I have been using Bill Bremmer’s EBVT on the Omega for the past four months. The piano sounds great. Some dissonant intervals are rather ‘spicy’ but EBVT (with the right stretch) is on the whole a very pleasing temperament.
Some time ago I read some intriguing comments on PW about the Bach Lehman Temperament (BLT), and decided that it was going to be the next one to try after EBVT. So today I used Verituner to help me put the BLT on my piano. I used Ron Koval’s ‘big’ stretch style. Ron also very kindly provided me with the temperament offsets for BLT. (Offsets for BLT and many other historical temperaments can be found at rollingball.com.)
Why is the BLT so interesting? This temperament was discovered by Bradley Lehman on the first page of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Read the fascinating story of the discovery here. If Lehman’s thesis is correct (and there is no reason to believe that it is wrong), then this is THE temperament that Bach tuned his harpsichords to, and which he had in mind when he wrote WTC. Here is a quote from Lehman’s web site:
“In J. S. Bach’s obituary it was reported: “In the tuning of harpsichords, he achieved so correct and pure a temperament that all the tonalities sounded pure and agreeable. He knew of no tonalities that, because of impure intonation, one must avoid.”
“I believe that Bach’s elegant diagram at the top of his Well-Tempered Clavier title page defines that “correct and pure” temperament. It establishes a specific set of sounds for every musical scale and for all harmonies. Every major scale and minor scale sounds different from every other. This allows music to project a subtly different mood or character in each melodic and harmonic context, with a pleasing range of expression as it goes along. It builds drama into the music.
“A tuner of harpsichords or organs, making the intervals very slightly compromised on purpose (as Bach’s drawing indicates), ends up with a keyboard tuned beautifully for music in all keys. This carefully balanced result was apparently Bach’s preferred system, and it solves all the practical problems in his music and the music of his sons. Indeed, it turns out to be an excellent tuning solution to play all music, both before and after Bach’s.”
That last sentence intrigued me. More descriptions of the character of the Bach temperament here spurred me to finally put in on my own piano. I’ll use this temperament for the next few months.