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HPSCHD-L  March 2016

HPSCHD-L March 2016

Subject:

Re: Tempest great tool for estimating the temperament from recording

From:

"J. Claudio Di Veroli" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Harpsichords and Related Topics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 15 Mar 2016 14:00:26 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (102 lines)

> Michael wrote: Hi Claudio, As usual your reply is well considered, but
aren't you being a teeny bit polemical towards John? ...

Yeah, I apologise for being a bit flippant, but I am sensitive when strong
words such as "research" are improperly used. I went to the site, where the
software is described as useful for acoustic analysis: the main work of SAWA
is to devoted to some aspects of digital processing of modern recordings. It
will tell us NOTHING about any of the research areas about temperaments I
mentioned in my post.

> insofar as one regards recordings involving people like Dolmetsch,
Landowska and Leonhardt as being a part of harpsichord history. I personally
have no clue (for example) to what extent they used different temperaments
for French and Italian music, so Tempest might help me find reliable
answers.

Here I beg to disagree. Dolmetsch etc. are part of HARPSICHORD HISTORY, not
about TEMPERAMENT HISTORY! About Dolmetsch and Landowska we know. By the 2nd
half of the 19th century mankind had actually forgot most knowledge about
unequal temperaments with only two exceptions: the just-intonation special
keyboards (24-note-per-octave harmonium by Helmholtz) and meantone (we know
this from Bosanquet who was not even aware that anything like Circular
temperaments had ever existed). Circular temperaments were rediscovered by
Barbour in the 1947's and AFAIK their practice was reintroduced in the
1960's (mainly by Bédard in Paris). So we know that Dolmetsch MAY have been
tuning in meantone, and AFAIK Landowska always used Equal, and again I
cannot see why this is relevant for present day "temperament research"!
 
> I think it would be a pity if feisty responses discouraged people from
mentioning things like Tempest on the list.

What I wanted to discourage is, again, the inappropriate use of the word
"research". There are many things about historical temperaments for use in
the harpsichord we still do not know, because the relevant harpsichord-era
documents are lost to history if they ever existed. Tempest will be of no
help whatsoever for this.

> By the way, I wonder if its usefulness might be wider for historic
instruments such as flutes and organs,  whose temperaments are to a degree
inbuilt, providing information which could possibly be relevant by
association for harpsichords.

AFAIK, of the very few organs with pipes that remained in a unequal
temperament at the beginning of the 20th century, none ever underwent a
process such as : (1) restoration into the original unequal temperament, (2)
recording and (3) retuning to equal temperament. So even if it worked for
organs, Tempest would be of no help in temperament research.

> (It would of course be nicer to tour historic organs in Switzerland
personally than run Tempest on recordings of them, but one could use it as a
pre-check before travelling.) 

Perhaps not even this. Retuning from standard meantone into ET or viceversa
is certainly something that nowadays is rare and well documented, but you
may well find an organ recorded with Werckmeister III 20 years ago, they you
travel and in the meantime they decided to perform the minimal (and highly
beneficial) changes of retuning it into Vallotti-Young. And again, this is
not research!

> It would also be interesting to know whether you found
it troublesome and time-consuming to check recordings using Tempest ... 

I have not used it yet. Until c.1960 all the harpsichord recordings are in
equal temperament, from c.1970 many (from 1980 most) of the recordings are
in unequal temperaments. I know that Bédard tuned "circular" the
harpsichords for Kenneth Gilbert celebrated recordings of the 1970's,
because I visited those harpsichords before and after the recordings and
discussed the matter with Bédard several times. But I never tried to gauge
exactly which temperament was been used, and Bédard himself did not know: he
tuned intuitively (AFAIK the first modern directions for circular tuning
were published by Klop in 1974). This knowledge is for my personal curiosity
only, it will add nothing useful in "research" into temperaments. Similarly,

To know using Tempest which temperament Leonhard used in a mid-1960
recording may be interesting for some who are particularly fond of the
particular recording, but it will not tell me which temperament D. Scarlatti
was using for a particular set of sonatas, and it will tell nothing useful
to the modern harpsichordist about how to tune the instrument.

Summarising: Tempest is a curiosity for the owner of some modern harpsichord
records, but is useless for temperament research, and is also useless to
help the modern harpsichordist in the selection of an unequal temperament or
on devising a tuning method for it.
 
> Warmest greetings from Ireland, which is more completely rain-sodden than
ever before in living memory, but finally sunny for a few days.

Very nice to hear from you again Michael, all the best!!

Claudio


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