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Once again very comprehensive. I see you even dragged in a bit on temperament...

There is some evidence that Bach's "Well Tempered Clavier" wasn't written to prove the virtues of equal temperament. Even Bach wasn't ready for such a break with traditional musical theory. Rather he used a tempered scale where all the keys were at least acceptable, but where there were still noticeable differences in the intervals when going from one to another.

I think there are a few recordings around which use such tuning systems to play this work.

Perhaps you will get to it in a future installment, but the next logical step is to discuss timbre. Certain instruments have widely different sound qualities depending upon which note is being played. For example both the clarinet and oboe have very weak tones for those notes which are played with just one finger covering the tone holes (the "break").

The string family produces different tone quality when one plays on an open string or one that is stopped at a shorter length. The French Horn (before keys) had muffled tones for the accidentals and clear tones for the natural harmonics.

There are examples of pieces written to make use of these tonal differences explicitly, while there are others where the composer tried his best to ignore them.

When electronic music first started there was a great deal of interest in exploring the new types of sounds that could be created, but the shift to keyboard-based synthesizers has stifled some of this creativity since the the interface limits the types of expression one can create.

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by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Apr 30th, 2008 at 08:33:16 AM EST

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