Well temperament

Under the collective name well-tempered tunings by Andreas Werckmeister from 1681 a series of moods on a keyboard instruments which the mean- enhanced moods so that the keys in the whole circle of fifths were playable. Previously impossible transpositions and enharmonic confusion was possible.

Many other theorists and practitioners, such as Johann Georg Neidhardt, Johann Philipp KirnBerger, Francesco Antonio Vallotti, always gave new proposals for temperature, which shows that time there was no unique solution. On the one hand they wanted to approximate for the most commonly used keys or in fact pure thirds, on the other hand was forced to close the circle of fifths without wolf fifth. Each system had its advantages and disadvantages in the sound and was more or less complex in the (then) workmanship.

Derivation of the term

Temper The verb comes from the Latin temperare, which means " properly sized " means; it means in the music that intervals are specifically tuned a little unclean, so that small differences in pitch as the syntonic and Pythagorean comma are distributed and so no more annoying appear. This pitch differences result from the principle non- compliance of stacked fifths and thirds in Oktavraum, prevent in just intonation transpose into any keys with the usual twelve buttons and require many additional keys, such as the 31 -step Archi Harpsichord by Nicola Vicentino, which the then usual meantone extended transponierfähig. Werckmeister condemned such instruments as " Flick works of Subsemitonien ".


It is characteristic of well-tempered tunings that all important intervals vary in a way out of tune that frequently played keys contain more purer thirds and the remote keys sharper. Werckmeister's famous mood Werckmeister III has been widely used. It contains a mean- sounding C major to a Pythagorean sounding F # major different sounding keys, a feature that distinguishes Werckmeister about by Neidhardt. That is, this creates a mood quite sought, pronounced key characteristics that results from a targeted uneven voices of the twelve fifths circle of fifths.

Fifths and thirds in the mood Werckmeister III (For comparison, pure major third = 386 cents, 408 cents = Pythagorean third, perfect fifth = 702 cents).

The maximum deviation from the perfect fifth is 6 cents, while projecting a wolf fifth in the mean tone.

The thirds in the chords can be divided into three classes:

Werckmeister III? / I   equally-? / i

Relationship between well-tempered and equally-

Our today's pianos are usually equally- tempered (historical terms for this: even, equal temperament ). Here, the key characteristic is lost because all small seconds are voted as evenly as loud same semitone steps. This uniform twelve-stage temperature Werckmeister knew of Gioseffo Zarlino, whose geometric monochord construction from 1588 he quoted. Zarlino described them but as a sound atmosphere that in the early 16th century was probably already known long before him. In Werckmeister Generalbaßschule of 1698 comes expressly as a limiting case. The equal temperament took over later other temperature - theorists such as Georg Andreas Sorge (1744). The equal temperament was rejected because of the leveling of the key characteristics and because hitherto not satisfactorily solved voting technical problems besides Werckmeister by other theorists such as Johann Philipp KirnBerger, who designed his own, uneven well-tempered tunings from 1766 that can be applied much faster on keyboard instruments left.

The widespread assertion (about the Brockhaus ), the term well-tempered tuning is identical with the equal temperament tuning, is inaccurate. Even the well-known work The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) did not serve to demonstrate the same level mood, but rather a system that aimed to compose in any key circle of fifths. Since Bach the term " well-tempered ", which references to Werckmeister is made. So Bach says no equal temperament, as his mood looked exactly, remains controversial.

Hypotheses on the Well-tempered mood of J. S. brook

With the development of well-tempered tunings Bach could compose for stringed keyboard instruments in all keys in the whole circle of fifths, which was previously impossible with the Mean moods. Bach's Leipzig church music, however, seems still to have been accompanied by mean- tuned organs. Johann Nikolaus Forkel reports that Bach Clavichord be approved in less than 15 minutes. As Bach has voted exactly can not open safe from the controversial dispute between KirnBerger and Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg ( 1718-1795 ).

However, in the research agreed that Bach has not laid the basis of equal temperament.

Impressively obvious, yet very controversial, is the interpretation of the garland on the title page of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Part I, 1722 as a requirement for tuning the circle of fifths by Andreas Sparschuh. To this end, the loops are expected to make the donuts notes to take the fifths according to close, as is typical for well-tempered tunings. For Bradley Lehmann is the Rosetta Stone for the mood problem. For others, serious doubts are attached. Also there is on this topic many controversial interpretation.

Other moods

  • Werckmeister
  • Kirnberger tuning
  • Vallotti mood