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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Lamont School of Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology


Music, Equal temperament, Just intonation


Western art music is founded upon the system of tuning known as equal temperament. The European continental based harmonic science which defines classical music was effectively established upon the science of this system. The opposite system is that of just intonation, of which the method of tuning yields scales with partials, tones smaller than those in existent in common practice, commonly referred to as microtones. Eastern music is founded upon this system. There has been debate on both systems sparsely throughout history since earliest recorded antiquity. Numerous performers, scholars, theorists, and scientists have observed problems with common practice equal temperament. Advocates for just intonation address limitations equal temperament causes on the ear in addition to composition. The following annotated bibliography brings to light the benefits of music founded upon just intonation in comparison to the limitations of equal temperament through the work of musicians, composers, scholars, philosophers, and scientists.

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