Comparative Tuning of Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1

Having been fortunate to find a real performance that was midi recorded I present several version of Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1. One of the tunings presented seemed to be magical at places. I will let the listener decide which, if any, of these trans-tuned versions are ear-worthy. The tunings used are listed below. You can also listen to a comparative tuning series of Debussy’s The Snow is Dancing.
Margo Schulter’s Indigo 12

Gene Ward Smith’s Locomotive

Keenan Pepper’s paraphy

Pythagorean

11 Limit

125 cent ET

Andrew Heathwaite’s 65 cent ET

88 cent ET

John O’Sullivan’s Blue JI

John O’Sullivan’s Raven v2

Kontakt’s Adaptive Just Intonation and choir plus harp and reduced tempo.

! indigo12.scl
!
Expansion of 12:13:14:16:18:21:22:24
12
!
28/27
13/12
7/6
11/9
4/3
13/9
3/2
14/9
13/8
7/4
11/6
2/1

! locomotive.scl
A 2.9.11.13 subgroup scale
12
!
88/81
9/8
11/9
16/13
11/8
13/9
16/11
13/8
18/11
16/9
81/44
2/1

! parapyth12.scl
!
A triple Fokker block of the 2.3.7.11.13 temperament called “parapyth” (TOP tuning)
12
!
58.23604
206.95866
265.19471
413.91733
472.15337
554.50965
703.23227
761.46832
910.19094
968.42698
1117.14960
1199.50588

! pyth_12.scl
!
12-tone Pythagorean scale
12
!
2187/2048
9/8
32/27
81/64
4/3
729/512
3/2
6561/4096
27/16
16/9
243/128
2/1
(this is assumed to be the same as packaged with pianoteq – the pianoteq version used)

! E:\cakewalk\scales\11-limit-only.scl
!
11-limit-only
11
!
12/11
11/10
11/9
14/11
11/8
16/11
11/7
18/11
20/11
11/6
2/1

! E:\cakewalk\scales\125cent.scl
!
125 cent tuning
4
!
125.00000
250.00000
375.00000
500.00000

! E:\cakewalk\scales\65cET.scl
!
65cET by Andrew Heathwaite
20
!
1/1
65.00000
130.00000
195.00000
260.00000
325.00000
390.00000
455.00000
520.00000
585.00000
650.00000
715.00000
780.00000
845.00000
910.00000
975.00000
1040.00000
1105.00000
1170.00000
1235.00000

! E:\Cakewalk\scales\88cent.scl
!
88 cent
12
!
88.00000
176.00000
264.00000
352.00000
440.00000
528.00000
616.00000
704.00000
792.00000
880.00000
968.00000
1056.00000

! C:\Cakewalk\scales\blue-ji.scl
!
Blue JI
12
!
15/14
9/8
6/5
5/4
4/3
7/5
3/2
8/5
5/3
9/5
15/8
2/1

! E:\cakewalk\scales\raven_v2.scl
!
Raven V-2
12
!
113.81510
208.99190
315.64130
386.31370
498.04500
577.43040
701.95500
810.29840
877.58290
967.13200
1095.04450
1200.00000

9 Responses to “Comparative Tuning of Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1”

  1. I think the Pythagorean version is by far the best. I would love to hear a rendering in Raven2 if you have the time.
    John.

  2. admin says:

    Done 🙂

  3. Just a quick mention, the Pythagorean version linked above does not follow the enharmonic notation of the score.
    So it’s not used according to the chain of fifths but instead is used as a fixed 12-tone scale here and many chords seem to hit diminished fourths etc instead of major thirds, making Pythagorean used as a schismatic temperament.

    Here is a Pythagorean version that follows the enharmonic notation of the score: https://soundcloud.com/justintonation/debussy-arabesque-no-1-in

  4. admin says:

    Thank you Marcel. – For other readers, Marcel is one of our community’s, if not the, community’s expert on Pythagorean tuning and I recommend you listen to his version as it would be the correct one. In my exercise I did not trans-literate the tunings but only applied them to the same performance as Marcel describes.

  5. Bevis says:

    thanks, Very interesting. Appart from Pythagorean (I agree with Marcel), I like the Gene Ward Smith’s Locomotive and John O’Sullivan’s Raven v2 versions.

  6. william copper says:

    All are “temperament”, inflexible. How I wish you’d follow the harmony and adjust the tuning as appropriate!

  7. william copper says:

    Further: some of these are so far away from music that I wonder if the tuning is accurate? When a Pythagorean (first few seconds) sounds best, that means I’ve internalized equal temperament, but not that it’s the best way to tune!!

  8. admin says:

    You are of course welcome to trans-tune to your vision.

  9. admin says:

    If you are biased to equal temperament then you are at the beginning of your microtonal journey. My true point of entry was this piece http://chrisvaisvil.com/730/ in which I truly let go of 12 equal though in a small way. Its like letting go of the side of the pool, but only for an instant.

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