Richard Glover

Tuning systems as processual material

Any piece written within a particular tuning system reveals features about the relationships within that system (including of course 12-tone equal temperament). What I propose to discuss is the use of various tunings in two recent keyboard pieces in which I explore relationships between different tuning systems, revealing aspects about what connects those tuning systems, and what differences exist. Two pieces from 2011, Similarly space triads in equal temperaments from 12 – 24, and Contracting triads in equal temperaments from 12 – 24, will be presented and used to promote the notion of equal tempered tuning system as material for structural process.

My own compositional interests are concerned with gradual process, in which very small pitch changes contribute to a continually transforming overall sound, and thus the resultant harmonies become an aspect towards which focus is directed. However, this is not a terminal point but rather provides a window for the listener onto other aspects of their experience, such as sensation, perception, temporality and memory. By applying stepwise gradual transformational procedures onto a variable system such as equal temperament, the intervallic relationships within each single temperament provide a series of engaging sound objects across the differing temperaments.

The two pieces are performed on keyboard using Scala software, and I will discuss how the affordance of digital technology to easily juxtapose various tuning systems, which previously were limited to single instruments, prompts explorations of meta-pitch relationships between differing systems and generates an approach prompts explorations of meta-pitch relationships between differing systems, and new organizational structures to support these.

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