The End of the Well-Tempered Clavichord?

W. Douglas Maurer
Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (2000)
Pages 169–176


The scale used by all pianos today is based on the idea of the well-tempered clavichord, an instrument for which Bach wrote a famous collection of pieces showing its versatility. Our contention here is that, in an era of electronic instruments, the well-tempered scale has the potential to be completely outmoded, and replaced by an adaptive scale which uses natural harmonics whenever possible.