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What temperament are most pipe organs tuned in today?

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  • tbeck
    commented on 's reply
    Spot on, Michael.

  • myorgan
    replied
    Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
    It has been said that with equal temperament, key colors have been lost. I think all keyboard instruments for Baroque performances should be in Bach's well temperament still today.
    [snip]
    You need to have those cool "rolling" beats in certain intervals and keys. Well temperament is the most DIVINE tuning.

    Why not have even well temperament also for jazz and popular music today?
    Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey
    I don't know and I don't care.
    Jon,

    I've noticed you have posted several questions/statements regarding various organ topics from time-to-time. Some of them are quite interesting, while others lead me to wonder your intent in posting on a topic at all. Above is an example of the latter.

    If you don't know and don't care about the temperaments available or in use in Bach's time, why bring up the topic? What is your end goal? Are you trying to learn more about the topic, apply what you know in a new way, or satisfy an intellectual curiosity?

    The Forum is a vastly varied group of people interested in organs. Our members range from concert artists, professors, technicians, and builders, to those who simply appreciate organ music, or repair organs for others to benefit. Many of the Forum's members have very little spare time, yet they selflessly share their expertise here as they are able.

    Recently, I stated in another thread on another subject, that the quality of the answer you receive is directly proportionate to the quality of the question you ask or statement you make. I'm not really sure of your goal in posting this topic, but would like to make sure your needs/interests are being met. You've received some great quality responses, but here's my reason for making this post:
    It is never a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you!
    Please try to be more considerate and responsive to people attempting to help you.

    Michael

    P.S. I considered sending this in a private message, but perhaps I'm all wet on this, so I thought it should be posted in the open Forum. I'm tired–I just finished 4,000+ miles in 5 days, and am catching up on posts. However, it appears Voet (Bill) has given you an excellent resource–did it meet your needs from your initial request?

    Leave a comment:


  • voet
    replied
    Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post

    Imagine if some clever inventor could design a pipe organ that could magically change temperaments with the flick of a lever!
    It has already been done, Jon. Check out this video:


    Leave a comment:


  • jonmyrlebailey
    replied
    Originally posted by voet View Post

    This is a great suggestion. You will be amazed at what a difference temperament can make in a piece. While Bach developed the concept of a "well temperament," he also exploited temperaments to create dramatic tension in his music. In a New Yorker article (December 26, 2016) Alex Ross wrote:

    More than a few of [Bach's] works begin with gestures that inspire awe and fear. Several pieces from his years as an organ virtuoso practice a kind of sonic terrorism. The Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor feasts on dissonance with almost diabolical glee, perpetrating one of the most violent harmonies of the pre-Wagnerian era: a chord in which a D clashes with both a C-sharp and an E-flat, resulting in a full-throated acoustical scream.

    In fact, the Fantasia (BWV 542) would be an excellent work to explore how Bach used temperament to great effect. I suggest using one of the seven "well" temperaments available in Hauptwerk for this experiment. It will sound like a different work.
    Imagine if some clever inventor could design a pipe organ that could magically change temperaments with the flick of a lever!

    In short, there seems to be no "perfect temperament" that fits all different kinds of western music like a glove. What might Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor sound like in equal temperament? Uneventful? Boring even?

    Leave a comment:


  • voet
    replied
    Originally posted by cham-ed View Post
    there [are] lots of different temperments ... Hauptwerk offers at least a dozen. .... try some pieces in different temperments and see for yourself.
    This is a great suggestion. You will be amazed at what a difference temperament can make in a piece. While Bach developed the concept of a "well temperament," he also exploited temperaments to create dramatic tension in his music. In a New Yorker article (December 26, 2016) Alex Ross wrote:

    More than a few of [Bach's] works begin with gestures that inspire awe and fear. Several pieces from his years as an organ virtuoso practice a kind of sonic terrorism. The Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor feasts on dissonance with almost diabolical glee, perpetrating one of the most violent harmonies of the pre-Wagnerian era: a chord in which a D clashes with both a C-sharp and an E-flat, resulting in a full-throated acoustical scream.

