19 equal divisions of the octave (19edo), or 19(-tone) equal temperament (19tet, 19et) when viewed from a regular temperament perspective, is the tuning system derived by dividing the octave into 19 equally large steps. Each step represents a frequency ratio of the 19th root of 2, or about 63.2 cents.
Interest in this tuning system goes back to the sixteenth century, when composer Guillaume Costeley used it in his chanson Seigneur Dieu ta pitié of 1558. Costeley understood and desired the circulating aspect of this tuning, which he defined as dividing the just major second into three approximately equal parts. Costeley had other compositions that made use of intervals, such as the diminished third, which have a meaningful context in 19edo, but not in other tuning systems contemporary with the work.
In 1577 music theorist Francisco de Salinas proposed 1/3-comma meantone, in which the fifth is of size 694.786 cents; the fifth of 19edo is 694.737, which is only a twentieth of a cent flatter. Salinas suggested tuning nineteen tones to the octave to this tuning, which fails to close by less than a cent, so that his suggestion is effectively 19edo.
In 1835, mathematician and music theorist Wesley Woolhouse proposed it as a more practical alternative to meantone tunings he regarded as better, such as 50 equal temperament (summary of Woolhouse's essay).
As an approximation of other temperaments
The most salient characteristic of 19et is that, having an almost just minor third and perfect fifths and major thirds about seven cents narrow, it serves as a good tuning for meantone temperament. It is also suitable for magic/muggles temperament, because five of its major thirds are equivalent to one of its twelfths. For all of these there are more optimal tunings: the fifth of 19et is flatter than the usual for meantone, and a more accurate approximation is 31 equal temperament. Similarly, the generating interval of magic temperament is a major third, and again 19edo's is flatter; 41 equal temperament more closely matches it. It does make for a good tuning for muggles, which in 19edo is the same as magic. 19edo's 7-step supermajor third can be used for sensi, whose generator is a very sharp major third, two of which make an approximate 5/3 minor sixth, though 27edo and 46edo are better sensi tunings for the 13-limit approximations of sensi.
However, for all of these 19et has the practical advantage of requiring fewer pitches, which makes physical realizations of it easier to build. (Many 19et instruments have been built.) 19et is in fact the second equal temperament, after 12et which is able to deal with 5-limit music in a tolerable manner, and is the fifth (after 12) zeta integral edo. It is less successful with 7-limit (but still better than 12et), as it eliminates the distinction between a septimal minor third (7/6), and a septimal whole tone (8/7). 19edo also has the advantage of being excellent for negri, keemun, godzilla, magic/muggles and triton/liese, and fairly decent for sensi. Keemun and negri are of particular note for being very simple 7-limit temperaments, with their mos scales in 19edo offering a great abundance of septimal tetrads. The Graham complexity of a 7-limit tetrad is 6 for keemun, 7 for negri, 8 for godzilla, 10 for meantone, 11 for triton, 12 for magic/muggles and 13 for sensi.
Being a zeta integral tuning, the 13-limit is represented relatively well, though only the 22.214.171.124.13 subgroup is represented consistently. Practically 19edo can be used adaptively on instruments which allow you to bend notes up: by different amounts, the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 13th harmonics are all tuned flat. The same cannot be said of 12edo, in which the 5th and 7th are - not only farther than they are in 19, but fairly sharp already. 19edo's negri, sensi and semaphore scales have many 13-limit chords. (You can think of the sensi 3L 5s mos scale as 19edo's answer to the diminished scale. Both are made of two diminished seventh chords, but sensi gives you additional ratios of 7 and 13.)
Another option would be to use a stretched octave; the zeta function-optimal tuning has an octave of roughly 1203 cents. Stringed instruments, in particular the piano, are frequently tuned with stretched octaves anyway due to the inharmonicity inherent in strings, which makes 19edo a promising option for them. Octave stretching also means that an out-of-tune interval can be replaced with a compounded or inverted version of it which is near-just. For instance, if we are using 93ed30 (a variant of 19edo in which 30:1 is just), then we have near-just minor thirds (6:5), compound major thirds (as 5:1), and compound fifths (as 6:1), giving us versions of everything in the 5-limit tonality diamond. The compound major and minor triads (1:5:6 and 30:6:5) are near-just as well.
