Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Mix

So it was here in Quesnel just over 5 years ago that I first tuned my guitar to a natural harmonic. The "Just Third" set me off on a journey of discovery which is (in part) recorded here in this blog. It is indeed a "long and winding road". I was surprised that my old "original downloads" to the side are still working as we cancelled our shaw account when we sold our place in Winnipeg. I guess they're on a corner of one of shaw's servers and they've forgotten about it. Nice they still work anyhow.

My wife Debbie and I have been working on some original material here with friend and drummer Lyle Tribe. We have committed to maintaining an A4=432 standard with my guitars being a hybrid of ET and Just. The results in rehearsal are very good and I am excited to share this music live! I don't know of anyone out there doing exactly this: the combination of A432 and harmonic tuning all in a modern ensemble.

The windows version of GrovenMax has failed me on this ASUS laptop windows 7. David Code who helped create the software is going to try to separate the program from MAXMSP to possibly make it more windows 7 friendly. In the meantime, or maybe as a good alternative I'm using Proteus VX with it's tuning tables. The "Just C2 and C3" are modified to allow for certain chords. Probably works better than  GrovenMax as far as tuning with the guitars.

I also realized I had my soundfonts sitting on a portable drive so working with those too, just need to find a more reliable player for them.

My mind and heart are opening up in good ways here in BC. Debbie is from here and it's where we honeymooned. While in Alberta I felt very drawn here and always enjoyed our visits. Centering in Winnipeg for the time we did was a really good thing though it was not free of struggles.  As I continue writing here I'm actually trying to understand what the purpose of this post is. God knows many wonder about the significance or importance of ANY of my posts! But here I am writing! Music God Nature Location Relationships!

Other than soon to be recording and concerts this is one of my outlets to the world and serves a different purpose than Facebook. It's a blog I have not posted to for a while but I have not forgotten.

Friday, March 30, 2012


5 years ago when I first stepped into the world of Just Intonation it was La Tienda cigars, Tambura Motown drummer recommending Harry Partch. Now the culmination of the journey through TONE has led me to Eivind Groven.

 2 men who's lives parralel not only in the years they lived 1900 to 1975 (or so) but they both worked through the Just Intonation problem but from very different angles. Harry with his "throw off the shackles" plunge into it complete with the image of him "splashing around in the ocean" view, creating his own world of musical instruments . To Eivind with a view of maintaining the standard keyboard and having a machine select just intervals from a choice of 36!

My journey of course led to the idea of a practical system to "Add Just" to "regular" music. A system that would use 36 tones. offset by +14 and -14. I found Eivind Groven's work by googling "36 tone" "just intonation" or something and was amazed at what I discovered. Someone who spent years developing and perfecting such a system. Now that I have been using Groven Max software and understand how it works I am aware of how crude my system was in lacking the detail. I (as I have written before) was not worried about the 2 cent falisities in the 4th and 5th where as Groven's system covers that with an ingenius system of offsets.  Truth be told I'm not really "worried" at all about tempering the 5ths. the 3rds 6ths and 7ths however being adjusted is a BIG STEP away from the confines of ET. I do concede however that there is an even greater depth that comes with the more complex off sets of Eivind Groven.

I am thankful for this man and the courage he had to act upon his intuition and ear. Groven, (like Partch) created new ways for Just Intonation to be heard. You could say Partch put it out of reach whereas Groven quite literally put in in one's hands. 



Excerpt from my 48th Birthday Album.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Birthday Improv

Birthday Improv

Ahh so SoundCloud is also tied in with Blogger. I suppose I could write in more detail here.

I'm really loving this little Electret condenser. It just sounds so natural and round and no fuss setting it up. I can actually just turn on computer, flick the switch for the mic and I'm recording.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EMU Proteus VX (to the rescue)

I spoke to Jonathon over at L&M about tunable synths and was offered a few options. The 1st (and FREE) is the software version of emu's proteus X..the VX, virtual i suppose.

it has several tuning tables including Just C and C2 and C3 just intonation modified to accomedate certain chords. not editable unfortunately but also has 19 24 and 36 tone ET. also a varied offering of well tempers. Lots to explore but must get hooked up to midi controller (which is sitting in Edmonton).

This is sure to prove a welcome addition to my other just and hybrid instruments.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tune that Harp in a Casket

Ahhh, blogging. I remember when I first heard the term. ?? !! ?? !! It was the thing to do, so I started a blog...back in '05. Who's got time to write? Who take time to read? All too busy on facebook.

I never quite got it I guess, yet all this is here to mull over. My Journal.

My lonely adventures into the actual world of musical sound continue. Only now I'm doing the unthinkable. TUNING PIANOS !!

Aren't pianos the enemy? The reason for Temperament? Well it's not so much the system of hammers and dampers that keep the pure music from singing off those harps's simply the manner in which they have been mis - tuned.

I am experiencing JOY when I sit down at my Salvation Army special "JUST TUNED PIANO" organic, no preservatives!

What a difference a few cents here and there make!

If we start with the famous "C" on the piano forte and consider it to be "0 cents". We tune "G" to 700 cents. there are 1200 cents in the 12 T E T system. Here are the cent values for my MODERN JUST TUNING.

