Musical Temperament



This is an ebook for musical temperament; much of the material is suited for a college-level, general-science course on the physics or mathematics of sound and music. Caveat emptor: I believe these notes to be of high quality, but they are not “mature” yet in the sense that there may still be many typos in the manuscript. I will put corrections in as I find them, and you can always contact me if you have corrections or comments.




You can download the notes here as one big file: (pdf, ~60MB). This is a pdf file that includes many embedded audio examples; these play correctly in Acrobat Reader, but not all pdf readers. See the Usage section in the beginning for more inforamtion.

Instructors may contact me for a version with solutions to problems included.




If you use these notes for your class, please let me know!




Topics Covered:

  1. Review of Scales and Intervals
  2. Pythagorean and Just Scales
  3. Equal Temperament
  4. Meantone Temperaments
  5. Unequal, Closed Temperaments
  6. Helmholtz Theory of Consonance and Dissonance
  7. Continued Fractions and Scales