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Bach and Tuning


Johnny Reinhard

Bach and Tuning is strictly concerned with the identification of a historically accurate tuning paradigm that applies to the great majority of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music. Once Bach has his personal tuning aesthetic acknowledged, a new dimension of meaning is invoked in performance through the intended interplay of diverse musical intervals. This new narrative lays bare Bach’s mental calculations regarding his idealized intonation. Bach, the true chromatic composer of the Baroque, was the scion of a great music family. Likewise, Andreas Werckmeister was the bright star in a neighboring musical family, only a generation earlier. Bach and Tuning connects the valuable tuning contribution made by Werckmeister to Bach’s musical masterpieces.

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This project was the result of a collective spirit of many individuals and organizations. Among those individuals to single out for their input to this work is Professor Joel Newman, who permitted me to write “Bach’s Tuning” as a term paper for a historical musicology pro-seminar class he taught at Columbia University, a graduate level class ostensibly focused on Renaissance music, and who carefully edited my successful master’s thesis submission.

Mark Lindley significantly spurred my work on by providing me with an authorized copy of Elizabeth Hehr’s English translation of Andreas Werckmeister’s Musicalische Temperatur (1691), written while she was a sophomore at Oberlin College, along with his own articles.

Thank you, Ted Coons, for all your support and encouragement, and invaluable number crunching. Great thanks to readers Elliott Antokoletz, Carol K. Baron, David Galt, John Sprague, Robert Bonotto, Stuart Isacoff.

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