Just Intonation Composition (redux)

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AndrewMeronek
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Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:54 pm

I reorganized some pages on my website, and updated this page in particular to include two Youtube playback videos, including the 'big' one that plays back all of those various triads for 26 minutes. I'm pretty proud of that one.

https://andrewmeronek.com/music-resourc ... ord-lists/

I also have this set of reference videos for some 5-Limit just scales:

https://andrewmeronek.com/music-resourc ... it-scales/

The general idea here is that lists like these take a lot of the number-crunching out of writing music using these vocabularies. Maybe some people (besides myself) will find these interesting.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Feb 17, 2019 12:04 pm

My latest blurb. Maybe some people here might find this interesting. Sometimes different temperaments like this can enable colors in music that you can't really get any other way. It also may be useful as a historical study. I used a modern piano sound here, and the fourths and fifths are noticeably clangy (IMHO) and may fuel some thoughts for why parallel fifths in the Renaissance and early Baroque (when variations on this meantone were fairly common) which emphasized these intervals in counterpoint were considered undesirable.

https://andrewmeronek.com/music-resourc ... ne-scales/
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:05 pm

I'm being productive today on the website updates. This one is a Dorico playback of a pretty cello trio I wrote many years back. The playback is pretty impressive. Not everything I've written will work this well with computer-realized performance, unfortunately. I do have a few other things that I'm considering doing this to, though. Should I?

https://andrewmeronek.com/20…/…/17/sun- ... -playback/

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
harrisonreed
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Re: Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by harrisonreed » Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:06 pm

I went very far down the 5 Limit rabbit hole about 5 years ago with electronic drones in the hopes of creating a just intonation training book. Some thoughts:

1. I blew out my speakers on low volumes building the more complicated chords.

2. It sounds good, but actually isn't that tasty in western music. It falls a bit flat.

3. Trying to apply it to any 12TET system is maddening. Does the bass stay in 12tet so that you can build the chords up above it? Sometimes the bass will have a walking line that will want to use pythagorean tuning naturally as the line moves -- how do the other instruments account for that? Sometimes the bass will hold a note over a key change -- does it switch it's pitch to account for the key change (if the held note is no longer the root)? Or do you just drift ever further away from A440 with every key change? To me it seems that someone MUST stay in 12TET so that you can pretend to use 5 limit as you play western music.

How did you get over that hump?
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by AndrewMeronek » Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:52 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:06 pm
How did you get over that hump?
Don't stay in 12TET.

One way to do this is to not modulate at all and just stay within a mode - hence the reason why I went with modes instead of chromatic scales for these scale videos.

Obviously, a lot of Western music involves modulations. Modulations in different tuning systems have different rules, so indeed problems crop up if you try to perform a modulation in just intonation (JI) that was always intended as a 12TET modulation, without any other modifications to the music. But, just because you have to be careful with modulations if you change a pitch system doesn't mean that other properties of a pitch system aren't worth exploring. Plenty of music has no modulating. Plenty of other music in JI does modulate fine - just under different rules. Some 12TET music doesn't modulate well in JI at all: Giant Steps is a great example, because those modulations specifically depend on how 12TET tempers the syntonic comma, which is kind of anti-JI.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
harrisonreed
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Re: Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by harrisonreed » Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:32 am

Yeah, that's pretty much where I ended up. You can use it if you stay in one mode. You can pretend to use it in most instrumental music on a case by case basis, on a given chord ("oh, lower the third", even though the orchestra has a piano or harp playing on that piece, and the basses aren't trying to budge from 12TET). But you can't as easily apply it to any music you like outside of pure choral works. I am weak sauce, it drove me nuts, and I completely gave up on any full JI system.

It's interesting though that 12TET, to me, adds a bit of life and spice to a piece that can otherwise be played in pure intonation. That slight buzz or zing sounds good to me. JI pieces fool me and sound too good to be true, especially electronic music!
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by AndrewMeronek » Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:46 am

How tuning works in an orchestra is kind of it's own entire thesis, although I think it does fall into a few patterns per section, and the overall effect is a kind of 'amorphous' tonality. Strings tend to Pythagorean tuning (except for some double-stops) while winds tend to what amounts to an adaptive just intonation, and of course percussion just do what they can. It generally works, though, because the winds typically get fewer-players-per-note orchestrations except in large tutti sections, and under those circumstances it is of more acoustic benefit to get chords to ring in-tune. 20 violin players sawing at a chord tone kind of defeats the purpose of getting a nice, resonant chord, so their priorities of sound are different.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Just Intonation Composition (redux)

Post by AndrewMeronek » Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:51 am

I'd like to point out one great example of music in just intonation which modulates very effectively: The Harp Of New Albion by Terry Riley. It's an extended work for solo piano, and he takes advantage of the non-uniform modes given his choice of tuning the piano. Each mode has a different color, deliberately.



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“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
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