Not being well versed in these matters, I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me on a question I've been wondering about for a little while ! Here goes:
Imagine you play in a Group or Ensemble which does NOT contain any 'fixed' pitch instruments (ie. no keyboards or fretted instruments etc.). Question is, who sets the temperament for the piece/concert ? Do EM groups make a conscious decision about such things, or do they tend to play 'pure' ? I'd be interested in your thoughts. (Forgive me if this is a stupid question, as I said, I know next to nothing on such matters.)
I understand that the Hilliard Ensemble does make a conscious decision to follow particular temperaments; my guess for the generality though is that people are most inclined to play "pure" where this is possible.
A depressing number of strings players do not tune all their open strings to their accompanying keyboard instrument though - the top professional early music groups will, but I've so often seen other groups of musicians pick their A and then tune all the other strings to that. Makes it particularly difficult for the likes of myself to stay in tune with strings ensembles, as my best recorder only manages a'=440Hz when roasting, and the strings' way of tuning always ends up with them playing a shade sharp...
*must get harpsidoc to register - especially as we now have independent access to internet ;D* In brief, yes, that's right - viols of course are in the interesting position of having frets and therefore not actually being infinitely adjustable whilst playing - the cords tied round the neck of a viol can be nudged up and down a wee bit to allow temperament changes, but once that's done, the player's stuck with it.
harpsidoc is out listening to sprog 2 singing (yes, one of anacrusis' sprogs actually sings!) so I will ask him to tell more later .
Many thanks for your thoughts so far - very much appreciated. Basically you have confirmed my suspicions ! As an aside, I was at a workshop at Jackdaws (www.jackdaws.org.uk) a little while ago. During a break, the discusion got round to ET and key colour (as we all know there is no key colour with ET !). Anyway, a (good) violin player had dificulty with this, so I asked him what temperament he liked to play in - The blank look on his face said it all really - not a clue !
Have been discussing this one again with harpsidoc: he always tunes our harpsichord unequally, and I don't seem to have much trouble adjusting most of the time. Occasionally a very sharp key gives me grief, but instinct seems to help me find where I should be at on the recorder, and I don't often have to shade or leak holes to tweak rogue notes, either. The advantages of being able to play with the same accompanying instrument most of the time .