Reference Entry

Just intonation

Mark Lindley

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print January 2001 |
Published online January 2001 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.14564

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When pitch can be intoned with a modicum of flexibility, the term ‘just intonation’ refers to the consistent use of harmonic intervals tuned so pure that they do not beat, and of melodic intervals derived from such an arrangement, including more than one size of whole tone. On normal keyboard instruments, however, the term refers to a system of tuning in which some 5ths (often including D–A or else G–D) are left distastefully smaller than pure in order that the other 5ths and most of the 3rds will not beat (it being impossible for all the concords on a normal keyboard instrument to be tuned pure; see Temperaments, §1). The defect of such an arrangement can be mitigated by the use of an elaborate keyboard.

In theory, each justly intoned interval is represented by a numerical ratio. The larger number in the ratio represents the greater string length on the traditional ...

Reference Entry.  3948 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis ; Music

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