©2000 Early Music America
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Issue No. 1, January 2000
Why I Hate Vallotti (or is it Young?)
by Ross W. Duffin
Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music
Case Western Reserve University
Modern performers of Baroque music are increasingly using historical temperaments. Among the dozens of temperament solutions proposed by theorists during the 17th and 18th centuries, related temperaments by Francesc' Antonio Vallotti and Thomas Young are among the most popular today, to the point where they arguably dominate the field.
This article briefly reviews the technical basis for temperaments, then presents the historical and musical evidence for and against the temperaments of Vallotti and Young in performances of Baroque music. Graphics and sound illustrations allow comparison of the different temperaments both by constituent intervals and complete pieces.
On both historical and musical grounds, the author pleads for a more critical approach to Baroque temperament choices, suggesting that 1/6 comma meantone might be a better temperament for most ensemble situations.