Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Term Microtonality: Strict or Loose interpretation.

I try to avoid the word Microtonality like the plague. I never mention it on releases except for one time i included one sentence for which I was called out for by one critic (sic?).
If though we are going to tolerate the term , which encompasses more and more each day, perhaps it might be good to draw the line in the sand somewhere.
As a start and to get to the point:

 It should be intentional. For instance, accidental deviations from say, the standard scale need not apply. A lack of directionality might also be in keeping here, say not the result of a random choice of objects or even a process. A scale though determined by ear should be included as a valid method even if no math is involved.

 It should be a feature in the approach to the music. If not then perhaps we might start calling the miked acoustic guitar of a folk singer, electronic music. Technically it is, but also trivially too. Basically if it can removed without changing the character and expression of the music, we might be better to refer to the music what features the music is actually using.

In terms of other cultures, for the time being, it seems ok to refer to any intonational practice outside one's own as microtonal. In turn those in those culture should in turn be allowed to return the favor. In the long run, it might be better to limit it to being outside the cultures at hand, assuming an uncentered norm, even if the practice seems limited to one cultural practice at the moment.

For myself , I am going to use my own term Mesotonal explained back here

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book recommendations on Microtonality

This blog post is basically a handy list of written resources for those interested in Just intonation and microtonality starting from the simplest to the more specialized and detailed. We suggest owning hard copies as all serve as important references.

The Just intonation Primer by David B. Doty

Just Intonation Explained By Kyle Gann

On The Sensations of Tone. Hermann Helmholtz
Genesis of a Music by Harry Partch

Divisions of the Tetrachord by John Chalmers

Microtonality and the Tuning Systems of Erv Wilson by Terumi Narushima (available in Octotober 2017)

Musical Mathematics by Cris Forster

Harmonic Experience by W. A. Mathieu

'Temperament' and 'Temperament; or the Divisions of the Octave' R.H.M. Bosanquet

Greek Musical Writings: Volume II, Harmonic and Acoustic Theory. Edited by Andrew Barker.

Multiple Division of the Octave and the Tonal Resources of 19-Tone Temperament. Mayer Joel Mandelbaum. Thesis

The Greek Aulos by Kathleen Schlesinger

Augusto Novaro Musica Natural and approximation (Two editions) 1927-29 and 1951

Tuning and Temperament: a Historical Survey. Barbour, J.Murray 1951

I will be updating this as i am sure i am forgetting many

Monday, March 28, 2016

Diamonds, Lambdomas, and Mt. Meru: The Return of Sacred Objects to a Secular Landscape.

Wilson's Chart of the Mt. Meru/Lambdoma interface

Today, as never before,
we are witnessing an opposition
 not between art and life,
 but between sacral and secular spaces.
-Ilya Kabakov

In the process of my wife, Terumi Narushima working on her book on Erv Wilson's Tuning innovations, the subject of the Partch's Diamond and its origin have come up. What strikes myself is that how this structure seems to have been reawakened in not only Harry’s vision even if through Mayer, but the others to as close relatives. Spontaneously they appear in others such as Novaro (in the same year as Partch, 1927), but also Schlesinger too once one scratches the surface of her subharmonic scales sharing a common tone.  That all this rediscoverering would happen within a few brief years after 2000 years is uncanny and could be seen almost as if the structure had a life of its own. In its former context it was used to please the gods or to represent the celestial clockwork or even as a reflection of political structure.  This Lambdoma returns, but not in the context of an object to be worshipped, but as a something that nevertheless is once again in communication with our secular world. It is within this contact and communication that Partch deserves credit for placing his work and vision. His rituals do not worship these objects, but nevertheless places them within the conversation throughout his own aesthetic objects.

           Erv Wilson firmly explored many of the geometrical properties of various organisations and while publicly he would not attribute anything extraordinary about them, he would always point them out when he ran across them. One of the most common mathematical figures he would return to,  or maybe uncannily repeatedly returned to him was Pascal's triangle which was known in  India where it was discovered 1000 years before Pascal it was known as Meru Prastara.
  1. Mount Meru, the abode of the gods at the center of the universe in HinduJain, and Buddhist traditions
 His first notice of it was in its relationship with his combination product sets. Later he appears to be the first to investigate the additions of the diagonals of Mt. Meru beyond the one known to produce the Fibonacci series. Here he found scales that reflected the practices of various indigenous music that some now found a way to appear in their own rituals.

