We have re-shot the videos from our old website introducing The Microtonal Trumpet. Here’s the first, which introduces the concept of the trumpet as ‘natural’ microtonal instrument.
We are delighted to be partners of this International Symposium on microtonality – SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL. The full programme is attached and the quality and range of presentations speaks for itself. Held at the Mozarteum University Salzburg, this has got to be an event not to miss for microtonalists. Curated and organised by microtonal guitarist and composer Agustín Castilla-Ávila of the International Ekmelic Music Society.
Casey Hale is an American composer, guitarist and musicologist living in Bristol, UK. He received his doctorate in composition from the City University of New York, where his research explored improvised music through the lens of cultural studies. His compositions have been performed by the American Symphony Orchestra, Da Capo Chamber Players, and TRANSIT ensemble, among others, and his recent efforts have
HERE IT IS! Full EUROMicroFest programme!
The story of the opera: Marie Solheid and François Reiff are probably the most famous victims of the High Fens (Hohes Venn), a huge moor area in the Ardennes: In the summer of 1870, during the fair in the village of Jalhay, Belgium, two young people meet. Soon, they are yearning the wedding. In January 1871, Marie and Francois make their way to Xhoffraix, Maries birth-place, in order to get her marriage papers. But then they’re surprised by a severe snowstorm. Weeks later, on March 22, 1871, the body of the 24-year-old Maria Solheid is found …
19th May, 20.30 E-Werk
Sevish’s influences are varied. 90’s rave and drum’n’bass. Mid-20th Century electronic music like Wendy Carlos and Raymond Scott. Smartypants dance music like μ-ziq, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and all them lot. Gamelan. Minimalism and extremely repetitive music. And also music which has no repetition at all. Field recordings and all sounds in their entirety. Ambient and drone music. Video game soundtracks—with a soft spot for Sega Genesis FM sounds. Funk. 80’s club music. Modern day xenharmonic music such as Jacky Ligon, Brendan Byrnes, City of the Asleep, Elaine Walker and many others. Jazz. Ancient music. The traditional music of various peoples and other earthlings. Glitches. Breakcore and other -cores. Prog, space, or psychedelic anything. Hip hop and beats.
DONALD BOUSTED has 3 new video works being performed at EUROMicroFest 2017. SHELL and SOFT are premiere performances. GRASS-SAND-WOOD has recently been first-performed by solo horn player Michael H. Dixon in Sydney, Australia and he is travelling to EUROMicroFest 2017 to give the European premiere.
SHELL and SOFT have common points of departure; they are part of a tranche of work which attempts to look ‘in detail’. They wish to present their subjects – shells found on a Norfolk beach and a female body – with emotion, intensity and intimacy. SHELL, written for bassoonist Chris Watford is in 72-div and SOFT, written for the flugel horn of Stephen Altoft, is in 48-div. However, neither solo part is in strict equal temperament and both scores require the player to adjust ‘by ear’ to the pre-recorded parts. These pre-recorded elements use Native Instruments’ Absynth and Kontake to generate a range of scales which mix equal and just intervals.
SOFT features a 13-note scale and a 22 note scale which repeat at the minor septimal tritone (582.512 cents). These are irregular scales based on a ‘softening’ of the equal scale divisions to their nearest just interval. Also present is a scale based on 10 equal divisions of the 5:4 or just major third (i.e. steps of c.38 cents). The competing tensions of closeness, stability and dissonance form the basis of the gently moving flugelhorn horn part which moves in and out of tonic focus.
SHELL has a simpler design. There are three scales ‘selected’ from the 72-et chromatic which the soloist explores through 5 short sections. These contrast, in the accompaniment, with 3 scales based on equal divisions of the just perfect fourth. Nine divisions at c55 cents; 6 divisions at c.83 cents; and 5 divisions at c.99 cents.
GRASS-SAND-WOOD is a triptych of linked ideas. It’s a personal exploration of looking close, both visually and aurally. The presentation, however, is rather more expansive than in the shorter works SHELL and SOFT.
When you lie in a field of grass and you slowly turn your head, each view is different. Move a few feet and everything looks completely different again. The world looks and feels different from this near perspective: from afar, grass ‘looks green’; close, there is movement, there are things to see, a range of colours, insects, imperfections, anomalies and undulations. In GRASS, I wanted to record the essence of the simple act of looking close and – in so doing – pay attention to the remarkable change in one’s state of mind which follows. In SAND, the returning tide is recorded on a Norfolk beach; the speed is surprising, the result of a very gently sloping shoreline. In WOOD, the act of looking close engages the imagination in a different way: we could believe that we are looking at majestic outcrops of rock or deserts of dried mud, but if fact we are simply looking close at the bark of trees.
The music in GRASS-SAND-WOOD is made from polymicrotonal scales, mostly derived from equal subdivisions of just intervals. In GRASS many scales are used but most derive from the equal subdivisions of the just major third and the just perfect 4th. SAND only uses one scale – based on the subdivision of the sub minor tritone (551.316 cents). WOOD uses a selection of the scales used in GRASS but with one or two additions, most notably divisions of the just minor third.
The compositional approach is exploratory and improvisatory. Images and sounds build together, one providing inspiration to the other.
Chris Watford opens EUROMicroFest 2017 at E-Werk on Thurs 18th May. On Fri 19th May he is giving a free talk about the Microtonal Bassoon.
Here’s something about Chris, his recital programme and a description of his talk:
CHRISTOPHER WATFORD is a Boston/New York based bassoonist concerned with the expansion of the instrument’s capabilities. Praised for bringing “smooth varnish” (The Boston Globe) to his performances with a “clear consistent tone,” Watford works to advance the instrument’s relevance within varying contexts. As a specialist incontemporary music, his performances pursue the limits of extended techniques, microtonality, and electroacoustics, with a focus on extreme sonic identities and the exploitation of the instrument’s acoustic peculiarities. Watford has worked closely with many leading composers including Pierluigi Billone, Salvatore Sciarrino, Tristan Murail and Franck Bedrossian, and has commissioned and premiered numerous works exploring the range and potential of the instrument. He is a member of Boston’s acclaimed new-music sinfonietta Sound Icon and appears regularly with ensembles throughout New England and New York. Watford is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and the North Carolina School of the Arts.
The Microtonal Bassoon – a demonstration of the bassoon’s microtonal potential as well as an examination of key methods/issues of execution and notation. Drawing on music by Pierluigi Billone, Liza Lim, Joseph Maneri, and others, the discussion will explore the bassoon’s relationship to three specific microtonal systems: ¼ tones, 72 note, and “inherent”intonation (irregular scales derived from the instrument’s natural microtonal structure). The talk will address issues for both composers and performers on approaching microtonal writing for the bassoon.