Wikipedia project proposal - Microtonal Music, Tuning, Temperaments and Scales

From Microtonal

Description[edit source]

There are many articles in wikipedia now on microtonal music. But I was surprised to see that there isn't any project to oversee them. Though wikipedia has certainly made a good start on microtonal music, there are many things that need work in this project area. See for instance #Examples of things we could do. Do feel free to add your own idea of things we could work on to that list.

Microtonal here is understood in its more general sense, not just the use of microtonal steps, but also the use of tunings and temperaments that differ from other tuning systems by microtones, i.e. microtonal distinctions of pitch. For instance the pythagorean twelve tone system has no microtonal intervals in it, but when you compare it with twelve equal, there are minute microtonal differences in pitch. So the study of temperaments involves discussing microtonal distinctions of pitch. It may be a bit of a stretch of the word "microtonal" but it is established usage and we don't have a better word for it, except perhaps "Xenharmonic" but that's not a widely used term at present.

We also understand it in its most general sense - to quote from the Microtonal music article: "The term "microtonal music" usually refers to music containing very small intervals but can include any tuning that differs from Western twelve-tone equal temperament. Traditional Indian systems of 22 śruti; Indonesian gamelan music; Thai, Burmese, and African music, and music using just intonation, meantone temperament or other alternative tunings may be considered microtonal"

Microtonal music is also sometimes understood as "non twelve equal" music. But this project can also include articles on twelve equal, if it is treated in a microtonal way, showing an interest in microtonal distinctions of pitch, which is why I added Tuning, Temperaments and Scales to the title. For more on this: #Microtonal treatments of twelve equal - reason for adding "Tuning, Temperaments and Scales" to the title

Status of this proposal[edit source]

I started this as a draft page, will add a link to this proposal to the Project Proposals page and also to the relevant projects once this is in good shape. And plan to leave this open and see if we get 16 support votes, if so to go ahead and create it if there are no major objections or alternative suggestions. If you support the idea please add your name to the #Support section. Thanks!

List of important pages and categories for this proposed group[edit source]

All 55 articles listed in:

All 70 articles listed (with some overlap with the previous list) in:

etc etc

List of WikiProjects currently on the talk pages of those articles[edit source]

Please invite these and any other similar groups to join the discussion about this proposal. See Wikipedia:WikiProject_Council/Directory to find similar WikiProjects.

Pinging members of Tuning, Temperaments and Scales[edit source]

Hi everyone, thought I should run this past you, and you might be interested in supporting this project. Best way to do it I thought was to ping you all on this page. So here goes:

@Keenan Pepper:, @Gene Ward Smith:, @Guitarmankev1:, @Beefman:, @AugPi:,

@X31eq:, @Mireut:, @Rainwarrior:, @Andeggs:, @Namrevlis:,

@Bottesini:, @Monz:, @SN122787:, @Missmarple:, @Zadernet:,

@Noetica:, @Jeff Dahl:, @Cazort:, @Terry0051:, @Gwalla:,

@Jmclark:, @Nemesis2473:,

(current members of the inactive project WikiProject Tunings, Temperaments, and Scales)

Thanks! Robert Walker (talk) 03:10, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Why do you want to start a new group, instead of joining one of these existing groups?[edit source]

There are many articles on microtonal music in wikipedia and no project to discuss them. The Wikipedia:WikiProject Tunings, Temperaments, and_Scales (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) project is inactive. We could revive it but I think it would help to have a project that's a little broader in scope, which might engage more editors and help keep it active. All articles and categories within that project would belong in this one as well and members of that project would also be likely to join this one.

I think it is important to be more general than Tuning, Temerament and scales". For instance in that project, we can't really discuss microtonal composers, or not very extensively, or microtonal keyboards, or microtonal compositions. It would be a bit of a stretch to label any of those articles with the project "Tuning, Temperament and Scales"

This project would include for instance articles on

  • microtonal composers
  • microtonal organizations
  • microtonal concepts and theory (including scale construction theory of course but much broader in scope)
  • microtonal chords and chord progressions, comma pumps etc
  • microtonal compositions
  • microtonal composition techniques
  • microtonal theorists
  • microtonal keyboards
  • microtonal regional and national music

Those wouldn't fall strictly under the scope of the narrower Wikipedia:WikiProject Tunings, Temperaments, and_Scales (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) project, except for the unifying theme of course is that they all use microtonal tunings.

Articles in all those topic areas and more could be labelled as part of this project which will increase participation. It would of course include all pages that link to the "Tunings, Temperaments, and_Scales" project [1], but many more as well.

