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Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey (Da Capo Press music reprint series) Hardcover – June, 1972


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Product Details

  • Series: Da Capo Press music reprint series
  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Pr (June 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306704226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306704222
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,737,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By David P. Jensen on March 11, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Barbour's book is essential reading for anyone wanting a comprehensive overview of historical temperaments, from the early Greeks to the twentieth century. That said, Barbour wrote from the vantage point of someone firmly believing that equal temperament is the ultimate expression of temperament, so the reader is left to interpret the contents, absorb what's good and toss out what's not so useful. Barbour cites many sources, so the book makes a decent bibliogrphy for further study. In fact, having read the book the reader should indeed go to the sources and make his own interpretation of the sources.
This book can be a tough read for someone not mathematically inclined - the analysis of every temperament is mathematically-based, and little reference is given to the needs of musicians. Additionally, a great deal of the book's ink is devoted to theoretical temperaments that either are not useable or have never found a use, so the reader is inclined to skip pages unless purely theoretical temperaments are of interest.
While this book is essential reading, there are several other contemporary writers on tuning and temperaments. Highly recommended is Mark Lindley's entry on the subject in the New Grove's. For a valuable polemic on temperaments and harmony, read Ross Duffin's recent "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)", available at Amazon.com.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By David Benson on May 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a standard source on scales and temeraments, and their history. It compares and contrasts Pythagorean tuning, just intonation, meantone, irregular temperaments, and finally equal temperament. Barbour displays a strong predisposition towards twelve tone equal temperament in this work, and interprets the history of scales and temperaments as an inexorable march towards equal temperament.
If you are a publishing company looking for something to reprint, this is a classic.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bruce R. Gilson on August 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I bought a copy approximately seven years ago, and first saw this book in a hardcover edition decades ago, I have not seen fit to write an actual review until now. And this mainly as a rebuttal to Claudio Di Veroli's harshly negative review.

First of all, I think it is eminently prejudicial for anyone reviewing a book not to disclose any interests he might have in other books on related topics. Di Veroli does not disclose his authorship of a book until he responds to a comment on his review, and this response to a comment is not visible to people just looking at his review unless they take the additional step of clicking to view comments. I am not going to violate my own ethics here -- I have myself written a book on musical scales, available on Amazon. (And I suppose a negative review that book got, written by a person who has coauthored research papers with the author of a rival book, prompted my feelings about such disclosures.)

To describe any book that presents historical data -- in this case, on tunings and temperaments from Greek days till the advent of equal temperament -- as "obsolete" is laughable. The book is a valuable reference on the ways instruments were tuned in past centuries, and I certainly did not consider it "useless," though in my own book I did not choose to provide such a listing -- in fact, readers of my book interested in such information are referred to Barbour's book.

Yes, I agree with Di Veroli that Barbour is opinionated in favor of equal temperament. Di Veroli says, "Barbour's purported steady evolution towards equal temperament, and his thesis that it is the only system worth tuning to, are nowadays not just erronous, but hilarious.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Timothy R. Darrough on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very tough, academic book. Not a gentle introduction to the subject at all. This would not be good as a first book on the subject, but maybe a second or third.
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