Have you ever seen where an acoustic guitar player is on stage, and they’re tuning up their guitar? And as they tune up their guitar, they play. And as they play and tune the tuning itself becomes a song that the guitar sings as its voice assembles itself into harmonies. That must be really hard to do. And even if it’s easy to do, the science behind it is astonishing. Here’s more from Ethan Hein:
Before the year 1500 or so, Western Europeans mainly tuned their instruments in three-limit just intonation, which they called Pythagorean tuning. (Don’t be fooled by the name; this system was in use in Mesopotamia centuries before the Greeks described it.) Three-limit just intonation is based on the first three harmonics of a vibrating string. Western Europeans really like the pitch ratios produced by these harmonics, as do people from many other cultures (though not all of them). In this post, I will explain why Europeans liked three-limit just intonation, why they nevertheless eventually abandoned it, and what came after.
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