Do you want to start making music in Just Intonation, but don't know where to begin? Have you tried to read other books or articles on Just Intonation, only to be baffled by arcane terminology and strings of numbers? Or do you just want to find out what all the talk is about? The Just Intonation Primer will give you the information you need, in a succinct and readable form. With 84 pages of text and over 50 charts and diagrams, The Just Intonation Primer explains the essential concepts of Just Intonation in terms that practicing composers and musicians will understand.


Praise for The Just Intonation Primer:

The Just Intonation Primer provided an invaluable theoretical bearing for my semester seminar at Mills College on tuning theory and microtonality, and on music with a diversity of approaches to it. It served to clarify and integrate other assigned readings that ranged from Harry Partch’s Genesis of a Music, to essays by James Tenney, Marc Sabat, and Ben Johnston. It was the touchstone that provided a definitive source for the basic mathematical techniques and terminology of just intonation theory, rooted in clearly explained principles of acoustics. The Primer is a one-stop introduction to the field, at once both accessible and challenging for students of different backgrounds and experiences, providing a wealth of ideas for composers and performers to explore.

Chris Brown—Co-Director, Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College

Probably the most practical guide for learning the subject. The text is clear, including explication of the math, and definitions are precise.

W.A. Mathieu—Harmonic Experience

I highly recommend this book as a textbook for theory classes and as an introduction to more detailed and idiosyncratic works on JI... Independent composers frustrated by the limits of 12 [tone equal temperament] should read this book...

John H. Chalmers, Jr.—Xenharmonikôn

David Doty is the appropriate person to create such a work... he has the requisite subject matter expertise in generous measure, and he has been in a position to know what students of the subject want and need. The book that results is a concise, practical, informative, and very affordable text.

Bart Hopkin—Experimental Musical Instruments

...Doty has emerged as one of the preeminent contemporary theorists of JI, showing himself to be a gifted expositor as well as a careful and imaginative thinker. Hence the Primer is likely to become the main text and reference for American composers interested in the resources of JI.

Dudley Duncan—Ars Musica Denver


Unlike many previous texts dealing with tuning theory and its applications, The Just Intonation Primer is intended for readers with an elementary knowledge of common-practice music theory and no training in higher mathematics. Its object is to prepare the reader to begin practical work in Just Intonation and to understand more advanced texts and articles. Previously, the few books available on Just Intonation have been difficult to obtain and more difficult to understand. The primer will make it easy for any interested musician to understand the fundamentals of Just Intonation and begin making real music.

The Just Intonation Primer has been used for undergraduate and graduate courses at California State University at Fullerton, College of Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM), Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA), and Mills College (Oakland, CA), as well as by thousands of individual students.

Among the principal topics addressed in the primer are:

About the Author

David B. Doty is a composer, author, instrument builder, and synthesist, and a leading authority on Just Intonation. He is a founding member of the Just Intonation Network and edited the network's journal, 1/1, from its inception in 1984 until 2006. He has worked exclusively in Just Intonation since 1975, composing primarily for American Gamelan and MIDI systems. His compositions in Just Intonation can be heard on his CD Uncommon Practice and Elliot Simpson's CD The Wayward Trail.

Sample Chapters

Important Announcement

After considerable reflection, I have decided to stop selling hardcopy Primers, effective immediately. Changes in postal rates, postal regulations, and sales tax policies have all affected this decision. Plus, at the age of 70, I have more urgent things to do with my time than stuffing Primers into envelopes and driving them to the post office.

The Primer will now be available for free as a download in PDF format.

By clicking on the link below, you agree to the following terms and conditions:

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