The Keyboard Temperament of J. S. Bach
John Charles Francis, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD
CH-3072 Ostermundigen, Switzerland
Feedback to the Article - Part 1
New tuning methods for Bach's keyboards
Charles Francis wrote (July 12, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< There is a new paper by Charles Francis, proposing to describe several keyboard temperaments derived from a composition by Bach: he has published it on 6/25/04 at: http://www.eunomios.org/contrib/francis1/francis1.html
and announced it that day on the discussion group alt.music.j-s-bach >
I am pleased to announce that the paper referred to above is available online at the BCW: www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Keyboard-Temperament[Francis].htm
Extensive supporting musical examples in MP3 format are also available: www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Keyboard-Temperament[Francis]-Music.htm
With regard to the music examples, I have followed Bach's practice of providing a piece in each major and minor key to illustrate its special character, a feature arising from its unique tetrachords. They are "Urtext" performances based directly on Bach's score and realised under computer control on a Korg Wavestation, an instrument which creates any 12-tone musical temperament on demand from its specification in cents. A simple registration was selected, namely a relatively pure organ tone, with no processing or reverberation added. To facilitate comparison, an identical registration was employed for each piece.
Note, the sonorous sound that emerges, on occasion, from this modest organ stop: a result of certain fifths being detuned by 1/3-syntonic comma and thirds which are detuned wide. While the use of such detuned fifths had historic precedents before Bach, the practice had apparently died out by his time. The Well Tempered system derived from BWV 924 therefore represents a conjectured trade-secret of the Bach family, whose detailed construction was represented in coded, rather than textual form.
I am very grateful to the BCW owner, Aryeh Oron, for his effort in getting this material online. In particular, the number and volume of examples posed significant technical challenges, which needed time and patience to overcome. I am also grateful to Dr. Jo Tomita of the School of Music, Queen's University Belfast, for permission to use his "Urtext" Well Tempered Clavier Book II MIDI-files in realising this project.
Bradley Lehman wrote (July 12, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] In response to: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/14995
I consider it a serious anti-professional insult that this paper is "published" further as part of the BCW, given that so much of the material in it derives from my own comments on the BCML/BRML, lifted and used without citation. (Not the arbitrary solution itself, as that's really far off-base, but the methods of theoretical analysis and the historical connections that I've mentioned various times on-list...there they are, popping up in another person's paper as if they were original ideas of his own!)
Isn't anyone concerned about the breach of intellectual property here, and the methods of proper research and attribution? What about accuracy to the material, and the responsibility of an author to have things checked out by experts before publishing them, to make sure the information is factually correct? That has all been short-circuited here. Indeed, the inclusion of this paper lowers the value of the BCW itself, since the material is so seriously incorrect (but impressive-enough in veneer to fool some casual visitors to the site, perhaps).
In postings to the BRML/BCML I had been quite enthusiastic over the past several months about a project of my own, frankly the research find of a lifetime (mine, encompassing more than 20 years of university-trained work by me so far, in interdisciplinary fields of history, the instruments, Bach's keyboard repertoire, and languages). And, I shared a few of the exciting features from it, believing that fans of Bach's music would be interested in important research about tuning that affects all aspects of Bach performance practice. It's an absolutely serious project, and indeed my paper has been accepted for publication in a musicological journal. I will announce it on-list when the publication process is finished and it appears in print.
Meanwhile, it turns out, there has been an unscrupulous person here to scoop up whatever I have said ahead of time, and to reinterpret it into a document passed off as his own work. This is deplorable. It devalues expert effort, and (by its lampooning example) makes it appear as if expert work itself is nothing more than the marketing of arbitrary material. If something looks technical enough and confusing enough to "convince" non-experts, does that mean it's good enough to be published? That appears to be the message here, the subtext of Charles' paper. It's evidently an attempt to make experts, and me in particular, look like fools. (After all, as Charles himself has remarked numerous times, the process worked well enough for Herbert Kellner [who also had nothing beyond an invention of his own, foisted with faux history upon an unsuspecting public, and not fooling experts].) Perhaps Charles is serious and believes he really has something; perhaps not. From scientific perspective, though, the fact is that HE DOES NOT have musicological findings here that are anything more than creative argumentation by himself, put up to fool people who know less than he does about the topic, and to fool those who can ignore his leaps of illogic and inconsistency with his treatment of evidence. His motivations are his own business, of course, but his material is bogus, for reasons that can be confirmed by anyone who DOES know the topic.
