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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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Chapter 4: Baroque Fine Tuning


Reduction of Werckmeister’s copperplate monochord from Musicalische Temperatur (1691)

Andreas Werckmeister intended Musicalische Temperatur, or “Musical Temperament,” as a further exploration of the comments on temperament made in his book on organ construction. Essentially, music, as Andreas Werckmeister experienced it, needed a refurbishing, based on new conditions expected by certain progressive composers (unnamed, but clearly intended to include members of the Bach family). To that end, Werckmeister designed a copperplate reproduction of six distinctive tunings. The ordering of the monochord tunings was the source for their names. Werckmeister wrote:

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