# Tuning and Temperament Cents Coma Half- tone Whole-tone

INTRODUCTION: Are you feeling just a bit temperamental? Well! Then this is the place for you! But if you're expecting to determine your sanguine to phlegmatic balance here, I'm sorry to disappoint you. VERY, VERY BRIEF HISTORY 1 Back in the old days (as long ago as yesterday in some circles, but nearly 200 years ago for the most part) instrument tuning was anything but a standard art. Clear back in the days of Pythagoras it was recognized that there are problems with creating a perfectly tuned scale. Over the centuries there have been innumerable attempts to create tuning schemes that preserve the richness of perfectly tuned intervals while minimizing and distributing the errors that naturally occur when doing so. CIRCLE OF FIFTHS AND HARMONIC SERIES We'll talk about this 'error' and where it comes from in a minute. In order to continue, we must make some assumptions: First, you are familiar with the circle of fifths (c g d a e b f# c# g# d# a# (e#)f c). Second, you have a general working knowledge of frequency, harmonics (remember that long spring in physics class?) and the harmonic series. Quickly, let's review the harmonic series. Suppose your fundamental frequency is 100hz (100 vibrations per second), the first harmonic is double that, or 200hz. The second harmonic is found at 300hz, third at 400hz, etc. Musically speaking, we know that when frequency doubles, pitch increases by exactly one octave. We have also discovered that the 2nd harmonic (300 hz) is exactly one octave and a pure 2 fifth higher than the fundamental (100hz).

I purposely didn't round any of the answers so you could see that. Tune the next fifth up .The natural thing to want to do. theorists.150 * 3 = 450/2 = 225.1524353027 'e#(f)' * 3 = 405. either each fifth is perfectly tuned. When we ran the practical proof. (Beats are that 'wah wah' sound that happens when your kids elementary school band is 'tuning up'. For the sake of simplicity. Moving on up. you would expect a perfectly tuned scale. then. For centuries now.
.2032470703 'a#' * 3 = 540. In doing so. I don't recommend it. Mathematically. mathematicians. a pure. tinkers. novices and experts have been trying to solve this conundrum. It doesn't take much discussion or experience to realize that our ears will not tolerate mis-tuned octaves in any form! THE COMMA This error.. we're going to start our tuning at a frequency of 100hz and we'll call it 'c' even though a real 'c' would be closer to 130-something.5 'd'. all the way around the circle of fifths until you reach the note you started with.5419921875 / 4 = 120.6097412109 / 4 = 135.1484375 / 4 = 106.25 / 2 = 253.75 'a' * 3 = 506. divided by 2 to drop it back into the same octave as your starting pitch. Since we can't demonstrate this process auditorially.6875 / 2= 189. the difference between a perfectly tuned octave and the octave resulting from a tuned circle of fifths is known as the COMMA .361328125 / 2 = 160. or perfectly tuned octaves with the final fifth. This relationship is frequently expressed in terms of the ratio 3:2.125 / 2 = 126.84375 'b' * 3 = 569.4573059082 / 2 = 202. We have a choice.53125 / 4( see footnote 3 ) = 142. that's the fundamental (100hz) times 3 (300hz for the second harmonic). DO THE MATH. you would find it vibrating 'g' at exactly 150hz. we predicted (guided by well understood and established laws of physics) the octave above c(100) would be c(200).5 * 3= 337. rich sonority with octaves out of tune.787109375 'c#' * 3 = 320.3828125 'f#' * 3 = 427. If you had the luxury of a tuning hammer and a professional tuner to repair the damage. 112. using a circle of perfectly tuned fifths.) If you put an electronic frequency analyzer on the string you tuned. let's tune one. wide by nearly 3 cycles! So.7286529541 'c'. musicians. f to c glaringly out of tune. you could assault your own piano. Ok. still more than an octave above the starting pitch. so we'll drop it another octave to 112. the results would be clear.5 / 2 = 168. The first fifth would be tuned by ear by adjusting the pitch until a completely clear tone is produced with no beats..7286529541).1806640625 'g#' * 3 = 480. we ended up at c(202.1354980469 'd#' * 3 = 360.5625 'e' * 3 = 379.. If we had been tuning this on a real instrument. let's do the math for the rest of the scale. is to tune the instrument so that each fifth is pure.. OOPS! Do you see the problem? Earlier. what gives? This is not a mathematical rounding error either.4064941406 / 2 = 180.

