Friday, January 3, 2014

A 19 tone extension of Centaur for Strings- Silenus


While my Centaur tuning was originally designed for 7-limit ear training back in the days when electronic means were too unstable to use, it has been imposing itself in recent years for a variety of projects. The occasion for this has been in having to write for ensembles to play music in another tuning but one that is also manageable to those not specializing in such things.

 One such project was for the Australian group, Ensemble Offspring and it soon again became useful in composing a String Quartet to be work shopped in Aberdeen. The latter had its real premiere last Nov. in Los Angeles by a string quartet led by Melinda Rice. As I invited to do another piece by Melinda as well as a another group, Locana, which includes a cello and violin, a new question arose: is there a 7 limit tuning that preserves the open string tunings in fifths yet gives some of the basic material also found in Centaur.


Since a shape of an interval learned on one string easily translates to another, the limitation to 12 pitches was unduly restricting. Hence the next point where things fell into a nice shape was with a 19 tone scale which differs by only one note from one worked out by Terumi Narushima in a lesson. Since the context is its use with strings, certain options present themselves as easily transposed from one string to another.