digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart

Posted by: Marco M

digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 01/29/13 01:11 PM

I read in the internet in the pianoworld forums discussions about old composers and the original temperament they supposedly have had in use. But sometimes the information given is not easy for me to translate to the temperament options which I am provided by my digital piano. For instance, there is no "Victorian Well", "Quasi-Equal", "Young" or "EBVT" temperament programmed in. But there are most often available besides the Equal Tuning as well a Just Major and a Just Minor, a Pythagorean, and of special interest to me the Meantone, Werckmeister-III and Kirnberger-III temperaments. This seems to be true for many digital pianos out there, and not only for my specific model.
Now, I was searching for some proper correlation between old composers and the temperament which supposedly was most often used by them, and found for rough orientation this guideline (source: http://www.kirnberger.fsnet.co.uk/TEMPS4.html):




In order to play in the likely temperament preferred by the composer, the period in which a given piece of music was written must be considered. The following list gives a number of composers, covering successive periods, together with an appropriate temperament.

1/4 Comma Mean Tone
Frescobaldi
Purcell
Vivaldi
Scarlatti (earlier compositions)?
Werckmeister III; Bach’s (Rediscovered by Kellner); Handel’s; Neidhardt
J.S. Bach
C.P.E. Bach
Handel
Modified Mean Tone
Soler
Rameau
Scarlatti (later compositions)
Froberger
Buxtehude
Kirnberger III; Vallotti; Prelleur; YoungI; YoungII;
Haydn (modified mean tone)
Mozart (modified mean tone)
Beethoven
Schubert
Chopin
Weber
Brahms
Equal Temperament
Debussy
Schoenberg
Webern
Stravinsky
Martin
Cage
Stockhausen
Sessions


Would you agree on this, or could you point me to a better guide correlating old composers and those temperaments which can usually be found on the modern digital pianos? I am hobbyist, adult beginner on the piano, with some backgrounds in organ music, and do not aim to find the ultimate scientific assay on the topic, but really a rough guide which I could lean on when starting to play old music in its supposedly original temperament.
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 01/30/13 11:39 AM

In my opinion that list is nonsensical.

Very rough:
1/4' meantone till 1685.
1/4' well temperament 1685-1750
1/6' well temperament for Bach (1/4' preferred by some)
1/6' well temperament till 1800
equal temperament after that.

Which well temperament you choose is up to taste.
Werckmeister III and reverse Bach Lehman are popular 1/4' and 1/6' temperaments.

Keep in mind that e.g. Frescobaldi (like others) wrote some pieces that can not be played in 1/4' meantone. They require more than 12 keys per octave.

Kees
Posted by: Marco M

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 01/30/13 01:07 PM

Thanks a lot for your information!
As I am strictly bound on my digital piano, as most others with a digital piano, to the temperaments which are programmed in, I try to translate this.

I wouldn´t know for which music to use the "Just Major", "Just Minor" and "Pythagorean" presets.

Then, as the ones obviously of interest to me, I have available the temperaments:
"Equal"
"Meantone"
"Werckmeister-III"
"Kirnberger-III".

I assume that what you list as 1/4' meantone, will be the "Meantone" setting on my digital piano.
It then is clear that the "Werckmeister-III" setting will be the candidate to try for playing Bach.
But my "Kirnberger-III" setting, how does this come in? I read somewhere that Kirnberger was a pupil of Bach, and therefore suppose that it could be what you call the 1/6' WT. Is this conclusion correct?
Posted by: Bosendorff

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 01/30/13 10:16 PM

Hello Marco,

About temperaments, I think it's indeed interesting to try them out with a digital piano when that option is available and to imagine what it could have been like in the time of earlier grand masters. On my digital piano, you can create custom temperaments as well or modify existing ones to see how they would sound.

About composers of the past, along with the non-equal temperaments that you can imagine they preferred, you could also take into account the different diapason that they might have been using (sometimes quite lower than the usual A4 = 440 Hz).
Posted by: Marco M

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 01/31/13 03:31 AM

Thanks for this information!
Yes, I also read some comments about this. I will try so, as well.
Would you know about a comprehensive but still short publication (not too much discussion about the topic, but rather a kind of summary of the current discussion), which I could consult as a guide / for information about temperaments and diapasons in use?
Posted by: Bosendorff

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 01/31/13 11:21 AM

Hi Marco,

Here are a few links, you can find many others online : smile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch

http://pbosf.blogspot.ca/2010/01/story-of-more-about-baroque-pitch.html
Posted by: Marco M

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/01/13 04:18 AM

Excellent sources on the pitch, thanks a lot!