Even though your perspective is unique. but really terrible in another. Some venture in and and are so mesmerized by the complex possibilities and a perfection compulsion that they never emerge again. WHY STUDY ALTERNATE TEMPERAMENTS? Many musicians listen and perform their entire careers without ever venturing into the realm of alternate temperament tuning. a few words of advice would be in order.every piece of important western music can be performed satisfactorily on an instrument tuned with equal temperament. lift your perceptions of pitch to a new level. Equal temperament has become the de facto standard for a two main reasons 1. If you are just embarking on an adventure into alternate temperaments. A solution does not exist. with no interval grossly out of tune. most allow sufficient pitch latitude to accommodate alternate temperaments). Every temperament has its own unique 'character'. Careful attention must be paid to the selection of temperaments for authentic performances of historic keyboard music.It's quite troublesome to have to retune an instrument to a specific temperament that more adequately suits a particular piece of music. The result is actually a scale of equally mis-tuned intervals. Portability . Most theoretical musicians must make at least one foray into this domain. Very many great minds have been applied to the problem of creating the perfect scale. or the disparity between a pure octave and an octave generated by tuning perfect fifths).Over the centuries numerous (or should that be innumerable?) schemes have been devised to accommodate this rather intrusive disruption of the musical fabric. but pieces depending on equal temperament may be destroyed by the placement of various mis-tuned intervals. you won't be the one to find it either. all with compromises to others. but none in perfect tune.
. some of the nuances may be missing for pieces that have their origins in another temperament. WHY EQUAL TEMPERAMENT? Equal temperament takes the tuning 'error' (comma. getting to this point has not been an easy journey. or necessitate the complete re-tuning of the instrument before the concert can proceed. Temperaments have been devised to maximize many different aspects of harmonic quality. 2. and while the temperament of wind instruments cannot be altered. Granted. hone your listening skills. Don't take it too seriously. The common consensus that has been in place for many years now is the concept of equal temperament 4 . Mathematics proves this. Many instruments are not capable of being alternately tuned (fretted string instruments in particular. However. Some maximize pure thirds (mean tone) while others emphasize pure fifths at the expense of the thirds (Kirnberger III). Transposing a piece to a new key can completely change its character. A wrong choice could result in an unsatisfactory and historically inaccurate musical experience.
Be casual. Enjoy the stretch. Perfection is not possible. A piece of music may sound fine in one key. and spreads it equally between each step of a chromatic scale. Convenience .

