Program notes for the 2012-2013 competition
Jason Yerger (United States of America) - 1st prize
Program notes: A math-metal song composed on a 15-edo electric guitar, with several tracks of overdubs and programmed electronic drums.
Bio: Jason Yerger, aka Igliashon Jones, does not identify as a microtonalist per se, but sure loves the heck out of 15-edo. Born in 1982, he has been playing guitar since age 13, drums since age 16, and has played these instruments in many bands. He has composed solo music under the aliases "City of the Asleep", "Graycier", and "Pixel Archipelago", almost all of which is available for free on various online music sites. He lives on the West Coast and is trying to figure out how to make gluten-free beer for a living.
Alex Wand, Brendan Byrnes (US) - 2nd prize
The Plain of Jars
Program notes: In this piece, Brendan Byrnes (co-composer) and I aim to create a context where unfamiliar harmonies are heard as consonances and the last chord sounds like a resolution.
Bio: Alex Wand is a composer originally from Michigan, and has studied at the U of M School of Music and CalArts with composers Bright Sheng, Michael Fink, Ulrich Krieger, and Wolfgang von Schweinitz. He finds value in learning about non-western music, in particular, North Indian, Eastern European, Spanish, Brazilian and Mexican traditions. He finds value in storytelling, often in the form of a song, or as music for film, animation, and dance. He is interested in the fields of acoustics and just intonation and also finds them to be valuable sources of inspiration. Together with these influences, Alex incorporates an element of folksiness in his music. He sings and plays guitar, sitar and other various stringed instruments and performs in the bands Light in August, Three Thirds and Our Brother the Native.
Osnat Youssin (Israel) - 3rd prize
The morning of the birds
Program notes: This is remapped (mathematically speaking -permuted - in completely probabilistically random way) known piece of music (guess what), reoranged for flute-harp-marimba-tubular bells and recorded. Can be played alone or with digital pianos playing all of it or just one-two voices octave or two lower. Permutation is a reoranging notes of a scale (extracted from a piece) in other way, so the permuted music has the same structure , rhythm, and also consistently changed harmony. After such permutation, the scale of the piece was remapped to "maqamlar" - a 9-notes based scale (in intervals 2power1/9) in the octave, which in turn was somehow smoothed to 24 quarter tones system. Three 3/4tones diezes instead of diezes, so it is simple mapping of just those pitches on even acoustic piano (augmented F#,C#,G#)
Bio: Osnat Youssin, www//youssin.4t.com born in Moscow, graduated from Hebrew University Jerusalem, Have studied in lots of other places in Europe, USA, flute player, software engineer, computational linguist etc.
Nicholas Cline (USA) - Honorable Mention
Homage to La Monte Young
Program notes: Homage to La Monte Young explores the sounds of guitar feedback and noisy amplifiers. The 60-cycle hum permeating the American soundscape provides the creative impetus and harmonic material for the work. This homage stems from La Monte Young's Composition 1960 #7 (B and F# 'to be held for a long time'). Robert Palmers also encapsulates this idea in his essay, “The Church of the Sonic Guitar.” “But an electric guitar, properly tuned to resonate with everything from the [concert] hall’s acoustics to the underlying 60-cycle hum of the city’s electrical grid, is forming its massive sound textures from harmonic relationships that already exist in nature…”
Bio: Nicholas Cline is a composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music. His compositions have been performed in the US and Europe and his collaborative film projects have been screened at prestigious festivals around the world. He was featured on the 2012 SEAMUS electroacoustic miniatures recording series: Re-Caged. Other musical pursuits include building experimental instruments, transcribing Calypso songs, and playing the mandolin. He previously studied at Columbia College Chicago and is currently pursuing an MM in at Indiana University. His principle teachers include Aaron Travers, Don Freund, John Gibson, Jeffrey Hass, Ilya Levinson, and Sebastian Huydts.