First, the responsibility to accuracy in the material, the reason that scientific methods exist at all and are used in musicology. Will there be an attempt to address the questions of fact that I have brought out in review of Charles' paper? Those remain where I posted them two weeks ago at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/francis-paper.htm
The concerns I have noted there include almost two dozen technical points that are problematic: both from the temperament's derivation and application, and from the historical record. Simply, Charles has missed huge chunks of evidence and practice that refute his hypothesis, whoosh, under the rug. Those issues can be confirmed by and with any other expert in this field; don't simply take my word for this. The points put forth in Charles' paper are simply wrong from so many technical and musical reasons, the whole thing is absolutely irresponsible to history, theory, and to Bach's music. The inaccuracy to the material is 75% of my complaint here.
Additionally, as the other 25% of my objection, there are some remarks about features of the paper that arise from misuse of uncredited sources. Plagiarism! For example, the idea of "unique tetrachords" that Charles has been using recently (and slipped into his paper) can be traced back to my own posting of May 21st: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/14399
There's also the May 2nd message on the BCML where Charles asked me directly to give away the cent values from my own work; and when I refused to do so, he went ahead trying to discover the secrets himself, to scoop my research for himself. http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/8235
His paper approximately seven weeks later is the result. I am now convinced thaif I had said any more than I did, he and his Korg Wavestation (see below) would have taken that, too, and recycled it as his own work. Fortunately, he's never seen any of my paper!
The idea below about a tuning system being a "conjectured trade-secret of the Bach family" also comes from my work, originally, as I mentioned on-list. Here's my posting about that on June 14th: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/14729
That was conjectured by whom? Why, by me! Uncredited by Charles, of course. I well remember doing that research myself in a stack of books, in May and June; I still have those books here, on library loan through the summer.
If Charles were treating this project as some sort of collaboration, he would have made proper citations of his sources; that's what serious researchers do. Instead, he has simply treated any material he could find on the Internet as free and proper for any creative use to which he would put it, without regard for propriety or even for understanding what he's using. He hasn't shown any concern to become well-informed himself before writing the paper, as to doing a literature review of the field of tuning to find out what's already been done, or even to understand the nature of the problem that he proposes to solve. Instead, he has simply relied on a small handful of sources all more than 20 years old, and found an arbitrary solution that pleases him, and seeks to market it as if he has something significant to the field of Bach research. Obviously, he puts no stock in more recent work by experts (researchers, performers, and tuning theorists) who--upon even a cursory examination of the paper--can see that he knows only slightly more than neophytes in the topic (for example, showing no distinction among the several commas addressed by 18th century theorists). Instead, his paper is given this back-door promotion through web sites that have nothing to do with academic review of the material, for accuracy.
Frankly, this whole thing looks like a cruel joke at my expense, and at the expense of other serious researchers in this field (Lindley, Steblin, Jorgensen, Barbour, et al) who have spent many years developing the expertise and collecting the sources that inform the research. I take it both an affront to serious musicology, and an affront to me personally: both because Charles' proposed solution is so fundamentally wrong on the instruments Bach knew (as in: musically absurd), and because the creative "research" methodology used here (stealing material from an expert--me--without attribution) is dishonest. What about scruples? Basically, this project by Charles punishes me for being enthusiastic about my own work, enough that I would say anything about it. I should have just said absolutely nothing in this forum about tuning, given that there are trolls under the bridge to steal and recycle whatever they think they understand.
My complaint about this mistreatment (both of the material and of me) deserves hearing in this forum, too, just as much as Charles' announcement of his article does. Maybe my complaint is boring and/or meaningless in the eyes of many list members here; I apologize for that. But, my work and I have been violated in this attempt by Charles to scoop the goods for himself.
