OTONUTON SCALES

For people that spend time in the world of new music, especially in academic circles, one of leading themes of the last several decades has been alternative intonations systems – that is, tuning systems other than the standard western scale known as twelve-tone equal...

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THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

Many years ago, I conceived and built an instrument that I called Bentwood Chalumeau. It was a type of glisssando clarinet, a precursor of the instrument that I now call ‘moe which can be seen in this site’s instrumentarium. It had an unusual pitch control system,...

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OVERTONES HARMONIC AND INHARMONIC

I very much enjoy unusual musical tone qualities, including ones in which the pitch-sense of the tone is ambiguous or fickle. In a companion essay  to this one I spoke about being attracted to sounds in which elements of identifiable pitch are blended with...

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THE TERRITORY BETWEEN CLEAR PITCH AND PURE NOISE

What is it about some sounds that gives them clear pitch, while other sounds come across as pitchless noise? The simple answer is that pitched sounds have a steady repetition rate, or frequency, that the ear can pickup up on and identify. Noisy sounds are more chaotic...

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ORIENTATION OF THE OSCILLATION

This aspect of musical instrument design isn’t always talked about, but I encourage instrument makers to take it into consideration, because it’s often instructive and illuminating. For many string instruments and idiophones, it can be useful to think about direction...

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SYNTHESIS vs SAMPLING

It’s interesting to notice that several decades back, in an earlier era in electronic music, there was a great deal of energy and excitement around synthesis – that is, the creation of sounds, either new or imitative, by building them from scratch, using electronic...

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SLOPPINESS

Most of the music in the world today uses a particular type of musical scale known as twelve-tone equal temperament. At the same time, for the last several decades in contemporary music circles there’s been a resurging interest in other intonation systems, both...

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SCALE AND TIMBRE

Since his death the American composer Harry Partch has had a profound impact on contemporary music, at least in academic and intellectual circles. His main contribution has been that he got people thinking about tuning systems in ways that were missing and much...

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