C= 0
F= 500
G= 700

E= 386
A= 886
B = 1086
F#= 586

Ab= 814
Bb= 1014
Db= 214

IDEALLY an instrument which could produce 36 tones per octave would provide full and free movement.

12 TET @ 0 cents
12 TET @ +14 cents
12 TET @ -14 cents

If one could choose one of these with a piano key, then both purity in harmony and modulation would be easily achieved.

What this tuning provides harmonically is PURE C Major, PURE Ab Major, PURE C minor, G Major, with a narrow 2nd, F Major with a wider 4th, Eb Major with another unique feature. The list goes on...and the exciting thing is, every KEY is a little DIFFERENT. Fresh intervals that our ears are longing to hear. What it means is a piano that will stay "just tuned" for a lot longer.

I'll explore this in further detail in future posts.

take care

Friday, October 23, 2009

Strike the Harp

I've been working with a "free harp" (piano harp) for over a year now. It's now located at the new studio at the 490 building. Somewhere along the line I settled on Eb as a tonal center...oh this is such a waste of time, the thought of trying to explain something like this. It is meant to be experienced! I've made a few recordings on my camera and cell phone but am getting ready to do some higher end stereo recordings.

So it's a Justly tuned freed piano harp and it sounds GREAT! One can hear the "modes" as they are meant to sound. The 3rds and 6ths SING! And more and more I'm finding it so PLAYABLE! I've got the JUNO 60 set up next to it with a self powered monitor. The Juno of course makes possible exploration into the harmonic series. The two instruments together (and analogue synth and an ancient harp) can and will achieve some amazing sounds.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Feel like blogging...let it b-e-E

I know I've kinda let this blog rest in peace for some time now, but I have the urge to record some stuff here for what it's worth.

I spent over a year and a half experimenting with Just Intonation and experienced a major shift in both my hearing and my consciousness. I'm now back to straight frets again but have found a very simple solution to achieve pure 3rds and 6ths in "almost" standard tuning.

I'm calling it the "Let it Be" tuning or more accurately let it b-e-E, because it involves slight shifts in the b and e strings...both high e and low E. Seems like a lot of trouble I went through, ripping my frets off then glueing various curved wire on the fretboard. There was a deep and rich purity I found there but I had to admit some limitations in the modern setting. This new arrangement does require some selectivity in comparison to standard tuning but it does contain much familiar territory fingering wise while allowing pure (and very near pure) 3rds and 6ths round the "circle of 5ths"

I'm not sure if anyone reading this will even care (if there is anyone reading this) but I like the idea of having it recorded here and accessible. Need I go into how Equal Temperament is merely an approximation of Just Intervals? Need I point out that though the "4th" and "5th" in the tempered system are only 2% "off" that the other more emotional intervals are upwards to 15% off? I think for the musician seeking the truth in these matters that the harmonic world speaks for itself and should leave no further question in one's mind as to the reality of these natural tones.

What I've discovered is what could be termed a "hybrid". So I may as well just dive in.

Tune your A - D - and G as you normally would. (A4=440 is fine although I've been experimenting with A4=432) but that is another post. So we have 3 strings tuned in tempered 4ths from which we can derive the Root 5th of several (in not all) Major chords. Fine!

Now to tune (or should I say "tame" the dreaded B string! This is where we are going off the conventional rails of modern western intonation. Don't get the "B" from the 4th fret on the G! I say another way: The 4th fret of the G string is not a pure ratio of the G and therefore shall NOT be used to tune this pivotal string! We shall instead look to the natural harmonic world and struggle and strain to produce the 5/4 harmonic which is APPROXIMATELY found near the 4th fret, or 9th fret or any other location which divides the string in 5 parts. When we tune the "B" to this tone we are left with a B which is around 14% of a tempered semi tone lower than standard. So now when you play your D G and B strings together you will hear a pure major chord. This B string is now firstly devoted to being used as a pure 3rd in Major chords. We shall see how else it can be used shortly.

So we have a lower than usual B! what shall we do with the E? Well how be we tune it like usual to the B? Great! now between your G string and high E we have a just major 6th! OK now we have one more string to deal with and that is the low E. Well why don't we simply tune it to the high E?

So a way to check these freq. is to play the 4th fret harmonic an the A string and match it to the "C#" (2nd fret on B). Then play the 4th fret harmonic on the D String and match it to the "F#" (2nd fret on the high E). These harmonics are a lot easier to access than the G string because of their thickness. You can also match the harmonic on around the 3rd fret of the low E with the 12th fret harmonic of the B string. Voila! you are ready to play around the "circle of 5th" (because to the tempered "mid section" of A - D - G ) with the B - E - E which have been justified to reflect a more natural tone.

now if you play your low E with your G you will get a VERY close to pure minor 3rd. because the E is "lowered" it creates a wider interval (which is what we want for minor 3rds) - we want narrower intervals for major 3rds.

something to remember is that since we have dedicated the B - E - E to these tones we may not be able to use them as octaves or 5ths

Obviously it would be more effective to demonstrate these things on the guitar which is what I intend to do in the near future.