"Young temperament" may refer to either of a pair of circulating temperaments described by Thomas Young in a letter dated July 9, 1799, to the Royal Society of London. The letter was read at the Society's meeting of January 16, 1800, and included in its Philosophical Transactions for that year. The temperaments are referred to individually as "Young's first temperament" and "Young's second temperament", more briefly as "Young's No. 1" and "Young's No. 2", or with some other variations of these expressions.
Young argued that there were good reasons for choosing a temperament to make "the harmony most perfect in those keys which are the most frequently used", and presented his first temperament as a way of achieving this. He gave his second temperament as a method of "very simply" producing "nearly the same effect".
In his first temperament, Young chose to make the major third C-E wider than just by 1⁄4 of a syntonic comma (about 5 cents,
|f1||=||300 (log2(3) − 1) + 225 log2(5) ≈ 697.92||(flatter than just by 3⁄16 of a syntonic comma)|
|f2||=||3600 − 1500 log2(3) − 225 log2(5) ≈ 700.12||(flatter than just by 1⁄4 of a ditonic comma less 3⁄16 of a syntonic comma)|
|f3||=||1200 (log2(3) − 1) ≈ 701.96||(perfectly just)|
Each of the major thirds in the resulting scale comprises four of these fifths less two octaves. If sj fj − 600 ( j = 1, 2, 3 ), the sizes of the major thirds can be conveniently expressed as in the second row of the following table:
| 3 s1 + s2
| 2 s1 + 2 s2
| s1 + 2 s2 + s3
| 2 s2 + 2 s3
| s2 + 3 s3 |
As can be seen from the third row of the table, the widths of the tonic major thirds of successive major keys around the circle of fifths increase by about two ( s2 − s1 , s3 − s2 ) to four ( s3 − s1 ) cents per step in either direction from the narrowest, in C major, to the widest, in F♯ major.
The following table gives the pitch differences in cents between the notes of a chromatic scale tuned with Young's first temperament and those of one tuned with equal temperament, when the note A of each scale is given the same pitch.
In Young's second temperament, each of the fifths F♯-C♯, C♯-G♯, G♯-E♭, E♭-B♭, B♭-F, and F-C are perfectly just, while the fifths C-G, G-D, D-A, A-E, E-B, and B-F♯ are each 1⁄6 of a Pythagorean (ditonic) comma narrower than just. The exact and approximate numerical sizes of these latter fifths, in cents, are given by:
f4 = 2600 − 1200 log2(3) ≈ 698.04
| 3 s4 + s3
| 2 s4 + 2 s3
| s4 + 3 s3
| 4 s3 |
The following table gives the pitch differences in cents between the notes of a chromatic scale tuned with Young's second temperament and those of one tuned with equal temperament, when the note A of each scale is given the same pitch.
Young's 2nd temperament is very similar to the Vallotti temperament which also has six consecutive pure fifths and six tempered by 1⁄6 of a Pythagorean comma. Young's temperament is shifted one note around the circle of fifths, with the first tempered fifth beginning on C instead of F. For this reason it is sometimes called "Vallotti Young" or "Shifted Vallotti".
- Young (1800). The material on temperaments appears on pages 143-47. The paper was reprinted in Nicholson's Journal in 1802 (Young, 1802), along with a list of errata (p.167), and a corrected version appeared in volume II of a collection of Young's works published in 1807 (Young, 1807, pp.531-554). The original paper had contained an error in the placement of the first temperament's E♭ on a monochord (Barbour, 2004, p.168).
- Barbour (2004, pp.180, 181).
- Barbour (2004, p.183).
- Barbour (2004, pp.167-8). This article follows Barbour in labelling the notes of the chromatic scale as E♭, B♭, F, C, G, D, A, E, B, F♯, C♯, and G♯. In both of Young's temperaments the notes E♭, B♭, F, C, E, B, F♯, C♯, and G♯ are identical to their enharmonic equivalents D♯, A♯, E♯, B♯, F♭, C♭, G♭, D♭, and A♭, respectively.
- Barbour (2004, p.168). The precise difference is 1⁄4 of a Pythagorean (ditonic) comma less 3⁄16 of a syntonic comma.
- Jorgensen (1991, Table 71-2, pp.264-5). In these temperaments the intervals B-E♭, F♯-B♭, C♯-F, and G♯-C, here written as diminished fourths, are identical to the major thirds B-D♯, F♯-A♯, C♯-E♯, and G♯-B♯, respectively.
- Jorgensen (1991, Table 71-1, p.264).
- Barbour (2004, p.163).
- Jorgensen (1991, Table 69-1, p.254).
- Jorgensen (1991, Table 70-1, p.259).
- Donahue (2005, pp.28–9 )
- Barbour, James Murray (2004) , Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey, Minneola, NY: Dover Publications, ISBN 978-0-486-43406-3
- Donahue, Thomas (2005), A Guide to Musical Temperament, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, ISBN 978-0-8108-5438-3
- Jorgensen, Owen (1991), Tuning: containing the perfection of eighteenth-century temperament, the lost art of nineteenth-century temperament, and the science of equal-temperament, complete with instructions for aural and electronic tuning, East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, ISBN 978-0-87013-290-2
- Young, Thomas (1800), "Outlines of Experiments and Inquiries respecting Sound and Light in a Letter to Edward Whitaker Gray, M.D. Sec. R.S.", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, London, 90, pp. 106–150, doi:10.1098/rstl.1800.0008
- Young, Thomas (1802), Nicholson, William (ed.), "Outlines of Experiments and Inquiries respecting Sound and Light", Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and the Arts, London, 5, pp. 72-78, 81-91, 121-130, 167
- Young, Thomas (1807), A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts, 2, London: Joseph Johnson