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Encyclopedia of Microtonal Music Theory

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adaptive tuning

[Joe Monzo]
A form of temperament in which some algorithm is used which keeps the ratios of simultaneous sounds close to just-intonation while also altering melodic intervals to reduce the retuning motion and/or drift relative to a strict JI realization.

While retuning motions and/or drifts in strict JI renditions are one or more commas in magnitude, adaptive tuning reduces these to fractions of a comma by spreading the motion among all the chord changes in a progression.

The desideratum, at least in more modern times (making use of the computer) is usually to allow dynamic alterations of the pitches during the performance of the music.

Various approaches have been tried, one of the earliest examples being by Nicola Vicentino in the 1500s. In 1999, John deLaubenfels and Paul Erlich were very active in developing a good adaptive tuning algorithm.

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[Paul Erlich]

Paul Erlich made the following comment:

In adaptive JI the pain of having vertical sonorities deviate from JI is infinite, while in adaptive tuning, all the different components of pain get traded off against one another.

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