Same MIDI file with three diferent temperaments

One thing I criticized in my review of How
Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)

was that it didn’t give enough information about where to go to
hear what the different temperaments sounded like.

Now one answer for the computer literate is that any good MIDI
player can be convinced to play in any temperament you can think
of. But it takes both an understanding of how to think of
temperaments and an understanding of how to read MIDI
documentation, and in some cases an understanding of how the
people who wrote MIDI documentation think of temperaments (which
they don’t tell you), so I thought I’d do some of this for you and
produce some MP3 files to listen to.

The MIDI file I picked was the Arcadelt Il
Bianco e Dolce Cigno
from the lilypond transcription on this
website.

Here’s the MP3
file
from just playing in timidity without telling it
anything special about tuning, so it’s equal temperament.

Here it is, telling timidity to play pure intonation in G
major, i.e., the timidity command was “timidity -Ow -Zpure1
score.midi”. There’s some evidence that what MIDI calls “pure”
may be the same as what early music people call “just”, but I
can’t find any explanationof where the MIDI people get their
idea of pure.

And for this
one
, I told timidity to use the tuning table, meanquar that scala had
produced from the meanquar.scl it supplies in the scala
archive
of about 3700 different scales. The timidity
command was “timidity -Ow -Z ~lconrad/src/scala*/meanquar.tbl
score.midi”.

In all cases, the timidity command produced a .wav file, which
I converted to an MP3 file with lame.

Let me know if this helps at all.

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2 thoughts on “Same MIDI file with three diferent temperaments”

  1. I have been tuning equal temperaments all my life but have never had the time to devote to the alternate tunings I have heard so much about. I can see, now, how huge the difference can be. On the example you used, equal temperament totally ruins the heart of the music. The altered temperaments have places where they fall down compared to equal temperament but it is not so great a falling to justify not using it. These altered temperaments definitly have a place even in modern music. Assuming they are used with intelligence and care.

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