4/19/2007

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.

3 comments:

X. J. Scott said...

Hey Daniel, I like this piece, it's real delicate and a completely new mood for 13.

13 is such a weird and wacky blast to experiment with. Thanks for the mention.

Laura said...

The slow dance is beautiful. It has a kind of exotic feel to it, hard to place but I might not have found it too odd even if I hadn't known it was in 13. Delicate and mysterious and a pleasure to listen to.

Now I really want to experiment with 13 and other tunings. :-)

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