Temperament names

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Regular temperament names come in two types: common names and systematic names. Common names takes a diversity of sources. Systematic names are rigorously derived from an algorithm. This article focuses on common names.

There is, in general, not a hard rule of naming temperaments, but examples to follow. Nonetheless, it is necessary to clarify about some notable features of the names, which might be otherwise confusing to beginners of RTT. Specifically, a name can be given for a temperament as well as its extensions. For example, meantone is defined in the 5-, 7-, 11- and 13-limit. Typically, only the best and most obvious extension gets the original name; other extensions get different names. In addition, weak extensions never get the original name, either, since their structures are very different.

Gene Ward Smith outlined a number of examples for reference: Some naming examples. Ryan Avella abstracted a convention of naming temperaments: Naming Convention Suggestion.

Temperament name examples


Origin: Pre-Middle-Path

Meaning: A restructuring of the words "acute minor third." The ideal generator for Amity is between a minor third and neutral third.


Origin: 2011, Keenan Pepper

Meaning: Keenan Pepper suggested it was a good name of a weird spiral-shaped animal, for a temperament in the porcupine family (like nautilus)


A-Team is a pun on "eighteen," since the 2.9.21 subgroup of A-Team is nearly optimal in 18EDO.


Originally tripletone, in analogy with twintone, but when twintone was renamed pajara Paul Erlich suggested it should be augene, after augmented and Gene Smith.


Origin: 2011, Mike Battaglia, Ron Sword, Ryan Avella

Meaning: Originally discovered by Ryan by accident while he was reading the mapping for Mavila temperament incorrectly. It is the original spelling of Ryan's surname.


Named for the 19\64 generator, since 1964 is the year the Beatlemania swept the world.


Origin: Middle-Path or Pre-Middle-Path

Meaning: Named after Easley Blackwood's 10-out-of-15 maximally even scale.


The rank three 2401/2400 temperament, named after Graham Breed.


The "cata" prefix means "down", and the catakleismic generator is very slightly down from the hanson generator, a temperament called "kleismic" until Paul Erlich decided the name must and shall be changed.


Named for Jon Catler.


Meaning: 3/2 is divided into 2 equal parts, hence "di-". Not sure why "-cot". "-Cot" has been suggested to originate from 'cotyledon,' the name for the embryo of a plant seed.

Avella: well apparently someone decided that "cot" should refer to the fifth

Avella: it is arbitrary


Meaning: It's meantone which calls the dominant seventh chord a 4:5:6:7. It is one of the least complex 7-limit extensions of meantone.


Named after a type of mobile home.


VIxen named it after a healer goddess or valkyrie from the Norse mythology, as it's an extension of freya with the ibnsinma that evokes associations with medicine.


Origin: Gene Smith

Meaning: Ennealimmal has a 1/9-octave period, hence "ennea-"; the period is very close to the large limma, 27/25, hence "limmal".


A name derived from a scale discovered by Erv Wilson and George Secor in the 80's while George was visiting Erv.


Origin: 2000s?

Meaning: A combination of the words "fourth" and "third." This is meant to represent the unification of perfect fourths and major thirds in Father temperament.


Origin: Gene Smith

Meaning: A variant of meantone in which the whole tone is flatter than in septimal meantone.


VIxen named it and hnoss after Odr's and Freya's daughters. There is also a word play on 'semi-' that hints at the split of the octave (and other intervals like 18/7, 77/48, 9/8) in half.


Origin: 2012, Igliashon Jones, Mike Battaglia

Meaning: Glacial sounds like "Igliashon."


Named by Gene Smith after a Japanese fictional monster; part of the daikaiju series of names for temperaments with an approximate 8/7 as generator.


Named after its 40/27 "grave fifth" generator.


Larry Hanson's 34-edo guitar (9\34 generator)


Derived from a theory that you might be able to play the music of Harry Partch in it without driving him nuts so long as you didn't say that was what you were doing.


So named because it is in the PORCUPINE family, but different.


Named after the fact that 26\57 is a possible generator (which represents 11/8).


VIxen named it after a völva (seeress) from the Gull-Þóris saga of Icelanders. It is an extension of freya with the fairytale comma and the ainma, both adding to the mystical theme. The one of prophecy is bolstered by that this extension has benediction as a subtemperament.


So named because Hermann von Helmholtz proposed 1/8-schisma flattened fifths.


VIxen named it and gersemi after Odr's and Freya's daughters. In 11-limit, they both temper out one comma of odin (9801/9800) and one of freya (41503/41472).


Origin: Paul Erlich

Meaning: Named after an Ethiopian flatbread because 26edo represents it well, and the Ethiopian alphabet has 26 consonants.


Named from the fact that the wedgie is ⟨⟨0 0 7 ...]]


Origin: 2008, Herman Miller

Meaning: Name of a variety of tea which could fit into the same space as "keenan" and replace it.

Keemun (simplified Chinese: 祁门红茶; traditional Chinese: 祁門紅茶; pinyin: qímén hóngchá; literally "Qimen red tea") is a black Chinese tea with a winey and fruity taste, designated as a China Famous Tea. It was given this name in Paul Erlich's Middle Path paper on the suggestion of Herman "Teamouse" Miller, thereby ending the unfortunate practice of calling this temperament, a 7-limit extension of hanson with a much lower accuracy, by the name "kleismic" also.


