UnTwelve's 1st annual composition competition

Our competition came to a close on October 24th with two winners in a tie, Andrián Pertout (Australia) and Petr Pařízek (Czech Republic). They will be splitting the winning $400 prize. It was an very exciting event for UnTwelve, and it was an honor to hear such diverse and wonderful new music. Congratulations to the winners and all the contestants for a great contest, and to our judges for lending their expert ears and opinions.

The winning pieces:

Sesenta cuatro campanas by Andrián Pertout listen|notes
Dinepome's Adventure by Petr Pařízek listen|notes

We also had 3 other finalists:

Alcestis' Depature from Lemon Island by Andrew Allen listen|notes
5-10-15 by Paul Rubenstein listen|notes
Little Suite in 19 by Donald Craig listen|notes

Andrián Pertout's piece, Sesenta cuatro campanas or ‘Sixty-four Bells’ represents an attempt to explore the harmonic series as a structural framework for composition with a direct relationship to the rhythmic and harmonic implications of the numerical aspects of the series. All the necessary pitch material for the work has been produced via the detuning of one single Schoenhut model 6625, 25-key toy piano C4 (middle C) sample within the internal memory of an Akai S3000XL Midi Stereo Digital Sampler. The sample tuned firstly to standard A=440Hz twelve-tone equal temperament, to be then readjusted, enabling the capture of the frequency ratios of the first thirty-two partials of the harmonic and subharmonic series. The resultant sixty-four samples then digitally transferred (via optical cable) to a digital audio editor PC software environment (Sony Sound Forge 8.0), where they are further subjected to digital sound processing modifications, and assembled in accordance to their polyrhythmic specifications. For example: the first partial (1/1) equals 1 in the time of 1, or one breve; while the third partial (the otonality 3/2), 3 in the time of 2, or three breve triplets; and its complement (the utonality 4/3), 4 in the time of 3, or four dotted minims. The samples are finally organized into four subgroups (within Sony Acid 4.0) individually implementing a dynamic curve made up of 2.0dB increments and a unique panning scheme, while also dividing the odd- and even-numbered partials of the harmonic and subharmonic series. The fact that the scheme is centered at the thirty-second mark, and that unique identities are odd-numbered essentially produces a sixteen-bar structure with a demarcation of a seventeen-note 31-limit simultaneous sonority at the core.

Andrián Pertout was born in Santiago, Chile, 17 October, 1963, and lived in Gorizia, Northern Italy for several years before finally settling in Melbourne, Australia in 1972. In 2007, he completed a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at the University of Melbourne on Tweddle Trust, Australian Postgraduate and Melbourne Research scholarships, studying composition under the guidance of Brenton Broadstock. Composition awards include the Dorian Le Gallienne Composition Prize, Betty Amsden Award, Louisville Orchestra Prize (USA), Oare String Orchestra Judges’ and Audience Prize (UK), Michelle Morrow Memorial Award, and the Zavod Jazz/Classical Fusion Award. He is currently the Australian delegate of the ACL (Asian Composers’ League), Secretary of the Melbourne Composers’ League, Honorary Fellow at the Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne and on the Board of Directors at the AMC (Australian Music Centre).

Andrián's music has received performances at festivals such as the ISCM World Music Days 2005 and 2007 (Zagreb, Croatia and Hong Kong), 33e Festival d'Automne á Paris (Paris, France), XIII and XV Festival de Música Contemporánea Chilena (Santiago, Chile), and the 22nd, 26th and 27th ACL Conference & Festival 2002, 2007 and 2009 (Seoul, Korea and Wellington, New Zealand). His music has also been performed in Taiwan, Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Japan, Venezuela, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Peru, China, Croatia, Hong Kong, France, USA, Belgium, Chile, Italy, Slovenia, Canada, Republic of Macedonia, UK, Netherlands, Austria, Korea, and Australia by orchestras and ensembles that include the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, The Louisville Orchestra (USA), The Foundation Orchestra (USA), Orquestra Petrobrás Sinfônica (Brazil), La Chapelle Musicale de Tournai (Belgium), Oare String Orchestra (UK), Ónix Ensamble (Mexico), Ensamble Contemporáneo (Chile), Quinteto CEAMC (Argentina), Sonemus Ensemble (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Sori Ensemble (Korea), Omni Ensemble (USA), and the Ensemble für neue musik zürich (Switzerland).

