How «kirnbergian» does unequal temperament have to be?

Choice of keys and texture characteristics in Franz Schubert’s Lieder as indicators for particular temperaments

Wanja Aloe, Claire Roberts
As part of a research project of the Hochschule der Künste Bern into systems of tuning and temperament in the 19th century the project-team looked among other things into the question of how long unequal temperaments survived in the 19th century. In spite of multiple sources concerning the contemporary theory of tuning and temperament, the actual common practice is not well documented. For this reason the researchers chose to approach the problem from a new angle with the help of a statistical analysis of Schubert’s Lied oeuvre. It became apparent that the temperament Kirnberger II, which was mentioned in various contemporary sources and which Herbert Kelletat (1994) argues to be the most plausible temperament for the time from Beethoven to Schubert, would appear to conflict to a certain degree with the overall statistical picture of Schubert’s Lieder. Based on further analysis of piano texture in particular keys, the project-team proposes that although Kirnberger II was perhaps common due to its easy tuning, it was not the only temperament used, but one among others.

by moxi