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The Temperament Police: The Truth, the Ground Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Authors: Simon Dixon, Dan Tidhar and Emmanouil Benetos

Presented at ISMIR 2011, the 12th Conference of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval

This web page provides full details of the data and results from our ISMIR 2011 paper.


Abstract: The tuning system of a keyboard instrument is chosen so that frequently used musical intervals sound as consonant as possible. Temperament refers to the compromise arising from the fact that not all intervals can be maximally consonant simultaneously. Recent work showed that it is possible to estimate temperament from audio recordings with no prior knowledge of the musical score, using a conservative (high precision, low recall) automatic transcription algorithm followed by frequency estimation using quadratic interpolation and bias correction from the log magnitude spectrum. In this paper we develop a harpsichord-specific transcription system to analyse over 500 recordings of solo harpsichord music for which the temperament is specified on the CD sleeve notes. We compare the measured temperaments with the annotations and discuss the differences between temperament as a theoretical construct and as a practical issue for professional performers and tuners. The implications are that ground truth is not always scientific truth, and that content-based analysis has an important role in the study of historical performance practice.

You can view the detailed results summarised in the paper by clicking here.


Figure: Circle of fifths representations for 2 temperaments used in this paper.


© Queen Mary University of London 2011
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