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Microtonal Music Discussion

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E8 Heterotic
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Microtonal Music Discussion

Postby E8 Heterotic » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:45 pm

Has anyone here listened to, performed, studied, or written music which lies outside of the Western 12 evenly spaced notes per octave paradigm? For the purposes of discussion, historical tunings like meantone temperament and Pythagorean tuning can also be considered, though they're usually not considered microtonal.

For those of you who don't know, microtonal music uses "notes between the notes." In the modern Western system, there are 12 notes, each spaced evenly. This is known as 12 tone equal temperament (12 TET) or 12 equal divisions of the octave (12 EDO). This system is used in almost all modern music, even in non-Western countries which didn't historically use it. It works fairly well, but it does have both flaws and limitations.

1. In actuality, there aren't just 12 pitches in an octave. There are infinitely many. Practically speaking, there are still far more than 12 pitches that the human ear can distinguish. This leads to all kinds of new scales and chords.

2. In addition, the 12 EDO system has a flaw in that major thirds are pretty badly out of tune. This is due to a compromise between good fifths and good thirds. The historical quarter-comma meantone temperament goes for perfectly tuned thirds, while Pythagorean tuning goes for perfectly in-tune fifths. The system of 12 EDO is in-between these extremes, but it errs much closer to Pythagorean tuning than quarter-comma meantone.

3. There are also plenty of (reasonable) upper harmonics that aren't addressed at all. The 7th harmonic (for C the 7th harmonic is a Bb that is about a third of a half-step flatter than 12 EDO.) is absent altogether, as are the 11th and 13th harmonics. The 7th harmonic is common in barbershop quartet music, and it also appears in jazz and blues in the form of "blue notes" which require pitch-bending on acoustic instruments. The 11th and 13th harmonics are simply brand new sounds that aren't similar to anything within the common Western cannon, but they are still consonant and in-tune.
Last edited by E8 Heterotic on Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Antidawetid
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Postby Antidawetid » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:03 pm

I've listened to Arabic and Turkish music a few times. In particular I quite enjoy Turkish music, where a full tone is divided into 9, and when written down, has some interesting notation:
The numbers in the second column indicate the number of 1/9 tones that the note is modified by.
Image

I have also come across a piece of software for Turkish music, which is designed also for other microtonal music, where you can even adjust the frequency (in Hz) of the notes of every line/space of the staff.
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E8 Heterotic
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Postby E8 Heterotic » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:10 pm

Antidawetid wrote:I've listened to Arabic and Turkish music a few times. In particular I quite enjoy Turkish music, where a full tone is divided into 9, and when written down, has some interesting notation:
The numbers in the second column indicate the number of 1/9 tones that the note is modified by.
(Image)

I have also come across a piece of software for Turkish music, which is designed also for other microtonal music, where you can even adjust the frequency (in Hz) of the notes of every line/space of the staff.


I believe Turkish music now uses 53 TET/EDO. In this system, the perfect fifth is almost exact and indeed, one step of 53 EDO is 1/9 of the whole step, which is about 4 cents wider than the 12 EDO whole step. 53 is an interesting system, but it must be tricky to work with the entirety of it. I do most of my work in 17 and 34 EDO. 17 is quite easily managed, and 34 can be treated as 2 copies of 17.

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An Alan Smithee Nation
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Postby An Alan Smithee Nation » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:04 am

Here is some I just found. Sounds a little like gamelan music to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVZy9GUeMqY

Odd how it doesn't sound wrong or out of tune just different.

A whole playlist
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35ZTvwQ ... 37CD808D1C
Last edited by An Alan Smithee Nation on Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:12 am, edited 1 time in total.


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