How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony: And Why You Should Care by Ross W. Duffin
A captivating look at how musical temperament evolved, and how we could (and perhaps should) be tuning differently today.
Ross W. Duffin presents an engaging and elegantly reasoned exposé of musical temperament and its impact on the way in which we experience music. A historical narrative, a music theory lesson, and, above all, an impassioned letter to musicians and listeners everywhere, How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony possesses the power to redefine the very nature of our interactions with music today.
For nearly a century, equal temperamentthe practice of dividing an octave into twelve equally proportioned half-stepshas held a virtual monopoly on the way in which instruments are tuned and played. In his new book, Duffin explains how we came to rely exclusively on equal temperament by charting the fascinating evolution of tuning through the ages. Along the way, he challenges the widely held belief that equal temperament is a perfect, “naturally selected” musical system, and proposes a radical reevaluation of how we play and hear music.