Music and Vision homepage All Risks Musical - an irreverent guide to the music profession by Alice McVeigh


<<  -- 8 --  Gordon Rumson    FRAGMENTS OF FORGOTTEN SOUNDS



Baroque Europe

There was a record album many years ago called something like the Greatest Hits of 1710. Top of the charts was the Taco Bell -- oops sorry -- the Pachelbel Canon. String players must hate this piece so often are they called upon to play it. I rather like it. There is something soothing and meditative to it. But, when we hear it these days we hear it in something called Equal Temperament. That is where 12 notes are equally spaced in the range of an octave. Now this isn't the only way to tune musical instruments. In fact, it may be one of the most limited methods. Certainly, in order to get the notes equal a great deal of 'detuning' from pure intervals has to occur. Well, what do those other tunings and temperaments sound like. And does it really matter?

The answer is yes, it does. It matters a great deal how you tune your instruments. Proof is at the Warped Canon page by Herman Miller. Listen to the Canon played in a wide array of tunings and temperaments. Some of the explanations are arcane to say the least, but armed with your trusty MIDI player you should soon be able to hear what its about. Try the Equal Temperament (12-TET) first, and then something really extreme like the Blackjack scales. I like the 22-TET among others. I would love to have a video of the shocked looks on your faces! But try many of them. The sounds are warped, weird and beautiful.
(Linked with permission)


And so I come to the end of my journey. My feet are tired and yet there is so much more to hear! I have left out India, Java, Bali, Australia and many more. Please forgive the omissions! They are the omissions of weakness and not regard. I even left out my beloved Persian and Arabic musics. I leave to others the continuing tramp across the cyber-steppes. I, like the ancestors who stopped and said 'No further!' will rest. I shall go into my home, put up my sore feet and listen to the sounds around me. The hum of the computer shall be shut off while I listen to the sound of my one year old son breathing softly as he sleeps. Music to my ears.


Copyright © 2 July 2001 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


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