Examples of things we could do[edit source]

Though it's a good start, there is much that needs to be fixed in this project area. We could:

  • Raise issues with the presentation and organization of material over the entire topic area, such as one just recently mentioned to me off wiki that the microtonal articles are not linked together well. This may need a project wide drive to improve the way they link together so that you can find the material you want by clicking through links from the page you first arrive at.
  • Draw attention of knowledgeable editors to problems that may arise in this topic area. E.g. a RfC can be published on the Microtonal music project to get microtonalists involved in discussing some "issue of the day". This would work much better on a dedicated project than, for instance the Music Theory project. Or to request help with finding citations for an article. Similarly AfD discussions can be publicized here and gain the attention of experts in the topic area.
  • Find citations. For example in the talk page for Schizmatic temperament, there's a discussion from 2015 about whether the concept is still in use, and the citations they found seemed to suggest it is an obsolete historical system. I know that it is very commonly used by modern microtonalists - do we have citations for that though, that are acceptable for wikipedia? One of the things this project can do is to attract experts who would be able to provide such citations to pages that need extra work. Or indeed to prove that it is an obsolete system if that was the case but I don't think that would be the case for this particular tuning :).
  • Make the articles historically accurate For instance in the article on the Archicembalo they say that his tuning approximates 31 et - which is a modern observation - but when was that recognized historically? Turns out that it was recognized at least by 1661, just added a cite for that, did Vincento recognize it himself? One project could be to go through the articles checking matters of what was understood historically at the time, for historical tunings.
  • Add simple language explanations Many of the articles describe concepts in complex mathematics and algebraic language. That's fine and necessary for those who are interested in the advanced maths of tuning theory. But often the ideas are not explained in ordinary language. We could work on providing accessible ordinary language explanations to the articles, for instance in the lede and at the start of a section, explain what it is about in ordinary language before the maths.
  • Identify and work on questionable articles I'm currently in a discussion on the talk page of the Syntonic temperament article. Many other articles link to this one, but it is a not very widely known concept, coined by one author in an academic journal, it passes WP:RS therefore, but not very notable as nobody else seems to use the concept. So does it need a separate article? I've suggested we change it to an article on Linear temperament which currently redirects to Regular temperament, and reduce Syntonic temperament to a citation. Also can have a brief mention on the page that Andrew Milne coined the term to refer to a particular subset of linear temperaments. So that's an example, we could tackle issues like that project wide. Many of the articles link to this one, so it's quite a large scale change.
  • Expand important articles As an example, the article on Lattice_(music) is good as far as it goes, but it doesn't even give an example of a cubic 3D lattice for regular temperaments, one of the simplest there is after 2D, never mind more complex types of lattice such as toroidal lattices.
  • Discuss and suggest new categories. E.g. I think there should be new categories of "Microtonal Composer" and "Microtonal Composition"
  • Develop new templates for the microtonal articles Example, in discussion recently I had the idea of adding a list of the important intervals in an article to the right, in a float like this (see float to right)

{{Common Commas}} Displays as

= 32805 / 32768

1.95372 cents
38· 5  : 215
About this sound Play 

Syntonic comma
=81 / 80
21.50629 cents
34 : 24· 5
About this sound Play 

Pythagorean comma
= 531441 / 524288
23.46001 cents
312 : 219
About this sound Play 

diatonic semitone

256 / 243
90.225 cents
28 : 35
(About this sound play 

chromatic semitone

2187 / 2048
113.68501 cents

37 : 211
About this sound play )

Also check out {{Ratio Intervals}}

Some of that is done with a template {{Display Ratio}} which shows a ratio as cents:

{{#expr:1200*ln(32805/32768)/ln2round5}} which yields 1.95372

. The same could be done for the factorization also, e.g.

{{#invoke:Factorization|factor|32805}} : {{#invoke:Factorization|factor|32768}} which yields 38· 5  : 215.

After a bit of work on this we can make a template where the user just needs to enter the two numbers of the ratio itself, the name of the interval, the wikipedia page describing it (if different) and the url to the audio file and the template would work out everything else and display it to the right in the article. This is just one example of useful templates we could make for this topic area.

  • Sub project or discussion to work on reliable sources on microtonal music - books, articles, journals etc and any acceptable reliable expert maintained websites or closed wikis also that could be used in microtonal articles. Editors in this topic area are sometimes unsure what counts as reliable sources and which sources can be used where. It's a rapidly expanding field especially in Western music, and those of us who are involved in it have many things that are common knowledge, which surely should be included. But it can be difficult sometimes to know what to use as reliable sources amongst the vast amount of material available, when adding this knowledge to wikipedia. For instance, there are many things that often nobody writes down in published articles in peer reviewed journals because it is just accepted as understood, and not novel enough for an academic paper.

