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15 equal temperament

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15 equal temperament

In music, 15 equal temperament, called 15-TET, 15-EDO, or 15-ET, is a tempered scale derived by dividing the octave into 15 equal steps (equal frequency ratios). Each step represents a frequency ratio of 21/15, or 80 cents ( Play ). Because 15 factors into 3 times 5, it can be seen as being made up of three scales of 5 equal divisions of the octave, each of which resembles the Slendro scale in Indonesian gamelan. 15 equal temperament is not a meantone system.

Contents

History and use

Guitars have been constructed for 15-ET tuning. The American musician Wendy Carlos used 15-ET as one of two scales in the track Afterlife from the album Tales of Heaven and Hell. Easley Blackwood, Jr. has written and recorded a suite for 15-ET guitar. Blackwood believes that 15 equal temperament, "is likely to bring about a considerable enrichment of both classical and popular repertoire in a variety of styles".

Interval size

Here are the sizes of some common intervals in 15-ET:

15-ET matches the 7th and 11th harmonics well, but only matches the 3rd and 5th harmonics roughly. The perfect fifth is more out of tune than in 12-ET, 19-ET, or 22-ET, and the major third in 15-ET is the same as the major third in 12-ET, but the other intervals matched are more in tune. 15-ET is the smallest tuning that matches the 11th harmonic at all and still has a usable perfect fifth, but its match to intervals utilizing the 11th harmonic is poorer than 22-ET, which also has more in-tune fifths and major thirds.

Although it contains a perfect fifth as well as major and minor thirds, the remainder of the harmonic and melodic language of 15-ET is quite different from 12-ET, and thus 15-ET could be described as xenharmonic. Unlike 12-ET and 19-ET, 15-ET matches the 11:8 and 16:11 ratios. 15-ET also has a neutral second and septimal whole tone. To construct a major third, one must stack two intervals of different sizes, whereas one can divide both the minor third and perfect fourth into two equal intervals.

References

15 equal temperament Wikipedia


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