Here's an article from perfect sound forever on 'xenharmonics': has anyone here heard the CD title at the bottom of the page I'm linking to:
I know bits abt harrison and partch but talk abt ppl who are using microtones and doing it now.
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Wednesday, 28 April 2004 21:01 (fifteen years ago) link
― hstencil (hstencil), Wednesday, 28 April 2004 21:02 (fifteen years ago) link
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Wednesday, 28 April 2004 21:05 (fifteen years ago) link
― hstencil (hstencil), Wednesday, 28 April 2004 21:06 (fifteen years ago) link
(I guess its confusing bcz I gave a link that talks abt a person that has died but doesn't seem to be well known bah)
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Wednesday, 28 April 2004 21:11 (fifteen years ago) link
― h kottke-stencil (hstencil), Wednesday, 28 April 2004 23:40 (fifteen years ago) link
― oops (Oops), Wednesday, 28 April 2004 23:42 (fifteen years ago) link
― dlp9001, Thursday, 29 April 2004 01:54 (fifteen years ago) link
― Marcus Barr (Marcus Barr), Thursday, 29 April 2004 01:58 (fifteen years ago) link
Those in the former camp tend to favor tuning systems such as just intonation -- or synthetic systems that allow close approximations of just-tuned intervals. They often write music that is "tonal" in some loose sense, but that's not always the case. My favorite composer in this tradition might be Ben Johnson, who's no youngster; probably I like him because he leans toward the other camp...
... which is where my interests tend to lie. These composers mainly use tuning systems that divide the equal-tempered semitone into some integral number of smaller parts -- commonly, quarter tones, but you also find sixth and eighth tones. Most of the "new complexity" composers -- Ferneyhough, Finnissy, Dench, Dillon, Barrett -- qualify here. A younger composer working in the same tradition is the American Jason Eckardt. These folks on the whole will stick to 12-equal when writing for instruments like piano and mallet percussion (rather than insisting on re-tuning or custom instrument-building); but their writing for winds and strings incorporates microtones as a matter of course.
There's some interesting short essays by composers at the Boston Microtonal Society website; the homepage there is http://bostonmicrotonalsociety.org/
― Paul in Santa Cruz (Paul in Santa Cruz), Thursday, 29 April 2004 02:54 (fifteen years ago) link
Will have to check out more of the names you've mentioned because I'm mostly familiar with the first camp; exploring the basic resonances of direct ratios.
I'd mention James Tenney, specifically 'Critical Band'., from '88, which is extremely powerful. fun Cage quote. Also his 'Spectral Canon for Conlon Nancarrow' (from the Cold Blue compilation), a player piano piece in just intonation; must be heard to be believed but imagine Nancarrow punching a roll for "The Well Tuned Piano" to start.
Also would mention Wendy Carlos' "Beauty and the Beast". Every piece, a different system, she makes it work as music, but there's very little music in the world that sounds even remotely like this album.
Julio: american festival of microtonal music just premiered a great version of Ives' "Universe Symphony", have been enjoying the tape.
I was recently forwarded this interesting syllabus by e-mail acquaintence Dan Stearns: http://meowing.memh.uc.edu/~chris/syllabus.spr.03.html
many things I've yet to check out there. there are some mp3 links too, Dan has an interesting microtonal MIDI piece 'with eyes so blue and dreaming' linked towards the bottom.
― (Jon L), Thursday, 29 April 2004 06:45 (fifteen years ago) link
thanks for the links and discussion.
marcus- I've read abt joe and matt and I'll prob check some of their stuff on hatology, def a gap i need to fill.
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 29 April 2004 10:32 (fifteen years ago) link
― scissors (Honda), Thursday, 29 April 2004 11:08 (fifteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 29 April 2004 12:03 (fifteen years ago) link
Johnny Reinhard, whoever that is.
Of course, I know nothing about music theory.
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 29 April 2004 12:29 (fifteen years ago) link
― BlastsOfStatic (BlastsofStatic), Thursday, 29 April 2004 13:08 (fifteen years ago) link
― echoinggrove (echoinggrove), Thursday, 29 April 2004 13:52 (fifteen years ago) link
― A Nairn (moretap), Thursday, 29 April 2004 14:44 (fifteen years ago) link
Reinhard is the author of the latest realization of Ives' 'Universe Symphony' mentioned above. Very different structure from the Austin realization, can't wait for the studio recording.
