Tun­ing mat­ters

BBC Music Magazine - - Letters -

Jen­nifer Fowler’s let­ter

(Nov) ex­press­ing frus­tra­tion with the per­for­mance of ★an­del en­chained to equal tem­per­a­ment is spot on.

Not only ★an­del should be per­formed in an un­equal tem­per­a­ment, but ★aydn and Mozart too. Both com­posers used, for in­stance, the key of F mi­nor for very spe­cific ef­fect re­lat­ing to death and mourn­ing. Per­for­mances of ★aydn’s F mi­nor vari­a­tions on equal-tem­pered pianos ex­pose gen­eral am­ne­sia to what the mu­sic is re­ally about, and it be­comes un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated

as a re­sult. Con­cert hall and stu­dio in­stru­ments need to be avail­able, tuned to one of the his­toric tem­per­a­ments for the emo­tional lan­guage of the mu­sic to be re­vealed and re­leased. The ef­fect of tun­ing is fun­da­men­tal to mu­sic.

Mu­sic arises from lis­ten­ing to vi­bra­tions, and com­posers wrote the ef­fect of those vi­bra­tions into their mu­sic. David Pin­negar, East Grin­stead

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