A New Recording of Organ Study #1

Jon Lyle Smith graciously offered to produce a new recording of my Organ Study #1 in 26 tone equal temperament. He used contrasting pipe organ sounds to accent different sections of the piece. He also employed his audio production skills to make further enhancements. I think it is a great improvement over the previous version. I intended this piece as a study in the combination of an interesting tuning with the powerful sound of the pipe organ. I think this new recording does a great job of further exploring these sonic effects.

See also:
Jon Lyle Smith's Zebox page
The original Organ Study #1


Slow Dance in Thirteen Tone Equal Temperament

What happens if you add an extra note to the common twelve tone scale? Well, if you space these thirteen notes equally within the octave, you get a tuning that is very dissonant and very unlike anything you may be familiar with.

Some have even concluded that this infamous thirteen tone equal temperament is the worst possible tuning! This kind of assertion just makes me want to explore this tuning even more. I really don't believe it's the worst. I actually consider it to be one of my favorites, although I'm willing to admit it can be difficult to work with at times.

Slow Dance in thirteen tone equal temperament is one of the first microtonal pieces I have worked on. I have tried to make a soft and gentle piece that contrasts with the ideas that many people have about this tuning.

I played this once for a friend. It was actually a version played with a different sound, so it sounded more dissonant than this one. He claimed he could hear it with his deaf ear. We were both pretty shocked by this. We tried several other microtonal pieces, but none of them had this same effect.

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time working on this piece. It's still not how I want it. I find the strange dissonances to be compelling, but they make for difficulties with production. I would like to add extra parts, but they always seem to clash with what is already there. Maybe, after I've gained more experience, I'll be able to return to it and expand upon it.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy this little glimpse into a very exotic tuning. Click here to listen.

X.J. Scott has written some excellent pieces in thirteen tone equal temperament. You can find them near the bottom of this page.


Experimental Music on the Radio

Well, this is a first for me. My Organ Study #1 in 26 edo was included on an experimental music radio show this past weekend. I always thought it would be cool to be heard on the radio, but realised that there aren't many opportunities for experimental microtonal music.

I'm glad that the airwaves aren't entirely dominated by the more popular and commercially successful types of music. This particular show airs in Southern Illinois, but regardless of where you live, you can download an mp3 version of the show at the excellent Startling Moniker blog. This is great place to learn about and hear a wide variety of experimental music. I am a big believer in exploring the frontiers of music and listening to things that may be somewhat difficult to understand, but can broaden your horizons. If you feel the same way, there's enough there to keep you busy for a long time.


Wendy Carlos Discusses Microtonality

New Music Box has posted a fascinating video interview with Wendy Carlos, one of the great pioneers of electronic and microtonal music.

Wendy Carlos has explored many historical, ethnic and experimental tunings. You may also want to visit this page where she discusses microtonality in greater detail.