' Should you wish to reproduce my results or expand on my analysis. I learned. Let it go. Also remember. but don't live in the past. Many have gone before. Fourths and sixths are simply inversions of fifths and thirds. if you are a theoretical musician beginning your journey of destiny.
But. At first the differences are extremely subtle. Then. In your analysis. Many MIDI instruments allow fine pitch adjustments that can be explicitly assigned to each note. and their characteristics are mirrors of their counterparts. The tension and release generated by music created to be played in an alternate temperament is a wonderful experience. Treasure the memories. and they are not part of this analysis. It could change your entire perspective on how early music is to be performed. I have included the raw data that fueled my study. attend a grief and loss seminar. I came. but get over it. and I have since let go of the driving urge to 'tune for perfection. developing competent tuning skills can take months of intense practice. In this project I graphically represented three aspects of a number of historic temperaments. Fortunately. remember that not all music is chromatic to the degree that every 'wildly' tuned interval will be realized during the course of a piece. and I left 5 . The two types of charts created for this analysis are described in detail here . Modern technology has made it possible to create tools to circumvent some of these roadblocks. My journey allowed me to learn and grow. Hold a wake. Yes. While there is much of value to be learned. First. the tools for the analysis of temperaments have improved dramatically in the past few years. many of the mysteries of baroque ornamentation become very clear. Compare performances in equal temperament with a performance of the same piece in an alternate tuning. Learning to tune temperaments for experiential analysis is an art in itself. As you become more accustomed to these subtleties. this study is 'incomplete. I graphically plotted the pitch deviations of many alternate temperaments against a 'standard' equally tempered scale. above). you've come to the right place. I compare the fifth and major thirds above each semi-tone of the chromatic scale against a 'pure' fifth and major third. the results are astonishing and brilliant. For example. MY TEMPERAMENT ANALYSIS PROJECT The information I have to share is part of a personal research project I undertook many years ago. minor thirds have their own characteristics. Let me warn you in advance .
Take a historical perspective. I heard. A click on the title of each temperament will send you to the original graphs I produced in 1984. You aren't the first to embark on this journey.purists frown on
.' The reality is. Alternate temperaments aren't coming back into the mainstream any time soon (see two main reasons. Many more will follow.

0 46 330.25 495. 0 30 316. They represent a great deal of time and effort.93 c 524.0 350.00 f 349. 00 440. 0 70 352. Enjoy your studies.00 440.90 413. or whatever. 0 87 297.88 a 466. 83 311.43 # b 491.2 369.00 440.40 # 263.83 d 294.95 294. an afternoon with Microsoft Excel will produce far superior results. 58 369.02 350.0 277.0 294.58 369.24 g 414.88 392. 5 18 396.25 # 311.93 276. they are extremely valuable in comparative analysis and selecting scalar characteristics to suit a particular study subject.69 468.00 440.36 495.33 523.37 Kirnbe Werckm Werckm Werckm Werckm rger III eister III eister IV eister V eister VI c 276.81 492.43 415.18 263.77 526.8 311. 0 30 440.73 493.77 d 295.33 292. On the side of empirical analysis.44 393.2 467.47 526.0 440.5 415.00 440.0 492.63 262.03 e 327.26 277. 0 70 412. Speaking of technological advancements.55 415.82 350. I believe there is much to be gained and only very minor consequences from using these means. While these tools don't give you the auditory sense of the alternate temperament.00 # 468.05 a 440.00 526.0 51 262.36 f 368.99 369. 76 492.92 312.96 328.00 525. 00 294.21 350. I'd love to hear them.89 416. Personally.40 263.21 493.56 276.88 330.91 351. 26 328.53 # 393.18 311. 77 415.98 330.99 370.39 g 393.77 310.50 275. questions or suggestions.24 413. E-mail Terry Blackburn ANALYSIS OF HISTORIC TEMPERAMENTS Van Bac Just Biez h (Barb en (Kla our) 262.0 329. 0 00 475.66 294. 0 76 275. 18 276. 0 18 495. 88 393.11 261.55 393. fifths. the graphs reproduced and displayed in the links below were produced by a custom computer program written in FORTRAN on a VAX 11/750.27 469. 75 467.33 294.16 277.95 370.any of these 'electronic' measures.00 330.86 466.81 350. Today. 0 37 371.10 369.83 311.60 440. 0 26 528. If you have comments.0 525.
Kirnbe rger II c 262.54
. 81 350.00 328.77 392. is) 264.0 392.13 312.00 467. even the simplest of spreadsheet programs can now be enlisted to graph comparisons between pure and tempered thirds.