As a means of extending harmony
Because 19edo allows for more blended, consonant harmonies than 12edo does, it can be a much better candidate for using alternate forms of harmony such as quartal, secundal, and poly chords. William Lynch suggests the use of seventh chords of various types to be the fundamental sonorities with a triad deemed as incomplete. Higher extensions involving the 7th harmonic as well as other non diatonic chord extensions which tend to clash in 12edo blend much better in 19edo.
In addition, Joseph Yasser talks about the idea of a 12 tone supra diatonic scale where the 7 tone major scale in 19edo becomes akin to the pentatonic of western music; as it would sound to a future generation, ambiguous and not tonally fortified. As paraphrased "A system in which the undeniable laws of tonal gravity exist, yet in a much more complex tonal universe." Yasser believed that music would eventually move to a 19-tone system with a 12-note supra diatonic scale would become the standard. While this has yet to happen, Yasser's concept of supra-diatonicity is intriguing and worth exploring for those wanting to extend tonality without sounding too alien.
19edo also closely approximates most of the intervals of Bozuji tuning (a 21st century tuning based on Gioseffo Zarlino's approach to just intonation). with most of the adjacent diatonic diminished and augmented intervals of Bozuji tuning represented enharmonically by one interval in 19edo.
The narrow whole tones and wide diatonic semitones of 19edo give the diatonic scale a somewhat duller quality, but has the opposite effect on the pentatonic scale, which becomes much more expressive owing to the larger contrast between the narrow whole tone and wide minor third. While 12edo has an expressive diatonic and dull pentatonic, the reverse is true in 19. Pentatonicism thus becomes more important in 19edo, and one option is to use the pentatonic scale as a sort of "super-chord", with "chord progressions" being modulations between pentatonic subsets of the superdiatonic scale.
Standard 12edo notation can be used, whether it is staff notation (with five lines), letter notation (with standard accidentals), solfege, or sargam. Note that D# and Eb are two different notes.
|1||63.16||aug 1sn, dim 2nd||A1, d2||D#, Ebb||Di/Ro||A1, m2||25/24, 28/27, 26/25|
|2||126.32||minor 2nd||m2||Eb||Ra||M2, m3||15/14, 16/15, 13/12, 14/13|
|3||189.47||major 2nd||M2||E||Re||M3||9/8, 10/9, 125/112|
|4||252.63||aug 2nd, dim 3rd||A2, d3||E#, Fb||Ri/Ma||m4, a3||7/6, 8/7, 15/13|
|5||315.79||minor 3rd||m3||F||Me||M4, m5||6/5|
|6||378.95||major 3rd||M3||F#||Mi||M5||5/4, 16/13, 56/45|
|7||442.11||aug 3rd, dim 4th||A3, d4||Fx, Gb||Mo/Fe||A5, d6||32/25, 9/7, 13/10|
|8||505.26||perfect 4th||P4||G||Fa||P6||4/3, 75/56|
|9||568.42||aug 4th||A4||G#||Fi||A6, m7||25/18, 7/5, 18/13|
|10||631.58||dim 5th||d5||Ab||Se||M7, d8||36/25, 10/7, 13/9|
|11||694.74||perfect 5th||P5||A||So||P8||3/2, 112/75|
|12||757.89||aug 5th, dim 6th||A5, d6||A#, Bbb||Si/Lo||A8, m9||25/16, 14/9, 20/13|
|13||821.05||minor 6th||m6||Bb||Le||M9, m10||8/5, 13/8, 45/28|
|15||947.37||aug 6th, dim 7th||A6, d7||B#, Cb||Li/Ta||m11, A10||7/4, 12/7, 26/15|
|16||1010.53||minor 7th||m7||C||Te||M11, m12||9/5, 16/9, 224/125|
|17||1073.68||major 7th||M7||C#||Ti||M12||15/8, 13/7, 28/15, 24/13|
|18||1136.84||aug 7th, dim 8ve||A7, d8||Cx, Db||To/Da||A12, d13||48/25, 27/14, 25/13|
* based on treating 19edo as a 126.96.36.199.13 subgroup temperament; other approaches are possible.
