> On 8 Feb 2018, at 11:32, N. Andrew Walsh <n.andrew.wa...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I agree, and we find even older semi-equal temperaments on instruments from 
> ancient China that also make clear that theorists knew what those tunings 
> were. But the first-hand accounts of theorists and composers (and prior to 
> the 20th century, those two disciplines had a lot more overlap) was that 
> equal temperament sounded bland and uninteresting, and that well temperaments 
> (or any of the vast array of 19th-century meantone derivatives, not to 
> mention the extended temperaments like the one used on the cembalo with 24 
> keys on which a young Mozart [!] was famous for improvising in the courts) 
> were musically superior in every way. 
> Musicians at the time certainly *knew* what equal temperament was, even if 
> they couldn't reach it exactly, and the fact that almost none of them 
> advocated for it on musical grounds tells you all you need to know about what 
> the "old masters" thought of it.

Another factor is in what type of environment the music is performed. Western 
art music is played mostly indoors in halls with wet acoustics, i.e., long 
reverberation time, may have poor transmission of bass, requiring many 
instruments playing together to full it out. This pushes it towards Just 
Intonation and the major triads, where the difference tones help to fill out 
the bass.

By contrast, gamelan music is typically played outdoors, and there is no 
essential harmony, so one can fairly freely choose the tuning.

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