48 495.1 0 440.39 491.6 9 Meanto Silberma 260.00 368.3 525.3 412.33 309.00 371.1 351.03 330. an annotated outline by Howard Stoess
2.0 0 0 0 471.00 293.54 440.89 0 314.0 440.11 393.36 440.2 0 5 7 527.25 312.98 347.0 440.1 276.66 440.94 309.4 368.0 0 521. Since this pitch needs to be brought down 2 octaves.14 3 275.6 328.03 525.6 351. as opposed to 'perfect' in the harmonic sense.1 329.8 469.73 391.5 492.44 3 262.3 469.74 ne (293.31 328. which lies between 100hz and 200hz.5 411.18 315.55 391.
Dividing this frequency by 2 does not bring it down far enough to be in the same octave that we're trying to tune.8 0 328.81 5 392.0 276.9 4 3 8 491. we'll divide by 4 for simplicity.2 0 6 8 410.0 0
Zarli no (2/7)
Rossi Rossi ((1/5) 2/9)
263.6 7 394.6 314. rather than by two twice.9 2 528.0 525.22 417.65 5 350.5 275.2 4 490.55 415.95 367.0 294.3 294.8 6 294.8 6 8 2 294.1 ic) 8 6 4 263.2 368.00 417.6 262.6 275.79 492.35 1 411.1 2 9 9 393.3 1 8 8 Rameau (syntonc 294.
'Pure'.18 293.0 0 473.1 413.0 294.37 263.7 4
Salin as (1/3) 264.00 329.71 8 7 9 328.5 492.6 313.3 nn (-1/6) 1/4) 278.
.00 468.0 491.9 1 0 3 440.93 526.07 440.3 6 409.8 329.98 352.6 440. see HISTORY OF TUNING AND TEMPERAMENT .9 393.84 330.93 524.5 4 521.6 4 353.00 463.73 0 526.55 352.4 6 366.00 467.5 5 316.36
274.9 3 9 1 274.00 6 470. 53
0
van Zwol le Pythagore an c c # d d # e f f # g g # a a # b c 260.
3.32 347.4 8
Footnotes: 1.25 310.5 262.0 0 273.25 463.36 495. For more depth into the history of tuning temperaments.3 368.5 3 3 1 367.0 393.25 366. in the tuning sense.95 393.0 3 8 9 358.

2511306hz
Temperament and beating
The relationship between two pitches. Where these frequencies can be calculated. Each pitch of an equally tempered scale may be computed using the following formula P*2(x/12) where P is your starting pitch ('a' 440hz is today's standard) and x is the scale degree (half steps. achieved by flattening its upper pitch slightly. A system of temperament can also be known as a set of bearings. The term temperament refers to a tuning system which tempers the just intervals (usually the perfect fifth which has the ratio 3:2) in order to satisfy another mathematical property. So. the strongest beating will be heard at 3 times the fundamental frequency of the lower string (an octave plus a perfect fifth up). Because the actual tone of a vibrating piano string is not just one pitch. Two different intervals are perceived to be the same when the pairs of pitches involved share the same frequency ratio. A beginning pitch is tuned from an external reference. starting with zero for the first or unison pitch and proceeding in whole number increments to 12 for the octave). in equal temperament. a temperament may be tuned aurally by timing the beatings of tempered intervals. is the ratio of their absolute frequencies. Once these strings are tuned. Tempering an interval causes it to beat. and the tuner successively adjusts each note's tempered intervallic relationships to other notes in the scale. called an interval.4. but a complex of tones arranged in a harmonic series. we calculate 440 * 2(3/12) =523. which is a fluctuation in perceived sound intensity due to interference between close (but unequal) pitches. a fifth would be tempered by narrowing it slightly. It is a purely mathematical solution to preserve the purity of the octave while spreading the comma equally throughout the scale. are those that are just — which have a simple wholenumber ratio. usually an A440 tuning fork. fourths. During tuning it is common to assess fifths. In the case of an interval that is close to a perfect fifth. This is convenient. because the octave is the easiest interval to tune (having the simplest ratio of 2:1) after the
.
In comparison to all the art and effort that has gone into designing temperaments that minimize mis-tuning and preserve the beauty of perfectly tuned intervals. thirds (both major and minor) and sixths (also major and minor). due to the difference in pitch between their coincident harmonics. equal temperament is quite arbitrary. and the easiest intervals to tune. or raising its lower pitch slightly. It is heard clearly when the difference in pitches of these coincident harmonics is small (less than 20 hertz (Hz)). and 2 times the frequency of the higher string (an octave up). two strings which are close to a simple harmonic ratio such as a perfect fifth will beat at higher pitches (at their coincident harmonics). The rate of beating is equal to the frequency differences of any harmonics that are present for both pitches and that coincide or nearly coincide. This is referred to as the temperament octave. often in an ascending or descending pattern to easily hear whether an even progression of beat rates has been achieved. to calculate the pitch for 'c' using a(440) as our starting location. One practical method of tuning the piano begins with tuning each note of the chromatic scale in the middle range of the piano. The easiest intervals to identify. the tuner may proceed to tune all other pitches by comparing octave intervals against this temperament octave.

