BBC Music Magazine

Tuning matters


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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