Sean Archibald (United Kingdom)
Neon Tetra Elemental
Program notes: This piece in 23-edo is titled "Neon Tetra Elemental." Stylistically it would fit under the umbrella of drum & bass, though it breaks a lot of conventions, for example the piece is fairly dynamic on the macro-scale. I hear this piece in three distinct sections. The first is primarily ambient, utilising a reversed recording of an orchestra tuning-up, mapped to a subset of 23-edo, plus other sounds. The mood is dark, revealing little 23-edo tonality to the listener at this point. The latter part contains frantic drum programming over distorted bass. The middle section (2:42) brings light, though is ambiguous in mood. 23-edo is a good place to find these ambiguities. In the final section (3:53) two contrasting modes of 23-edo are used simultaneously: 3343334 and 41441441. There is a vibe of nostalgia and ecstasy.
Bio: Sean Archibald is a computer musician from the UK. Currently he is close to completing his bachelors degree in audio & recording technology. He also runs a little online record label (netlabel) which specialises in upbeat microtonal tunes, split-notes. For about 4 years now, Sean has produced a number of recordings of his own xenharmonic music. His work with microtonal techniques is mainly due to passion and a love for the sound of ear-bending, nutty harmonies and melodies. But while microtonal intonation is an integral part of his sound, there is also an emphasis on sound design, syncopated dance music rhythms, and bass. A short self-description of his style would be "armchair rave."
Vicente Barrientos-Yepez (Mexico)
Program notes: The piece was written specifically for the UnTwelve Competition of microtonal music. The process used is the data transcription from the 3D image of the "Virgin of Guadalupe" which is found in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico, City. The data from the 3D vectors were translated into MIDI parameters: X= Time, Y=Pitch and Z=dynamics. The final step was to create motives with the MIDI data obtained from the image and the orchestratation of those in a Strings Orchestra tuned at 24 EDO (or TET), and in the creation of the melody of the soprano which sings the Ave Maria pray in latin. If someone open the audio of the piece in a spectogram in logarithmic view, could be able to see the image of the Virgin in the frequencies spectogram.
Bio: Vicente Barrientos-Yepez born in Salamanca, Guanajuato, Mexico. He realized his musical studies in the National School of Mexico, The "Mozarteum" Salzburg and the IRCAM in Paris. His music have been presented in different festivals like: Gaudeamus Music Week, IBLA Grand Prize, Forum IRCAM, Festival Cervantino, among others, and have been performed by the Dutch Radio Kamer Orkest, Mozarteum Orchester, OSA, OBC and OSUG. He have received grants form the ICEG in 1996, 1999 and 2004, from the National Funds for the Culture and Arts of Mexico in 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2010. Actually he is member of the National System of Arts Creators of Mexico, and works as Artistic Director of the Camerata del Desierto in Mexico.
John Coutts (Australia)
Program notes: In the highlands of Madagascar there is a tribe that has rarely been in contact with the outside world known as the Zongoozie. Very little is known about them. Many explorers have gone in search of them but few have returned. It was thought that these explorers were probably victims of cannibalism or offered as sacrifices to whatever god it is that the Zongoozie worship. However recently an explorer unexpectedly reappeared, having been missing for nearly 20 years. He claimed that the Zongoozie were not cannibals, nor did they human sacrifices to their god. "It was nothing like that," he said, "we were just having such a funky time we didn't want to leave. You see, the Zongoozie just jive all day and well into the night. Everything they do revolves around dancing and grooving to funky music and the sacred number 53." On his advice the Madagascar Government passed a law forbidding contact with them for fear that they would be infected by diseases such as smallpox, hepatitis and 12 tone equal temperament.
Bio: John Coutts was born in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. He learnt clarinet at school and became interested in alternative tuning systems and musical composition while studying Mechanical Engineering at Melbourne University. Three years ago, due to frustration in the lack of flexibility in Midi based music he started writing a computer program which he named 'Schismata', which was used to write "Zongoozie". He lives in Melbourne with his two daughters and works as an Automation Engineer.
Donald Craig (USA)
In The Gallery
Program notes: 'In The Gallery' is a kind of theme and variations, but is also loosely inspired by Mussorgski's Pictures at an Exhibition. There are nine short pieces, each in a different equal temperament. In order, these temperaments are 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 29, 31, 51, 53. The 11 and 13 are paired in the similarity of their material, as are the 19 and 31. The theme is a simple 'diatonic' melody that manifests itself in one form or another in all the movements. The sound synthesis was done with SuperCollider and any material that was generated algorithmically, was done in common lisp.
