Well temperament

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A well temperament or a circulating temperament is a scale which is regarded as an approximation of an equal-step tuning and preserves the transposability of an equal-step tuning, but is not exactly the equal-step tuning being approximated. Historical well-temperaments were formed by stacking a combination of pure 3/2 and meantone fifths and had 12 nearly equal steps.

One of the advantages of these tunings, is that because they are not quite equal, each chord (or key) has a slightly different character because the interval sizes have changed slightly.


A well temperament may be classified by method as follows:

Historical well temperaments

  1. the fifths are pure, except for
  2. the C–G, D–A, G–D and A–E fifths are quarter comma meantone
  3. the F#–Db is the wolf fifth, a schisma flat
  1. the fifths are pure, except for
  2. the C–G, D–A, E–B, F–C, G–D and A–E fifths are 1/6 Pythagorean comma flat.
  • Young2 – Young temperament II
  • Werck3 – Werckmeister temperament III

Other quasi-equal scales