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


Anon said...

Very cool, and beautiful.

In music theory we learned about relationships between notes (for example, perfect 5ths) and chord progressions that are very common in Western music and just seem to work for the 12-tone equal temperament scale. The most common progression being, of course, I IV V I.

Can you apply these concepts to other scales? Do you create a new set of relationships and progressions for each scale? To what degree is there a "theory" for microtonal composition? Or do you just go with what sounds right?

Daniel Thompson said...

You ask some good questions. Much of music theory is based on centuries of common musical practice. There have been a large number of tunings in use during this time such as just intonation, Pythagorean tuning, mean tone temperaments, etc. Our twelve tone equal temperament is a relatively new invention. So the music theory of today can be applied to many different microtonal tunings, although there are some limits.

I find 26 tone equal temperament to be an interesting case. It doesn't really have a strong historical precedent, but you can apply basic music theory to it. On the other hand, you can use it in more exotic ways that don't correspond well to more traditional tunings.

This piece contains unfamiliar intervals and chords, but they can be easily related to more familiar tunings and can be treated in similar ways. In my second organ study, I'm trying to depart further from conventional theory.

When I write microtonal music, I try to think more about the why than the what. I try to think of why people make music in certain ways and try to analyse what happens when familiar interval are altered. Even small differences in familiar intervals can produce dramatic differences in how they can be used or perceived.

In an effort to be brief, I will say that I don't think there is an adequately descriptive theory for either microtonal or non microtonal music. There's a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of room for further exploration.

Prent Rodgers said...

Very nice, as always. The timbre variations make for more drama. It could be longer with the extra variation now.