DONALDSON, John (1789-1865). Professor of music at Edinburgh; acoustician.
Lengthy Autograph Letter Signed to H[enry] E[dward] Dibdin (1813-1866, musician), 6 pages 8vo (traces of glue on first page, small hole in final, blank leaf), Marchfield, no date. Discussing the adjustment and tuning of an organ and denying that Sir George Clerk had advocated 'the absurd perfect third system'.
'... Until the valves were equally opened it was quite impossible to know, precisely, what kind of temperament Mr Hill had adopted for the Music Hall organ. When I tried it with Sir G Clerk we found one stop in tolerable tune - I say tolerable, but even in that stop many of the octaves were out of tune rendering it impossible to do more than conjecture as to the temperament intended. ...'Donaldson further suggests that [William] Hill would be the right person to carry out any alterations to the instrument, and comments on attitudes to equal temperament.
'... I do not agree with you that every musician prefers an equal temperament. Clementi - whose ear was exquisite preferred an unequal one. Kalkbrenner liked the key of E Major Brilliant and Eb sombre - produced by an adjustment of the thirds in those two keys. I like two of my keys with a beat more than the others which are equal. ...'
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