Bio: Donald Craig earned is DMA in Music Composition from the University of Washington in 2009. He has studied with Joel Durand, Kenneth Benshoof, Richard Karpen, and Juan Pampin. He also plays guitar and has studied with Steven Novacek. His dissertation, "Symphony By Numbers" was a large visual music work, for which he developed his own software. He developed the software for the latest artworks of Eunsu Kang (http://kangeunsu.com), recently shown in Seoul and New York. He won Honorable Mention at the 2011 Punto y Raya Festival (http://www.puntoyrayafestival.com/premiados11_eng.php) for his work of visual music "Midnight at Loch Ness." He has a strong interest in equal temperaments and plans to use them in his ongoing visual music projects.He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and his website (still under construction) is here: http://realizedsound.net/rhomboid
Todd Harrop (Germany)
Program notes: Static and quiet, for four voices. The title is meant to evoke ancient monolithic figures, isolated, mysterious sentinels to time. The piece does not reflect contemporary knowledge of Polynesian culture nor of the famous moai statues. Beginning, middle and ending are in Bohlen–Pierce tuning, however, within the first half intervals are compressed by 20, 40 and 20%; second half stretches intervals by same pattern. Made possible by dividing the 3/1 'tritave' into 65 steps instead of 13, akin to extending a 41 edo scale past the octave to the perfect twelfth.
Bio: Canadian Todd Harrop has recently moved from Montreal to Hamburg and continues to play percussion and compose music in his new home. Last year he performed in Maribor, Slovenia before taking a residency in Banff, Canada. 2013 shall see him touring Germany to première a work by André Cormier and as a drummer for the Plumes Ensemble.
Matthieu Jacquot (France)
Your reflction in the mirror will never see you
Program notes: The piece for 2 keyboard mixes a 72-edo and a Slendro scale. Even if it is for 2 keyboards, 3 pianos are used, the second and the third one are controlled by the same keyboard and they receive the same MIDI data. The volume of the 3rd piano is controlled by the player with a foot pedal. Poetically, the piece attempts to describe the state of loneliness where a character tries to communicate with his own reflection in the mirror, his expectations grow till he breaks the mirror and sinks in a state of total desperation.
Bio: Born in 1983, in La Rochelle, a small harbor on the Atlantic coast of France, Err0r_500 (Matthieu Jacquot) is an electro-acoustic composer living in Paris, France. He is highly influenced by Japanese music and Zen philosophy. For a long time torn between the modern occidental composers he admires and the music that naturally comes to him, the electro-acoustic approach is a way for him to explore the details and subtleties of a limited musical material to attempt to create a rich and organic work rather than seeking complexity . Actually, he considers that even if his work uses some very technical tools and often requires a very long non-musical programming prelude, it must never be lost sight of the poetical end. His works have been featured in several avant-garde/experimental/noise compilations and festivals. He's also a classically trained guitarist, he has received a formation as a sound engineer and has deep interest in programming languages, network security and privacy concerns. His artis
Ian Jickling (USA)
Program notes: 'Then Spring' was composed by taking a recording of a single note from a guitar and looping it back at different rates simultaneously. This causes the pitch to change relative to the speed, which creates a polyrhythmic texture that further illustrates the various pitch relationships. The piece uses a simple 12 note, 5-limit scale, and makes use of the effects of playing harmonic modulation within a just intonation scale. The piece begins outside the home key and then moves through different harmonic areas until it finally ends with the original 1/1 note. Due to the unevenness of the scale, as the underlying harmonies shift, the piece also undergoes subtle changes in tempo and rhythm.
Bio: Ian Jickling was born in Washington, D.C. and is residing in Bloomington, IN at the moment. Ian has a B.A. in Ethnomusicology from Indiana University and is currently continuing his studies there, pursuing a M.M. in Classical Guitar Performance. He has been studying composition on his own for several years with a primary interest in electronic and microtonal music.
Peetah Kosmorsky (United States of America )
Program notes: Very good music! Essentially 13-limit intonation, although not as adventurous as that might suggest. That's a direction I'd like to go in more. Hm, in retrospect the first part's a little fast: why not change it? Past deadline. Whoops.
