Was equal temperament caused by the invention of the piano, or was it inevitable?

Asked by: Elizabeth Stewart

Not necessarily. Pianos were in wide use by the late 18th century, but equal temperament was not until perhaps 100 years later.

Why was equal temperament created?

Because it enables keyboard instruments to play in all keys with minimal flaws in intonation, equal temperament replaced earlier tuning systems that were based on acoustically pure intervals, that is, intervals that occur naturally in the overtone series.

Why are pianos equal temperament?

Modern Pianos are all tuned using a system called “Equal Temperament”. In fact, you can’t use your ear to tune a Piano in equal temperament because our ears don’t hear notes in this manner. Piano tuners use a device and they need to know how much each note needs to be “out of tune” in order to tune a Piano.

Which instruments use equal temperament?

The equal tempered scale is the common musical scale used at present, used for the tuning of pianos and other instruments of relatively fixed scale.

Who invented 12 tone equal temperament?

Zhu Zaiyu

While China had previously come up with approximations for 12-TET, Zhu Zaiyu was the first person to mathematically solve twelve-tone equal temperament, which he described in his Fusion of Music and Calendar (律暦融通) in 1580 and Complete Compendium of Music and Pitch (Yuelü quan shu 樂律全書) in 1584.

Are pianos equally tempered?

Fine piano tuning requires an assessment of the vibration interaction among notes, which is different for every piano, thus in practice requiring slightly different pitches from any theoretical standard. Pianos are usually tuned to a modified version of the system called equal temperament.

Are piano tuning to equal temperament?

Pianos today are tuned in “equal temperament,” which means that each note is the same distance in pitch from its neighbours.

What came before equal temperament?

Before Meantone temperament became widely used in the Renaissance, the most commonly used tuning system was Pythagorean tuning. Pythagorean tuning was a system of just intonation that tuned every note in a scale from a progression of pure perfect fifths.

Who invented well temperament?

One of the first attestations of the concept of “well tempered” is found in a treatise in German by the music theorist Andreas Werckmeister.

What is wrong with equal temperament?

One main drawback to equal temperament is that all major thirds are quite a bit off from where they ought to be, roughly fourteen percent of a semitone. Perfect fifths are all pretty close. More importantly, though, other than pitch, nothing distinguishes the various keys.

Why do we use 12 tone equal temperament?

Even or equal temperament the reason why we use 12 specifically is because that number just happens to be very good at approximating.

Did Mozart use equal temperament?


Bach didn’t use equal temperament. Neither did Mozart nor Beethoven or any of their contemporaries. They used unequal temperaments — also known as, you guessed it, Well-tempered. In the Well-Tempered Clavier, Bach celebrated unequal tempered tuning, not today’s equal tempered tuning.

How did equal temperament tuning change Western music in the Baroque period?

Equal temperament permitted 19th-century composers to use the 12 notes of the chromatic scale with the utmost freedom. It also fixed those 12 notes so immutably in the Western musical consciousness that the revolutionary developments of 20th-century music, far from undermining them, have tended to perpetuate them.

What is the difference between equal temperament and just temperament?

Just tuning is often used by ensembles (such as for choral or orchestra works) as the players match pitch with each other “by ear.” The “equal tempered scale” was developed for keyboard instruments, such as the piano, so that they could be played equally well (or badly) in any key. It is a compromise tuning scheme.

Are guitars equal tempered?

Guitars are tuned to ‘equal temperament’. The basic way to understand this is that the 12 musical notes are evenly split up, which allows us to use straight frets on a guitar. The problem is that equal temperament isn’t perfect and depending on how you have trained your ears, you may notice it when you play guitar.

Why is a guitar never in tune?

Don’t Forget the Intonation. If you play chords combined with open or fretted notes higher on the neck, this might be especially applicable. A guitar that isn’t properly intonated doesn’t sound right or completely in tune, ever. To fix this, tweak the metal truss rod that runs down the center of the guitar’s neck.

Is true temperament just intonation?

Well, the easy answer to that question is that True Temperament™ Fretting System is a revolutionary new way to construct guitar fingerboards with Curved Frets™ which tune accurately along the whole neck. We call it Dynamic Intonation™. The Thidell Formula One temperament will give you a super-accurate intonation.