Jonathan Styles and Daniel M. Karlsson

A consecutive-prime just-intonation matrix and sample bank

Comprising 102 unique pitches over a range of 3½ octaves, the collection of sampled clarinet and violin tones presented here derive from five consecutive-prime-ratio intervals—{3:2}, {5:3}, {7:5}, {11:7}, and {13:11}—and their reciprocals. No two pitch-classes obtained are octave equivalent; indeed, the array contains no pair of harmonic frequencies of any kind. The project, initiated by the composer Daniel M Karlsson and myself and undertaken at EMS, Stockholm, with funding from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, has two creative sources. One is Karlsson’s desire to create high-quality, flexible sample banks for open use by electronic composers. Another is my previous research into methods of structuring pitch-oriented music beyond the conventions of scale-bound systems. The paper will summarise some of this research and show how it has been implemented in constructing the present matrix, which employs a simple generative procedure to create a potential multitude of just-intonation chords and tone rows. The selection of consecutive-prime-ratio intervals as the initial working material will be explained, and some of the possible compositional opportunities presented by a pitch matrix of this kind will be presented.

In addition, I shall outline how Karlsson and I envisage the project expanding to incorporate additional instruments and intervals, and invite composers to explore and make further use of the sample bank themselves.

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