Furthermore, I suspect I'm being singled out for censorship and/or poor behavior here, while I'm simply putting up defense against deplorable actions. In response to a posting by John Pike, on 7/8 I posted a message in the Telemann thread which has never shown up on-list. Is my work being suppressed either through some simple Internet glitch, or some action by Thought Police, to squelch my remarks about tuning and/or about Charles' paper? (John asked about tuning for Telemann, and I esponded.) I suppose if this message today also fails to show up, I'll know that it's the latter: that my opinions in particular are being censored. Accordingly, I am copying this message today additionally to Aryeh, Charles, and to several members of the list who know what proper processes of research are, and/or who have expressed interest in this tuning project. In my opinion: if anyone should have his messages suppressed here, it's the one who has stolen serious work and used it to mock the field of musicology.
p.s. Dr Tomita's first name is Yo, not Jo. He and I corresponded for a while, about six weeks ago, in conversation about some bibliographic references in his database with regard to tuning articles (some citations of Michaelstein articles being misattributed to the wrong volumes of the books). Nice guy, and an established Bach scholar. I don't think he deserves any blame here for the way his MIDI files are being used to market sham findings.
Anna Vriend wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Has everybody seen this?????
Joost wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To Anna Vriend] Before giving Charles any credit, I think you should Brad's reaction and comments to it as well! It puts Charles' achievements in quite a different daylight...
Bradley Lehman wrote (July 13, 2004):
Bach Temperament (was: Telemann & tuning)
Continue of discussion from: In Defense of Bach [by John Reese] - Feedback [Articles]
John Pike wrote: < I actually quite enjoy some of Telemann's music, especially when played well. I'd be interested to know from Brad some time whether he has tried any Telemann in Bach's temperament. Maybe a reappraisal will be due if the music is transformed by being played in an appropriate temperament. Brad has already hinted that music by CPE Bach and Quantz is transformed when played in Bach's temperament. >
Well, a truism is: any software (in this case, music) puts its best results forward only when the hardware has been set up correctly....
I'm not at liberty to say more here about Bach's temperament, for several reasons:
(1) My paper has been accepted for publication in 2005 (hurrah!), in a musicological journal. To maintain the respectability that it (and the journal!) deserves, in my enthusiasm about it I can't go scooping myself by saying too much about it.
(2) There's at least one member of the BachRecordings and BachCantatas lists who has been gathering up any comments by me (some prompted by his own direct questions here!) and recycling them as work of his own, without attribution, trying to scoop me with a "publication" already on the web. He's been trying to reverse-engineer Bach's temperament from my various remarks about its features, and from any other sources he can cobble together; and, indeed, without taking musicology itself seriously as a science: he cites no sources from the past 20 years. I've already contacted the host of the web site that "published" his paper, with my complaint about the underhandedness of this. Fortunately, in their own forum I was allowed to put up an equally public objection to his paper, outlining factual reasons why his published "findings" are arbitrary and absurd ones.
This incident is deplorable and sickening: both because it's happened at all (from this group of BCML/BRML that is supposedly a friendly discussion among Bach fans), and because his attempt to put it all together has been so dilettantish, superficial, and just plain wrong, showing little real understanding of the material, or even of the problems to be solved by it. Whether he intended it to be or not, his paper is a mockery of valid musicological processes: as if real musicology is nothing beyond the fluff that he could invent (and has invented) himself. Furthermore, at least one of his postings to BRML since then has been from a computer whose clock was turned back almost six months into the past: evidence that he's perhaps been trying to post-date some of his computer files somewhere to make it look as if his "discovery" (such as it is...) was ahead of mine?
Since there are such trolls here to rip off or heckle serious work, I now regret that I have said even as much about this project as I did. This forum isn't a safe place to presenanything of much value; evidently I was wrong to expect that it might be.
(3) Another member wrote to me with the opinion that my postings about tuning are off-topic (how?) and a "parody" (of what?). Whatever that member meant by this, it's clear that my remarks about tuning are not welcome here among people who mainly want to chat about recordings that sound good to them (which is, after all, a legitimate point).