― (Jon L), Thursday, 29 April 2004 17:22 (fifteen years ago) link
the new issue of perfect sound forever is just out.
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 30 April 2004 07:24 (fifteen years ago) link
Over two years on and its been a slightly frustrating journey at times - needs more immersion..
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Saturday, 18 November 2006 21:49 (thirteen years ago) link
the Paul in Santa Cruz post upthread didn't make much sense to me until this year, but he's right, it's important to distinguish between the two camps -- those who return directly to the overtone series (just intonationists, spectralists), and those who simply divide the equal tempered 12-note octave down further into 24 & 36 note octaves
the latter group get to retain the tradition of sheet music and all it implies, mainly modulation -- you get a huge range of new notes, and yet you can still easily change keys & write counterpoint when you need to, and it reduces the learning curve -- which means that many orchestras can actually play these pieces.
the former group lose many of these perks when they move to a 19 note or 43 note octave -- the instruments can only be tuned by specialists, played by specialists, often the instruments themselves are uniquely modified. also compositionally, the danger is that without modulation you are locked into a drone pattern, you're not turning corners, foresaking all advantages of the last several hundred years of western composition.
don't lump ben johnston in with the latter group too easily though -- he (with Partch) transcended many of the problems with modulation (somehow), but he writes about the fatal error that the latter group has made -- equal temperament is already a compromise, the overtones are not pure. in william duckworth's "talking music" he goes on passionately about the negative effect of music with impure overtones on mental health, literally attributes the malaise of the modern age entirely on equal temprament (which was only rigorously, finally adopted in the early 20th century after a 200 year slide towards it). many just intonationalists write with near religious fervor about the importance of pure intervals, and you're not going to get that by dividing the 12 note octave again, you're only going to divide an error further
basically a lot of new complexity stuff drives me crazy, what I've heard is brutally ugly -- Finnissy, Barrett, Gloria Coates, it's screeching nausea. many people have that reaction even to pure intervals -- just intonation sounds out of tune to people who've acclimated to equal temprament -- but this is different, it actually just is not in tune -- beautifully complex & fascinating in parts, but it never stops hurting -- perhaps I have to listen more
whereas I find myself learning more towards Gerard Grisey / Dumitrescu / Saariaho / Oliveros / Wendy Carlos / James Tenney / some of the better Murail pieces etc., and of course I am 100% down with a good solid drone piece so all the classic Lamonte Young / Riley pieces are just home for me
― milton parker (Jon L), Saturday, 18 November 2006 23:53 (thirteen years ago) link
Milton, since you mentioned this passage I'm curious to know whether you think there is anything to that?
Well, when I wrote 'frustration' last night I ws just trying to express some of my confused feelings. Its referring to how much I listen to new complexity stuff in comparison to Partch et al -- on the main, its to do with lack of performances. With the NC, I find its related to Feldman, some John Cage and Earle Brown (Wolff less than these but still). And its not some kind of need for "complexity" for its own sake as I'm fine with La Monte Young/some Riley (and Hindustani classical, new simplicity stuff such as Walter Zimmermann's) and there has been no need for performances to open me to it. That stuff is just as complicated, if not in name..
Addtionally, the orchestral tradition is not something I've gone too deeply into, so I tend to stick with ensemble and chamber music as far as they're all concerned. Not only is the density of information in NC is best digested in that way, but there is the density of instrumentation present in orchestral music is something I find harder to get on with at times.
With Partch, there is that ritualistic edge that I find off-putting + I do ache for some variety, the music seems stuck at this unsatisfying drone (as you say, but you're not specifically referring to Partch) so that could explain why am I not so thrown off when Xenakis tries to connect with ancient Greece. I feel there is quite a lot to listen for, and I don't really listen to what he's trying to connect to, as there is no need to.
