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analysis and Tonescape video of Ben Johnston: Quartet 9

[Joe Monzo]

© 2013 by Joe Monzo

Johnston, Quartet 9, 2nd movement, perfomed in Tonescape

On this page I present an analysis of the 2nd movement of Ben Johnston's 9th Quartet, accompanied by a Tonescape video of the piece.

The 2nd movement is in a classical scherzo-trio-scherzo (ABA) form. Each of the main parts (A and B) is divided into two sections of 14 measures each. Each section is repeated when appearing for the first time, then Johnston directs the players to perform the A section again without repeats to conclude the movement.

The tuning of the 2nd movement is 17-limit extended just-intonation for the scherzo (A) section and 15-odd limit / 13-prime-limit ji for the trio (B) section. The scherzo (A) section uses exclusively otonal ("major") harmonies, and the trio (B) section uses exclusively utonal ("minor") harmonies.


movement 2, part 1, section 2
[1-14, i.e., entire section]: 1/1-o    1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15-17

movement 2, part 1, section 2
[1-2]     : 3/2-o    1-3-5-7-9-11-13
[3-4]     : 6/5-o    1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15
[5-6-7]   : 27/25-o  1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15-17
[8-9]     : 36/25-o  1-3-5-7-9-11-13
[10-11]   : 9/5-o    1-3-5-7-9-11
[12-13-14]: 1/1-o    1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15

movement 2, part 2, section 2
[1-14, i.e., entire section]: 5/4-u    1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15

movement 2, part 2, section 2
[1-2]     : 5/3-u    1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15
[3-4-5]   : 4/3-u    1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15
[6-7-8]   : 10/9-u   1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15
[9]       : 25/18-u  1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15
[10-11]   : 5-3-u    1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15
[12-13-14]: 5/4-u    1-3-5-9