What is sound? How do you identify that noise in your environment? Does that noise have meaning to you? How did you discover the meaning of that noise?
In our lives, we have learned to identify certain sounds to have meaning, and other sounds to be simply ‘noise’. As music, like language, is a learned phenomenon, how can it be right that all music around the world is to be understood through one European keyboard? Grounded in the critique of the keyboard, an ‘equal temperament’ tuning system, The (In)Equal Temperament Project invites discussion and expansion of how and why we listen. We have set out to re-centre our own ears by presenting new and existing methods of listening through collaborative performance and art installation pieces.
What is (In)Equal Temperament?
Equal temperament is a system of sound arrangement developed primarily in Europe from the 17th to 20th centuries. Though called ‘equal’, even mathematically this tuning system is anything but. In Western societies, various genres, instruments and performance practices have been altered to ‘fit’ this restrictive set of 12 tones (pitches), severely limiting both musical output and the Westerner’s ability to perceive musical meaning in other sound sources.
(In)Equal Temperament aims to promote the active decolonisation of listening practices through immersive sound works and community engagement projects. This arts collective was founded by composer/educator Jenny Guilford and performer/researcher Ellan A. Lincoln-Hyde in 2019.