temperament from the 18th century or later this music will sound less well. Especially in
the 18th-century temperaments according to Werckmeister the thirds e'-g'-sharp and
a-c'-sharp sound definitely false. These thirds are common in the cadences of 16th century
music. They are hardly better in the alleged
temperament in the graphic representation on the title page of the manuscript of J.S.
Bach's Wohltemperierte Clavier. This very good temperament has been (re)constructed by Bradley Lehman in two articles in Early Music of 2005.
In later issues of this periodical his theory has been challenged with valid arguments.
Bradley's site also contains instructions for other temperaments, for instance the
temperament by Matthias Sorge from 1744, under the buttons Practise - Tune it: expert,
Tuning according to the most
usual mean tone temperament should be als follows. Each string to be tuned should be
turned a little bit looser at first before tuning it up (that applies to all
1. Use a tuning fork or another device to produce
an a' at the height prescribed for your instrument (mostly 415 or 440 Hz).
2. Tune the a'-string of one of the registers
(choirs, stops) of your instrument. The sound may have no beats or wows, but should be
3. Tune a to a'.
4. Tune f to a and a', f' to f. Control whether
the chord f-a-f'-a' is pure. Tuning the tenth f-a' is often easier than the thirds f-a or
f'-a'; it will be helpful to put a little weight on one of the keys to keep it down.
5. Tune c' to f and c to c'. Check whether
c-f-c'-f' is pure.
6. Tune e to c and c', and e' to e. Check whether
c-e-c'-e' is pure.
7. Tune g' to c', but g' should be just as much
too low as to not offend the ear. There may be about 4 beats to a second. Tune g to g'
8. Tune d' to a', but the d' should be just as
much too high as to not offend the ear. There may be about 4 beats to a second. Tune d to
9. Check whether the number of beats in the chords
g-d', d'-a' and c'-g' is equal. If necessary turn g en d' a little bit up or down to
attain that. Tune g' to g pure again and d to d'.
10. Tune G to g and A to a.
11. Tune G-B-g-b as described in 4.
12. Tune A-c-sharp-a-c'-sharp as described
13. Tune B-flat-d-b-flat-d' as decribed in 4.
14. Tune d-f-sharp-d'-f'-sharp as decribed in 4.
15. Tune e-flat-g-e'-flat-g' as decribed in 4.
16. Tune e-g-sharp-e'-g'-sharp as decribed in 4.
17. Tune the other strings pure with the octaves;
check also the tenths.
In pieces from the early 17th century sometimes
d-sharps and a-flats occur. In that case you tune the e-flat down to d-sharp and the
g-sharp up to a-flat. Frescobaldi sometimes uses d-sharp and e-flat in the same piece. In
that case one of them will sound false. In 17th-century instruments especially from Italy
sometimes the d-sharp and e-flat and the g-sharp and a-flat keys were split up in two half
keys, each with its own action and action.