Wilson's scale tree within the tetrachord showing
 both the super-particular ratios between the notes as well as the two sums of the diagonals.

Later I was fortunate enough to catch and point out to Wilson that Novaro’s series coincided with a reseeded triangle. From this he saw how Mt. Meru was tied to both the Lambdoma and the Farey series. The latter is imbedded in his scale tree, his reinvention of the Stern-Brocot tree. All this represented in the chart shown.

This series starts with the numbers 0/1 and 1/0 from which he described as possibly divine numbers but would not say or define further. One might wonder like myself if they are the infinitely small and large respectfully.  Then is the 1/1 like the "mesocosm" between these infinities. Hence why I have preferred to call my music Mesotonal.

Our relationship though is not in worshipping these structures even though they are probably worthy. They indeed act as forces often universal and beyond our control, even more so to surpass. Attempts to play these megastructures have proven less satisfactory than the material that rest upon them. Thus here they communicate and inform us at a distance  and there is good reason to listen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First "Frequency" Virus Hits Anaphoria. HRZ-432

It didn't take long for a non fatal but extremely debilitating virus  to sweep and fan wide spread panic. " I was just filled with nausea and feelings of vision of no future. I felt stuck with no motivation could no longer eat, especially any food that hadn't been tried before" reported one citizen hit with one of  the worse cases . Without any clear cause, rumors was that finally the island was under attack by hostile forces. Finally it was found that the source lie in an old abandoned mission  recently occupied by followers of La Roche  who seemed to have entered the country illegally. Within the make shift headquarters lie handouts as well as material belonging to a Schiller Institute with plans to launch a variety of other regressive virus. It was found in fact that the sounding of 432hz was having effects of nausea and since the closing of the institute under its strong anti-missionary laws and the removal of the devices sounding 432, Health and progress have returned to the Island. Still the mere mention of the frequency has caused almost instant relapses of nausea.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Riley's 5 limit tuning for "Harp of New Albion"

Riley's 5 limit tuning for "Harp of New Albion"
I had recently replaced my missing copy of Harp of New Albion by Terry Riley and decided to lattice out the tuning which i guess many might have already done. It is interesting in how La monte uses 7 limit intervals to approximate 5 and here we have Riley doing the opposite with the 16/15 over the 15/8 7 cents shy of an 8/7. Riley's use of the tuning is interesting also in that he never uses the 1/1 of his tuning for the tonic, albeit the D of 16/15 could have been also a good choice for the 1/1. Anyway in the context of the pieces it shows how far one can go into new territory with a relative simple 5 limit. I like the choice of the 64/45 giving him two just major scales which he seems to avoid using more than using. If you tuned the row with 5/3 , 5/4 and 15/8, and decided keep it in the same relationship wit h3/2 and 9/8 by lowering thise too, the scale would coincide with the Centaur Scale.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

THE DOWSING POLES- New instrument member of the Meta-Slendro Ensemble

The Dowsing Poles This instrument grew out of a desire to have something like Tubular Bells to add to my ensemble of Meta-Slendro instruments. This tuning is anything but a conventional Slendro encompassing instruments using 12, 17 and 22 unequally spaced pitches in the octave informed by both traditional sources and recurrent sequence mathematics. 
In order to realize such a Tubular Bell instrument and after much experimentation, I decided to explore the possibilities of suspending the tubes in the middle instead of the conventional nodes used on all my other instruments. This produces a somewhat similar sound to the desired orchestral instrument but with even more pitch, making the use of small distances between some pitches in the tuning much more practical and realistic.

Mounting the bars in this fashion was extremely difficult as it a point of balance, but wanted the tubes to be vertical in order to take up less space and easier to play. The present method of tying elastic cord seems to work well but am still not cutting the cords quite yet in order to see how it works after at least a few weeks. Hence why they can still be seen for the time being. This instrument is also quite modular being usable in any or all of the three sections and it allows the tubes to be placed in any order of which is shown here. The sections themselves are also flexible in being placed in a chain of any configuration here conforming to the only flat section on the Anaphorian Embassy grounds. This instrument will get it premiere at the Now Now Festival this Thursday night at 107 Projects