On some pianos the 6:3 and 4:2 may happen to both be beatless--but it is rare for this to happen.
Equal temperament beatings (all figures in Hz) 261.182 85 48 43 13.9943 22 10 04
A
16.9384 10 98 .2 369. temper that interval in the appropriate direction (either making the interval wider or narrower. which are excellent for verification that the temperament is correct. The followings table lists the beat frequencies between notes in an equal temperament octave. For the thirds in the temperament octave.327 12. Every other number indicates the beat rate between any two tones (which share the row and column with that number) in the temperament octave.34 17. each one a semitone higher than the last. it is difficult to tune so many beats per second. usually only A440 is determined from an external reference. all of these beat frequencies are present at half the indicated rate in this lower octave.57 18.55 22.578 14. Begin by tuning one note to the other so that the beating disappears.49 1. Slower beat rates can be carefully timed with a metronome. Often 6:3.0 466. The octaves are tuned beatless at one partial only.84 16 10 59 1.74 65 10 44 1.672 15. It is unusual to tune 2:1 octaves on a piano.8858 24
1. The top row indicates absolute frequencies of the pitches.053 81 93 43
1.76 1.46 .87 17.6 311. One of the easiest tests of equal temperament is to play a succession of major thirds.68 21.1 293. or other such device. but after setting the temperament and duplicating it one octave below.15 36 29 38 1.78 24 68 82
A♭
G
Fundamental
.2 26 83 65 27 28 28 94 95 05 00 64 83 51
0.6 277.32 19. 4:2 or other ratios are used.59 1. see further below) until the desired beat rate is achieved. If equal temperament has been achieved.406 13.116 61 94 07 12.771 16.9 415.6 349.48 23.489 13.96 77 88 65
B♭
11.08 18.48 .1 493. the beat rate of these thirds should increase evenly over the range of the piano.unison (1:1).8 523.11 20.000 00
14.85 19.1 329.9 391.3 440.41 21 60 17
C
B
1.

the tuner must temper the interval either wide or narrow from a tuning that has no beatings. but rather an octave and fifth (perfect twelfth) above the lower of the two keys. when tuning a perfect fifth. for instance.11 85
E♭
Perfect fifth
D
Perfect fourth Major third Minor third
C♯
C
This next table indicates the pitch at which the strongest beating should occur for useful intervals.38 14. Once the beating can be heard. As described above.99 15. which is the lowest pitch at which their harmonic series overlap. the beating can be heard not at either of the fundamental pitches of the keys played.1.182 10.95 24 80
F♯
Octave
F
Major sixth
E
Minor sixth
14.
The pitch of beatings
Interval Octave
Approximate ratio Beating above the lower pitch 2:1 Octave
Tempering Exact
Major sixth Minor sixth
5:3 8:5
Two octaves and major third Three octaves
Wide Narrow
.84 43 98 75 10.65 16.252 11.78 74 39 98 1.

