Friday, February 19, 2010

Bach Contrapunctus (Art of Fugue)

I tuned to Bach-Lehman 1722 temperament a MIDI from the Mutopia Project using harpsichord of most of Bach's The Art of Fugue.

To hear, expand this zip file. Drag the files en masse to RealPlayer's window (for example), sort its playlist of movements (perhaps putting inversus before rectus), and enjoy!

Copyright (c) 2010 Mark D. Blackwell.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Goldberg Variations in Bach-Lehman tuning

I am listening excitedly to Bach's Goldberg Variations in G major (in a file I recently re-tuned) because they sound so good! They are now in the temperament used by Bach himself I believe, Bach-Lehman 1722.

I invite you to listen to:

Variation 25 - Andante espressivo

However, if you try the:

equal temperament version

I believe you shall hear significantly less beauty, even unpleasantness!

For this, it is essential to use some good wave-table MIDI synthesizer software like Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth which is based on Roland wavetables.

The Creative SoundBlaster SoundFont Synth and the QuickTime Music Synthesizer (at least on PC's) somehow blot out temperaments' emotional content, and they make this listening comparison meaningless.

Sometime, feast your ears and emotional system on the:

complete variations

on harpsichord, in Bach-Lehman 1722 temperament. (It may be better if you minimize the treble on your speakers or whatever. Credits:

Goldberg Variations - by J.S. Bach - BWV 988.
MIDI version by David J. Grossman, 1997.
Bach-Lehman 1722 temperament version by Mark D. Blackwell, 2010.

Interesting, from Mr. Grossman's website on the Art of MIDI: 'Listening to a clean sequence of a Bach work, it is possible for the mind to add [its] own interpretation[;] one is able to listen to the work in such a way that [one's] own realization of the work comes through.'

Following immediately at 1:09:21 are Bach's Fourteen Canons on the First Eight Notes of the Goldberg Ground in G major - BWV 1087, which sound better, interestingly, in

equal temperament.

More Bach from David J. Grossman.

(I have emailed David J. Grossman;, he granted permission for this use. His website states, 'All original material is copyrighted ©1999 (unpronounceable) Productions', and also states, 'All of these sequences were created with Cakewalk Pro Audio and are copyrighted ©1997. However, they are freely distributable and modif[i]able for any non-commercial purpose[,] as long as proper credit is given and the textual information in the files remains intact', and also states, 'The original MIDI sequences at this site [are] copyrighted by myself but may be modified and redistributed[,] if: I am asked permission first and have given it, I am given partial credit for my original work, and they are not sold. Redistribution of my sequences in their unmodified form is allowed without explicit permission as long as no money is charged for them.')

Copyright (c) 2010 Mark D. Blackwell.

Chopin mystery

Here is a puzzle, involving a short piece by Chopin: Etude No. 3 in E [major] (Op. 10)

realized by Katsuhiro Oguri.

(For this, it is essential to use good wave-table MIDI synthesizer software like the Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth (which is based on Roland wavetables). The Creative (SoundBlaster) SoundFont Synth and the QuickTime Music Synthesizer (at least on PC's) somehow blot out temperaments' emotional content, and thus they make meaningless this listening comparison.)

Etude No. 3, but different

The first was better, right? but just how is it different? That is your problem to solve, ladies and gentlemen!

Especially note the chromatic passage, starting at 1:50.

How is it different? In other words, what makes it better?

You will see the answer in a forthcoming post!

If you still cannot put your finger on it, here is another piece:

Impromptu in Gb [major] (Op. 51)

realized by Robert Finley.

Impromptu in Gb, but different

Especially note the passage (in Bb minor, I think), from 2:11 through 3:26.

(Thanks to the The Classical MIDI Collection for the original Chopin MIDI's.)

Copyright (c) 2010 Mark D. Blackwell.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bach tuning vs. equal temperament

I am so enjoying this beautiful tuning! A commenter said, 'The difference this temperament makes[,] compared with equal temperament[,] is like unstopping your ears.'

Important especially for the fearful, as its video information says, 'the Bach/Lehman 1722... temperament sounds enough like equal [temperament] to fool just about anybody[.]'

Further, 'and brings both more intensity and more relaxation to the music...

'Equal temperament, by contrast, goes on and on with a relatively bland inoffensiveness...being less than inspiring, and encouraging "run-on"[,] uninflected performances... Why not tune instead with a subtle inequality, and let the intonation itself do part of the interpretive work?':

Copyright (c) 2010 Mark D. Blackwell.

Bach's Endlessly Rising Canon, using Shepard tones

Shepard tones are notes in multiple octaves, which fade appropriately so that, ultimately, motion goes nowhere: rather resembling a barber pole.

In Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter wrote they could be combined with Bach's 'Modulation' or 'Endlessly Rising' Canon (Canon a 2, per tonos: from The Musical Offering).

With existing musical instruments, this would seem difficult. However, just now on YouTube, I discovered Michael Monroe has (re-) created precisely this combination, using MIDI guitars (in 2008)—and, it's beautiful. :)

Fairly seamlessly, his ending connects through to its beginning, if the file is downloaded and the 'repeat' (or 'loop') option is selected (in one's choice of media player).

In case you missed it, the main musical link above is the word, 'combination'!

A more normal performance (or this one on Spotify) gives a subtly aesthetic experience, as well.

Copyright (c) 2010, 2014 Mark D. Blackwell.