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Microtonal, just intonation, electronic music software Microtonal, just intonation, electronic music software
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2005-04-14 at 12:00

Just Intonation Network Concerts

An Email from Prent Rodgers suggests that we consider podcasting instead of "webcasting". We are looking into it. We are interested in a live audio-visual format because of the improvisational aspect of our work at the Sonic Arts Gallery. The live process must be shown to others. We are working with new scales, new mappings and the like, so it is almost impossible to pre-think the music as a conventional composer does.

Prent was a member of the ID (improvisation development) Project back in 1975-1976. We were a group of musicians and dancers who created our own instruments and presented our mostly junk band type of music around Southern and Northern California. Prent was one of the most prolific inventors, creating the electro-acoustic percussion board idea that Tom Nunn continued to develop. He also created the "balloon flute", the "aeromembranophone" and had his own take on the "megalyra" that Ivor Darreg invented, and a 31 EDO Bosanque (generalized keyboard) finger piano inspired by Erv Wilson and the George Secor-Motorola Scalatron. Some of his instruments are featured in Volume II Numbers 2 and 3 (spring/summer 1980) double issue of Interval Exploring the Sonic Spectrum which will be featured in a later Microbeat.

Tom Nunn has developed his art in the San Francisco Bay area since leaving San Diego in the late 70's. He has invented many electro-acoustic percussion boards and "Crustations" (thin steel plates resting on balloons with welding rods attached that are bowed and excited in different ways). He has helped develop the San Francisco improv scene in the Bay Area and has played in various groups with cellist Doug Carroll.

Their music is completely freely microtonal without reference to any specific pitch structure except the TRodimba, a percussion board made of threaded rods and tuned to Toms "octatonic scale". This is made of successions of whole tones and half tones making eight to the octave. We at Sonic Arts have mapped this scale onto the synthesizer using 19 EDO, and find it very useful. Tom's book Wisdom of the Impulse is the best book on improvisation.

Speaking of the Bay Area, the Just Intonation Network is presenting the 20th Anniversary Concert Series starting April 9th. All the details are on the web at Just It should be fantastic. Wish I could make it. The Just Intonation Network published One/One, the just intonation journal and has produced many concerts over the years. Their mentor was the late Lou Harrison, who, with partner Bill Colvig, built many instruments including just intonation gamelans made of mostly smooth sounding aluminum plates and tubes.

Next time I will introduce the work of Ivor Darreg, (1917-1993) microtonal composer and instrument maker who was the inspiration for me to begin producing Interval in 1978. His work is featured in the journal and his influence like that of Lou Harrison and Harry Partch is major to the microtonal community.