Plenty of NC follows on from Xenakis, so, since you like him, what is so different? I can see how Gloria Coates can be a bit much at times, but that isn't so much the case with Finnissy and the rest..and the more you hear, I find different concerns (both in the music and around the music) between the NC composers. I'm not too sure there is so much that tie them together other than a need to densify.
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Sunday, 19 November 2006 12:51 (thirteen years ago) link
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Sunday, 19 November 2006 13:01 (thirteen years ago) link
I think there is definitely, absolutely something to that. It's like malnutrition, a fifth in equal temperament sounds great, but it's nothing compared to the same interval in just intonation.
I really threw down the gauntlet, writing off a lot of music I haven't properly listened to -- I really can't say I know Finnissy or Barrett's techniques at all. My main reaction in that post was to trying to make it through that Gloria Coates CD on Naxos, which does simply use quartertones, and I launched into a wider generalization -- but it's true, quartertones may give you more diversity but it still doesn't give you a true C major chord
and I also agree with the basic idea that serialism is for the mad -- the mental states it most effectively evokes are extreme turmoil, anguish, despair, dementia, delirium -- a music that abandons a tonal center and all resolutions is going to do a very precise thing to your nervous system. very intoxicating places to visit, being deranged has become many people's idea of a good time so the emergence of this music makes total sense.
there's also a great lou harrison quote about how 12-tone music is the only music that really sounds good in true equal temperament. and it's no coincidence that true equal temperament and atonality appeared and gained influence nearly simultaneously. this is one of those little understood but absolutely crucial open secrets in 20th century music.
(schoenberg's first atonal piece 1908, william braid white's beat-counting technique for tuning pianos in 1917 leading to the birth of the piano technicians guild, schoeberg's first serial pieces in the early 20's)
― milton parker (Jon L), Monday, 20 November 2006 23:24 (thirteen years ago) link
good article about how all badly we're missing the point when playing 16th-19th century music written for well-temperament in equal temperament -- one of the reasons many modern listeners might find it 'boring' is because equal temperament is so vanilla
Contrary to what you've been taught, Bach did not compose the Well Tempered Clavier to promote the equal tempered tuning system. Equal temperament actually did not come into use until the *20th* century.
I am completely unaware of any recordings of Bach's WTC performed in anything other than Equal Temperament, btw -- fucked up
& this, great article, especially when it comes to the part where it describes them playing Beethoven & Debussy on a well-tempered piano: http://www.radfordpiano.com/historical.html
― milton parker (Jon L), Monday, 20 November 2006 23:45 (thirteen years ago) link
― R_S (RSLaRue), Monday, 20 November 2006 23:48 (thirteen years ago) link
― milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 00:05 (thirteen years ago) link
― milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 00:11 (thirteen years ago) link
― Tim Rutherford-Johnson (Rambler), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 13:11 (thirteen years ago) link
"A term used in particular by Bach (‘Das wohltemperirte Clavier’) to signify a tuning system suitable for all 24 keys. The fame of Bach’s 48 preludes and fugues, two in each of the 12 major and 12 minor keys (in fact only the first book, 1722, bore the title) has led to the mistaken assumption that wohltemperirt was a standard technical term in Bach’s day to designate a particular tuning; and on the basis of this assumption a difference of opinion has arisen as to whether it was equal temperament. Bach’s choice of title disallows any form of regular mean-tone temperament (which would have a wolf 5th) and calls for a tuning well adapted to all 24 keys; but equal temperament was not the only such scheme employed at that time."
The concept of equal temperament was developed and refined through the 18th century, so while Rubinstein has a point regarding 16-18th century music, I think it's a stretch to claim that true equal temp arrived only in the 20th century - most scholars would push it back well into the 19th too: church organs, for example, were being converted to equal temp from the 1850s onwards.
However, La Monte Young's point still holds true since in practice it wasn't until serialism (or at least free atonality) that players were expected to ignore the compromises of equal temp. In practice players of any instrument (except keyboard instruments, xylophones, glockenspiels etc, and harps) bend pitches very slightly off equal temp according to context - an A flat in A major is going to sound different to a G sharp (it'll be played slightly flatter), even though in equal temp they're theoretically the same note. There's no science to it though.