Bio: You can interview me when I don't win! I am indeed a very, very mysterious musician.
Lewis Krauthamer (USA)
Go Down That Hill (Piedmont Rag No. 1)
Program notes: Background: I composed this piece about a year ago with the intention to submit it in this competition. It was not completed in time, so I've taken the liberty of submitting it a year late. It has not yet been performed, nor has it been submitted to other competitions, so I hope it still qualifies. Instrumentation/tuning: three acoustic steel-string guitars (microtonal scordatura / normal fretboards) plus optional additional instrument(s) (at the performers' discretion). All three guitars tuned as follows: String 6=E, String 5=A minus 33 cents, String 4= C# plus 33 cents, String 3=F#, String 2=B minus 33 cents, String 1=D# plus 33 cents. The piece was written in a traditional Piedmont Blues/Ragtime style, a musical genre which is very important to me since I'm from the Piedmont region of the East Coast. The piece is a few seconds shy of four minutes-- but I think you will find that this is compensated by the highly contrapuntal and rhythmically active nature of the music.
Bio: Lewis Krauthamer was born in New York but grew up in Wheaton, Maryland. After completing his undergraduate studies in composition at the New England Conservatory and the Longy School of Music, he left for France, where he obtained a Master's Degree in musicology from the Universite Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne. Lewis' music has been performed by many soloists, chamber groups and orchestras, though in recent years he has concentrated on composing for guitar (solo and ensemble music). Lewis has received numerous awards and grants as a composer, most recently from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Meet the Composer (New Music USA). Lewis currently lives in his home town of Wheaton, Maryland, where he composes and teaches music privately through the Music and Arts Centers and Lessons In Your Home.
Curtis Macdonald (Canada/USA)
Prelude and Improvisation for Lo Shu
Program notes: Inspired by the mathematical phenomena of the Lo Shu magic square, an expanded set of 81 discreet tones with a single-digit sum of either 3, 6 or 9. A modern interpretation on an ancient numerological system. “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have the key to the universe.” – Nikola Tesla
Bio: Curtis Macdonald is a Canadian-born saxophonist, composer and sound designer based in Brooklyn, NY. He has been informed by several artistic practices as part of his quest for a broader context in which to present his work. Staying close to one of the most desirable artistic communities in North America, The Banff Centre for the Arts, has unmistakably left a lasting impact on his philosophy on the creation of music. “The exchanges I have with musicians, choreographers, filmmakers, sculptors, engineers, mathematicians and digital artists whom I’ve met over the years continually influence the music I produce.” Curtis’ influences can be heard on many new music and modern jazz recordings where he organizes improvisation, sound art and digital technology, drawing inspiration not only from traditional approaches, but also transcendental and other philosophical models. http://curtismacdonald.com/
Claudi Meneghin (Switzerland, Lombardy)
Program notes: A Fantasy for two organs in subminor C, made up by four movements: a short introitus, in the style of the Catalan 'Sardana'; a one-minute chaconne; a 3-in-1 canon over a ground bass and a six-part fugue. The latter incorporates fragments of a classical Catalan sardana ('La Santa Espina'). Septimal minor thirds and harmonic sevenths mostly characterise the tonality of this neobaroque piece. Also, the divisibility of 50 by 5 is exploited in the very structure of the canon: each part repeats, after four measures, the preceeding one two diatonic semitones higher (i.e. the fifth part of an octave in 50-edo); thus, the tonality of the canon raises of such an amount every four measures, coming back to subminor C every twenty ones. The same algebraic feature is used in an analogous way in one of the episodes of the fugue too, whereas the other expositions mainly use classical contrapuntal techniques. It is also used in the introductory chaconne. Tuned by Scala, implemented by Timidity++. Soundfont: Jeux14.sf2.
Bio: Claudi Meneghin was born in Milan on 1967-07-14. He started to study classical guitar at the age of eight and organ at the age of twenty. He was awarded a MSc in mathematics in 1995 and a PhD in mathematics in 2001. At present, his official name is "Claudio Meneghini", turned however into its Swiss Romansh equivalent by the composer himself.