About Kirnberger temperaments on digital pianos:

On the one hand, Kirnberger-III seems to be excepted to be the try of Kirnberger to improve the Werckmeister-III tuning, in order to even improve/pronouce the different WT key characters as Bach made use out of them. So Kirnberger-III appears to be an alternative to Werckmeister-III, for easy to play keys (main-stream, up to 3 accidentals) sounding nicely harmonic and with the increasing number of accidentals containing keys sounding more and more enhanced in their specific character.

On the other hand it is claimed somewhere, that the Kirnberger-II temperament would have been widely (mainly) used in the Wiener Klassik, so the music of Beethoven and Mozart.

So, after already providing in the digital piano the Werckmeister-III temperament, might the Kirnberger temperament in the digital piano have been aimed to be used for the after-Bach era (i.e. for Beethoven and Mozart), but it then should be a Kirnberger-II instead of Kirnberger-III? Is the Kirnberger-III (as 'only' being a variation of Werckmeister-III) chosen wrong by the digital piano manufactures in the attempt to provide temperamets for covering a wide range of music from different times and composers?
Posted by: BDB

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/01/13 04:28 AM

Mozart and Beethoven definitely used different temperaments. Mozart restricted himself entirely to meantone keys, while Beethoven did not, even writing a piece that goes through all the keys.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/01/13 07:41 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Mozart and Beethoven definitely used different temperaments. Mozart restricted himself entirely to meantone keys, while Beethoven did not, even writing a piece that goes through all the keys.


Greetings,
I think not. I have the Mozart comparisons on line, for free, which will allow you to hear Mozart in meantone (it is on CD Baby, search for "Six Degrees of Tonality, artist is E. Katahn) . As to the choice of a well-temperament, the Kirnberger and Werckmeister level of tunings are pretty strong tunings, making the remote keys very expressive. Temperaments such as the Young or Vallotti might be a better choice on a modern piano, as the refinement of the ascending dissonance is much advanced, and there is only one key with a syntonic comma in the tonic third.
Regards,
Posted by: BDB

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/01/13 11:46 AM

So you think Beethoven was "expressive," while Mozart was not?

I doubt it makes much difference, anyway. I do not think that instruments were tuned then as accurately as we expect them to be tuned now, and most people today are not that fussy about how well their instruments are tuned.
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/01/13 11:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Marco M

So, after already providing in the digital piano the Werckmeister-III temperament, might the Kirnberger temperament in the digital piano have been aimed to be used for the after-Bach era (i.e. for Beethoven and Mozart), but it then should be a Kirnberger-II instead of Kirnberger-III? Is the Kirnberger-III (as 'only' being a variation of Werckmeister-III) chosen wrong by the digital piano manufactures in the attempt to provide temperamets for covering a wide range of music from different times and composers?

No, yes.

Kees
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/01/13 05:28 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
So you think Beethoven was "expressive," while Mozart was not?


Oh, what a jump to confusion. I never said that. What I am correcting is the statement that Mozart restricted himself to meantone tuning, and that is obviously in error.

A meantone tuning is not "expressive". The writing on it may be, but the 18th century use of the word refers to the amount of color, or tempering. On a MT, there are no remote keys, just wolves. A well-temperament, in contrast to that, offers a variety of tempering. The more tempered an interval was, the more more "expressive" it was.
Posted by: BDB

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/01/13 09:00 PM

And I did not say that Mozart used a meantone tuning.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/13/13 03:48 PM

I don't thin thie list is has a solid background.
Posted by: RPD

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/14/13 09:13 PM

I'd be interested to know if your digital allows you to program into the unit any temp you wish? Is there any programming function that would allow you do that?
Posted by: Marco M

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/15/13 05:11 AM

Mine in particular does not allow this, therefore I opening the thread asked specifically for a chart matching the few temperaments I have access to.
I heard that the high end digital pianos Kawai CA-95 and Roland V-Piano would allow to do so, but can not reliably confirm this.
As far as I know, most mid-class digital pianos just (but at least) offer you a couple of temperaments, the ones which are also available at mine, and that´s it.
Posted by: TimR

Re: digital piano temperaments and composers correlation chart - 02/15/13 08:36 AM

Mine allows me to tweak any note, so I can theoretically set any temperament. Most mid level models that I've checked allow that also. Doing it note by note is a tedious process, but then again you tune a piano string by string! <grin>