As for responsibility to the music: I think it's sad that there's been so much sophistry put up, so much lampooning of musicology here by several members, so much wild guesswork dressed up to look respectable, that real musicological inquiry itself then comes across as merely a "parody" of all that garbage...what a reversal! This tuning project of mine has taken 20 years of background in training, practice, research, and interdisciplinary study, just to be able to find all the scattered puzzle pieces and put them together in a way that makes sense by all the evidence. And, most recently, it's been an especially intense three months of literature review, calculation, experimentation (playing through most of Bach's music), writing, revision, and consultation with other experts, all to get the findings into publishable shape and get them confirmed properly before they're released to the public. As part of this I've had to develop some new analytical methods to be able to demonstrate why Bach's tuning works as well as it does, with dozens of musical examples; this is a step forward in music theory, along with music history...showing a new way to think about tonal music and make sense of the way it's put together. There is nothing trivial about this project, except perhaps in the estimation of some who don't understand the scientific processes of musicological research, or give them any value or credence.
As for musical outcomes: proper tuning affects not only the intonation of all the instruments (directly) but also phrasing, articulation, dramatic flow, and more: having a deep impact on many aspects of Bach performance--and therefore also Bach recordings, eventually. Quite bluntly: all Bach recordings to date have been out of tune, to some extent! How much more on topic could it be?! We haven't yet been able to hear Bach's music the way he expected it to go, with regard to intonation. That layer of expressiveness is built into the music, objectively, by Bach. We performers who care about trying to do things Bach's way will be compelled to rethink our methods and practices; so must instrument builders who attempt to reconstruct replicas or to rebuild existing instruments back to original condition (most notably, organs). It makes that much of a difference in so many different musical areas, and it reverses quite a few previously established notions about Bach's music. That's why I've been careful to take this project through proper steps, to have it all checked out by colleagues and published where it will be taken seriously. That takes time, effort, and dedication from many people who have invested careers in this. That's why the attempted scoop of this (see #2 above) is so insulting, both professionally and personally: it trivializes the whole thing!
John Pike wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] First, many congratulations, Brad, on having the paper accepted for publication. I greatly look forward to it coming out, the shock waves it will send through the world of Bach performers, and a new range of recordings using the correct temperament. I can hardly wait.
Second, Bach's temperament is clearly not only of the utmost relevance to our discussions, it is also IMHO by far and away the most interesting thing I have seen discussed on this list for ages.
Donald Satz wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To John Pike] I also congratulate Brad for the upcoming publication. I can't tune an instrument any more than I can tuna fish, so I am very impressed.
I really have no idea of the validity of the paper by Charles, but the timing of it demands some response from him to Brad's criticisms.
Leila Batarseh wrote (July 13, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < Bach performance practice. It's an absolutely serious project, and indeed my paper has been accepted for publication in a musicological journal. I will announce it on-list when the publication process is finished and it appears in print. >
That's great Brad, congratulations! Will musical ignoramuses like me be able to get anything out of reading it? It sounds so intriguing.
Bradley Lehman wrote (July 14, 2004):
[To Leila Batarseh] The paper is an attempt to make both the (complex) problem and the (elegant) solution clear, and to show how much it matters to tune things Bach's way. It solves all the outstanding questions that up to now have seemed insoluble, as to considering all the scattered pieces of evidence across the instrumental and vocal works, and the reports of Bach's reputation in improvisation and performance. The method is placed both in historical and theoretical context. In the sheer beauty of the resulting sound, Bach comes across as a comprehensive genius and not like a coarse tuning novice.
Friends and colleagues who have read drafts over the past few months have reported that it's simply an enjoyable piece to read, too...seeing the way all the puzzle pieces come together into a whole.
Charles Francis wrote (July 14, 2004):
Requested response to critical remarks of Bradley Lehman
[To Donald Satz] OK, Don, here is the response on timing you requested:
1) April 8, 2004: I introduce the topic of BWV 924 on the Bach Cantatas group, asking Bradley if he had heard a specific arrangement of BWV 924.
2) April 9, 2004: Bradley, on the Bach Cantatas group, confirms to me and Ehud Shiloni that he's searched the web and found the arrangement of BWV 924 that I mentioned.
3) April 9, 2004: I respond to Bradley on the Bach Cantatas group indicating there is a BWV 924 sample uploaded for his benefit.
4) April 9, 2004: Bradley thanks me on the Bach Cantatas group for providing the sample of BWV 924 to him.
