Frank J. Oteri - Spurl


SPURL systematically explores all possible hexachords within an octatonic aggregate consisting of the 8th through 15th partials of the overtone series. This compositional conceit is clearly indebted to serial procedures and the rhythmic shifts are also inspired by Elliott Carter’s metric modulations. The resultant music, however, sounds minimalist and is obstinately tonal as a result of the clearly audible harmonic implications of the intervallic relationships between these eight pitches. In Roald Dahl’s 1949 short story, “The Sound Machine,” a man is driven mad by a contraption he builds that enables him to hear sounds that occur in nature which had heretofore been impossible to perceive. The following passage from the story was on my mind throughout the compositional process: "A flower probably didn't feel pain. It felt something else which we didn't know about—something called toin or spurl or plinuckment, or anything you like."

Tuning information:

8-tone 13-limit just intonation (based on the 8-15th partials)

Composer bio:

Frank J. Oteri’s compositions, some of which employ alternative tuning systems, combine emotional directness with an obsession for formal processes. His music has been performed on five continents in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and the Knitting Factory in New York City, Conservatory Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China to Seattle’s PONCHO Concert Hall, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. In addition to his compositional activities, Oteri is the Composer Advocate at New Music USA and the Co-Editor of NewMusicBox, a web magazine he founded which has been online since May 1999. A recipient of ASCAP’s Victor Herbert Award (2007) and the Composers Now Visionary Award (2018), Oteri was recently re-elected to a second term on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM).