Author Topic: Chord shapes, string quartet vs choral practice and the keyboard  (Read 3744 times)

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David Pinnegar

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Last evening I was listening to a string quartet on the radio and realised that I was detecting chords changing shape based upon the string players aiming for perfect intervals between them. Whilst having infinitely variable pitch at their disposal, they would be returning at different points in the music to the fixed pitch of open strings, any of which would be dependant upon key chosen.

In string quartet music presumably keys in major and minor based on GDAE and CGDA pitches are most common and one might assume that keys such as F#, Db and B are rather more rarely chosen by composers?

In contrast choral music has no reference points and intervals can be fully variable and presumably aiming for pure but relying on musicians' senses of pitch to return to the home key without having shifted.

It's in this way that the keyboard equally tempered becomes altogether rather flat in comparison and the loss of spice and shape shifting between chords leads to something as uninteresting as the modern generation find to be what is regarded as classical music . . .

When we hear a keyboard concerto, are we enjoying a contrast between the flat equal tempered tuning of the keyboard and the more pure intervals played by an orchestra? And to what extent is the orchestra driven by the now equal tempered tuning of its woodwind instruments?

Has our perception of classical orchestral music been changed by the adoption of equal temperament in the woodwind? Were woodwind instruments always in equal temperament or were they in an unequal? And if so which?

Best wishes

David P


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