Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Just Intonation Explained

Our modern system of tuning, called equal temperament, is a compromise. We divide the octave into 12 equal intervals not because it sound better that way - it doesn't at all, it's slightly buzzy with audible beating between sustained pitches - but so we can transpose any music to any key.
Many recent composers have come to feel that the compromise of equal temperament was a mistake. They feel that the musical logic of moving from any key to any other key became a priority at the expense of music's sonic sensuousness.