― Tim Rutherford-Johnson (Rambler), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 13:31 (thirteen years ago) link
Haha, that's great. What are the quintessential works of serialism? I know a lot of the names but I'm not sure what which of their pieces fall under the umbrella.
― Edward III (edward iii), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 14:21 (thirteen years ago) link
This will be hard for me to confirm, but I remember reading that one of the very early editions in the late 19th century contained the flat-out assertion -- later editions were more circumspect, but only after the error was taught for decades. I'll try to find the reference (perhaps it's in my copy of Wilkinson's Tuning In)
Equal Temperament as a concept certainly existed before Bach, but was difficult to implement because it was so difficult to force everyone to tune to intervals that were so minutely off -- it was just too hard to tune in Equal just by using your ears. You're absolutely right that various post-Werckmeister Well-Tempered systems were competing with Equal Temperament the whole time, I didn't mean to say it arrived instantaneously in 1917 -- it was a slow, bitterly argued contest through centuries, with Equal Temperament making intense headway in the 19th (as composers were expanding tonality to the breaking point), and making a final coup in the 20th once it was taught how to tune by counting the beating patterns.
It was after that coup when the historical revisionism set in, positing that even Bach used Equal, and by the time people started making recordings of pre-20th century classical, it was almost entirely recorded in Equal -- listeners acclimated. I read about how each key in Bach's WTC evokes a specific mood when actually played in Well -- and I can only read about it. We could use another thread where people recommend their favorite recordings of classics in historical tempraments.
I think there's a serialism greatest hits thread in the archives, I usually recommend Schoenberg's 'Suite For Piano Op. 25' as a starting point because a) it's great b) it's surprisingly tuneful c) unlike many 12-tone pieces, you can kind of hear the process. I like Glenn Gould's version, he plays Schoenberg like Bach.
― milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:41 (thirteen years ago) link
There must be a well-tempered recording of the WTC somewhere (would take weeks to record with all that retuning though!). Try Googling for a "well-tempered version" of the "well-tempered clavier", though ...
― Tim Rutherford-Johnson (Rambler), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 11:32 (thirteen years ago) link
Thanks, Tim - I'll listen to this at some point.
"and to Julio, what I was trying to say was -- I have no problem at all with New Complexity, I have a hesitance to accept quarter-tones / eighth-tones as a solution, I love most of the other names you've mentioned, the new Earle Brown CD reissue on New World is completely incredible"
Gotta get that - Earle is almost the forgotten composer from that quartet. Brown is part of an older complexity. And I'll just add that I do like many others that you mentioned, for different reasons and to different extents, with my favourite being probably Tenney. But I do think there is quite a bit of interchange, hence it really becomes important to play these alongide each other in a more imaginative program, something I seldom encounter in classical music recitals. xp
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 11:34 (thirteen years ago) link
Hmmmm..I recall something like that, can't find it tho'. Incidentally, Lou has, I think, composed several works using those procedures, this includes a piano suite that I've not heard it so correct me if I'm wrong.
"Gloria Coates, it's screeching nausea."
Well, late last night I did put on my copy of her string quartet CD (of two on Naxos, its nos. 1,5,6) (Kreutzer, who also recorded a great CD of Finnissy's quartet music on Metier). And er..what i kept thinking ws how she ws trying to capture (in a million different ways) a feeling of sea-sickness (not that I've been on a ship) in every single one of these, so 'screeching nausea' is pretty accurate! I've read one interview with her where she's very much against serial music..not sure as to whether its a solution for her, or more to do with a very personal style. I got an odd feeling, a mixture of enjoyement/annoyance/boredom while listening, which is what I look for a lot of the time, it interests me..
I'll do some more listening and return to a few more points if I can.
(I'd be very intersted in hearing a "well-tempered version".)
