RELATIVITY OF EXCELLENCE IN MUSIC: EVOLUTION OF TUNING SYSTEMS AND THE RISE OF THE EQUAL TEMPERAMENT SYSTEM

Abstract

Author(s): Onur ?ENEL

The evolution of tuning systems in the Western music world is an example of a continuous process of seeking perfection. Efforts to produce an ideal system based on mathematical principles started with the Pythagorean scale and continued with the emergence of different systems over centuries. Each system was designed as a solution for the aesthetic and practical expectations that the previous systems could not meet. On the other hand, the fact that each system resulted from the sense of aesthetics of its own time indicates that the limits of any system depend on the changes in the sense of aesthetics. In this regard, the excellence of a tuning system is relative in terms of the ideals of design. Although the tuning systems provide certain advantages from the perspective of their own time, they may be insufficient for another period. This does not show that any system is superior to another system; rather, it indicates that each system should be evaluated within the aesthetic framework of its own time. The rise of the equal temperament system, which is suggested as an excellent result, against the other systems is the result of an understanding that emerged at a certain time and the results of which continue, rather than its superiority to the other systems. This understanding arises from the fact that this system is accepted as a cultural ideal, unlike the previous systems. Thus, while the other systems have disappeared, the equal temperament system has become an assessment criterion. In this regard, this paper analyzes the tuning and temperament methods from the Pythagorean scale onwards and addresses the conditions that created them, the main principles of the systems, their advantages and disadvantages, and the reasons for and results of the dominance of the equal temperament system.

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