There’s a life before, and there’s a life after the EUROMicroFest 2013. I mean: being microtonal at home is nice and all, but going out to perform and lecture resulted in rewarding responses from the audience and interesting conversations with my colleagues.
One of them, composer Todd Harrop – who presented his research on the Bohlen-Pierce scale plus a survey of his compositions for BP-clarinets – summarized the weekend on his blog.
Performing again with Etienne was a thrill and a treat. And although we have both changed in so many ways, our musical instincts are still in tune with each other. He’s definitely the most microtonal drummer I’ve ever heard!
“I am really and happily moved by the performance you both did on Saturday. Because it is sophisticated yet unheroic and very lively in the sense of the unexpected.”
Martin Wolf (audience)
On sunday, I talked about how I got into microtonalism and my instruments. I spoke about my intuitiv approach to the fretless guitar and how I’m able to use it in conventional settings. Also, I showed the theoretical inspiration for my 41-tone guitar, the H-system by Aaron Hunt.
Funny, I already liked the 5/4 thirds before I even knew what they exactly were…:
The arrangement is from 2005 and appeared on the album ‘Making Choices’ (2006) by the Carlo Nardozza Quintet. The melody is played with the use of harmonics on the open strings of the guitar.
From a CD-review from that time:
The last song of the album is an amazing version of ‘My Romance’, inspired by the guitarist’s collaboration with African kora player Zou Diarra: the acoustic guitar is accompanied only by toms in the distant, and this standard – just recognizable – becomes a meditation reminiscent of My Goal’s Beyond from John McLaughlin.
I will try to explain the Just Intonation ratios from the notes of the melody. The song is in the key of E Major, so this gives a 5/4 third (G#, 5th harmonic on the low E-string) and a 5/3 sixth (C#, 5th harmonic on the A-string). Other natural harmonics include the 4/3 fourth (A, 3rd harmonic on the D-string), the 3/2 fifth (B, 2nd harmonic on the B-string) and the 2/1 octave (E, 2nd harmonic on the high E-string).
For the 2nd (F#), I had two options: for the higher octave I used the 5th harmonic on the D-string which becomes a 10/9 just minor tone in relation to E as 1/1. For the lower octave I used an artificial harmonic (2nd harmonic from the 4th fret D-string) which belongs to 12ET. The last note to complete the scale is the major seventh. I picked this as an artificial 3rd harmonic from the 1st fret G-string) and also belongs to 12ET.
In this period [early 2006] my first electric guitar, a Maya Strat copy, brutally lost her frets. Since that moment, she has never seen a stage, recording session or rehearsal room; a ‘personal affair’ we might say…
Well, I must admit, this is not completely true! I found a ‘home’ recording of myself dubbing over a soundcollage from an internetfriend (also a jazz guitar student at that time, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina). We were both moving away from a traditional approach to something new, unknown…
(I’m more on the left channel, he’s more on the right)
The fretless guitar was not a subject at my conservatory. It started as an experiment in the first year after my final exam (2005). Somewhere around my 25th birthday I picked up my pimped Hohner G3T Licensed by Steinberger Headless Fretless at my customizer.
In August 2006 ‘Fret de la Tourette’ performed at the Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival in the Hague. Embraced with the energy of bashing drums and stomping bass lines, ‘Rubber Duck’ floated on the waves of the fretless sea.
This tune was my compositional contribution to CNQ‘s album ‘Making Choices’. In this period my first electric guitar, a Maya Strat copy, brutally lost her frets. Since that moment, she has never seen a stage, recording session or rehearsal room; a ‘personal affair’ we might say…
In this piece, a melody consisting of sixteen dotted quarter notes beat against a six bar bebop comping pattern (see leadsheet). Soloing in 4 builds up from muted trumpet through aggressive alto saxophone into destructive guitar. Picture me having a fight with my Rubber Duck in a bathtub…