    As an example, from my own experience, it was quite hard to find sources for the Hexany article for its AfD discussion. Much discussed in online microtonal composer discussion groups, used in microtonal compositions, the Hexany is amongst the simplest of the musical tunings of this type indeed - but where do you find the academic sources for it? With the help of expert microtonalists eventually we got enough, but it wasn't easy. So where do we source such material generally? Guidelines and help would be useful here I think.
  • Draw attention to any candidates for featured article status to encourage editors to work on them.

I suggest that we could tackle some of these by having "to do" lists of articles that need attention. Such as: lists of

  • articles that need simpler language explanations added
  • articles that are especially in need of citations
  • articles that need historical details sorted out
  • articles that are questionable
  • articles that need to be expanded - especially for important topics
  • new categories to add
  • new templates to make

Then those who are expert in various areas can work through these "to do lists" fixing them.

Other things could be tackled by sub projects. For instance the suggestion of a sub project to develop guidelines on how to work with the various sources available for microtonal music could be useful at some stage.

Microtonal treatments of twelve equal - reason for adding "Tuning, Temperaments and Scales" to the title[edit source]

For instance, twelve equal can be studied as

  • one of the many ETs (Equal Temperaments).
  • as an example of a linear temperament
  • as a historical temperament
  • in a discussion of how equal temperaments approximates just intonation intervals (advantages and disadvantages of 12 equal, 17 equal, 19 equal, 31 equal etc)
  • obtain it from a five limit just intonation lattice by tempering out both the syntonic and the pythagorean comma

etc. etc. There are many ways to study 12 equal, much as you would study any tuning system, including newly invented tunings. Indeed, many modern microtonal composers and theorists in my experience no longer understand twelve equal as a standard relative to which we study all the other "non twelve equal" tunings.

So in this way twelve equal is often considered inclusively as one very interesting tuning amongst many in the gamut of microtonal scales. But whether or not we understand the word "Microtonal music" in that inclusive way, these microtonal style discussions of twelve equal need to be included in the project. For this reason I've added "Tuning, Temperaments and Scales" to the title to make this clear that all tunings are relevant including microtonal treatments of twelve equal; . Suggestions of any better name for the project very welcome!

Support[edit source]

Also, specify whether or not you would join the project. Please show your support by joining here, however minor your role would be. Even if it is just correcting occasional minor errors, adding citations, or taking part in discussions, you'll still be a valued member of the project. We need around 16 members ideally for a reasonably active project.

For new wikipedia editors in the xenharmonic community or those who haven't edited wikipedia for a while and want to get started again to join this project - to sign here to show your support, first log in, click on "edit" after the Support heading, go to the end of this section, and add a new line as:
# ~~~~
When you click Save, then the four tildes will get turned into your signature plus date, and the # symbol is what keeps the entries numbered.

  1. Robert Walker (talk) 11:52, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
  2. Joe Monzo
  3. SeventhHarmonic (talk) 21:27, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
  4. Jude Thomas
  5. Keenan Pepper 02:13, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
  6. Jake Freivald. I would join the project. There's a tremendous amount of information that is currently separated that could be brought together: historical, ethnographic, mathematical, and artistic, at least. That's far more than mere scale talk, and would be a worthwhile effort. Jdfreivald (talk) 00:09, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
  7. Mikulas-mrva (talk) 01:32, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
  8. Gene Ward Smith (talk) 17:00, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
  9. Jhchalmers (talk) 17:21, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
  10. Iamcamtaylor (talk) 07:19, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
  11. J Leith. I am also eager to join the project. 10:45, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
  12. yoyo (talk) 18:08, 25 August 2017 (UTC) Robert, you had 8 active editors in this list when I arrived today; let me be the first to tip the numbers past the half-way point! Note: you stated "There are many articles on microtonal music in wikipedia and no project to discuss them"; doesn't that - together with most of your examples - imply that what you're really looking for is a "Microtonal music project"? Of course, editors active on such a project would also be more likely to edit the (seemingly moribund) project on tuning theory and practice. But I do think there are two areas of focus: one is more theoretical, the other more about actual microtonal praxis. So perhaps we could eat more by taking smaller bites! yoyo (talk) 18:08, 25 August 2017 (UTC)

Oppose[edit source]

