was my petty little post, and the discrepancy would
      have become evident immediately.

      Professional argument must decide on the merit of
      Bradley’s and others’ solutions, but unfortunately a
      discussion which should have concentrated on content
      has been warped by procedural mistakes which should
      never have happened in a serious article in a serious
      scientific journal.


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