Using color notation, qualities can be loosely associated with colors:
|quality||color name||monzo format||examples|
|diminished||zo||(a, b, 0, 1)||7/6, 7/4|
|minor||fourthward wa||(a, b), b < -1||32/27, 16/9|
|gu||(a, b, -1)||6/5, 9/5|
|major||yo||(a, b, 1)||5/4, 5/3|
|fifthward wa||(a, b), b > 1||9/8, 27/16|
|augmented||ru||(a, b, 0, -1)||9/7, 12/7|
Key signatures are the same, but with the extra notes and different enharmonic equivalents, some key signatures can get messy. For example, the key of Bbb would have double-flats on B and E, and flats on C, D, F, G, and A. Thinking of rewriting this key as A# might seem better, but then the key signature would contain double-sharps on C, F, and G, and sharps on A, B, D, and E, which is actually worse.
All 19edo chords can be named using conventional methods, expanded to include augmented and diminished 2nd, 3rds, 6ths and 7ths. Here are the zo, gu, yo and ru triads:
|color of the 3rd||JI chord||edosteps||notes of C chord||written name||spoken name|
|zo||6:7:9||0-4-11||C Ebb G||C(b3) or C(d3)||C flat-three or C dim-three|
|gu||10:12:15||0-5-11||C Eb G||Cm||C minor|
|yo||4:5:6||0-6-11||C E G||C||C major or C|
|ru||14:18:21||0-7-11||C E# G||C(#3) or C(A3)||C sharp-three or C aug-three|
0-6-11-15 = C E G Bbb = C,d7 = C add dim-seven or C major dim-seven = 4:5:6:7
0-5-11-15 = C Eb G A# is Cm#6 or CmA6 = C minor sharp-six or C minor aug-six = 1/(4:5:6:7) = 1/1 - 6/5 - 3/2 - 12/7
The last two chords illustrate how the 15\19 interval can be considered as either 7/4 or 12/7, and how 19edo tends to conflate zo and ru ratios.
For a more complete list, see 19edo Chord Names and Ups and Downs Notation #Chords and Chord Progressions.
15-odd-limit interval mappings
The following table shows how 15-odd-limit intervals are represented in 19edo. Prime harmonics are in bold; inconsistent intervals are in italic.
|Interval, complement||Error (abs, ¢)||Error (rel, %)|
|Interval, complement||Error (abs, ¢)||Error (rel, %)|
Selected 17-limit intervals
Regular temperament properties
8ve stretch (¢)
|Absolute (¢)||Relative (%)|
|2.3||[-30 19⟩||[⟨19 30]]||+2.28||2.28||3.61|
|2.3.5||81/80, 3125/3072||[⟨19 30 44]]||+2.58||1.91||3.02|
|188.8.131.52||49/48, 81/80, 126/125||[⟨19 30 44 53]]||+3.85||2.76||4.35|
|184.108.40.206.13||49/48, 65/64, 81/80, 91/90||[⟨19 30 44 53 70]]||+4.14||2.53||3.99|
19et is lower in relative error than any previous equal temperaments in the 5-, 7-, 13-, 17-, and 19-limit – both 19 and 19e val achieve this in the case of 13-limit, 19eg val in the 17-limit, and 19egh val in the 19-limit. The next ETs doing better in those subgroups are 34, 31, 27e, 22, and 26, respectively.
19et is prominent in the 220.127.116.11.13 subgroup, and the next ET that does better in this is 53.