  1. Sorry, but I just don't see the point of this; scales, tuning and temperament already fall under Wikipedia:WikiProject Music theory, which is not quite dormant, but not far off; microtonal music seems to fall (mostly) under the inactive Wikipedia:WikiProject Classical music/Contemporary music task force. I applaud any initiative to improve our coverage of these topics, but wouldn't the energy be better channelled into the existing projects? Perhaps, if there's really enough support, create a microtonal task force within the classical music project? Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 22:05, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
Well the thing is that there are very active communities at least off wiki in the field of Xenharmonic music. See for instance the Xenharmonic Alliance on facebook, which has many posts every day, frequented by composers and theorists in microtonal music. That is where this proposal originated actually in discussion there. And this is an interest that straddles many fields that may seem separate. It's not restricted to contemporary music for instance. There's a lot of interest in medieveal tuning systems, the ancient Greek Genus_(music) and the Pythagorean Tuning and Medieval Polyphony, and in the Slendro and Pelog scales of gamelan music, Indian music, Turkish and Arabic maqams both contemporary and back to the middle age theorists such as the music scholarship of Al-Farabi, and many other topics that wouldn't fall under those headings, or fall some under one and some under another. We also have especial issues identifying valid sources as much of the mathematical theory of modern microtonal music was developed very rapidly from almost nothing in the last decade or two. Many composers are now working with these ideas, but we sometimes have difficulty finding sources for our articles, as I found out when I did an article on the Hexany - nowadays considered to be one of the elementary concepts in modern microtonal scale lattice theory, but it was only with a lot of help, in a call out to microtonal composers and theorists to find sources, that we managed to find enough academic citations to support the article through its AfD.
So we also have special issues to deal with that would probably not even interest most of those involved in modern music theory. Except of course for the few that have a special interest in microtonal music. As you'll see also from this proposal, there are many articles here that would fall within its scope, well beyond the 100 articles recommended to make it worth breaking out into a new project.
The hope is partly to encourage more participation from the off wiki xenharmonic community in editing wikipedia. That's much more likely to succeed with a dedicated microtonal project than to try to encourage them to take part in the music theory section. Also I think a lot of the discussion about microtonal theory and projects could get off putting for musicians who are mainly interested in twelve tone theory if we tried to do it within a classical contemporary music or music theory project. I hope you can understand, at least the reasons behind this proposal.
I hope this makes it a bit clearer why I suggested this proposal. I hope that it will attract more editors who might well not be interested in joining a Music Theory / Classical music project. It's early days yet, and will see how it goes and whether there is enough interest to get it underway. And interested in any other comments on this! Robert Walker (talk) 23:49, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
Jake here. Microtonality isn't exclusively classical or contemporary. I can point to 8-bit microtonal chiptunes and hard rock pieces in contrast to the "classical" designator, and to historical information regarding WA Mozart's father probable use of 55 EDO and ancient Greek microtones in contrast to the "contemporary" designator. Also, some of the topics discussed, such as psychoacoustics, could branch multiple scientific and mathematical disciplines and go well beyond mere "scales, tuning, and temperament". I see significant value in this as a new project, and the community is active and persistent enough to make a serious and lasting contribution to Wikipedia. Jdfreivald (talk) 00:17, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

Discussion[edit source]

To start the discussion, I've added a couple of questions here:

