Mission Statement of UnTwelve

The dimension of pitch in music (how high or low a certain musical sound is) remains largely tied to a standardized set of 12 notes. This is akin to a painter being stuck with only 12 standard colors.

Now is an exciting time to do microtonal music: alternative tuning practices are experiencing a Renaissance, but also perhaps a crisis:

  1. New musical theories for tunings are in a state of high variety, bearing more musical scales than any one could grasp in a lifetime. The revival the Xenharmonikon journal speaks to this variety.
  2. More and more tools, instruments, and interfaces are coming available, with examples ranging from the adoption of MIDI Polyphonic Expression to novel non-digital creations such as Jacob Barton's udderbot and Wesley Hick's microtonal ocarina.
  3. A plethora of microtonal rock bands have begun to spring up 1 2 3 4, and classical instrumentalists are more open-minded than ever to work on music in new tunings (in part because microtonal work today is built upon the results of experimental compositions made in the Twentieth century).
  4. Recordings from those early days of microtonality are being shared at an increasing rate (two examples).

Granted, the exploration of non-standard pitch systems is often (correctly) regarded to be heavily resource-intensive, a somewhat risky pursuit for a professional musician at any stage of their career, and biased toward maths geeks.

In light of these dynamics, UnTwelve currently sees its mission as an effort to reverse this characterization in the following ways:

  1. commission and promote the creation of new microtonal work, with an emphasis on pedagogical use;
  2. connect composers and performers who share this unique interest, that their individual burdens may be lightened
  3. increase the ease of access to the means to produce microtonal work, with an eye towards who is currently being excluded;
  4. close the educational gaps that lie between traditional musical education, acoustics, and microtonal theory; and
  5. promote live, real-time, and aural interaction over canned, digitally-mediated, or visually dominated experiences.
1 January 2019
Jacob A. Barton
Ralph Lewis
Aaron K. Johnson
Christopher Bailey
Bruce Hamilton