tempered system

"As the present knowledge of music has been for the most part derived from the tempered system in keyed instruments, so when anything has been attempted to be done which required a knowledge of the mathematical element, instead of the beauty and symmetry of truth, what followed has for the most part been error and disorder." [Ramsay - A Wrong Method - Sedley Taylor's Scales, page 13]

"lower effect than the fifth; the seventh, B, has a higher effect than the sixth; but the eighth, C, has a lower effect than the seventh. If the effects of notes or chords depended wholly on the mathematical primes by which they are measured and located, or the ratios inherent in them, then the effects of the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords would have been alike, for these chords are measured by exactly the same primes, and have exactly the same ratios. It is the position of the tonic chord which gives it its importance and not any special primes by which it is produced, nor any special ratios inherent in it. Notes by the power of 2 have a pure unmixed and invariable character. Notes by the first, second, and third powers of 3 have different degrees of centrifugal force; and the character of the notes produced by the first power of 5 depends on the character of the notes from which they are derived. The final character of notes and chords is determined by the amount of force which they have acquired from the way in which they have been derived, and from their position in the system. And no matter where these notes may be afterwards placed, like chemical elements, they never lose their original forces and tendencies. What Tyndal says of the inorganic chemical elements of the brain is true of the inorganic notes of music, "They are all dead as grains of shot." It is the organic state which gives the notes and chords their gravities and levities, and these two tendencies, the one upward and the other downward, constitute the vital principle of music. It is true that the mathematical operation is required to give birth and life to music, and that the mathematical system gives the knowledge of causes down to the law of gravitation, yet the artistic effects are fully realised from the tempered system deriving its organic harmony from this vital principle of music. The centrifugal tendencies of the notes of the subdominant, are too strong to be at all disturbed by the system being tempered. The enormous power of these chords corrects the effect which might otherwise arise from tempering, as the enormous power of the sun corrects the perturbations of the planets." [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 29]

of twelve mathematical scales is that F# and G♭, which in the tempered system are one, being counted the same, are made two scales in the mathematical; but it is a needless nicety. Twelve is the natural number and period for both mathematical and tempered scales. And as the system of twelve Fifths contains the key system of music four times, only three of these twelve Fifths being required for any one key, it follows that the tempered key is affected by only one-fourth part of the small amount to be tempered into the whole twelve. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 30]

The vitality of the notes depends on their specific gravities and levities. As the tempered system does not in any way alter the position of the notes of the mathematical system, and as it is their specific gravities and levities which give the notes their vitality, when the one is not changed neither is the other. The gravities and levities of the notes change when the notes change their position in the system. They may indeed have the same names, but they are no longer the same notes. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 43]

There are very few things in music which have not change written upon them. TWELVE and THREE, however, are stable. There is nothing that will disturb the propriety of the circle of twelve fifths, as in the tempered system of music; for, although the mathematical-intonation indulges in thirteen keys, the thirteenth is simply the first of a new cycle of twelve.
The working model of three fifths is that which possesses musical life-powers; and these life-powers go with it wherever it goes, and they go with nothing else. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 74]

with her irrevocable proportions to measure his scales for him. The stars at the C of the first scale and at the B# of the last show the coincidence of 12 fifths and 7 octaves. The number of B# is 3113 467/512; C24 multiplied 7 times by 2 brings us to the number 3072; these two notes in the tempered system are made one, and the unbroken horizon of the musical world of twelve twofold keys is created. The very small difference between these two pitches is so distributed in the 12 tempered scales that no single key of the 12 has much to bear in the loss of perfect intonation. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 118]

This diagram shows pictorially the open in the spiral of the mathematical scales, in which, if written in sharps only, B# is seen a little, that is, a comma and the apotome minor, in advance of C, and as the first scale of the new cycle; for it is a violation of Nature's beautiful steps to call it a thirteenth scale of this order, since every scale in the order is 31 commas in advance of the preceding, whereas B# is only one comma and a small fraction in advance of C. If the scales be written in ♭s and #s for convenience of signature, then G# is seen a comma and apotome in advance of A♭; while the whole circle of keys advancing by fifths are each 31 commas in advance of the preceding. We may therefore cast utterly from us the idea of there being more than twelve mathematical scales, and view the so-called thirteenth as simply the first of a new round of the endless spiral of scales. There is, however, in this note a banner with the strange device, "Excelsior," for it leads us onward into ever-advancing regions of vibrations, and would at last bring us to the ultimate and invisible dynamic structure of the visible world. The tempered system of 12 keys, as in Fig. 1, is by causing the G# and A♭ to coalesce and be one, as the two D's are already literally one by Nature's own doing. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 118]

See Also

chromatic scale
equal temperament
Law of Mathematical Ratios
mathematical intonation
Mathematical Relations are Constant - page 125
mathematical scales
mathematical system
On the Partial Differential Equations of Mathematical Physics
Ramsay - PLATE VIII - The Mathematical Table of Majors and Minors and their Ratio Numbers
Ramsay - PLATE XXII - Mathematical Table of the Twelve Major Scales and their relative Minors
Ramsay - PLATE XXIII - The Mathematical and Tempered Scales
Ramsay - PLATE XXVII - The Mathematical Scale of Thirty two notes in Commas, Sharps and Flats
scale of mathematical intonation
semitonic progression
tempered key
tempered scale
tempered system
three mathematical primes

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Monday January 4, 2021 04:04:11 MST by Dale Pond.