Westworld: What Does "The Well-Tempered Clavier" Mean?

Westworld has often put clues and hints about upcoming events in very obvious spots: episode titles.

Last week's episode, "Trace Decay" referred to a popular psychological theory as to why people forget memories. It was a little hint to a common theme throughout the episode, as hosts remembered traces of memories supposedly erased from their systems. Dolores, Maeve, Bernard, and Teddy each experienced flashbacks of some kind that pushed them away from their "set" paths within the park.

So what could "The Well-Tempered Clavier", the title of this week's episode of Westworld, mean to viewers?

The Well-Tempered Clavier is a series of 48 compositions written by famed composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The Well-Tempered Clavier wasn't written for musicians to perform, but rather to help musicians tune keyboard instruments such as harpsichords, pianos, and clavichords.

westworld well tempered clavier

Prior to the Well-Tempered Clavier, keyboard instruments were generally played out of tune. It was thought that it was considered impossible to perfectly tune a keyboard so that every single note was in tune. By tuning one note perfectly, you'd wind up with other keys out of tune farther down the piano.

As such, music written for the piano and harpsichord was written in a limited number of keys, so that musicians could tune to a specific key and avoid the notes that sounded out of tune on their instruments. This was called "meantone" tuning and was the popular method of tuning keyboards until the Baroque era.

Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" showed that music could be written for keyboards tuned using an alternative method. Instead of perfectly tuning to one key using the meantone temperment, well tempered pianos made each note sound "almost" in tune to a point that many people couldn't tell the difference, but not so much that other notes out of tune.

Although "well-tempered" instruments existed before Bach, they were generally thought to be inferior to meantoned keyboards because the keys all sounded "the same". By writing a composition in every known key, Bach showed the strengths of a well-tempered instrument and helped popularize that style of tuning over meantone pianos and harpsichords. The Well-Tempered Clavier literally changed how musicians looked at music and changed the course of Western music as we know it.

So what does a monumental work of music have to do with Westworld? Obviously, the title hints that tonight's episode is a game-changer, but there's a ton of different possibilities as to what it could be.We've seen that Ford has a very specific vision for the hosts and has either passively or actively resisted attempts by the Devos Corporation and Arnold to push their programming past what he originally envisioned the hosts to do. Our best guess is that the "well-tempered clavier" is Dolores, who has been secretly tampered with by Arnold to show the full capabilities of what a host can do.

Unlike Maeve, who has achieved a sort of self-sentience but lacks a balanced temperment, Dolores represents the next step for the hosts and will do something in tonight's episode to totally change how we look at the hosts.

Do you think the episode title could be a clue into one of Westworld's many mysteries? Let us know in the comments below!


MORE WESTWORLD: Mythology Of The Maze Revealed / What We Know About Dolores So Far / Angela Sarafyan On Host Evolution / The Man In Black Is Going To Free The Hosts / Who Is Arnold / The Man In Black's Backstory Revealed / What Planet Is Westworld On / Logos May Reveal Two Seperate Timelines

Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.