The ‘Defect’ of Werckmeister by Eddy Mul

by Eddy Mul | Het ORGEL | Year 97 | (2001) | Issue 2

Eddy Mul The ‘Defect’ of Werckmeister
Het ORGEL 97 (2001), nr. 1, 29-32 [summary]

It is possible to discern three periods in the development of AndreasWerckmeister’s attitude toward temperament. In the first period (1681-1691),Werckmeister describes unequally tempered tuning systems. In the second period(1697-1698), he mentions the possibility of equal temperament. In the third period(1702-1707), Werckmeister prefers equal temperament, because it offers the possibility ofmodulating and transposing without bounds. Werckmeister interprets equal temperament as anexample of the way devout and well-tempered humans can live with God in eternal harmony.The Pythagorean comma (the ‘defect’ in Werckmeister’s terms) has thus notonly physical but also theological significance. This vision may have influenced JohannSebastian Bach.