|5||16875/16384||[-14 3 4⟩||51.12||Laquadyo||Negri comma|
|5||3125/3072||[-10 -1 5⟩||29.61||Laquinyo||Magic comma|
|5||81/80||[-4 4 -1⟩||21.51||Gu||Syntonic comma|
|5||78732/78125||[2 9 -7⟩||13.40||Sepgu||Sensipent comma|
|5||15625/15552||[-6 -5 6⟩||8.11||Tribiyo||Kleisma|
|5||(20 digits)||[8 14 -13⟩||5.29||Thegu||Parakleisma|
|5||(28 digits)||[-14 -19 19⟩||2.82||Neyo||Enneadeca|
|7||1029/1000||[-3 1 -3 3⟩||49.49||Trizogu||Keega|
|7||525/512||[-9 1 2 1⟩||43.41||Lazoyoyo||Avicennma|
|7||49/48||[-4 -1 0 2⟩||35.70||Zozo||Slendro diesis|
|7||686/675||[1 -3 -2 3⟩||27.99||Trizo-agugu||Senga|
|7||875/864||[-5 -3 3 1⟩||21.90||Zotrigu||Keema|
|7||245/243||[0 -5 1 2⟩||14.19||Zozoyo||Sensamagic|
|7||126/125||[1 2 -3 1⟩||13.79||Zotrigu||Starling comma|
|7||225/224||[-5 2 2 -1⟩||7.71||Ruyoyo||Marvel comma|
|7||19683/19600||[-4 9 -2 -2⟩||7.32||Labirugu||Cataharry|
|7||10976/10935||[5 -7 -1 3⟩||6.48||Satrizo-agu||Hemimage|
|7||3136/3125||[6 0 -5 2⟩||6.08||Zozoquingu||Hemimean|
|7||(12 digits)||[-11 2 7 -3⟩||1.63||Latriru-asepyo||Meter|
|7||4375/4374||[-1 -7 4 1⟩||0.40||Zoquadyo||Ragisma|
|11||100/99||[2 -2 2 0 -1⟩||17.40||Luyoyo||Ptolemisma|
|11||896/891||[7 -4 0 1 -1⟩||9.69||Saluzo||Pentacircle|
|11||65536/65219||[16 0 0 -2 -3⟩||8.39||Satrilu-aruru||Orgonisma|
|11||385/384||[-7 -1 1 1 1⟩||4.50||Lozoyo||Keenanisma|
|11||540/539||[2 3 1 -2 -1⟩||3.21||Lururuyo||Swetisma|
|13||65/64||[-6 0 1 0 0 1⟩||26.84||Thoyo||Wilsorma|
|13||343/338||[-1 0 0 3 0 -2⟩||25.42||Thuthutrizo|
|13||91/90||[-1 -2 -1 1 0 1⟩||19.13||Thozogu||Superleap|
|13||676/675||[2 -3 -2 0 0 2⟩||2.56||Bithogu||Island comma|
- Ratios longer than 10 digits are presented by placeholders with informative hints
- List of 19et rank two temperaments by badness
- List of 19et rank two temperaments by complexity
- List of edo-distinct 19et rank two temperaments
- Syntonic-enneadecal equivalence continuum
Since 19 is prime, all rank-2 temperaments in 19edo have one period per octave (i.e. are linear). Therefore you can make a correspondence between intervals and the linear temperaments they generate.
|1||63.16||A1, d2||Unicorn / rhinocerus|
|2||126.32||m2||1L 8s, 9L 1s||Negri|
|3||189.47||M2||1L 5s, 6L 1s, 6L 7s||Deutone|
|4||252.63||A2, d3||1L 3s, 4L 1s,
5L 4s, 5L 9s
|Semaphore / godzilla|
|5||315.79||m3||3L 1s, 4L 3s,
4L 7s, 4L 11s
|Hanson / keemun / catakleismic|
|6||378.95||M3||3L 1s, 3L 4s, 3L 7s,
3L 10s, 3L 13s
|7||442.11||A3, d4||3L 2s, 3L 5s, 8L 3s||Sensipent / BPS / sensi|
|8||505.26||P4||2L 3s, 5L 2s, 7L 5s||Meantone / flattone|
|9||568.42||A4||2L 3s, 2L 5s, 2L 7s,
2L 9s, 2L 11s, 2L 13s,
|Lee / liese / pycnic|
- meantone pentatonic, 2L 3s (gen = 11\19): 33535
- meantone diatonic, 5L 2s (gen = 11\19): 3323332
- meantone chromatic, 7L 5s (gen = 11\19): 212122121212
- semaphore, 4L 1s (gen = 4\19): 44344
- semaphore, 5L 4s (gen = 4\19): 313133131
- semaphore, 5L 9s (gen = 4\19): 21211211211211
- sensi, 2L 3s (gen = 7\19): 52525
- sensi, 3L 5s (gen = 7\19): 23223223
- sensi, 8L 3s (gen = 7\19): 22122212221
- negri, 1L 8s (gen = 2\19): 222232222
- negri, 9L 1s (gen = 2\19): 2222212222
