How to deal with the syntonic comma in music education? Recognition, preferences of usage, and utility

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa Campus, L10, Zoom link:

Topic of the dissertation

How to deal with the syntonic comma in music education? Recognition, preferences of usage, and utility

Doctoral candidate

Ph.Lic., MA Markku Viitasaari

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Education, Doctoral degree program of Faculty of Education

Subject of study

music education


Associate Professor Esa Lilja, University of Stavanger


Professor Juha Ojala, University of Arts / Sibelius Akademy

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How to benefit the recognitioin of mistuning and intonation prefereces in music education?

The topic of this disseration was the recognition of mistuning and on the other hand, intonation preferences. As a result of the Experiment 1, the ability of the pupils on music-intensive classes to recognize mistuning among pure harmony, varied a lot. Adding the complexity of harmony complicated the recognition. Instead, the adding of age and instrumental experience made recognition easier. Even the voice singed in choir, had an impact to recognition.

In Experiment 2, intonation preferences, university music students listened pairwise excerpts of musical passages. The tuning system of our time, equal temperament, was equally preferred with meantone tuning, which is used on renaissance and baroque periods.

The first innovation of this research, local tempering, was the third, not very far from the previous ones. The second innovation of this study, pitch drift, was clearly rejected.

This research showed, that the basics of tuning systems are worth of bringing into music pedagogy already in early phase. Pedagogically it would be wise to emphasize, that equal temperament which often dominate musical practises, is a compromise of countless of historical tunings. Familiarization in tuning issues can enrich pedagogy - and reduce mistunings.
Last updated: 1.3.2023