    In fact, the Fantasia (BWV 542) would be an excellent work to explore how Bach used temperament to great effect. I suggest using one of the seven "well" temperaments available in Hauptwerk for this experiment. It will sound like a different work.

    Leave a comment:


  • jonmyrlebailey
    replied
    Originally posted by samibe View Post
    There are hundreds of documented temperaments. Theoretically, there are an infinite number of possible temperaments. Most people can't tell if anything is in or out of tune. And I find most keyboardists think the out-of-tune-ness of their instruments is part of the timbre. In my experience, different temperaments are usually subtle enough that most people (including many musicians) can't actually tell what temperament is being used or really notice it's effect on the music.
    You can clearly hear the beating in some intervals that are not pure especially in the tenor register. Perhaps a pretty tuning system would accomplish all this as follows if even possible:

    1. have as many gentle-rolling (slow-beating, 3-5 beats/second) major thirds as practical over various octaves and keys.
    2. have as many fifths as practical with no noticeable wolf effect
    3. ensure all octaves are pure
    4. ensure the tuning system works well with all keys
    5. ensure the tuning system is conducive to free modulation
    6. ensure the most commonly-used keys are especially pretty, namely the C major and the D minor
    7. dark minor intervals, keys, scales and chords are especially desirable

    Leave a comment:


  • samibe
    replied
    There are hundreds of documented temperaments. Theoretically, there are an infinite number of possible temperaments. Most people can't tell if anything is in or out of tune. And I find most keyboardists think the out-of-tune-ness of their instruments is part of the timbre. In my experience, different temperaments are usually subtle enough that most people (including many musicians) can't actually tell what temperament is being used or really notice it's effect on the music.

    Leave a comment:


  • jonmyrlebailey
    replied
    Originally posted by regeron View Post
    Here are some reviews of the link you provided.
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3519570?seq=1

    This actual temperament still seems to be unclear.

    Also, I still ask - What are some other temperaments that Bach probably had access to?
    https://wwnorton.com/books/How-Equal...u-Should-Care/


    In the above book, How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)

    by Ross W Duffin (Author)


    "A fascinating and genuinely accessible guide....Educating, enjoyable, and delightfully unscary."—Classical Music

    What if Bach and Mozart heard richer, more dramatic chords than we hear in music today? What sonorities and moods have we lost in playing music in "equal temperament"—the equal division of the octave into twelve notes that has become our standard tuning method? Thanks to How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony, "we may soon be able to hear for ourselves what Beethoven really meant when he called B minor 'black'" (Wall Street Journal).



    In this "comprehensive plea for more variety in tuning methods" (Kirkus Reviews), Ross W. Duffin presents "a serious and well-argued case" (Goldberg Magazine) that "should make any contemporary musician think differently about tuning" (Saturday Guardian).

    Leave a comment:


  • regeron
    replied
    Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
    I don't know and I don't care.
    It has been very obvious from early on that you don't know.
    I suspected that it was pointless to reply to any of your posts, but now that is confirmed.

    You "think all keyboard instruments for Baroque performances should be in Bach's well temperament still today," but when asked to compare that temperament with the other possible options, your answer is simply that you don't know and you don't care.

    Your answer actually says more than that about you.
    Have fun with your lack of knowledge and your lack of caring.

    Leave a comment:


  • mrdc2000
    commented on 's reply
    Several variations of the Meantone temperaments for the organ were common during Bach's days. This means that the maximum of only 3 sharps or 3 flats were possible. In my opinion, Equal Temperament such as in use today almost universally is the least interesting, organ music originally written for Baroque Organs seems to have less sparkle when played in ET.
    Some years ago we owned a Johannus Rembrandt 397 that had 12 temperaments built-in, one of which you could experiment with yourself (some of us grounded in music theory might remember the rings of 5). We toyed around with this until we heard of Brad Lehman and his website. Brad is/was a music prof at a small Indiana college when he had a new Baroque organ built for the college to be used as a teaching and recital instrument. Using Brad's tuning, we installed his software driven program into the Rembrandt and what we heard was absolutely astounding. We used this almost exclusively for the 2 years following until this organ was sold and reverted back to ET. Brad's tuning also allowed for all 6 sharps/flats playing such as with ET but the sounds generated were glorious, harmony took on new meanings, we heard familiar chords sounding in a whole new way.
    In addition to the tuning this organ also could be set to A=415 or 465, this too brought a whole different sound that we liked very much.

