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Uploaded on May 6, 2008
A comparison of two possible temperaments for Bach's organ accompaniments in Leipzig. One is Andreas Werckmeister's most famous layout from a 1691 publication, and the other is a temperament I believe was Bach's own.
The organ was tuned a whole step higher than the rest of Bach's ensemble, and therefore the organist for cantatas and passions always had to read from a part transposed a step lower. This put him into keys with two more flats, or two fewer sharps, than the other players. (For example, in the F-sharp minor "Buss und Reu" heard here, the organist played in E minor.) What character comes into the music from the keyboard temperament?
Recording method: I played all the Werckmeister examples first, then spent about 10 minutes retuning the harpsichord (and changed shirts), then played everything again. The results are edited together here with commentary.