- kleismic, 4L 3s (gen = 5\19): 1414144
- kleismic, 4L 7s (gen = 5\19): 13113113131
- kleismic, 4L 11s (gen = 5\19): 121112111211211
- magic, 3L 4s (gen = 6\19): 5151511
- magic, 3L 7s (gen = 6\19): 4114114111
- magic, 3L 10s (gen = 6\19): 3111311131111
- Pathological magic, 3L 13s (gen = 6\19): 2111121111211111
- Pathological liese, 2L 15s (gen = 9\19): 2111111111211111111
- Meantone harmonic minor: 3233242
- Meantone melodic minor: 3233332
- Meantone harmonic major: 3323242
- Meantone / marvel double harmonic major: 2423242 (subset of Negri)
- Semiquartal 3|5 b2: 133131331
- enharmonic pentatonic: 26326, 62362
- enharmonic octave species: 1163116, 6113611, 1613161
- Marvel hexatonic: 425242 (subset of Negri)
- WEIGEL FAMILY CHRISTMAS (xenharmonic chocolate), an album of xenharmonic Christmas covers played by Stephen Weigel, many are in 19edo
- Walking Down the Hillside at Cortona, and Seeing its Towers Rise Before Me[dead link]
- Ditty[dead link]
- Undines[dead link]
- Sylphs[dead link]
- Gnomes[dead link]
- Salamanders[dead link]
- Another Aire For Lute[dead link]
- Forgetting Even Her Beauty (play)
- 19 Black Hawks for Osama (play video)
- Summer Song (play) by Trevor (The TwoRegs) and Norm Harris and Chris Vaisvil
- 19 ImprovFridays (play video of performance)
- The World has Changed (play)
- jjj (play)
- Now listen! Pitch! (play)
- Cordas (19edo version) (play)
- A Piece in 19edo (on YouTube)
- A Piece in 19edo (version #3) (play)
- Bach’s Prelude number 24 from Well Tempered Clavier, Book II rendered by Claudi Meneghin[dead link]
- Bach’s Fugue number 24 from Well Tempered Clavier, Book II rendered by Claudi Meneghin[dead link]
- Bright Objects – 17-tone fifths chain in 19edo
- Minor Thirds, Minor Sevens – 17-tone fifths chain in 19edo
- Wurly Minors and Enharmonic Tetrachords – 17-tone fifths chain in 19edo
- Brain for Breakfast – 19edo piece (first movement uses 19-tone serialism)
- Psychoclowns – 19edo pseudo-rondo
- 19edo modes
- 19edo chords
- Strictly proper 19edo scales
- How to tune a 19edo guitar by ear
- Primer for 19edo
- Mason Green's New Common Practice Notation
- Arto and Tendo Theory
- Lumatone mapping for 19edo
- A Case for Nineteen by Ivor Darreg Permalink
- Nineteen for the Nineties by Ivor Darreg
- 19-Tone Theory and Applications by Hubert S. Howe Jr. Permalink
- Tunings for 19 Tone Equal Tempered Guitar by William A. Sethares Permalink
- Microtonalism by Bailey, Morrison, Pearson and Parncutt Permalink
- 19-tone equal-temperament and 1/3-comma meantone - Encyclopedia of Microtonal Music Theory Permalink
- Forum Discussion with some 19-EDO xenharmonic scales Hanson (Keemun), Liese, Negri, Magic, Semaphore, Sensi played on guitar.
- Enneadecaphonic Scales for Guitar by Ron Sword
- Bostjan Zupancic's 19-EDO pages
- Here is a catalog of all 19edo heptatonic scales.
- Bucht, Saku and Huovinen, Erkki, Perceived consonance of harmonic intervals in 19-tone equal temperament, CIM04_proceedings.
- Levy, Kenneth J., Costeley's Chromatic Chanson, Annales Musicologues: Moyen-Age et Renaissance, Tome III (1955), pp. 213-261.