Definitions of tuning terms

© 1998 by Joseph L. Monzo

All definitions by Joe Monzo unless otherwise cited


  • 1. enharmonic equivalence: In the 12-EQ scale, the capacity for two notes with different "spellings" and musical functions to be represented by the same actual degree of the scale.

    For example, in the 12-EQ tuning, C# and Db are enharmonically equivalent, i.e., the same note.

    Below is a lattice diagram showing a "standard" Eb-to-G# 12-tone Pythagorean tuning in white, its syntonic-comma equivalents (i. e., same spelling) in the lightest shade of grey, and enharmonic equivalents (i. e., different spellings represented by the same 12edo degree) in darker shades of grey:

    This usage of enharmonic equivalence also occurs in other tunings. For an example, see the final graph in the "decimal" dictionary entry.

    See also enharmonicity

  • 2. enharmonic genus: In ancient Greek theory, one of the three basic type of genus, with a characteristic interval of approximately a "major 3rd" at the top of the tetrachord, then 2 successive intervals of approximately a "quarter-tone" at the bottom, making up a 4/3 "perfect 4th".

    see also diatonic and chromatic

  • 3. enharmonic semitone: In several different medieval theories, a distinction was made between chromatic and diatonic semitones, as there were two different sizes of semitone in many tuning systems.

    Marchetto, however, specified three types of semitone and called the third, naturally enough, the enharmonic; however, his names were matched with the intervals differently than in traditional theory.

    see my paper on Marchetto

    [from Joe Monzo, JustMusic: A New Harmony]

    . . . . . . . . . . .

    See Enharmonion

    [from John Chalmers, Divisions of the Tetrachord]

updated: 2002.10.23 -- lattice diagram added

(to download a zip file of the entire Dictionary, click here)

  • For many more diagrams and explanations of historical tunings, see my book.
  • If you don't understand my theory or the terms I've used, start here
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