Interesting questions - see below.
----- Original Message -----
From: "d. collins" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2004 8:31 AM
Subject: Transposition and temperament (Couperin)
> In the Preface to his Leçons de ténèbres, Couperin mentions the
> of transposing them to suit other voices.
I haven't looked at Couperin's words, but it occurs to me that transposing
to suit other voices is quite different from transposing to suit other
temperaments. Did Couperin assume that his current temperaments were
adequate? This seems likely. But adequate to what, and how? There's the
> The first of these three pieces
> has sections in a rather large span of keys, since parts of it are written
> in D major, and others in F minor (but with only 3 flats in the
> among other keys (D minor, F major). What would be the possible (downward)
> transpositions if one wants to remain within the bounds of the then
Another question is: current temperaments for *which* [keyboard]
instrument[s]? If we hypothesize a large church organ, then it's safe to
assume that this instrument would in 99.44% of the cases have been tuned in
meantone until after Couperin's death. The question then arises: would
the passages in f-minor have been played on the organ omitting the Very Wide
Thirds, or fudging them, or accepting them as an inevitable part of the
imperfection of keyboard instruments? I doubt that anybody has definitive
answers, but I'd loved to be proved wrong!
But maybe Couperin assumed a chamber organ? The tuning *might* then have
been less strict than meantone, but I have no evidence of this - tho it may
well exist! Who knows the answer? Pierre-Yves?
If Couperin assumed a hps, at least as a possibility, then I think it's
fairly well established that the "current temperaments" would have been able
to cope adequately w/ f-minor & D-major in a single work, i.e. w/o retuning.
A hps would succeed better, methought, than an organ, given a brand of
> I don't see anything else but a 4th below (which would give
> A major to C minor for the two extremes).
A temperament that works for these extremes will work, with suitable
transposition *of the temperament*, equally well for d-minor to F-Major.
temperament would be easily transposable on a hps, less so on a chamber
organ, not at all on a large church organ.