Thursday, September 26, 2019


It has  been desirable to be able to play chords on a mallet instrument in a fashion similar to what can be done on Harry Partch's  Diamond Marimba and Quadrangularis Reversum where one can scrape a mallet downward as in the former or upward in the latter to arpeggiate a full harmonic or subharmonic hexad.
What is presented here preserves this spirit of being able to scape  triads that mimics the 6-7-8 harmonic triads and it inversion . This scale which can find within Wilson's Meru scales found here
It can do so in multiple octaves and while preserving the conventional low to high arrangement of tones.  The layout coincides with Wilson's  3/5 keyboard which is constructed from his gral keyboard guide found here

This scale forms also a 17, 22, 27, 32 and 37 tone scale where it fills in the gaps as close as one can get to an equal system. This same arrangement can still be used by adding each new set of five tones  placing them below each of the ranks of bars. One could also apply this to a tempered version where the bottom set of pitches were duplicated at the top in the appropriate place making an instrument where each triad and its inversion could be easily played.

This post has been edited to replace this image below. The layout above has been chosen over this one since in the 17 tone version which i am making it places the added tones up above and the more common notes down below. Since i am using xylophone bars it is quite easy to make the bars sound so finding it easy to arpeggiate either up or down. Also i am finding that pentatonic like  arpeggios are quite nice sounding so extra happy with these lay outs.

Monday, April 23, 2018


As an island nation of exiles and foreigners, the assumption has always been that the genetic makeup of the Anaphorian people would be as mixed as the world at large. Well, surprise surprise. We now know this not to be the case.  DNA expert Jonathon Grasse of the Panpsychic Institute who has spent the last three years taking samples of any and everyone has come up with results no one expected, especially him.  Grasse found a universal set that seemed to be present in all inhabitants. Enough suspense! Here are his results. 

Escaped Cultivar 37%
Non-glacial Erratic 29%
Bee 17%
Bore Tide 13%
Antidote of Aether 3%

The remaining 1% seemed limited to the following almost exclusively.

Meru Aloe 
Moss of Vale
Alluvial Fan 
Igneous Rock
Redwood Tree
Galician Porcupine

It is worth noting that there is a group in the Anaphoria midwest who identify as totally Bee even though this DNA was no higher than the rest of the island. Despite this, there is, and there has been no problem with their widespread universal acceptance islandwide.

Grasse said he was humbled in how helpful everyone was with some volunteering their own time to help and in even providing transportation to some of Anaphoria's most remote locales. Asked how he happened to pick Anaphoria as a place to investigate " he said he wasn't quite sure, but thought it might be his own DNA, "Apparently I’m 41% igneous rock, 32% redwood tree, 18% Galician porcupine, and 9% midwestern United States redneck." 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Composition for Composers #1

Composition for Composers #1
These compositions seek to address the situation where there are more worthy composers than concert space can accomodate.

Nuclear Simphony #1

for 2 to 18 composers

There are 5 movements maximum in a performance each involving following number of composers. Each movement can be performed separately

Movement A-5 composers
Movement B-2 composers
Movement C-3 composers
Movement D-2 composers
Movement E-5 composers

The following is determined ahead of time.
the instrumentation
a set tempo throughout.
the tuning or tunings

Each movement can be between 90 seconds to approx. 7 minutes.

The composition is constructed in three steps.

A. The construction of a nuclear melody.
The nuclear melody is composed with each composer adding an equal part to the melody in rotation (from 1 to 4 notes) . The goal should be to maintaining enough simplicity for subsequent lines to later be written without disrupting the flow. Multiples of a quarter note with a half note being the common unit. The melody ends when a composer chooses to end for their turn.

B. Once the nuclear melody is written each composer determines where they are going write and where they are going to rest with beginning and ending points coinciding with the nuclear melody. this information is shared between composers and composers are allowed to modify their decisions.

C. final parts are written by composers  and shared either before or in rehearsal with the inserts of further rest allowed and minor changes.


Nuclear Simphony #2 for percussion
(two versions - pulse based or time based)

for 3 to 16 composers each writing for one percussion player.

The following is to be determined in advance:
A.The instrumentation based on available percussion instruments.
B. The number of movements (1-x) each with a set tempo or time scale

This composition is based on the idea of a nuclear melody except of rhythm. The next step is instead of having a set rhythmic point that is shared by all,  rests or silences are used instead

The composition is constructed in three steps.
A. Taking the set tempo or timescale, each composer in rotation composes points or spans of rest in which will remain silent during the piece. If a pulse is present, A rest should be at least one beat long. A composer chooses the ending of the piece instead of inserting further rest. 

B. Each composer composes their own section incorporating these areas of rest.

C. upon comparison before or during rehearsal slight modifications of each part is possible.
New party pieces
For any number of composers
starting at the end each composer composes a bar of music plus 2 notes of the preceding measure. and exquisite corpse in reverse.
The Curved Space of Tetrachords
for any number of composers
(two possible versions)
live version:
instrumentation is determined beforehand.
each composer picks a tetrachord in a specific range and composes up to 20 seconds of music using it solely. volume is determined by the duration with ………..
each composer chooses the duration of rest following it up to 30 seconds afterwards. Pieces are played back in random order.

electronic version:
Each composer picks a tetrachord in a specific range and composes and records it

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

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

Bach and Tuning. Johnny Reinhard 2016.

Harmonics and Spirals. Neil Haverstick. 2016

This list also covers much of a Just Intonation nature that best is seen there as opposed to copying.
I will be updating this as i am sure i am forgetting many