Origin: 2011, Gene Smith, Ryan Avella

Meaning: Named after Mavila temperament due to their similar tunings and scale structure.


Mike Battaglia named it because it sounded like a 4:7:9:11 machine.


Origin: Graham Breed

Graham named it "magic" by analogy with miracle; he was listening to the Fleetwood Mac song "You Make Loving Fun" that uses the word "miracle" at the time. Later he coined the backronym "multiple approximations generated iteratively and consistently" also by analogy with miracle.


Rather bizarrely, the 11-limit extension of the king of 7-limit planar temperaments was named first[1].


Origin: 1990s? Kraig Grady

Meaning: Named after the Chopi village of Mavila in Mozambique, known for their use near-equal heptatonic scales. Nobody can agree on how to pronounce this word.


Origin: Really really old

Meaning: Named so because it maps the major whole tone (9/8) and the minor whole tone (10/9) to the same interval, which is near the average of the two tones in ideal tunings.


Meaning: A temperament closely related to mohajira, which means "migrating".


Origin: Paul Erlich, May 2001

Double meaning: It is a miracle that this scale is so accurate! And it is an acronym "Multiple Integer Ratios Approximated Consistently, Linearly and Evenly."


Origin: Jacques Dudon

Meaning: from Arabic مهاجرة muhājirah which roughly means "migrating".


Named by Gene Smith after a Japanese fictional monster: a daikaiju name for a temperament with ~8/7 generator. Mothra has defeated Godzilla more times than any other daikaiju; the musical meaning of this fact is at best speculative.


Myna is related to starling, the 126/125 planar temperament, and a myna is a member of the starling family (Sturnidae). Myna is also a play on minor third, the generator.


Origin: 2001, (Paul Erlich?)

Meaning: Named after John Negri's 10-out-of-19 maximally even scale.


Meaning: 3/2 is divided into 8 equal parts, therefore "octa-".


Origin: 2010, Andrew Heathwaite

Meaning: An analogy between Wilhelm Reich's proposal for an invisible, ephemeral creative energy and the subtleties of the higher harmonics 7 and 11. Superkleismic can be viewed as orgone extended to the full 11-limit.


Origin: 2001, Gene Smith

Meaning: Named after George Orwell's book 1984, because of the generator of 19\84.


Origin: Originally (up to 2001) paultone and then twintone, in analogy with meantone, but Paul Erlich didn't like this and suggested pajara, after "Paul, John, and Ara," the three people jamming at his house at some random point in time.


Origin: 1999? Herman Miller

Meaning: Named after Herman Miller's Mizarian Porcupine Overture in 15EDO.


Has a kleismic generator, so that (6/5)^6 = 3, and four periods per octave, therefore quadri-.


When VIxen was proposing it, sruti was its only named rank-2 subtemperament. Rishis (sages) are believed to have created shruti texts.


Named by Gene Smith after a Japanese fictional monster. A daikaiju name, from the 8/7 generator.


Meaning: semi-fourth, i.e. half of a 4/3.


Meaning: semi-(septimal major sixth), i.e. half of a 12/7.


Originally semisixths, but after it was decided that "bi" or "semi" should be half for periods and "hemi" should be half for generators, that was contracted to sensi[2].


Named after slendro which it resembles very little. (According to Raden Machjar Angga Koesoemadinata's findings regarding Sundanese gamelan and Western findings regarding gamelan in general, real slendro is almost definitely within the 9&17 temperament area.)


Named from the fact that the wedgie is ⟨⟨4 16 9 ...]], which is 2^2, 4^2, 3^2.


The 126/125 planar temperament, named after Herman Miller's Starling scale.


A name proposed by Paul Erlich because the 22-tone MOS looks a lot like the Indian Shruti scale.


The 6/5 generator is ~322 cents, sharper than the kleismic 6/5, hence "super-". Can be restricted to 2.7.11 (orgone) or 2.5/3.7.11 (magicaltet).


Meaning: fifths are wider than Pythagorean, hence super-Pythagorean or "superpyth"


Meaning: 3/2 is divided into 4 equal parts, hence "tetra-". Not sure why "-cot" (see Dicot above).

Tricot, trident, and trillium

Tricot (53&70) divides 3/1 (tritave) into three equal parts, hence "tri-". Trident (53&229) has a slightly sharper fifth (about 702.2 cents) and trillium (53&441) has a bright (slightly sharp but more accurate than that of trident) fifth (about 702.03 cents).


Triforce has 3 periods per octave, hence tri-.


Tritikleismic has a kleismic generator, so that (6/5)^6 = 3, and 3 periods per octave (therefore tri-.)


Named for Robert C Valentine.


Meaning: Black keys are to Blackwood as white keys are to Whitewood.


Named for physicist José Würschmidt.


  1. Marvel
  2. Temperament names "The idea here is to use 'hemi' only when the generator is split in towo, not when the period is split in two." —Gene Ward Smith