Of a necessity the tuner limits his stretch to what he deems acceptable.Perfect fifth
3:2
Octave and fifth
Slightly narrow
Perfect fourth Major third
4:3 5:4
Two octaves Two octaves and major third
Slightly wide Wide
Minor third Unison
6:5 1:1
Two octaves and fifth Unison
Narrow Exact
[edit] Stretched octaves
The tuning described by the above beating plan will give a good approximation of equal temperament across the range of the temperament octave. thereby maintaining intervallic and tonal consistency. requires this deviation from the theoretical equal temperament. This is due to a factor known as inharmonicity. If it were extended further. establishing octaves based on a triple octave makes the single octaves beat noticeably. length. It is because music is rarely played within a single octave. however. It is commonly said that the octaves of a small piano need to be stretched more than those of a large piano. Because smaller pianos' inharmonicity is so extreme. they are tuned. so it is critical that the mid and upper range of the treble be stretched to conform to the inharmonic overtones of the lower registers. always ensuring that his M10s and especially M17s (octave doublings and triplings of the M3) are not "wild". This widens all intervals equally. a complex determination based on the string’s tension. Concert grands' lesser inharmonicity allows a complete string stretch without negatively affecting close octaves and other
. but to a higher one (often the 4th partial). double. fast beating intervals in the upper treble—especially M17s—beat wildly. Some pianos—and some tuners—achieve this better than others. the tuner has little sense for whether he is stretching "more" or "less". which is present in different amounts in all piano strings. not to the lowest coincidental overtone (second partial) of the note below. and triple octaves are reasonably beatless. Strings' harmonic series do not fall exactly into whole-number multiples of their fundamental frequency. Since the stretch of octaves is perceived and not measured. instead each harmonic runs slightly sharp. and diameter. but classical literature in particular. and the wide. The amount of stretching necessary to achieve this is a function of string scaling. All music. the sharpness increasing as higher tones in the harmonic series are reached. When octaves are stretched. the actual tuning of the instrument would become increasingly inaccurate. But from the concert tuner's perspective it is the opposite. This problem is mitigated by "stretching" the octaves as one tunes above (and to an extent below) the temperament region. He merely tunes so that his single. A pianist constantly plays notes spread over three and four octaves.

Stretching the tuning to account for string inharmonicity is often not sufficient to overcome this phenomenon.
Frequencies of the audible range on a twelve and eight equal tempered scale
Syntonic comma
From Wikipedia. Modern ears easily tolerate fast beating in non-just intervals (seconds and sevenths.intervals. physical and psychoacoustic. poorly manufactured strings. This ability contributes mightily to the response. affect the tuner's ability to achieve a temperament. Among physical factors are inharmonic effects due to soundboard resonance in the bass strings. nearly imperceptible beating of fifths in the temperament region (about one beat every two seconds) would double each ascending octave. or peculiarities that can cause "false beats" (false because they are unrelated to the manipulation of beats during tuning). so piano tuners may stretch the top octave or so of the piano even more. then. and concert artists require. Happily for pianists. A serendipitous benefit of stretching octaves is the correction of dissonance that equal temperament imparts to the perfect fifth. thirds and sixths). the slow. So while it may be true that the smaller piano receives a greater stretch relative to the fundamental pitch. search
. Without octave stretching. but not in perfect octaves or fifths. The principal psychoacoustic factor is that the human ear tends to perceive the higher notes as being flat when compared to those in the midrange. Stretched Fifths. only the concert grand’s octaves can be fully widened so that triple octaves are beatless. brilliance and "singing" quality that concert grands offer. the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. Other factors. the string stretch that accommodates inharmonicity on a concert grand also nearly exactly mitigates the accumulation of dissonance in the perfect fifth. At the top of the keyboard. the theoretically (and ideally) pure fifth would be beating as many as eight times per second.

equal to the frequency ratio 81:80. the syntonic comma. the comma of Didymus. also known as the chromatic diesis.51
. The perfect fifth above D (A+) is a syntonic comma
higher than the just major sixth (A♮).Syntonic comma on C
Play (help·info).[1]
3-limit 9:8 major tone
Play (help·info). or the diatonic comma[2] is a small comma type interval between two musical notes. the Ptolemaic comma.
In music theory.
5-limit 10:9 minor tone
Play (help·info). or around 21.
Just perfect fifth on D
Play (help·info).

