Tone generator for use as a harpsichord tuning aid

What makes ttuner different from most other tuning devices (both hardware and software) is the way that a temperament it loaded into the program. To begin with, most tuners are limited to equal temperament, and can’t tune other temperaments at all. Others, like the near-ubuquitous Korg MT-1200 have a few historical temperaments, but don’t let you modify them in any way. A small number of tuners let you enter your own custom temperaments to use, but this is usually done by specifying the deviation, in cents, from equal temperament, which has nothing to do with how these temperaments are really constructed or used. As well, they usually only let you specify in units of one cent – there’s no way to make a note .2 cents higher, for example.

Enter ttuner! This program calculates temperaments in the same way you would if you were tuning by ear. Starting with a reference tone (a tuning fork, for example) intervals are specified as being pure, or tempered by fractions of commas. A = E means that there is a pure fifth between those two notes. For example, the common Valotti temperament (6 fifths from F to B on the naturals tempered by 1/6 of a pythagorean comma, with the other 6 from B – F on the sharps tuned pure) is entered like this:

A = E-1/6P
E = B-1/6P
D = A-1/6P
G = D-1/6P
C = G-1/6P
F = C-1/6P
Bb = F
Eb = Bb
Ab = Eb
F# = B
C# = F#

For convenience, you can also specify a temperament as a series of cent deviations from equal temperament, but of course it’s not as good as specifying the intervals themselves! This flexible way of writing a temperament also means that there’s no problem specifying enharmonic notes – my standard meantone file, for example, has B = D# and G = Eb, so both Eb and D# are generated, as pure thirds from B and G respectively. You can choose which one you want while tuning, or tune both if you have split sharps.

Another benefit this program has over most others is the ability to specify different sets of harmonics in the audio output. Instead of harsh square or sawtooth waves, you can combine different sine waves to make something that suits the instrument that you’re tuning to. There’s no real limit to the number of different partials the sound can have, as long as you have the processing power to generate them!

For now, the program is just a console application – there aren’t any pretty windows or anything like that. That said, it’s very easy to use. See the README for complete instructions.


  • Source Code
  • Windows Binary
  • Ubuntu/debian package (built in Ubuntu 7.10, Gutsy, but it works fine on the latest one I’ve used, which is Ubuntu 12.10. Let me know though if you have trouble with other versions.)
  • No MacOS package yet, but I expect the source will compile easily if you have the developer utilities. Please let me know if you are able to compile it, and I can offer a binary version here. I don’t have a Mac, so I can’t do it myself.
  • If you’d like a package made that I don’t have listed here, please let me know and I’ll do my best!

Unless otherwise noted, everything is licensed under the GPL.

Android version

Thanks to Graham St-Laurent, there is now an Android version of ttuner! It’s available via Google Play.