  • I wondered whether we could just rename the Tunings, Temperaments, and Scales project to add "Microtonal Music" to the title, then revive it and tag more pages with this new more inclusive title. Any thoughts about that? Would existing members of the project be likely to mind if it got expanded to be wider in its scope? If not, it might be the simplest way to proceed, revive it as a new active project archive the talk page, rename it, and edit it's description to expand its scope. But then - perhaps it is better retained as a separate more specialized project? Any thoughts on this? Robert Walker (talk) 15:33, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
@Robert Walker - I've just re-read this project proposal page, and gone back to review the defunct Wikipedia:WikiProject Tunings, Temperaments, and Scales, where I found that 19 of the 21 members listed there are currently active (well, not redlinked!), and that most of the items listed for that project to do have in fact been done - if having a current article is any indication. Yet your list of things we could do (above) is full of many things that need to happen, if Wikipedia is ever going to be a useful reference for practising or intending microtonalists - both composers and listeners. So my present conclusion is that, yes, we could usefully:
  1. reactivate the old project;
  2. merge your "to do" list to the old one;
  3. break out the "done" tasks under a new heading, say, "Achievements";
  4. publicise the new activity;
  5. reconsider the project title, e.g. whether it needs to add "microtonality" at the end, or maybe just become (say) "Alternative tunings and scales".
We would thus have about a score (! ;-) ) of current editors enrolled in the project, with an infusion of new tasks which I see as a natural extension to those already addressed. yoyo (talk) 15:25, 10 February 2018 (UTC)
yoyo I have thought of that. But inactive members are not necessarily redlined. You get people who are no longer active here, but still have an account that they use to e.g. fix typos or minor errors in articles they come across while browsing the internet, but are no longer interested in working as a wikipedia editor. For many reasons - often they are put off by some of the arcane Wikipedia guidelines. In this particular area it is frustrating for some modern microtonal theorists because they themselves are rapidly developing the field, making new discoveries. And they are doing it as professional mathematicians and such like themselves, expert in the fields they need to do the work - but are not publishing it in peer reviewed articles where they put their academic research. A lot of this is done in the Xenharmonic wiki for instance or just posted to Facebook and shared with their colleagues. So then they come here and they see articles that have errors, or that are out of date, or that don't have any of the most recent work in the field, but they don't have any sources to cite that count as WP:RS for wikipedia editors. I have several microtonal friends who have given up editing wikipedia for these reasons and related ones. Not that they ran into trouble particularly, most often just that they found it a frustrating and not very enjoyable experience.
I pinged all the members of that group above. And also mentioned this project several times in the Facebook Xenharmonic alliance. And this list of now 9 interested editors - thanks for joining! - that's the result. There are others who want microtonal articles here fixed and from time to time comment on them. There's a Facebook discussion I'm following right now on issues with the microtonal commas article in wikipedia. But so far nobody is trying to edit it to fix them. So that's the way it goes, occasional griping conversations, but very little by way of doing anything, because of these past issues of just not being very comfortable editing wikipedia. I sometimes edit here as a result of those conversations off wiki, especially when it is a clear case of some simple edit needs to be done - but I don't have much time and it would be much easier if the conversations were here and other editors involved in the editing.
So - I think reviving the old project wouldn't bring us any new members - except on paper. And - has the disadvantage that the past discussions there would no longer relate to the new group title and topic in its broader sense. Unless it has other practical advantages... Anyway that's why I didn't try to do it that way. I felt unless we had enough interest expressed in the project it's not going to have much future. And the way to do that was to try a new project.
On your point in your vote about limiting to a smaller subject area - for many microtonalists there isn't that division really. There are some mathematicians who do very little composing and mainly work on microtonal theory. And some composers who don't make much use of the theory. But generally there is a fair bit of interplay between the two. Also - despite the apparently stable state of that old project, actually that is just because nobody has looked at it for a long time. Or at least, not here. They tend to comment on Facebook instead. The reasons for that are understandable, not complaining, but it's a bit frustrating when you want to fix the articles. Many of the microtonal articles still have major issues with them so there is a lot of work to be done there if we can get enough editors mobilized to do something about it.
I am not sure what to do next. We could just try starting the project anyway with 9 members perhaps. I don't think the 16 is an absolute rule, but rather a guideline. A few keen editors could do as much as many who are lukewarm in interest. Any thoughts? Robert Walker (talk) 16:17, 10 February 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: - Yes, it's a frustrating area to work on in Wikipedia, because of the lack of sources that meet WP:RS standards.
  1. It's really chicken-and-egg, so perhaps we could go back to dinosaurs … ! By which I mean, let's get the historical tuning and temperament theorists and practitioners well and truly covered: from the Ancient Greek; thru' Arab, Persian and Turkish maqam music; Hindustani (including Karnatika) raga; mediaeval and Gregorian church modes; and all sorts of (string, wind and keyboard) instrument builders; thru' the 31-tone Archicembalo, Rameau, Werckmeister and Sebastian Bach; up to at least Helmholtz and Alexander John Ellis. (Not that I have any particular fetish for the historical tunings, but would hate to waste my efforts reinventing anything useful already well understood.) Then focus on a few fine feathered friends: how practising Arabic and Turkish musicians evolved their current orthodoxies of tuning in the early 20th Century; how diatonic scale construction theory has grown and been more widely disseminated (Easley Blackwood, Jr. on The Structure of Recognizable Diatonic Tunings, for example); how LaMonte Young took and expressed Pythagorean notions of the harmony of the spheres in his sound works (installations?) My hope is this: that if we could get these articles to a high quality (even "good") article level, we'd build understanding of and momentum for better appreciation of other alternatives. Who knows, we might even get some academic (or rock-star!) writers interested in publishing more in the area. Or do you reckon that we'd be wasting our efforts in polishing historical articles?
