It is interesting to remember that equal temperament was not the tuning system of choice until the 1840s (pianos) and 1850s (organs)*. A reliable, standardized method for tuning ET wasn’t devised until 1917 by the acoustical engineer William Braid White. Before that time tuners, while paying lip service to ET, were really achieving something that was well tempered.

These days, ET is firmly entrenched in the western art music world. But I think we still yearn for pure intervals – at the very least, pure major thirds. Don’t get me wrong – I play in a wonderful piano trio –  but maybe some of our neuroses as string players are rooted in a lingering, almost unrecognized  ideal for ‘in tune’ that is at odds with ET. Ah – we live in a conflicted universe….

*These dates are for Great Britain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s