5) April 9, 2004, Gabriel Jackson responds on the Bach Cantatas group to Bradley commenting on the BWV 924 sample I provided.
6) April 24, 2004, Bradley announces on the Bach Cantatas group that he is working on a first draft of a paper reporting "his" discovery of a new keyboard temperament!
7) June 29, 2004, Bradley reports the publication of my paper to the Bach Recordings Group. The paper is, in fact, based on BWV 924, although Bradely does not mention it.
8) June 29, 2004, Bradley sends a slanderous email concerning myself to nine (!) individuals in which he accuses me of plagiarism (among other things). Incredibly, he omits me from the list of recipients, so denying the opportunity to respond to allegations made behind my back.
9) July 12, 2004, I make available some MP3-files illustrating the published temperament in all 24 keys.
10) July 13, 2004, Bradley sends a slanderous email concerning myself to the Bach Recordings group (444 current members) in which he accuses me of plagiarism (among other things). Referring to a missing posting of his, he asks "Is my work being suppressed either through some simple Internet glitch, or some action by Thought Police, to squelch my remarks about tuning and/or about Charles' paper?"
11) July 13, 2004, Bradley sends another slanderous email concerning myself to the Bach Recordings group. In this posting he mentions findings (allegedly stolen by me) will be published in 2005. I assume that following the review of his paper, Bradley is preparing an update for publication in the normal manner of journal articles.
There are, I believe two main alternatives for you to consider:
1) Bradley was inspired to his rediscovery of the unique tetrachords in Bach's tuning system as a direct result of my directing him to BWV 924. Whether he used this as a spring board for some other solution or not is something we may find out, when his paper is eventually published.
2) I contrived an interpretation of BWV 924 that leads to unique tetrachords in all 24 keys (a property that does not occur in any other temperament of Bach's time, by the way). Moreover, this contrivance had the property that exactly one fifth is tuned wide (an alledged discovery of Bradley). Moreover, I had to choose a piece that represented a communication within the family to demonstrate it as a trade secret of the Bach's (another supposed discovery of Bradley). Fortunately, according to this speculative line of thought suggested by Bradley, BWV 924 from Wilhelm Friedemann's Buechlein perfectly fitted all these requirements as it had exactly 14 trills (B=2, A=1, C= 3, H= 8 => BACH = 14), so providing a convenient framework to allegedly "reverse engineer" results supposedly "stolen".
If you make some effort to read the paper and try to understand it, you'll soon realise that the proposition of scenario 2, that an arbitrary piece of music can be so interpreted, is totally preposterous.
As one who has authored many scores of referred scientific publications, let me add my congratulations to Bradley on achieving this first success with a journal article.
Message 1: April 8, 2004 from Charles to Bradley Lehman:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Brad Lehman"...>
Sent: Monday, April 05, 2004 9:43 PM
Subject: [BachCantatas] Re: Hans Hotter's "Ich habe genug" in MP3
< Somewhere, maybe on another list a long time ago, I mentioned a similar crossover wish: to hear a rendition of Schubert's "Winterreise" by Sting. >
Have you, by chance, heard Sting's adaptation of BWV 924 on his latest CD?
Message 2: Apr 8, 2004 from Ehud Shiloni to Charles
Subject: Re: Sting
Say again? Which CD?!
Have you, by chance, heard Sting's adaptation of BWV 924 on his latest CD?
Message 3: April 9, 2004 from Bradley Lehman to Charles & Ehud Shiloni:
Subject: Re: Sting
Yes, go to http://www.sting.com and click on "Sacred Love", then the lowest left corner of the grid: that portion of that song "Whenever I Say Your Name" plays in the background. It's a little disconcerting he's transposed it down to A major.
Just as enjoyable as Paul Simon's adaptation of BWV 270, and Charles Gounod's adaptation of BWV 846, and Sting's own earlier adaptation of Prokofiev, and (IMO) more so than Barry Manilow's arrangement of Chopin.
I like the saxophone-quartet album "The Saexophones: From Gesualdo to Sting" which includes part of BWV 1066 along with Byrd's Salisbury pavane, the Beatles' "Yesterday", a Gesualdo madrigal, Faure's pavane, Sting's "Moon Over Bourbon Street", and three nice bits of Shostakovich. I'm less fond of the Gershwin medley on it.