Andrew Milne (UK)
Program notes: A song in the TOP-tuning of the srutal temperament (Erlich 2006). Composed and performed by The Stern Brocot Band: Andrew Milne (AXiS-49 with Relayer and Virsyn Tera), Simon Rolph (voice), Vassilis Angelis (drums), Anthony Prechtl (guitar), Simon Holland (bass). For this piece we were joined by Anna Berry (backing vocals). The piece was engineered and mixed by Jim Hoyland at The Open University Music Research Studio. The microtonal tunings were produced with Relayer driving the Virsyn Tera synth with MIDI pitch bend. All other pitched instruments were auto-tuned -- when necessary -- to conform to the required tunings.
Bio: The principal composer is Andrew Milne. He is a researcher in music cognition specializing in mathematical models of tonal perception, and develops a suite of Dynamic Tonality software that facilitates interaction with microtonal tunings. He has been in numerous experimental post-rock/experimental bands from the 90s, and is interested in the intersection between improvised and composed music. He became interested in composing microtonal music in 2008. Having experimented with differing MOS scales and temperaments, he claims the constraints inherent in each such system seems to inspire different types of music. Andrew favours working with real human musicians in a band context. For microtonal music this presents challenges - e.g., frets! Fortunately auto-tune can come to the rescue. Simon Rolph was the secondary composer - providing the vocal melody and lyrics. Simon is an animator and singer currently living in Geneva. All band members made their own unique and irreplaceable contributions.
Joshua Musikantow (USA)
Program notes: In "Small Feets", I use foot pedals to make fine adjustments in the tuning, hence the title. The combined use of foot pedals with a conventional keyboard makes using larger scales (in this case, 94edo) performable.
Bio: Joshua Musikantow (b. 1981) has had compositions performed in England, France, the Czech Republic, and the United States. Hailing from Chicago, he has resided in the twin cities for the past 6 years. Writing for both acoustic and electronic mediums, the hallmarks of his musical language are explorations of non-traditional tuning systems, use of unorthodox and originally developed techniques as primary resources rather than extended ones, frame drumming, and an aphoristic approach to musical forms whereby many semi-autonomous moments populate a larger, fractured cosmology. He was a recipient of the 2011 JFund award for his work, Lisp. His piece, Comma, was a winner of the 2012 Zeitgeist call for scores. His music has also earned him various academic honors and featured spots in festivals, including PureGold, SPARK, Etchings, CASMI, Interlochen Composers Institute, and Oregon Bach.
Ben Richter (United States)
Program notes: DESTABILIZATION employs a constant transition in all parameters. While there are intervals between voices at any given moment, there is no distinct series of pitch relationships, but an endless sliding between pitches. The 1/1 drone is in constant motion, so in effect an infinite number of harmonic relationships are present. Similarly, there is no distinct tempo or timbre, but a constant squeezing or stretching of time, an always-shifting stream of color, and constant change in dynamics, locus of sound, and so forth. Constant change makes any one harmony or color instantaneous and ephemeral; all aspects are always shifting. In the audience, this effects a perceptual destabilization in which, unable to distinguish a series of relationships, we must be "taken along" by the waves of sound. I hope this experience is therefore a moving one, in the literal sense, as lack of structural steadiness invites us instead to flow freely.
Bio: Ben Richter is a composer and accordionist from New England. His music is concerned with consciousness and transcendence, the intersection of memory and imagination, and the evolution of worlds and beings, focusing on the immersive totality of musical experience. Ben Richter is the founding director of Ghost Ensemble, dedicated to performances of experiential and experimental music. His principal teachers include Pauline Oliveros and Kyle Gann. Most recently, alongside work with Ghost Ensemble, he has worked with S.E.M. Ensemble under artistic director Petr Kotik.
