Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

List of Diagrams

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pp. xi-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xiv

List of Audio Files

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pp. xv-xviii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xix-xxii

One of the great pleasures of writing a book such as this is that it has brought me into varying degrees of contact with a wide range of thoughtful artists, luthiers, scholars, and others whose generosity and enthusiasm for this project has been truly moving. These include lutenists Kenneth Bé, Richard Stone, Pascale Bouquet of the Société Française de Luth, Gian Luca Lastraioli of the Società del Liuto, Christopher Goodwin of the Lute Society, Matthias Spaeter, and Andreas Schlegel; luthiers...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

Tuning can be among the most vexing, frustrating, and time-consuming aspects of playing the lute or viol. The old French expression “to swear like a lute tuner” is not without some merit. Yet there are few adjustments a fretted instrument player can make that require so little effort but return such dramatic rewards, including more stable consonances, colorful dissonances, and better resonance. Contemporary players of instruments with movable frets who set their frets in equal temperament usually...

PART ONE: Precedent

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PART ONE INTRODUCTION

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pp. 9-10

And nowhere more than on the issue of temperaments on fretted instruments. The myth, of course, is that fretted instruments have always been restricted to equal temperament. One temperament and one temperament only, not even an “either/or.” But even “either/or” is antithetical to art, which welcomes multiple solutions to its challenges and diverse interpretations of its subject matter. In the Renaissance and Baroque eras as now, equal and unequal systems traveled together along parallel...

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CHAPTER ONE: Historical Performance, Thought, and Perspective

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pp. 11-35

Following the Baroque penchant for categorization, in 1600 the noted music critic Giovanni Maria Artusi classified instruments into three orders:

1. Keyboard instruments tuned in unequal temperaments

2. Those such as the human voice, trombones, recorders, and so on, that could accommodate themselves to any temperament, equal or un

3. Fretted instruments that are restricted to equal temperament

He furthermore claimed that instruments of the first and third orders cannot...

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CHAPTER TWO: Surviving Fixed Metal-Fret Instruments

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pp. 36-48

One of the standard ensembles to emerge during the Renaissance was the popular Elizabethan “broken” consort, sometimes also referred to as a “mixed” consort, “lessons for the consort,” or, as Praetorius referred to it, an “English consort.”1 In the 1960s, the ensemble was resurrected in performances and recordings by the Julian Bream Consort and then later by the Musicians of Swanne Alley and the Baltimore Consort.2 It concerns us here because the instruments that constitute this standard...

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CHAPTER THREE: Fretting Pattern Iconography

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pp. 49-64

At its simplest, “applied” iconography is “the study of historical depictions for their documentary content and value,” according to guitarist, university librarian, and iconographer Thomas Heck.1 M. A. Katritzky refines this definition even further: “performing-arts iconography focuses on effective ways in which information of significance to the history of the performing arts can be gained from visual material, in order to facilitate investigation of the history of the performing arts from a...

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PART ONE CONCLUSION

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pp. 65-66

Choosing a tuning or temperament has always been a matter of compromise. Even in the best of circumstances, tuning was fluid and often determined by the player’s knowledge, experience, and the situation at hand. In large part, it seems that the player’s ability level was the main determinant. Professional players who regularly performed in ensembles with keyboards and other instruments that were typically tuned in meantone temperaments almost certainly accommodated...

PART TWO: Theory

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pp. 67-68

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PART TWO: INTRODUCTION

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pp. 69-70

For more than two thousand years, theorists and musicians have sought to discover or create a tuning system in which all the intervals contained within an octave are rendered pure. Until that Holy Grail is found, we must do our best to manipulate natural acoustical discrepancies into workable systems that best suit our needs. Every tuning system is a compromise between practicality and beauty; more of one results in less of the other. While theorists theorized, practicing musicians began to arrange...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Inside the Numbers: How Tuning Systems Work and Why We Need Them

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pp. 71-94

What if you were told that you had to fit thirteen full inches into one foot? In other words, you couldn’t simply divide 12 by 13 to arrive at .923 because 92.3 percent of an inch is less than a full inch. Nor could you fit ten full inches and then divide the remaining units by three: 2 ÷ 3 = .666 because again, you’d have three units less than a full inch. Thirteen inches simply cannot be jammed into one foot unless we are discussing shoe size. You can only fit thirteen inches into one foot if you redefine what...

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CHAPTER FIVE: Tour through Tuning Systems

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pp. 95-126

Associated with Pythagoras (570–504 BC) by tradition if not by fact, Pythagorean tuning was the first major tuning system to achieve widespread use in Western music. Since the fifths in the Pythagorean system are not narrowed or tempered, it is a tuning rather than a temperament.1 Its perfect fourths and fifths are acoustically pure, and its major thirds are an excruciatingly wide 408c., except for four compressed diminished fourths on B, F♯, C♯, and G♯ narrow enough to measure...