At 09:30 PM 4/8/2004 +0200, Ehud Shiloni wrote:
< Say again? Which CD?! >
>From: Charles [mailto:Francis@d...]
<< Have you, by chance, heard Sting's adaptation of BWV 924 on his > latest CD? >>
Message 4: April 9, 2004 from Charles to Bradley Lehman:
--- In BCML, Brad Lehman wrote:
< Yes, go to http://www.sting.com and click on "Sacred Love", then > the lowest left corner of the grid: that portion of that song "Whenever I Say Your Name" plays in the background. It's a little disconcerting he's transposed it down to A major. >
It's a little bit more complicated. He starts off in f-sharp minor, modulates around, then launches into the chorus in C (as Bach wrote it). Then back to f-sharp minor, but now he wants finality, so the chorus is repeated in the relative major (A). Bach, as you know, used a similar method to add finality to the B-Minor Mass, by ending in the relative major (D).
To illustrate the key changes, I've uploaded a relevant extract:
My wife bought the CD last year, liked the piece and suggested I listen to it. Of course, Bach jumped out, but no mention of him in the CD notes, unfortunately.
Message 5: April 9, 2004 from Bradley Lehman to Charles:
From: Brad Lehman
Date: Fri Apr 9, 2004 3:43 pm
Subject: Re: [BachCantatas] Re: Sting
At 03:17 AM 4/9/2004 +0000, bachjohann_sebastian wrote:
>--- In BCML, Brad Lehman wrote:
<< Yes, go to http://www.sting.com and click on "Sacred Love", then the lowest left corner of the grid: that portion of that song "Whenever I Say Your Name" plays in the background. It's a little disconcerting he's transposed it down to A major. >>
< It's a little bit more complicated. He starts off in f-sharp minor, modulates around, then launches into the chorus in C (as Bach wrote it). Then back to f-sharp minor, but now he wants finality, so the chorus is repeated in the relative major (A). Bach, as you know, used a similar method to add finality to the B-Minor Mass, by ending in the relative major (D).
To illustrate the key changes, I've uploaded a relevant extract: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/ ?
Thanks. But, isn't the phrase "but now he wants finality" an assumption by you that you know the composer's (Sting's) intentions? Just checking.
And similarly, what makes you believe that Bach chose the relative major here for the reason of providing finality? Isn't it possible that he picked D major because he wanted to use trumpets...that the instrumentation and the effect might have been more important to him than issues of key unity? Or for some other reason equally unrelated to minor-vs-relative-major considerations?
Again, there's your tacit assumption that you know for sure the motivations and wishes (i.e. intentions) of a composer. Since you're so eager to question others in that way, it's only fair to have that same question put to you.
Message 6: April 9, 2004 from Gabriel Jackson Bradley Lehman:
Date: Fri Apr 9, 2004 4:33 pm
Subject: Re: [BachCantatas] Re: Sting
In a message dated 09/04/04 14:45:33 GMT Daylight Time, Bradley Lehman writes:
< And similarly, what makes you believe that Bach chose the relative major here for the reason of providing finality? Isn't it possible that he picked D major because he wanted to use trumpets...that the instrumentation and the effect might have been more important to him than issues of key unity? Or for some other reason equally unrelated to minor-vs-relative-major considerations? >
And it's debatable to what extent a move to the relative major provides finality (even if it could be agreed what finality means); a conclusion in the tonic major could be perceived as equally 'final'. And if it does, where does that leave all those pieces which end as they began - in the tonic minor?! As you say, it's dangerous to assume one knows why composers make the decisions they make.
Message 7: April 24, 2004 from Bradley Lehman to Thomas Braatz:
From: Brad Le
Date: Sat Apr 24, 2004 8:53 pm
Subject: singing and playing in tune
At 09:57 AM 4/24/2004 -0500, Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It was suggested: >>(1) "schwebende Stimmung" in Agricola's passage as quoted DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN "Equal Temperament"<<
This is why I included once again prominently the phrase â?oschwebende Stimmungâ? in the original language in the middle of the translation so that any differences that people might have with this definition might become immediately apparent and that they would not have to hunt and search in the original for the location of this important phrase: >
Granted. But wouldn't it be even better not to MIS-translate it in the first place and simply translate it as it is, i.e. abstaining from that editorializing insertion of the word "equal"? Why should a translator editorialize it?
