How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
  • RRP: £10.99
  • You Save: £0.30 (3%)
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
How Equal Temperament Rui... has been added to your Basket
+ £2.80 UK delivery
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: SHIPS FROM USA: PLEASE ALLOW 10 to 21 BUSINESS DAYS FOR DELIVERY. Very Good Condition and Unread! Text is clean and unmarked! Light shelf wear to cover from storage, bruise/crease/small tear. Has a small black line on bottom/exterior edge of pages. Tracking is not available for orders shipped outside of the United States. If you would like to track your domestic order please be sure to select the Priority/Expedited Shipping option.
Trade in your item
Get a £0.61
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony: And Why You Should Care Paperback – 31 Oct 2008


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
£10.69
£4.98 £4.51
£10.69 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony: And Why You Should Care + Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music (Wooden Books Gift Book) + The Elements of Music: Melody, Rhythm and Harmony (Wooden Books Gift Book)
Price For All Three: £22.67

Buy the selected items together


Trade In this Item for up to £0.61
Trade in How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony: And Why You Should Care for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £0.61, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (31 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393334201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393334203
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

"[Duffin's] fine book should make any contemporary musician think differently about tuning." Steven Poole, The Guardian "[A] handy little book..." Stephen Pettitt, The Sunday Times "...explains the theory and gives an informative and readable historical account..." The Times Higher Education Supplement "...Duffin argues his case with great verve and charm." Michael Downes, The Times Literary Supplement"

About the Author

Ross W. Duffin, the Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University, is the author of the award-winning Shakespeare's Songbook. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Steve Mansfield VINE VOICE on 5 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Never judge a book by its cover, they say, and it must be even more true that you should never judge a book by its title. As soon as I saw the title of this book, however, I knew I would have to make an exception in this case and read it.

Ross Duffin has written an engaging, densely argued and robust demolition of the commonly held idea that equal temperament triumphed in the time of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier and has been the one true tuning ever since. Drawing his evidence from documentary, instrumental and, for the 20th Century, recorded performances, Mr Duffin shows that the equal temperament (of 12 equally-spaced semitones to the octave) only became any form of standard much later than generally imagined, and is in many cases still more honoured in the breach than the observance - indeed the Well Tempered Clavier itself was Well Tempered, not Equal Tempered.

As to his subtitle (`And Why You Should Care') he argues that we are hearing the majority of music in a very different way than was intended by the composer - Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, to name but three, wrote their masterpieces to be performed in temperaments other than the equal, thus fundamentally altering the way in which the very chordal progressions, and therefore the overall timbre and character within the pieces, progress.

Along the way Mr Duffin gives entertaining pen portraits of the major figures in his story, has a wealth of anecdotal asides, and writes in a generally entertaining and accessible way.

I say `generally' because there is no possible way of avoiding the mathematics, subtleties and jargon of tuning and temperament; this is a musicological work, and its readership will probably be unjustly restricted by virtue of some of the more technical sections.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Edwards on 10 April 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is about the biggest skeleton in music's cupboard: the fact that the notes in the musical scale don't quite add up right.

A perfect fifth and a perfect fourth make an octave - that's fine. A major third and a minor third make a perfect fifth - that's fine. But though three consecutive major thirds on the piano keyboard take you up precisely an octave, three 'pure' major thirds actually make slightly less than an octave. And though four minor thirds on the piano keyboard make an exact octave, four 'pure' minor thirds actually make slightly more than an octave. So somehow, especially when tuning a keyboard instrument on which the notes are fixed (and one black note has to double as both F sharp and G flat) we have to tune the notes in such a way as to make a decent job of both the scale and the harmonies. This book is about the different methods of 'squaring the circle' that people have used over history.

In particular the author is concerned to debunk the myth that 'equal temperament', which simply divides an octave into twelve absolutely equal semitones, necessarily sounds the best and was the choice of the great composers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Bach's famous "Well-tempered Clavier" was not written (as is often thought) to demonstrate the superiority of equal temperament. Bach intended it to be played in a temperament in which (unusually for the day) every key 'worked', but yet sounded slightly different from the others. That was a revelation to me, but makes such sense.

Non-equal temperaments don't make every key sound the same. In some of them, some keys will sound wonderful and others will sound abysmal. The compromise has to come somewhere.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gross on 5 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Music, I was led to believe, is a supremely elegant manifestation of pure mathematics. The intervals we know as fifths (think "Twinkle - twinkle"), fourths (Auld lang syne), and octaves (Somewhere over the rainbow) correspond to simple fractional relations between the sound frequencies, of 2/3, 3/4, and 1/2, respectively. And as an illustration, one gets shown the corresponding keys on a piano keyboard.

What nobody told me in the first 44 years of my life is that the intervals you play on the piano do not correspond to the simple fractions cited above. The piano is actually tuned not in pure intervals but in a system called "equal temperament" for the simple reason that the fractions don't add up. If you add up 12 fifths, all around the circle of fifths (C - G - D - A - E - B - F# - C# - Ab - Eb - Bb - F - C) you get (3/2)^12 = 129.746. Theoretically, the first and the last C in this series should be seven octaves apart, so their frequency relation should be 2^7 = 128. And not 129.746. And there are even worse clashes with other intervals. So in fact it would be impossible to tune a piano according to the pure intervals defined by simple fractions. This is why we as a civilisation have settled for equal temperament, which means the octave is split into 12 equal semitones.

Equal temperament (ET) is so widespread today that knowledge of the alternatives has gone missing, and even many musicians are unaware of the problems that this compromise solution causes.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews



Feedback