With the existing literature tending to bog down in mathematical theory or historical tuning methods, Isacoff bravely attempts to make this seemingly arcane topic interesting to the general reader. He distills the mathematics and music theory into their simplest essences, and draws apt analogies from the everyday. He also generously peppers the text with the quirks and escapades of its more flamboyant central characters; the relevance of the information is often tenuous at best, but Isacoff has obviously done his homework, and he can be forgiven some frivolity.
Less forgivable is his neglect of "well-temperament." Namesake of Bach's masterful collection of 24 pieces (one each in all the major and minor keys), the well-tempered keyboard liberated composers from the howl of badly tuned keys in the way equal temperament did, while preserving the distinct quality of each key. It was a pragmatic and aesthetically rich solution that captivated composers and theorists for decades. Yet Isacoff reserves less than two pages for its description. (Perhaps he deliberately overlooked the topic since it doesn't fit well with his casting of equal temperament's opponents as rigid, dogmatic, and impractical.)
Despite its flaws, Temperament is an accessible guide to a fascinating topic seldom discussed outside musical circles. Though the book may not invigorate hard-core theorists, the amateur musician, armchair scientist, history buff, or plain old curious can glean plenty from it. The advent of digital keyboards--some of which can be tuned to historical temperaments at the flip of a switch--makes this an ideal time for the topic to be rejuvenated. --Todd Gehman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Great description of Temperament with a good and necessary focus on historical development and its context.Published 2 months ago by Spider J.C. Bulyk
Certainly an in depth tour of how we have arrived at the the tempered scale and why. I did find it a bit deep in parts but then that is as it should be I suppose if one is to... Read morePublished 4 months ago by W. B. Swain
I read the book some years ago. It's well written, and I found that it did explain the principles involved, though I would have liked some examples showing the mathematical... Read morePublished 4 months ago by M Gordon
Item delivered on time, was as described. Excellent dealPublished 5 months ago by DRS. A.J.W. ESSERS
Temperament refers to the interval between pitch in a musical scale. And the Great Minds of the Western Philosophers in the 17th and 18th century did have strong opinions as what... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Joseph B. Ennis
Well and delightfully written. In addition to providing a fine explanation of temperament and its history in western music, Isacoff uses this history as a lens through which to... Read morePublished 13 months ago by John Campion
Isacoff expects the reader to focus thoughtfully on his thorough explanations of musical sound. The reward is a glimpse of the "harmony of the spheres."Published 13 months ago by ann gillespie
Stuart Isacoff's Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization is a good general introduction to the vexing question of how to tune a... Read morePublished 17 months ago by W. A. Carpenter
very interesting and engaging study of how different tuning systems for music developed over time. fascinating read for any musician, and anyone interested in music and its... Read morePublished 18 months ago by S. P.