  • jonmyrlebailey
    replied
    Originally posted by regeron View Post
    Here are some reviews of the link you provided.
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3519570?seq=1

    This actual temperament still seems to be unclear.

    Also, I still ask - What are some other temperaments that Bach probably had access to?
    I don't know and I don't care.

    Leave a comment:


  • regeron
    replied
    Here are some reviews of the link you provided.
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3519570?seq=1

    This actual temperament still seems to be unclear.

    Also, I still ask - What are some other temperaments that Bach probably had access to?
    Last edited by regeron; 06-25-2020, 11:02 AM. Reason: corrected grammar and clarity

    Leave a comment:


  • jonmyrlebailey
    replied
    Originally posted by regeron View Post
    My question to jonmyrlebailey remains -
    How many temperaments did Bach have available to choose from, and what were they?

    Actually, I'll re-word my question to make it a bit easier and fairer:
    What are some of the temperaments that Bach might have encountered and used?
    Here is a book on Bach's temperament:

    https://www.jstor.org/preview-page/1.../3519512?seq=1

    Bach's Extraordinary Temperament: Our Rosetta Stone: 1

    Bradley Lehman

    Abstract


    "Johann Sebastian Bach's 1722 title-page for Das wohltemperirte Clavier contains a hand-drawn schematic of his expected keyboard temperament, now deciphered in 2004 by Bradley Lehman. The article presents historical and theoretical analysis of this temperament, and its implications for further study. Bach notated this specific unequal tuning as part of his audition material for the Leipzig position: to demonstrate his readiness to teach all aspects of keyboard practice, and probably also the way he intended to tune the organs upon securing the job (as is corroborated by his later Leipzig organ compositions). Approximately half the pieces in the WTC directly demonstrate salient and unique features of this temperament, showing how deeply Bach understood this intonational resource, and how he allowed his musical themes and working methods to be catalysed by its presence. With Bach's musically colourful and all-purpose solution installed on a keyboard, all tonal music is lively and clear, without any of the typical harmonic problems encountered in other contemporary unequal temperaments. The intonation affects other areas of performance practice as well, especially in Affekt and phrasing, as it suggests the specific melodic/harmonic tensions Bach expected and deployed in his art. An inspection of Bach's earliest music reveals that he already knew this temperament (or something similarly efficacious) at the beginning of his career; this was simply his everyday practical way to tune keyboards, probably learned from his family. And he and his sons never necessarily abandoned this in favour of equal temperament, during its rise in their culture."



    Question: Does any Bach organ or harpsichord movement have any modulation, shifting of keys during the performance? Could even his well-temperament work in theory for such modulation especially if keys change abruptly?


    Leave a comment:


  • regeron
    replied
    My question to jonmyrlebailey remains -
    How many temperaments did Bach have available to choose from, and what were they?

    Actually, I'll re-word my question to make it a bit easier and fairer:
    What are some of the temperaments that Bach might have encountered and used?
    Last edited by regeron; 06-25-2020, 09:40 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Peterboroughdiapason
    replied
    Bach probably used different tunings but there are many historic organs in continental Europe that are now tuned in some form of Baroque tuning, e.g. Werckmeiser III. And, of course, many digital organs give the option of different temperaments. So we have a good idea of how the tunings sounded.

    However, no, we won't know how Bach played his organ music. My personal opinion is that he wouldn't have played it as fast as today's speed merchants. I think he might have played much as Helmut Walcha did - not too rushed and in a straightforward way. Who knows. though!

    Leave a comment:

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