Temperament has ratings and 54 reviews. Isacoff examines the tuning of the Western diatonic scale, the problem of obtaining pure, harmonious intervals. Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization. Front Cover. Stuart Isacoff. Knopf Doubleday. Six Questions with the Author: Stuart Isacoff on Temperament Excerpt from Temperament: The Idea That Solved Music’s Greatest Riddle.

Author: Arale Yozshut
Country: Switzerland
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Finance
Published (Last): 22 December 2006
Pages: 409
PDF File Size: 2.69 Mb
ePub File Size: 3.14 Mb
ISBN: 978-1-84009-366-1
Downloads: 71194
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Aracage

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.

Stuart Isacoff relates the story of the reinvention of the piano—a story that encompasses social history, religion, philosophy, and science as well as musicology—in a concise and sparkling narrative. A nice read for anyone looking for a fun and winding path through history into how we have arrived at the dominant tuning of today of 12 equally-divided half steps to an octave. This book really made it clear to me that much of the conventions and rules we have in our traditions of music are actually pretty arbitrary.

Indeed, as the tonal isaacoff. Clusters of two blacks, then three, then two, and so on, form a repeating pattern above a solid row of whites. Library Locations and Hours.

Six Questions with the Author: Stuart Isacoff on Temperament | NewMusicBox

And, unlike the ungrateful French horn or the finicky oboe, if you keep it in tune, it will be an obedient servant. If you want to fine-tune your subscription prefences please do it below, or come back and visit your settings page temperaament.

And they instigated the creation of countless tuning systems in an incessant negotiation between the old ways and the forces of change.

Some of his discussions of the history of non-musical isacff seemed like padding or name-dropping, and his occasional clangers two of the oddest being ‘a lute has 6 strings’, Dufay and Brunelleschi were ‘compatriots’.

This book changed both my life and my precention of the impact that temperamrnt have played on music and life The battle was ideological as well as technological. Temperament is interesting enough that the author could have concentrated on it.

Temperament : how music became a battleground for the great minds of Western civilization

Jul isaacoff, Terry rated it liked it Shelves: This isn’t the only book with the following problem: Alas, authors don’t seem willing to accept such “plain” temperamnet. It is a tale that includes “temperament” in all its diverse meanings: I did not realize the problem associated with tuning on the In the spirit of the spate of books that attemp This managed to give teperament some background in the temperament debate, but was not all it promised to be.


Now to read ‘How equal temperament ruined harmony and why you should care ‘. Lists with This Book. Knopf, hardcover, pages Vintage, paperback, pages. I knew there had to be a human drama behind the history of this seemingly arcane subject.

This short book was surprisingly fun, given its esoteric and nerdy subject matter.

Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization

He also repeats himself chapters apart, often using the same wording without any acknowledgement that he is doing so – a failure of editing that one can’t help but find infuriating. Pianist and composer Isacoff delves into “equal temperament,” the18th-century tuning system that carved the octave into 12 equal intervals.

If temperaemnt are really into music, and the history of music, you may find it compelling, but, otherwise it was a struggle. A fascinating and hugely original book that explains how a vexing technical puzzle was solved, temmperament possible some of the most exquisite music ever written. I don’t think Partch is the greatest composer ever but then who is? I iaacoff this up on a lark and found it thoroughly engaging.

Some one who enjoys history and some one who enjoys music.

In this engaging and accessible account, Stuart Isacoff leads us through the battles over that scale, placing them in the context of quarrels in the worlds of art, philosophy, religion, politics and science. The author departs annoyingly from chronology without being explicit about it apparently he decided or was advised to include as few dates as possible.

In some ways, the modern piano is designed for equal temperament, and I love the sound of it. He makes an erudite and amiable companion. Not a lot of theory involved, as the book really focuses on the historical narative rather then the technical aspects, while accessibly explaining the significance of each development. The following items were successfully added. For example, to learn about the roots of musical consonance, I had to study the theoretical contributions of Pythagoras.


But to truly understand Pythagoras including what motivated him I had to immerse myself in the ways of ancient Greece. And while he finally draws an ambiguous conclusion, he makes a pretty convincing case that much of the great art music you and I love could not have been without some approximation of equal temperament.

In fact, having done a little research on the internet and chatted to a couple of musicians who are not pianists my lute teacher and a baroque violinist the author is either unaware of or grossly misrepresents how things are for instruments that are not pianos. Yet the resistance to a remedy that we find perfectly acceptable today-the tuning of equal temperament-was so powerful, the idea was for generations almost unspeakable.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows: Following the trail of musical temperaments into every corner and side alley was like being on a mind-expanding roller coaster. This process repeated itself throughout the writing of the book, which in the end encompasses a cultural history of the western world from the 6th century B. Sep 15, William rated it did not like it Shelves: When a Renaissance musician tuned a musical instrument They became entangled in the world of scientific inquiry-engaging the imaginations of such luminaries as Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, Newton, and Christiaan Huygens.

Open Preview See a Problem? His piano recitals often combine classical repertoire with jazz improvisation, demonstrating the threads that connect musical works created centuries and continents apart.


The author ignores the persistence of chromatic and microtonal tunings as well as the historical music movement which saught to recreate pieces as first consumed. Jun 25, Cam rated it really liked it. Would you expect more composers to be exploring this area? Other editions – View all Temperament: