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Re: Oriental microtonal music

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Oriental microtonal music
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2022 23:06:18 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/29.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Hans Åberg <> writes:

> Graham Breed wrote a file <> that allows
> for retuning into any ET (around C4, not A4), but Adam Good is expert
> on Turkish music specifically.
> There are some issues with Turkish, Persian and Arabic music that must
> be dealt with when adapting for LilyPond: Notation system limitations,
> transposability, and MIDI output.
> Because of those issues, I would prefer to use Helmholtz-Ellis
> notation. There, LilyPond does not have the double arrowhead
> accidentals.
> Though Persian music is transposed, in Turkish makam and Arabic maqam,
> one may rename. In LilyPond, transposability is hard wired, so some
> care must be taken here: Turkish music has different notation systems,
> but the common AEU (Arel–Ezgi–Uzdilek) is not transposable, as its
> sharp ♯ and and doublesharp 𝄪 represents microtonal accidentals, not
> the ordinary ones. AEU also writes the pitch a 4th above the sounding
> pitch.
> As for MIDI, the traditional tuning is Pythagorean tuning with
> Pythagorean commas for microtonal alterations in Turkish music, though
> with departures in actual performance. In Arabic and Persian music,
> these have drifted considerably, the double is a possibility.
> LilyPond does not support exact Pythagorean tuning, but it could be
> replaced by E₅₃ (53 ET) by the use of <>
> if included in the distribution. An alternative that does not require
> this file is E₇₂ (72 ET), which relative E₅₃ and Pythagorean tuning
> changes the diatonic scale into E₁₂ (12 ET), but alters the microtonal
> neutral seconds only with a few cents.
> I believe that Adam Good used E₇₂ for the rewritten Turkish makam file.
> The original LilyPond makam file had an error making it not transposable:
> E₅₃ has minor second m = 4, major second M = 9 commas (E₅₃ tonesteps),
> so that the sharp ♯ = 9 - 4 = 5 commas, and the Pythagorean comma is
> approximated by 1 E₅₃ tonestep, also called a comma. Therefore, in
> E₅₃, one arrives at the microtonal alteration of one comma by dividing
> the E₅₃ M by 9 or the E₅₃ ♯ by 5.
> A type of error one sees though, is that these last rules are not
> applied to E₅₃ but to E₁₂:
> In the original LilyPond file, they reasoned to divide the M of E₁₂
> further in form of the LilyPond accidental, which is internally
> represented as a rational number where ♯ is 1/2. So the doublesharp 𝄪,
> which has a value 1, is divided by 9, but unfortunately the ♯ of 1/2
> is not then an integral multiple of that. The new one by Adam Good
> corrects this issue.
> If the ♯ of E₁₂ is divided to 5 parts, one arrives at E₆₀, which is
> done in a suggested Persian file. The Arabic files written so far use
> E₂₄, possibly because LilyPond did not have the rational accidentals
> originally, but only this 24 ET.

I doubt anybody has an idea what you want to to get done by whom for
what reason.

That makes your extensive writeup (that takes a lot of things for
granted that will not be in the experience or knowledge set of whoever
could actually be convinced to actually fix or write code) a complete
waste of time.

This waste of time, in turn, will serve for nothing except to convince
you that other developers/users of LilyPond are unable to cater to your
use cases.

I have no idea how to get you on the same page with anybody.  At the
same time, if you want something to be done, it is your job to figure
out a common base of communication.

David Kastrup

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