At 12:00 AM 4/2/01 -0400, you wrote:
>Whether or not _you_ feel certain about this doesn't help us resolve the
>question of this piece in any sense which has any degree of historical
My guess is as good as yours.
>Bach's normal mode of tuning (if there was such a thing) was a near
>meantone temperament, a tuning you also mistakenly characterize as
>"early 18th century". Near meantone variants were used until well into
>the 19th century, and close to equal tunings were known and used far
>back into the early Baroque.
We agree. That was my reference.
>Which option each musician chose from the
>vast palette of temperament possibilities had more to do with individual
>taste and the musical requirements of the moment than with any
>temporal/regional constraints, except in the broadest of terms and/or
>cases in which the musician had no choice (such as the many English
>organs which remained in meantone until 1850 or so).
We're talking pre-1825 here- you can't have it both ways. Assuming that
most or all the temperaments employer were by preference "near meantone",
none of them is applicable to the f# minor toccata. None. Name one.>
> > Hold on. I never suggested that was the purpose of the transposing
> > keyboard. What I did suggest was that Bach used that device to create a
> > novel piece which must have been quite mind-blowing at the time, especially
> > to the player.
>You mean mind-blowing ONLY to the player, who would be the only one who
>would notice any difference at all, since only he is confronted with a
>different tactile matrix which he must manipulate to produce the precisely
>the same sounds.
It certainly would to someone who had tried to play it un-transposed. Bach
was very fond of puzzles, as you know.
>If so, than it is of no concern to listeners, or modern day
>performers; they should just put it back in g minor and be done with it.
Brad Lehman's testimony seems to refute that.
>And by that, I don't mean convert f# in g. I mean literally play it in g.
> > In an earlier paragraph, PP states that these same temperaments are in
> > effect no different from ET. So what's his point?
>The point is that there was a plethora of temperaments available to Bach
>(actually anything he could imagine, and being a clever fellow, I
>believe that was a lot). As the Gall Clavierstimbuch of 1805 states,
>between the extremes of meantone and equal there are countless
>possibilities. So the point was that your statement that this piece
>defies "all" unequal temperaments only has validity within the very
>narrow confines of your ahistorical definition of "unequal" temperaments.
I refer you back to your own paragraph about "early 18th-century temperaments".
> > Bach wasn't in it to
> > prove something (esp. something specious)- he was in it for sound and for
> > musical adventure.
>Well, with all due respect, your solution of turning f# minor into g
>minor seems the very definition of speciousness to me. It's an aural
>sham, and to whatever degree it "convinces", it does so like the social
>solutions of a hypocritical politician, who when confronted by a problem
>which is unsolvable under the tenets of his ideology, redefines the
>parameters so that the problem disappears. Need I point out that it
>completely undermines your statement that Bach was "in it for sound and
>musical adventure." Where's the musical adventure of that sound? Nowhere
>- it's just plain old ho-hum garden variety g minor. The only adventure
>is in having to walk a difficult, twisty, rocky path to explore the same
>old sonic countryside.
You really do have a certain charm, Paul.
>I really doubt the whole transposition idea, either up or down. Why
>would Bach go to all the trouble of notating it in a near foreign key
>just to give the player practice with a different pattern of sharps and
>naturals under his fingers? I suspect most decent keyboard musicians
>could do that at sight at the time, if they wanted such practice, as
>they can now. I just don't get the point.
>Maybe it's true, but I don't think any of the arguments presented so far
>are convincing, nor has anyone yet provided a convincing argument for
>the piece not being playable where it lies, given a less severe unequal
I guess we just have to agree to disagree. This will be my last response.
>PS The BIG difference between near-equal temperaments and equal is that
>the former still bear clear evidence of their origins, the Vallotti-like
>6th comma family of well-temperaments. This is evident both in the
>method of setting them and their distribution of key inequalities,
>slight though they may be. They are near-equal sounding natural
>outgrowths of the aesthetics and logic of meantone variants. Equal is
>just equal, and one neither sets it nor concieves of it in any way
>related to the others.
Valotti is later.
The Musical Offering