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438Re: [clairseach] temperaments and cents

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  • Simon Chadwick
    Sep 17, 2006
      Hi Barbara,

      Bunting took down the method used by the old harpers, going in 5ths,
      octaves and 4ths. Look in the Ancient Msuic of Ireland (1840) page
      twenty-something, and also look at ms29:


      or http://tinyurl.com/oz75h

      (there are others in ms29 as well)

      Anyway here is a great chart that shows how different intervals
      diverge from equal tempered tuning:

      scroll halfway down to the graph

      For medieval music e.g. Robert ap Huw we should use Pythagorean, you
      get this by tuning in 5ths and making the 5ths absolutely pure. For
      baroque music you should tune in perhaps 1/4 comma meantone, you get
      this by tuning in 5ths and 4ths as before but make all the 5ths a bit
      narrow, and check the 3rds to make sure they are pure.

      As to whether the 18th century harpers like O'Hampsey were old
      fashioned enough to use pure 5ths, or modern enough to use pure 3rds,
      its a moot point. I suspect the former...

      The pure intervals (whether 5ths or 3rds) resonate throught he whole
      harp and make it sound sweeter, so choosing one or the other will
      affect the entire tone of the instrument. Choosing equal temperament
      will kill it dead as there are no pure intervals to resonate...

      It shouldnt differ from ear to ear as we are hearing real physical
      relationships between the vibrating strings, so once your ear is used
      to the nuances of it you will be able to tune pythagorean or 1/4
      comma meantone as precisely as the next person. Which you prefer for
      a given repertory is very much different from ear to ear though!!!

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