64 cents). and the ratio between them is the syntonic comma (81:80). they have a ratio of 9:8 and 10:9. four fifths is equal to two octaves plus a major third. Another way of describing the syntonic comma. Composer Ben Johnston uses a "−" as an accidental to indicate a note is lowered 21. Other systems use different compromises. The difference between these is 21.13 cents).31 cents. on the other hand. The comma is referred to as Didymus' because it is the amount by which Didymus corrected the Pythagorean major third[4] to a just major third (81:64 or 407. a syntonic comma. and two octaves plus a justly tuned major third. as a combination of more commonly encountered intervals. Equally. Pythagorean tuning tunes the fifths as exact 3:2s.51 cents (81:80).51 = 386. The fact that using justly tuned intervals yields two slightly different notes is one of the reasons compromises have to be made when deciding which system of musical tuning to use for an instrument. or a "+" to indicate a note is raised 21. it can be described as the difference between three justly tuned perfect fourths (64/27 or 1494.51 cents. called major and minor tone. A just perfect fifth has its notes in the frequency ratio 3:2. and four of them are equal to 2807. both combinations of intervals will end up at E.51 cents has contemporary significance because on a piano keyboard.82 cents (81:16). Starting from a C.82 cents . and one of them plus two octaves is equal to 2786. A just major third has its notes in the frequency ratio 5:4. Also. uses exact 5:4s for major thirds. which is equal to 701. but flattens each of the fifths by a quarter of a syntonic comma.31 cents (5:1 or 80:16). 27:16 ÷ 5:3 = 81:80. and a justly tuned minor third (6/5) an octave higher (12/5 or 1515. Quarter-comma meantone. In just intonation.955 cents.[4]
. there are two kinds of major second. The difference of 21.[1]
Contents
[hide]
1 Relationships 2 Syntonic comma in the history of music 3 See also 4 References 5 External links
[edit] Relationships
The syntonic comma is the interval between a just major third (5:4) and a Pythagorean ditone (81:64).31 cents or 5:4). which is equal to 386.cents. Two notes that differ by this interval would sound different from each other even to untrained ears.[3] but would be close enough that they would be more likely interpreted as out-of-tune versions of the same note than as different notes.51 cents. is the difference between four justly tuned perfect fifths. In 5-limit just intonation.21. but uses the relatively complex ratio of 81:64 for major thirds.

and E-G (a minor third) become just. 81:80 is the closest superparticular ratio possible with regular numbers as numerator and denominator. if you decrease by a syntonic comma (81:80) the frequency of E. Thus. in which the number of major thirds was maximized. in the family belonging to the syntonic temperament continuum. the only highly consonant intervals were the perfect fifth and its inversion. such as polyphonic music. and the syntonic comma was used as a reference value to temper the perfect fifths in an entire family of them. they cannot be described as superparticular ratios. although smaller intervals can be described within 5-limit tunings. including meantone temperaments. In late Middle Ages. known as quarter-comma meantone. The Pythagorean major third (81:64) and minor third (32:27) were dissonant. Since then. other tuning systems were developed.Mathematically. an amount which was considered negligible. musicians realized that by slightly tempering the pitch of some notes. such as 5:4. by flattening E. and can be used together with C-E to produce a C-major triad (C-E-G). But the fifth C-G stays consonant.
[edit] Syntonic comma in the history of music
The syntonic comma has a crucial role in the history of music. and a regular number is one whose prime factors are limited to 2. and this prevented musicians from using triads and chords. or melody with instrumental accompaniment. For instance. C-E (a major third). In Pythagorean tuning. This result was obtained by flattening each fifth by a quarter of a syntonic comma. become almost as dissonant as the Pythagorean wolf fifth. Namely. since only E has been flattened (C-E * E-G = 5/4 * 6/5 = 3/2). forcing them for centuries to write music with relatively simple texture. C-E is flattened to a justly intonated ratio of
and at the same time E-G is sharpened to the just ratio of
The drawback is that the fifths A-E and E-B. A superparticular ratio is one whose numerator is 1 greater than its denominator. 3. by Størmer's theorem. and 5. Namely.
[edit] See also
F+ (pitch) Holdrian comma
. These experiments eventually brought to the creation of a new tuning system. and most minor thirds were tuned to a ratio which was very close to the just 6:5. the perfect fourth. the Pythagorean thirds could be made consonant. It is the amount by which some of the notes produced in Pythagorean tuning were flattened or sharpened to produce just minor and major thirds. Another frequently encountered comma is the Pythagorean comma. and permitted the full development of music with complex texture.