>>To replace this an equal temperament [?oschwebende Stimmung?] has been devised to create a better general agreement or conformity between all notes/pitches in any scale.<<
< My personal understanding of this phrase is that it comes rather close to what we now consider equal temperament albeit with some extremely fine distinctions that most listeners would have difficulty identifying. >
My personal understanding of that (from 21 years of direct professional experience in harpsichord tuning, and doctoral credit for a project in it) is that it doesn't; there were quite a few competing temperaments in Tosi's day that have nothing at all to do with quasi-equal temperament, but which satisfy the passage as he wrote it. Perhaps this matter should be left to those who do this stuff hands-on instead of merely reading about it in books?
Furthermore, as must be pointed out, the listening abilities and preferences of "most listeners" today (would that be a member of this list, extrapolating his own preferences onto everyone else?) are irrelevant to the facts.
>>It's interesting speculation, [equal temperament was the goal of the people associated with Bach]but it's a leap that is not connected soundly to evidence.<<
< It seems quite clear to me that Agricola, who is providing solid evidence of performing practices in his commentary has distanced himself from a dying, antiquated tradition and is much more concerned with the modern, progressive view on this matter. The next speculative step in thinking is that Bach was a pioneer in this regard and Agricola learned some of these things directly from his personal association with Bach under whom he also performed the master's works. >
...As if such hagiography is proof.
Meanwhile, Bach's pioneering achievement in the field of keyboard temperament is something not known to you yet, or indeed anywhere in the literature that I have been able to find so far. But I have here on my desk the hard evidence (in Bach's own handwriting!) of his personal preferred keyboard temperament for the Well-Tempered Clavier: a specific and remarkably unequal one, with several unusual properties he has illustrated in his music. I also have it set up on my harpsichord and have been playing through the relevant music on it, as research. So far, this information about Bach's temperament is known only to me and to the two expert colleagues with whom I have been in contact, looking at the preliminary work of the paper I am writing on this topic. They already agree I'm on to something big and previously unknown here.
In the first draft of my paper, the opening paragraph is accordingly this bold gesture:
"As CPE Bach asserted to the biographer Forkel, his father was generally no lover of dry, mathematical stuff. However, as I shall demonstrate here, the 37-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach left precise handwritten instructions for a specific unequal temperament for Das wohltemperierte Clavier. Furthermore, this easy and practical temperament offers distinct musical advantages over other temperaments commonly employed for this music."
That abstract should shake things up a bit, both in the scholarly community and in the performance community, I reckon.
Message 8: June 29, 2004 from Bradley Lehman to Bach Recording Group:
There is a new paper by Charles Francis, proposing to describe several keyboard temperaments derived from a composition by Bach: he has published it on 6/25/04 at: http://www.eunomios.org/contrib/francis1/francis1.html
and announced it that day on the discussion group alt.music.j-s-bach (Presumably he was too modest to announce it here? I heard about it yesterday through a professional colleague of mine, who suggested to me that I take a look.)
My review of it, presenting my questions about the musical and academic validity of the findings, is available at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/francis-paper.htm
Message 9: 12 July, 2004 from Charles Francis to Bach Recording Group:
----- Original Message -----
From: Brad Lehman
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 7:24 PM
Subject: [BachRecordings] new tuning methods for Bach's keyboards
See above in this page
Message 10: 13 July, 2004 from Bradley Lehman to Bach Recording Group:
In response to:
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Message 11: 13 July, 2004 from Bradley Lehman to Bach Recording Group:
Here's another copy of my 7/8 posting that never showed up on-list. This was in response to postings by John Pike and Joost, in the Telemann thread....
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Back to the article: The Keyboard Temperament of J. S. Bach [By Charles Francis]
The Keyboard Temperament of J. S. Bach: Article | Music Examples | Feedback: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Discussions of Temperament / Key Character / Tuning: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Meantone