A good servant dismissed for becoming a bad master

On the history of equal temperament

Cathy van Eck
Why did the equal temperament come to establish itself as a standard in the XXth century – letting the multiplicity of temperaments used throughout the XIXth century disappear? Cathy van Eck reconstructs the XIXth century debates around the temperaments and submits to critical enquiry the widely known thesis according to which the equal temperament would have expanded because of its possibility to modulate through all tonalities. The author concludes that the main reason for this development cannot reside here, and identifies instead other crucial steps: the industrialisation of the keyboard construction, the apparition of the professional tuners, or the diffusion of the piano in the middle class household. Having made certain that the equal temperament was implemented considerably later
than the repertoire for which it is employed nowadays, the author evokes what this multiplicity of temperaments could imply for a musical practice aware of its history.

by moxi