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 12:08 (thirteen years ago) link
I think the idea is, a single tuning suffices -- Bach wrote the WTC to take advantage of the specific moods of the differing intervals of each key, so that each piece is very distinct
I found the reference to the Grove's error, and unsurprisingly it's Kyle Gann's article on historical tunings, a lot of which is obviously the source for my posts on this thread: http://www.kylegann.com/histune.html
at the end of which, Gann points out Robert Levin's recording of the WTC -- I just ordered book one. Gann also lists the two Enid Katahn CDs on Gasparo, which I have, the Beethoven one is very subtle, the Six Degrees of Tonality one is a lot more striking
from Gann's article:
Because it determines what sounds good, tuning has a pervasive influence on compositional tendencies. Every piece of pitched music is the expression of a tuning. Meantone encouraged composers to use major and minor triads, to avoid open perfect fifths without thirds, and to not stray more than three or four steps in the circle of fifths away from a central key. Renaissance and early Baroque music played in meantone sounds seductively sweet and attractive. By playing it in modern equal temperament, we do violence to its essential nature. Perhaps that's why this repertoire is no longer often heard. It's been painted over with the ugly gray of equal temperament.
Playing Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier in today's equal temperament is like exhibiting Rembrandt paintings with wax paper taped over them.
― milton parker (Jon L), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 20:36 (thirteen years ago) link
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Sunday, 4 February 2007 13:33 (thirteen years ago) link
what we really need, and what I've been unable to find anywhere, is a list of recordings of 17th to 19th century classical music that actually performed in historical tuning systems instead of equal temperament. It's a tragedy. You can get a little ways by googling for names of pieces + 'werckmeister III', but... there's not too much out there, and not too many people even know to mention it...
I did order the Robert Levin recording of WTC book I mentioned in my last post. It's enjoyable. The Ottavio Dantone WTC book I & II on Arts Music, though -- they are beyond belief, so well recorded it's surreal -- it captures everything, profoundly beautiful.
I also forgot that I had Johnny Reinhard's American Festival of Microtonal Music Orchestra's 'Early' CD which has two Brandenberg's in period tunings. It's a live concert / room recording, but it's a good disc.
― milton parker (Jon L), Sunday, 4 February 2007 23:39 (thirteen years ago) link
― milton parker (Jon L), Sunday, 4 February 2007 23:42 (thirteen years ago) link
― milton parker (Jon L), Sunday, 4 February 2007 23:47 (thirteen years ago) link
You mean Period Performance and so on, yes?
Not a lot on tuning..but its a wiki page. xp
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Sunday, 4 February 2007 23:50 (thirteen years ago) link
My comp professor met Partch one day and, after being friends with Cage and Feldman and the rest of 'em, says that Partch was the weirdest motherfucker he will ever meet.
He also told us to bring our drugs to the final.
― the table is the table (treesessplode), Monday, 5 February 2007 04:54 (thirteen years ago) link
― milton parker (Jon L), Monday, 5 February 2007 19:51 (thirteen years ago) link
Very much correct on the 'indiefication' of everything. So is the line about 'understanding even less the standard repertoire', among other things.
Having listened to some Babbitt, and when I heard that B ws into early jazz and broadway tunes that made sense - the odd jumpy passage that makes it onto his work for violin and piano, for example. I feel this aspect makes it onto his work, even if unconciously.
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 11:31 (thirteen years ago) link
― xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 11:35 (thirteen years ago) link
I must check out the Dantone WTC - thanks for the tip.
― Tim R-J (Rambler), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 12:06 (thirteen years ago) link
― Phil Knight (PhilK), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 15:46 (thirteen years ago) link
Thread Microtonal jazz has had new posts, with some distinctly non-jazzy tracks by ILEVENS and Sevish.
Just after this page's last update in '07...
one legendary group took party rock to strange new places. (with thanks to https://www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?showall=true&bookmarkedmessageid=206&boardid=41&threadid=59934 )
'Van Halen really screws up "Jump"'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXPM6d9IdiY
I can’t tell which is funnier, this long-hated cheesebag-anthem turned into a much more interesting, atonal mess in front of thousands of paying customers or the hilarious soldiering on of the Van Halens as they look at each other from inside the trainwreck. Eddie tries to transpose on the fly and match the wildly fucked up keyboards but the great thing there is the difference in pitch is non-musical – about 1.5 semitones sharp. So there’s no frets he can choose to fix the problem! – (RW370)
― sbahnhof, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 10:16 (five days ago) link