Petr Pařízek's piece, called Dinepome's Adventure was a tie win. In Petr's words:

"This composition was the result of a quest for rank 2 temperaments which could acceptably approximate 5-limit intervals with scales explicitly containing consecutive intervals of more than 100 cents. The entire recording has been run through a dense and loud reverb effect to stress the general characteristics of the scales used. The word Dinepome is an abbreviation for "diaschismatic, negri, porcupine, meantone", which are the temperaments used in the piece." You can hear it here

Petr Pařízek is currently a student at the department of composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Brno, Czech Republic. Prior to that, he studied piano and flute playing at the Jan Deyl Conservatory in Prague. He has performed his works either at concerts of his own or, until 1997, as a guest with the Czech composer and music theorist Daniel Forró. His primary interests include theory of harmony and tunings, acoustics, DSP audio effect maths, links between acoustics and music, composing electronic music, or phonology of foreign languages.

Donald Craig's Little Suite in 19 uses 19 equal steps to the octave. I was interested in exploring the different ways the pitch material could be used, from very traditional tonality to cyclic interval sets. There are four short movements. The third harks back to the first, suggesting a kind of rondo form for the suite as a whole. The pieces were composed using Finale and then exported as midi files. Using my own software, the midi files were processed to create the sound files.

Donald Craig has just completed is Doctorate in Music Composition at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He has studied with Joel Durand, Kenneth Benshoof and Richard Karpen, and most recently with Juan Pampin. He also plays guitar and has studied with Steven Novacek. His dissertation was a large visual music work, for which he developed his own software. He has a strong interest in equal temperaments and plans to use them in his ongoing visual music projects.

Paul Rubenstein's 5-10-15 has two alternating sections, one which uses 15 tone equal temperament, and one which uses ten tone equal temperament. There is a melody common to both parts, in five tone equal temperament, which ties the two together. The instruments used are the electric saron, which is composed of a series of steel rods suspended over a two-foot long, humbucking, electromagnetic pickup and struck with mallets, the m'birangi, a series of plucked tines with an electromagnetic pickup, a 15 tone equal temperament guitar, a 10 tone equal temperament guitar, drums and percussion. The reverberation effect is achieved by running the mix through an amplifier set in front of a gong, with a contact pickup on the gong to record the vibrations of the gong. The gong-reverb track slowly gets louder as the piece progresses.

Paul Rubenstein is a microtonal composer who invents most of the instruments he plays, which include electric, stringed instruments, some of which are bowed and/or plucked, or motorized in various ways for automatic play. Others are various types of electric, tuned percussion.

Paul received an MFA in music-as-art at Bard College, studied composition at Cornish College of the Arts, and holds a BA in psychology and philosophy from SUNY Binghamton.

Paul's philosophy in regards to tuning is capsulated in what he likes to call, “eleutherotonality”, which is essentially the idea that all possible intervals are valid tools for expression. Rubenstein's work has included explorations of various equal tunings, and lately non-equal microtonal tunings, some of which may be random in derivation.

Paul is also an educator, teaching kids in the NYC public school system how to build movable-fretted electric guitars, and how to compose and improvise microtonal music.

Andrew Allen's Alcestis' departure from Lemon Island: In Greek Mythology there is a story in which King Admetus receives immortality from the Gods. However, this immortality comes with a price, and the king must find a replacement for himself when death comes calling. After much fruitless searching, he cannot find a single willing participant, at which time his wife, Alcestis, steps forth.

Where I am from, in South Carolina, there are many coastal islands and saltwater marshes. Along the most southern tip of Beaufort lies Lemon Island, a reclusive island in a marshland that seems to stretch for miles in any direction, where time is suspended and seemingly unmeasurable. I discovered this place while exploring the pathways of the ACE basin during the summer of 2007. When I first arriving, I felt a deep spiritual experience that is very hard to explain, of which I've been trying to understand since.

This piece is built off of a tuning system of which I refer to as the "Golden Scale", derived from the Fibonacci sequence.

Scale Degrees
1/1 2/1 3/2 5/3 8/5 13/8 21/13 etc.

Andrew Stewart Allen has a strong voice in the new music of his generation. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe. He has received international recognition for his solo, chamber, orchestral and electronic music. He completed a Masters degree in Composition at the Eastman School of Music, which included research projects focused on developing software for computer-assisted music and analyzing Japanese traditional musics. He is currently pursuing PhD studies at the University of California: San Diego.