  2. But surely we also need to make a more direct attack on the problem of how to recognise reliable sources in this area. So, current WP policy prefers secondary sources. Surely one or two more of our number could write and publish an accessible survey book covering recent tuning developments, of say the last few decades but one? Without being too specialist or proselytising too much. Yes, we do have a couple of notable books out by active tuning theorists. I'd like to see three good books in the area in the next three years, i.e. before the end of 2020; all the better if they have different perspectives and don't agree in their emphases. We could even have a curated compendium of several authors; you could edit it! Perhaps we could invite certain luminaries (composers, performers, historians, theorists, even mathematicians) to contribute papers for a conference on "Musical tuning and temperaments for the Third Millennium"? There's bound to be a liberal arts college somewhere in California that would love to host such an event …!
  3. Failing (or awaiting) such an eventuality, we also need to work on persuading the WP world that the real world isn't academia; that what was not a credible source yesterday (or even a very good boss) can become a national leader tomorrow. (Not suggesting that "reality TV shows" mirror the real world.) Without falling for "fake news", we must be able to register and reflect seismic shifts in opinion. So why isn't a venerable online community a good source? Oh yes, there's lots of dross in such a thing, much ground covered many times over, some misinformed opinion. But there's also consensus, reflected in the better-accepted answers given to questions. Many issues are, after all, decided by popular vote - that's the democratic way! Perhaps there's some "corpus linguistics" software that can data mine a Facebook group for consensus?; worth looking into.
  4. Another thing that we sorely lack: motivation among ordinary musicians and listeners to consider why the notes are what they are. Do we need an "outreach" project to help people appreciate just how deeply tuning and scales affect the music they love? An inspirational TED talker and demonstrator? (You have some killer apps, for sure.)
  5. Over all, I'd say we should start the project. It's not important that it be a new one, or the old one reactivated. It is important that we start. And even three active editors out of a dozen with good intentions would be enough to do some real work.
So, what are we waiting for? ;-) yoyo (talk) 19:40, 13 February 2018 (UTC)
@Yahya Abdal-Aziz: Oh I am totally with you on historical articles :). OKay maybe we should just start the project. I am a bit spread out myself at the moment sadly, I'm caught up with several big time-consuming things and I'm not sure how much time I'll have for this, but still, a fair amount from time to time for sure. We don't need to be in a huge rush, can slowly build up momentum perhaps. I agree there are plenty of historical articles we could work on. We can also do a fair bit of core articles in central topics in tuning where there is enough material published in reliable sources. That's been my main focus when I've been working on this on and off over the last year or two.
On identifying a wider range of WP:RS then I think that is indeed something we can work on as a project. Though we have to stay within community wide guidelines as well of course.
As an example, if it was just opinion, I'd say that Margo Schulter's Pythagorean Tuning and Medieval Polyphony or indeed just about anything authored by her is a WP:RS on medieveal tuning theory and that the Wilson archives are also WP:RS on modern tuning theory. They are both widely regarded as highly reliable in the tuning community. It might be worth exploring whether there is any way we can establish sources like these as WP:RS in wikipedia, maybe through RfCs.
When it comes to the xenharmonic wiki it would be more difficult because of the way it has so many members who can edit it.
There are occasional microtonal conferences, so those surely are WP:RS. This was one in 2013 in Scotland. I'd have liked to go, living in Scotland but the other side of the country and a long way away and it wasn't easy to go. "Beyond the Semitone": a Symposium on Tuning, Scale Systems, and Microtonality in Historical and Contemporary Contexts - and there must be material from some of the conferences - also there are all the past articles in the 1/1 journal of the Just Intonation Network but sadly they are not available to read online, which I imagine would also be an issue for conference proceedings too. Anyway I think we could certainly establish that they are a WP:RS.
On WP:RS I think it might be just a case of an RfC on the project talk page?? I can look into this to find out more. Not overriding wikipedia wide guidelines, but just a discussion and RfC on how to apply those guidelines to our project area so that people are clear where they stand on which sources they can use and which not and maybe some also gray area.
Interesting idea about getting a book together. There are lots of experts on tuning and quite a few that have academic credentials. The thing is if it is just a self published book, say on CreateSpace or equivalent, then it's not going to count as a WP:RS - it would need to be by a reputable publisher. Meanwhile a book by an established academic publisher would definitely count as a WP:RS.
On ideas about outreach, then that's not the place for Wikipedia I think. Their guidelines are that everything here has to be to do with improving Wikipedia in one way or another. But we can discuss it off wiki e.g. on the Xenharmonic wiki. The idea of mining social media for consensus - I think that probably can't work sadly. Because we are bound by the Wikipedia wide consensus on WP:RS, and I think that would be taking it a bit too far, too much like community based research rather than depending on sources that are identified to be reliable.
Anyway all this could be a good starting point for a discussion on reliable sources which could be a good activity for the new project page.
I'm inclined to go with you. Perhaps we should just start it as a new project page and see what happens. Actually - maybe the guidelines have changed? It now says 6 - 12 active wikipedians in WP:WPPRO.
This is about how to create a new project: Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Guide/WikiProject so we could either use a template to create a skeleteon project page or copy over the existing one and edit it. Robert Walker (talk) 21:18, 13 February 2018 (UTC)
@Yahya Abdal-Aziz: also - your signature brings us up to 12 now, only 4 short of the 16 recommended for a new project, which is a recommendation, not a requirement. The red text ones are editors who haven't yet created a user page. It doesn't mean that they have deleted their account - Quite a few editors never make a user page on wikipedia. If the talk page is also red then probably they are not very active here and maybe created an account in order to sign - but they may well become active if the project is underway if they are interested just because of the project. Typically I expect though that there would be a few very active editors and many others who do only occasional edits as that's the normal pattern in wikipedia. Robert Walker (talk) 22:08, 11 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Anyone got any suggestions for names for the project, and what do you think about the current proposed name? Robert Walker (talk) 14:59, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Suggested alternative name: Xenharmonic Music, Tuning, Temperaments and Scales - which do you think is best, Microtonal or Xenharmonic, in the name?

