Many musicians think that to attack today’s equal-tempered tuning is to attack the European classical music tradition itself. Not at all true, in fact, quite the opposite. Through most of European history – all except the last 100 years, in fact – tuning was an art, not a science, and the differences between different keys in the old keyboard tunings had an enormous, if subtle, influence in the way the great composers wrote their music. Ever wonder why F major is considered a calm, pastoral key, or why there are no Vivaldi concerti in F# major? Tuning is the answer. And the old tunings need not be dead, for they still have much to offer the modern composer. I keep my own pianos tuned to 18th-century well temperament, and compose for the wonderful variety of intervals it provides.
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