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PART TWO CONCLUSION

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pp. 127-128

By now you have seen many examples that demonstrate how tuning systems are essentially compromises designed to make the best of the fact that it is impossible to generate a twelve-note scale that fits within an octave in which all intervals are pure. Tuning systems are, in broad strokes, negotiated solutions balancing serviceability in a variety of keys with heightened beauty in fewer key areas. Such decisions involve determining which areas are to be favored at the expense of others...

PART THREE: Practice

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PART THREE: INTRODUCTION

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pp. 131-132

Now the fun begins. After the there and then and this and that, part 3 focuses on the here and now. We now know how tuning systems work and recognize that the notion that fretted instruments were always tuned in equal temperament is at best an overly broad generalization. As usual, the situation on the ground is more complicated than it appears to be. In part 3 you will have the opportunity to apply...

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CHAPTER SIX: Physical and Environmental Factors

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pp. 133-150

Nothing will improve your ability to tune well more than changing your strings frequently and your frets more frequently. Nearly as important is how well you maintain your pegs and nut, followed by how you attach your strings. By understanding how your strings, frets, bridge, nut, and pegs impact your tuning, you can significantly reduce physical factors that can inadvertently inhibit accurate tuning.1 How you stop the strings at the frets can also dramatically influence...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: The Zen of Tuning

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pp. 151-186

You would not have made it this far if you didn’t recognize how essential good tuning is to our own enjoyment and to that of those who listen to us. An ill-tuned instrument disturbs everyone, audiences and players alike. Playing well requires such attention to both the big picture and minute details that even the slightest distraction caused by tuning problems can be enough to trigger anything from a trivial error to a completely derailed performance. Tuning is preliminary to playing. This may...

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Continuo

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pp. 187-204

Perhaps the most common occasion in which fretted instrument players must understand how meantone temperaments function is when realizing a bass line. Because continuo realization requires attention to the mi/fa identity of each chord tone, you must know your fingerboard thoroughly and mind your mis and fas. To be sure, this is an advanced skill but essential for archlute and theorbo players who hope to play in professional or high-caliber...

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CHAPTER NINE: Viols

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pp. 205-225

To a lutenist, the control the viol player has over every parameter of sound production is astonishing: its duration, its volume, and its tone quality throughout the length of the note, the connections between notes, and the tuning of each note. Most of the enhanced control of dynamics and articulation can be ascribed to the bow, but it is the left hand in concert with the bow that primarily accounts the viol player’s greater ability to tune more precisely once the frets have been set. To a large...

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Conclusion

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pp. 226-228

Since most of us have spent our entire lives encountering only one temperament, it is natural to resist the notion that there may be other legitimate or even better temperaments, but as you have seen, for those of us with movable frets, there are. It is also tempting to think of the history of tuning systems as a linear progression of one temperament giving way to another, when in reality tuning systems often competed with each other, traveling on parallel tracks for as long as centuries...

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Appendix 1: Hertz in Cleartune

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pp. 229-232

In Cleartune, under “Options,” you must have the Temperament Key set to the default C. For this experiment, A4 calibration should be at 440 and temperament set to Equal Temperament. Select the pitch pipe icon on the right side of the screen. This modality allows you to see the pitches in hertz. Click the little lock icon in the center of the dial to allow the dial to precisely lock into your selected pitch. Turn the dial to A and press the circle with the “4” in it. See figure A1.1 Press the on/off button...

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Appendix 2: Equal Temperament Offset Charts

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pp. 233-242

Cleartune and other tuning apps come equipped with a variety of preset temperaments; however, I get better results by creating my own version of the temperaments I regularly use. Tuning apps such as Cleartune provide users with the ability to create custom temperaments by inputting the difference in cents between each pitch you want and its corresponding value in equal temperament.1 Just like a normal cents chart, the size of the interval is determined from the starting pitch, which...

Notes

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pp. 243-260

Bibliography

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pp. 261-272

Index

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pp. 273-280

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About the Author

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p. 281

DAVID DOLATA is Professor of Musicology at Florida International University in Miami. The Bulletin de la Société Française de Luth has referred to him as a “gentleman de la Renaissance” for his activities as a performer and scholar. As a lutenist, he has appeared at such venues as the Glimmerglass Opera, the Florida Grand Opera, the Northwest Bach Festival, and the Miami Bach Society, and on recordings...

Image Plates

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