DD—There's this long-standing aesthetic in academic music where that which is supposedly interesting is usually not beautiful. It's usually extremely dense and complex beyond one's understanding.

LH—I know that, but I don't see why one should be persuaded. Aren't we told that therefore it is beautiful, because it is interesting? I don't know. I agree that there is a sort of spilt and I don't know how long it's been around. I used to think it was the beginning of the Renaissance that the spilt happened. I’m not so sure about that anymore. But the spilt, at least in reality terms, certainly begins in the middle of the last century when, well, for example, twelve-tone equal temperament is a spilt between the reality of sensuous material and the ideology of aesthetics, let's say. It really is a spilt. We've been living with that (sort of) ever since, and when the reality of equal temperament filtered through, then, of course, it became an unwritten law that you could not write a triad. Why? Because it's no good. Then you started piling up fourth chords, and finally Schoenberg threw his hands in the air and said there is no tonality in this at all, just as Helmholtz had warned, and then he came out with this method of making sense out of a twelve-tone equal temperament. Because, I suppose being a European, it never occurred to him that you could retune again. But I think we are freer to retune.

DD—It still hasn't occurred to a lot of people. You can pick up The Harvard Dictionary Of Music and read a two paragraph article that tells you that Just Intonation is impossible in practical music, and that's that.

LH—Does it really? Well, one could easily send them a postcard: See page such-and-such BULLSHIT! if one were of a mind to. Because that's nonsense, of course. That is extraordinary to say that in the face of the evidence piled up over a number of years that it is impossible, by ear, to tune equal temperament. Quite impossible. And to say that is just outrageous. Not to be believed. When I was In York University a couple of years ago, we talked about this. We had a whole session. Johnny Reinhardt was there. There were some faculty members there, and I pointed out that tuning twelve-tone equal temperament by ear, say on a piano, is impossible, and everybody knows that. Thousands of tests indicate that that's not possible. It's not for mortal doing. And that's the reason that a lot of famous pianists used to carry around their tuner was because their tuner was doing a very subtle form of well temperament, and the pianist liked that for his repertoire and it became associated with his playing, and so on. That was interesting to some people who wondered about it, and then a few days later one of the faculty members brought it up. He said he had checked with the piano tuner and the technicians and that, yes, I was right, it was true that it was a subtle form of well temperament, not a real twelve-tone equal, because you can't tune it by ear. So it was those very subtle things that made all the difference in the performance—and that performers liked that, is the point. I wonder how many careers were based on the tuner who was producing what the pianist really liked. Poor J.S. Bach! He was a loser all the way around.

Here he went around to courts all his life trying to find a good job—never got it. And burdened down with his big family. And then accused of inventing equal temperament which he is on record as disliking! And the evidence of all these "Forty-Eight" to give you some evidence of how interesting a real well temperament is, and then to be accused of writing them for twelve-tone. The poor man's lost all the way around! I feel sorry about it, but there it is. Oh, dear!

DD—Scurrilous treatment.

LH—That still astonishes a number of people to realize that.

DD—Even Partch got that wrong.

LH—Did he? I didn't remember that. Did he? Yes, well, we're bamboozled every way around. There's Just no getting around it. You have to be on your guard all the time and suspect the other the minute somebody says something like that. Well, if you've got to stick to twelve tones, I think the well temperaments are the best solution. There's no doubt of that. I get irritated. The man who voiced my virginal and harpsichord recently did both of them in meantone. It sounded very, very attractive for a while, but I get irritated when I encounter one of the wolf intervals. Whereas I never get irritated when I’m in a well temperament that's any good. There is always beauty somewhere. Some of it's stronger towards the quintal system, and some of it's stronger towards the thirds, but it's always beautiful, and there are differences in the different keys, and differences chromatically. It's very beautiful, too, because they are not all the same. So a chromatic progression is more interesting—everything is more interesting when you've got real intervals to move around in relationships like that. And, after all, meantone is another regular temperament, and there are some things excluded and it's annoying. If you've got to have a twelve-tone keyboard, then I think the clearer answer, for me at least, is a well temperament, which gives you the best of both, of all possible worlds. It sounds so lovely, too.

DD—Are there any particular ones that you favor?

LH—I still like Kirnberger #2! Yes! Because it has the maximum number of consonances, and I do not mind a half-comma temperament. And that's as far as you can go, is a half-comma temperament, to me, and still have everything quite useful. What still baffles me is the fact that it's divided between D and A, and A and E, and those are two very prominent intervals, but there it is. And I just think it's beautiful. I don't mind the slightly gutsy feeling of those two fifths, in fact, I don't miss it at all. And the fact that F# is tuned correctly to the D consonates that sufficiently so that I don't even notice the dissonance between D and A. The C# is not. That's a quintal, that's an 81/64, but it's still sounds fine as far as I’m concerned. There are surprises. Why should E major sound as beautiful as it does in that tuning? But it does! And there's hardly a major third in it. It's amazing. And C major, of course, is next to heaven. It sounds like all the springtime of the world—despite the raised sixth degree. The A is the only tempered tone in the entire setup. It's amazing. And as I say, I don't mind those two fifths, but you've got real fifths, you've got real major seconds, real minor major seconds, you've got real half-tones of two or three kinds—there are so many real ones there that I wouldn't give them up for any form of equal temperament, no matter how fine, how close. In short, when you can have something real, why mess everything up?

JP Kirnberger #2 Well Temperament

DD—Since we started the network and 1/1, we must have met at least a half-a-dozen people who have invented Just Intonation.

LH—Oh, really! isn't that fun. Well, there must be something to it, David!

DD—Working in isolation for the last twenty or thirty years, and are astonished to think that anybody else…

LH—Oh, that's wonderful, I like that. Well, there must be something to it then, we can conclude.