Michael H. Dixon, horn

Michael H Dixon, horn player, gives a recital at EUROMicroFest 2017 on 19th May.  Earlier in the day he presents a free talk about composing in just intonation for the horn. Born in New Zealand in 1961 Michael learnt piano with his grandmother and horn with his father. Michael has held full-time positions with a number of Australian orchestras including Principal Horn in Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra. Michael is now plays regularly with the Opera Australia Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with most orchestras in Australia including the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Ludovico’s Band on natural horn. Chamber music credits include his ensemble LOCANA and Omega Ensemble. Teaching is an important part of his work with schools in Sydney including Inaburra School, tertiary institutions including Australian Institute of Music (AIM). In 2011 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong after having previously been awarded an MPhil in composition from the University of Queensland and MMus in Musicology from Griffith University. Composition is a significant part of his musical life. He has written for a variety of ensembles along with songs and percussion works. A considerable number of his compositions include intervals from the harmonic series, extended just intonation. His music is published by Wirripang Pty Ltd (www.australiancomposers.com.au). In 2015 Michael launched CHIME Music College with a focus on exploring the language of music.

He will be starting the recital with some of his own works:

This Need Not Be I & II (5′) for horn
Silver Art Upstream (4′) for horn
Our Days (3′) for horn and electronics

The compositions for the recital are essentially short songs. Melodies and presented with a backing track of the harmonies which are overdubbed. The harmonies are written using standard voice-leading and common tones to move between chords which are extended to 13-limit just intonation.


Michael talk, beginning at 17h is called, Tuning the Horn: composing and performing in extended just intonation. Michael will outline three processes of writing for a standard (french) horn. The first is to simply write the music with an expectation that the performer can make the tuning adjustments required. The second is to provide some technical suggestions and the third is to prescribe all details of the techniques including valve slide adjustments along with anticipated embouchure or right hand adjustments. Michael will present examples of these approaches and demonstrate some of the harmonic possibilities the instrument can offer up to professional level playing without expectation of virtuosity.

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