About Tuning and Tunings

The very discussion of tuning as something other than the physical process of putting an instrument into a state called "in tune" hints that there may be multiple possibilities for what it is to be "in tune". Such discussion is often referred to under the heading of Alternate Tunings, or sometimes Microtonal Tunings, and all such topics are off the beaten course even for the majority of trained musicians. Certain approaches to tuning have become the central practice of western musical culture, and deviations from such practice are not in common discussion among musicians. Musicians interested in historical instruments and instruments of other (usually non-western) cultures tend to be an exception, yet the academic treatment of such possibilities tends ot be limited. Meanwhile something like a "counterculture" of alternative tuning has developed on its own with the participation of interested parties, and much of that work tends to fall under the label of "microtonal". I believe the "micro" refers to the fine distinctions being made among nearby pitches that tend not to be addressed in mainstream music theory.