Prent Rodgers (USA)
Program notes: This piece is scored for flute, vibraphone, cello, guitar, finger piano, and voice. The scale is derived from the notes most commonly used in remarks made by Hillary Clinton at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee . She says: “Honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the the fact is that”. Her intonation is fascinating, at least to me. When I analyzed the pitches used in “honestly” and “answer” they were all over the place. I made a list of all the pitches and found 26 unique 72-EDO tones. I ended up with these 12, and have been playing around with them to tease out their unique characteristics. This is a rich scale. There are many different pitch steps from one note to the next, from as few as 3 to as many as 9 72-EDO steps between notes. There are lots of major an minor triads, with a surprisingly frequent perfect fifth.
Bio: Prent Rodgers studied music with Henry Brant at Gunnar Schoenbeck at Bennington College, and with Pauline Oliveros and Bernard Rands at U.C.S.D. in the 1970's. I compose in microtonal scales and orchestral instrument samples using Csound and a preprocessor I wrote in Pascal. He lives in Mercer Island with his family.
James Ross (USA)
Program notes: In this piece, there are two ensembles of guitars: a group of five that plays sustained tones using an Ebow, and a group of four that plays plucked tones. Each part is a loop in its own time cycle. The length of each cycle, measured in seconds, is always (with one exception) a prime number. As a result, the loops go out of phase with one another as they play, continually producing new combinations. The piece begins with the Ebow guitars, each playing a composed set of chords. About one-third of the way through, the plucked tones enter, build in intensity and then take over the texture. These parts are improvised according to simple instructions and produce chaotic patterns, in contrast to the regular orbits of the drones. Pitch material is based on an open-string guitar tuning (from low to high): 1/1, 9/8, 5/4, 45/32, 3/2 and 7/4. Harmonics at the 7th fret yield tones one octave and a 5th higher: 3/2, 27/16, 15/8, 135/128, 9/8 and 21/16. 1/1 (lowest tone) = 72 Hz
Bio: James Ross is a guitarist and composer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., he has studied guitar at the University of Pittsburgh and the Mannes College of Music in New York City. He has studied sitar with Pandit Krishna Bhatt, and is currently studying North Indian classical music and composition with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. Recent performances include sets at The Bell House; a performance with Kyle Bobby Dunn at Issue Project Room; at; providing live music for Katherine Liberovskaya and Ursula Scherrer’s OptoSonic Tea series at Diapason Gallery in Brooklyn; and at Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center as part of the guitar ensemble for Rhys Chatham’s “A Crimson Grail.”
Nicholas Shaheed (United States)
17edo Piano Duet
Program notes: This piano duet uses a driving, rhythmically and dynamically charged style to demonstrate the power of the 17 equal temperament scale. Soon it transforms into a softer, more delicate exploration of the harmonic possibilities of the scale.
Bio: Nicholas Shaheed is currently studying music composition and computer science at the University of Kansas.
Vincenzo Sicurella (United States)
Marblemuss Meets Armodamo
Program notes: This is an electronic in 16 notes per octave that depicts the meeting of two eccentric characters, Marblemuss and Armodamo. The piece explores interesting yet simple chord progressions with catchy rhythms.
Bio: Vincenzo Sicurella is currently a Sound Recording Major at Ithaca College. His microtonal music interested sparked in his sophomore year of high school upon discovering the Bohlen-Pierce system. While his works are not very expansive, his motivation to compose is still going strong, and does plan on finishing a lot of currently unfinished projects. His future plans are making a 16-tone trumpet, working at a recording studio, and spreading the joys and quirks of microtonal music.
Xo Xinh (USA)
Program notes: "Duodecim" is written for classical guitar, using Just Intonation tuning system, and live electronics. The piece explores the tonal relationship and the interaction between the acoustic instrument and the computer. The sound of the guitar is recorded and played simultaneously with different real-time signal processing techniques without using any pre-recorded materials. Certain variations are triggered by the frequency and dynamic of the guitar sound, and the amplitude of the electronic sounds determines their own panning.
Bio: Xo Xinh (b. 1978) is an active composer, improvisor, music educator and electronic musician in the Bay Area, California. Most of his works aim to re-contextualize the essence of traditional instruments through spectral processing and interactive manipulation of the acoustic sound by the computer, as well as to explore the transformation of traditional music through the contemporary and experimental medium. His main interest and passion is to experiment the new sounds and new techniques that are able to merge the old with the new, the tradition with the contemporary, while mending the gap between them sonically and musically.