Jake here. I don't have strong feelings about this, but I have a few thoughts.

Before I started looking into microtonal music six or so years ago, I knew what it was. I had never heard of "xenharmonic" tuning. Also, some of what we do involves music that doesn't sound xen at all, such as various meantone tunings. I suggest keeping the term "microtonal" and not relying too much, if at all, on "xenharmonic".

Also, while I think "microtonal" and "xenharmonic" both have value for people who know those terms, people sometimes get wrapped around the axle with respect to microtonal vs. macrotonal, etc., and ethnomusicologists don't use either term at all. So perhaps something like, "Alternative new, historical, and ethnic tuning systems". I don't know how these names work, but you might add a subtitle: "Alternative new, historical, and ethnic tuning systems: microtonality, xenharmony, and their implications" to capture search engine results for those terms.

Jdfreivald (talk) 00:28, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

Thanks, good point. Indeed I've found myself, also when playing microtonal music to others, that even when the music is very xentonal if you look at the numbers, or for those very sensitive to pitch distinctions, if it has good internal coherence and has progressions and resolutions similar to those of twelve equal music, it can sound surprisingly similar to twelve tone music. The harmonies and chord progressions can sound twelve tone like even when they aren't remotely related to twelve tone music, at least to some listeners. While others that stay close to twelve equal throughout can sometimes sound very xentonal especially if they have small changes in the pitch of what sounds like the "same note".
Yes we should be able to add a subtitle like that, good idea. The projects are "advertised" by adding banners which appear at the top of the talk pages and the banners have text below the title which is different for each project. You can get an idea from the talk page for the microtonal music article. And, yes, wikipedia talk pages do appear in google search results, also templates, though I think they are much lower priority. Here is a search for a phrase from the classical music project banner, showing how it turns up in google search results. Robert Walker (talk) 12:32, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

Alternative title: "Tuning, Temperaments, Scales and Microtonal Music"[edit source]

I wonder if reversing the order would help, as that makes it clear that all tunings, scales etc are included, including twelve equal, if studied as an interesting tuning in a microtonal way. And then it becomes clear also that we are understanding Microtonal Music here in an inclusive way too. Any thoughts? Robert Walker (talk) 12:26, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

Only thing is, we don't want to suggest that we are only interested in Microtonal Music in as far as discussions of tunings, want to be absolutely clear it also includes more general topics like chords, chord progressions, microtonal compositions and composers, techniques, historical study, microtonal organizations, etc etc. So I'm not sure, it's just a thought. Robert Walker (talk) 12:28, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