Fractional semitones are approximate. ISBN 0252030982. Bob (2006). 2. (2006).A Guide for Interpreters". p.The Key to Temperament". ^ a b Llewelyn Southworth Lloyd (1937). 29. Music and Sound. ISBN 9780252030987.12. pp.
[edit] External links
Indiana University School of Music: Piano Repair Shop: Harpsichord Tuning. unison (0) · fourth (5) · fifth (7) · octave (12) · fifteenth (24) second (2) · third (4) · sixth (9) · seventh (11) second (1) · third (3) · sixth (8) · seventh (10) unison (1) · second (3) · third (5) · fourth (6) · fifth (8) · sixth (10) · seventh (12) · octave (13) unison (-1) · second (0) · third (2) · fourth (4) · fifth (6) · sixth (7) · seventh (9) · octave (11) ninth (13 or 14) · tenth (15 or 16) · eleventh (17) ·
Perfect
Major
Minor Twelvesemitone (Western) Augmented
Diminished
Compound
. "Maximum Clarity" and Other Writings on Music. No. Ben and Gilmore. ^ Johnston B. Perspectives of New Music. and Johnston. p. 4. p. 3.109. "Ben Johnston's Extended Just Intonation. ^ "Sol-Fa . Urbana: University of Illinois Press. BBC. ^ a b John Fonville. 1991). ISBN 0836951883. "Maximum clarity" and Other Writings on Music. 106-137.[edit] References
1. and Temperaments: "What is the Syntonic Comma?" Tonalsoft: "Syntonic-comma" [hide]v · d · eIntervals (list)
Numbers in brackets are the number of semitones in the interval. edited by Bob Gilmore. Vol.78. 2 (Summer. Repair. "A Notation System for Extended Just Intonation" (2003).

thirteenth (18 or 19) second (2⅓) · third (4⅓) · sixth (9⅓) · seventh (11⅓) second (1½) · third (3½) · sixth (8½) · seventh (10½) second (⅔) · third (2⅔) · sixth (7⅔) · seventh (9⅔) chromatic semitone (⅔) · diatonic semitone (1⅙) · whole tone (2⅓) · subminor third (2⅔) · supermajor third (4⅓) · harmonic (subminor) seventh (9⅔) Microtone · Comma · Pseudooctave · Pythagorean interval
Supermajor
Neutral
Other systems
Subminor
7-limit
Groups
Commas Other intervals
Pythagorean comma · Pythagorean apotome · Pythagorean limma · Diesis · Septimal diesis · Septimal comma · Syntonic comma · Schisma · Diaschisma · Major limma · Ragisma · Breedsma · Kleisma · Septimal kleisma · Septimal semicomma · Orwell comma · Semicomma · Septimal sixth-tone · Septimal quarter tone · Septimal thirdtone
Cent · Millioctave · Savart Quarter tone · Wolf · Ditone · Semiditone · Holdrian comma · Secor
Measurement
Others
.