Author Topic: Just intonation  (Read 2072 times)

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David Pinnegar

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Just intonation
« on: September 15, 2011, 02:36:37 PM »

In modern musicianship, as a child I thought that chromatic scales were simply semitonal. It's taken me a long while to appreciate the meaning of chromaticism in regard to colour and colourisation.

Contact with the historic French organ, often using Meantone or a strong Good Temperament, has introduced the calm and beautiful sound of perfect thirds, sweet sounds. The Tierce en Taille becomes not merely the Tierce in the Tenor or the Tierce in the left hand but the Tierce in the Body, which becomes sweetness in the body. . . .

This is psychologically and potentially physiologically important in the effect of the music upon our perceptions and possibly a beneficial effect upon health that we have missed for a long time. It was for these reasons that these sounds were used in sacred places.

It's for these reasons why just intonation with simple ratio intervals is worth exploring. Of course those with access to electronic instruments have easy access to modified tunings and, when one finds a pipe organ, such as the one reported in Zurich (see the Zurich Resolution section of the forum), providing quarter tones, it's apparent that Barry Williams elsewhere in this forum was wrong in exclaiming that exploration of unequal temperaments disfavoured pipe organs.

In the design of new instruments, we have to explore and know those features which we want to see provided and specified for. Unless we explore such areas, we cannot know what to specify to result in a success . . .

In researching quarter tone provision and bearing in mind composers specifying D flat as opposed to C sharp, for instance, the following sites are of interest:

For my part, microtonal melody does not appeal, but finding contrasts in the focus of chords on the harmonic series with the absense of meaning of chords of notes out of series, defocusses them and brings great interest to the music.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS


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