Because I'm indifferent as to how the proposal actually gets implemented, I'll just make a few comments here. First, the old Tunings, Temperaments project already did include microtonal work in its scope, so your description of the "new" project as an expansion isn't quite accurate. It's more like a change of emphasis accompanied by a new name. But my real comment is this -- the MusicTheory project page shows two related projects, both of them inactive. Much (most? all?) of the coverage of technical material already seems to be taking place through the MusicTheory project. So, why not just start up a Microtonal task force within that project? This suggestion is similar to the earlier one made by Justlettersandnumbers, but with a different "parent" project.
Whichever way you all decide to go, I wish you the best of luck with it. NewYorkActuary (talk) 16:13, 4 August 2016 (UTC)
@NewYorkActuary: Oh, okay I suppose the main reason for having it as a separate project is because it is then easier to find, has its own project page etc, and it will become easier to organize large numbers of editors to become invovled. It depends on us getting enough support, we have 11 so far, I'm waiting until we get 16 as the recommended number to get a small project started, and a fair number of the ones who have supported it so far have said off wiki that they are keen to work on the project. There are many people who have a special interest in microtonal work, and I don't see any microtonal discussions in the Music theory project.
Also, I wouldn't want to flood the Music Theory project with the sort of discussions we would have - you can get the idea of the sort of thing from my recent discussions with Hucbald on the talk page of (what is now) Regular Diatonic Tunings. There are many pages here that may seem thorough if you don't have a background in microtonal music, but for instance Lattice (music) and Regular temperament don't even mention 3D lattices (needed for five limit just intonation twelve tone for example)! And the Regular Diatonic Tunings article was originally called Syntonic Temperament, a name used for these tunings only in context of a particular synthesizer - most microtonalists have never heard of the phrase. There are many things to be fixed across this topic area, and if we can find the editors to do it, we will have our work cut out getting it all sorted out. So the main motivation for a separate project is because there is a lot of work to be done, and we need many editors involved to sort it out. We would also be likely to have many sub projects, and if it is already a sub project of music theory, those would become sub projects of subprojects.
Also, it's not just the theory. There's also instrument design, e.g. of microtonal keyboards, microtonal composers and compositions, musical history including the very interesting microtonal medieval history in Europe and the Arabic world, lists of microtonal composers, etc, many topics that would not count as music theory as such. I hope this makes it a bit clearer why I propose it as a separate project. That's also why it can't be just a revival of the Scales, Temperament and Tuning project - and I think maybe part of the reason that project became dormant is just that it wasn't quite large enough in scope to get enough editors involved to get the momentum we need. While in this case, I think there's a chance that it is large enough. We will see how it goes though, need a few more supporters to join first. Hope this is a bit clearer. And thanks for the good luck. BTW I didn't get the reference to Justlettersandnumbers, can you say a little more? Robert Walker (talk) 17:12, 4 August 2016 (UTC)
My apologies for the delay in response. As for your final question, Justlettersandnumbers is the user name of the editor who posted an opinion in the "Oppose" section above. That editor also suggested establishing a task force, but under the Classical Music sub-project, not the Music Theory sub-project.
Regarding your main points, I don't find them quite as compelling as you do. Task forces are typically assigned their own "project" pages along with their own associated talk pages. And so, even if you were to be established as a task force under a Music sub-project, your discussions would still be taking place on your own talk page. Also, there's no reason why a task force housed within the Music Theory project would be limited to working on music-theory articles. Most projects, sub-projects and task forces work on any and all articles that are of interest to them, even if those articles are already "claimed" by other groups. Regardless of where it was housed, I see nothing that would prevent a Microtonal task force from creating or working on any article that fell within its interests, including those on composers, works, instruments, etc.
Again, best of luck with this. NewYorkActuary (talk) 19:41, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
Oh, I see, sorry for not recognizing the name. Yes that was the idea of a contemporary music task force as a sub project of classical music, but Microtonal music is not at all restricted to microtonal contemporary classical music - that's just one sub-genre of it, so that was never going to work. I suppose it is a matter of judgement of how much you think it will involve. After all Music Theory could be done as a task force in Music, for instance. Or it could even be a task force in Classical music, as after all that's an important part of music theory, just as the music theory is an important part of microtonal music. You could do it but it wouldn't seem a natural fit to do it that way. That's a bit like what it feels like to do microtonal music as a sub genre of music theory - and then extent it to non music theory sub tasks. It just doesn't seem a natural fit.
Indeed, another factor, it seems to belong rather the other way - after all twelve equal music is a sub genre of microtonal music, and the music theory of twelve tone music is within microtonal music theory which in turn is within the more general topic of microtonal music. That's how microtonalists think of it. They see twelve equal and twelve tone scales as one very interesting musical system amongst many, historically and world wide. So - to make microtonal a sub genre of Music theory seems kind of back to front. Mainly because "Music theory" is usually understood as "Music theory of twelve tone systems" almost entirely with perhaps a bit of microtonal work as part of it, like an interesting instrumentation or something, you can make the music "microtonal". And many microtonalists do come to it like that, looking for tunings that let them achieve various concepts that derive from twelve tone music in novel ways. It's an important part of twelve tone music for sure.
But, it's just too restricting. Like - there is a lot of interesting microtonal theory that relates to twelve tone scales, of course, but there are other ideas that involve starting afresh with completely new concepts. A bit like trying to do Gamelan music as a sub project of music theory. It's not a natural fit because they think about music in such a different way. Within Music theory you could study Gamelan music for its influence on Western music but not really in its own right I think. At any rate there doesn't seem to have been any attempt to bring it within Music Theory. But it would be included in Microtonal Music as that's much more general. Similarly also for Talk:Arabic_maqam. Or Talk:Archicembalo. Or Talk:Xenharmonic music, not sure even that would really fit under Music Theory because the whole idea is music that sounds different from twelve tone music, has some parallels with standard ideas of music theory but in many ways needs a different treatment.
So if we did have it as a task force, I think it would need to be under "Music" as in the Music genres task force. Perhaps a Microtonal Music, Tuning, Temperaments and Scales task force. But if "Tuning, Temperaments and Scales" can be a separate project, then why not "Microtonal Music, Tuning, Temperaments and Scales?". Practically also I'd have thought it would be easier to have sub tasks within a separate project than within a task force. We are probably never going to agree on this so not trying to persuade you :). And interested in other comments on this. Robert Walker (talk) 21:46, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
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