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.
Fr., 19 May, 2017
2pm-6pm Microtonal Talks – FREE ADMISSION
PREVIEWS TO FOLLOW
— 14h Agustin Castilla-Avila (SP/AT)
Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
MICROTONAL AUDIOVISUAL INSTALLATION
(running throughout) Ephraim Wegner, May 2017
––––Mon. 15th May,
8.30pm INTRODUCTTORY CONCERT — FREISPIEL SPEZIAL
Stephen Altoft (Trumpet) & Ephraim Wegner (Live Electronics)
works by Todd Harrop, Casey Hale, Donald Bousted and others.
Concert tickets: 15€ / 10€
Talks, Lectures und Presentations: Entrance Free
Sponsors: Kulturamt Stadt Freiburg, Carl-Schurz Haus, Musik Gillhaus, Sparkasse Freiburg
EUROMicroFest, 18- 20 May, 2017 – Festival Programme:
––––Th., 18 May
8pm Pre-concert Talk: Stephen Altoft, Project Director and Donald Bousted, Artistic Director
8.30pm Christopher Watford (USA), Bassoon + Stephen Altoft (DE/ UK), Flugelhorn
––––Fr., 19 May
2pm-6pm Microtonal Talks
Composers, Musicians, Guests give an insight into the world of microtonal music
8.30pm Microtonal with a beat
Sevish (UK), Composer of microtonal electronic music
Michael Dixon (AUS), Horn
works by Michael Dixon and Donald Bousted
––––Sa., 20 May
6.30pm Keynote Lecture: “Das Kreuz der Verlobten“- the story of a microtonal opera
Christian Klinkenberg (BEL), Composer
8.30pm duo Contour plus:
Stephen Altoft (UK), 19-div Trumpet and Lee Ferguson (USA),malletKat and percussion
Casey Hale (USA), 19-div Guitar, Jan F. Kurth (DE), Voice
works by Casey Hale, Jan F. Kurth and Donald Bousted
Followed by a microtonal Jam Session with Festival Musicians and Guests.
To make a proposal to present to the MicroFest email:
2017 will once again be EUROMicroFest year!
The way it works is that we organise our own event and co-ordinate with other microtonal centres and concert promotors to present a year-long focus on microtonality in Europe.
Our own event is scheduled for 18-20 May, 2017 at E-WERK, in Freiburg, Germany – full details will be released as soon as funding is in place.
If you are interested in being a Partner by organising a conference, festival or concert as part of EMF 2017 please do get in touch: info.microtonalprojects [at] gmail.com
Microtonal Projects offer assistance with advertising through our internet presence and our extensive mailing list, as well as the opportunity to be part of a network, which can benefit – among other things – funding applications.
Should you wish any existing events featuring microtonal music to be advertised on our Facebook page, please do send details.
Our current Partners include the Ekmelic Society, Salzburg, Austria (Salzburg Microtonal Symposium) and the MiCROfest in Zagreb.
For details of our event in 2015 see Forgotten Spaces.