MICRO|IMPRO – concert announcement

MICRO|IMPROThe next Fokker organ concert is a special one… no organ player is scheduled to pay, but two guitarists are instead. Bram Stadhouders and I take turns in triggering the organ in our own distinctive ways. Bram has an extended MIDI-rig which he has used to trigger all sorts of instruments in the past, including organs in the Orgelpark, the Logos Robot Orchestra and the Big Barrel Organ. This will be a unique chance to hear his style on another one-of-a-kind-instrument, the microtonal Fokker organ!

I have played the Fokker-organ before with my guitars: in ‘quatre mains’ together with Guus Janssen at our concert MicroBlues in 2014 and solo at the concert ‘Pimp my Organ 4Ever!’ in 2016. Another special project was my composition ‘de Stuiter-variaties’ (‘the Bouncing-variations’), an interactive theatrical piece for two Wii-controllers based on the theory and chord progressions of A.D. Fokker himself. His writings continue to be an inspiration for me. My new piece ‘No Strings Attached’ is based on his idea of addition chords. An addition chord (Dutch: ‘optelakkoord’) is a chord in which a ratio number is the sum of the next two lower ratio numbers. The most well known sequence is of course the Fibonacci series:

NSA_workinprogress
MIDI-guitar setup. As you can see, no strings attached!

1:2:3:5:8:13

Musically, the 1 is the root, the 2 is the octave, the 3 is the fifth (plus 1 octave), the 5 is the third (plus 2 octaves), the 8 is another octave and the 13 is a lowered sixth above. This last note is definitely outside of 12-equal borders and that is where the magic begins… There are many other interesting sounding sequences to be found. And besides harmonic versions there are also subharmonic versions available with their own character. In ‘No Strings Attached’ I will present many of these sounds in an adventurous and improvisational piece.

Also on the program are a new version of the Meantone Blues (with lyrics this time!), a 20 minute set from Bram as well as a joint improvisation with him on the Fokker organ and myself on 31-tone guitar. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear something new!

Zondag 26 november 2017, 11 uur in de Kleine Zaal van het Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ

More info: http://www.huygens-fokker.org/activiteiten/concerten/26november2017.html

MeantoneBlues – a review

RecensieOosthuizenThe organ secularised with sophistication

On Sunday evening, July 5th 2015, something special happened in the Great Church of Oosthuizen: with their program MeantoneBlues, Guus Janssen and Melle Weijters led the religious organ back to its mundane origins. Or, put differently: ‘Your roots are in the mean streets, that ‘ll never change’, says Donald Fagen in ‘I took you out of the ghetto’ (Sunken Condos, 2012).

A year before, on September 28 2014, they successfully performed a similar program called ‘MicroBlues’ at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, in which they explored the possibilities of the 31-tone system. The attentiveness of Herman van Leuven, member of the local commission, connected it to Oosthuizen. The vocal intonation and meantone tuning turned the organ in Oosthuizen into a virtual vocalist in compositions by Miles Davis, Ellington and Hendrix.

Even more sophisticatedly, the players realised the endearing rawness of the vocal blues style on their instruments. As a guitarist, Weijters specialises in the so-called microtonality: playing with very small intervals. Jansen took advantage of similar magnitudes which have been slumbering for ages in the meantone tuning of the instrument of Oosthuizen.

The sixteenth-century Estampie, now as an organ solo, appeared to be from the Fleming Jan de Macque, who, as Giovanni de Macque, was a hit in Gesualdo’s circles in Naples. In Downhome Blues, Weijters demonstrated a harp guitar from 1917, a kind of theorbo with free resonating strings.

Both musicians showed an overwhelming virtuosity, in such a way that by the end of the concert a magical atmosphere was created from Weijters’s Texels Kebab seamlessly blending into Hendrix’s Red House flowing into a sheer endless coda over Lonely Woman by Ornette Coleman.

An excellently dosed sound feast in a proportionally decorated Great Church with an attentive and enthusiastic public, deserving a continuation!

http://www.oudehollandsekerken.nl/data/Bulletin_2015_81.pdf

Lucid Meantone Guitar

This is my old Fender stratocaster which is with me for about 20 years but which got unused due to my microtonal needs… And now it’s back with a new neck for the upcoming concert ‘MeantoneBlues’!

Lucid Meantone Guitar
The neck showcases the classical meantone fretting in standard tuning, EADGBE. It can be seen as a subset of the 31-tone tuning, hence the positionmarkers according to my personal system.

meantone vs 31et guitars

 

MeantoneBlues

poster meantonebluesIn the program MicroBlues (September 28, 2014, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ), guitarist Melle Weijters and keyboardist Guus Janssen explored new possibilities for the blues in the 31-tone tuning. For this concert, two extraordinary instruments were used: an 31-tone electric guitar and the Fokker-organ. The meantone, which sits comfortably in the division of the octave in 31 equal parts, played an important role.

At the invitation of the Grote Kerk Oosthuizen we now present a follow-up: MeantoneBlues. For this concert, a special guitar neck in meantone tuning was built. The instruments must be fully explored to reproduce the real character of the blue note. The original ‘forbidden’ intervals are hereby given a whole new meaning…

when: Sunday July the 5th, 2015
where: Grote Kerk Oosthuizen, Raadhuisstraat 61 1474 HJ Oosthuizen
entrance: €15

Read more about the wonderful meantone organ here or watch the video below:

update:

 

 

MicroBlues – first impressions and a review!

I was very surprised to see a review of my concert in the Dutch national newspaper NRC. The title: ‘Hallucinating effects in meantone tuning’, by Joep Stapel.  See below for translation.

featuredimage recensie

The core of the blues is the blue note, the third which is major nor minor, but which floats somewhere in between. This moaning blue note doesn’t exist on the piano and doesn’t fit the equal tempered octave. Actually, all blues is microtonal.

The project MicroBlues of jazz guitarist Melle Weijters extends beyond this. He plays his own compositions and adaptations of standards in meantone tuning (with a pure seventh) or in 31-tone tuning on a fretless guitar*. This gives a hallucinating effect.

The concert of Weijters with composer/keyboardist Guus Janssen was the first of a series of sunday morning concerts around the Fokker-organ which dates from 1950. Since its renovation in 2009, it is housed in de Small Hall of the Muziekgebouw. The piece Stuitervariaties (Bouncingvariations), a theatrical piece for ping ponging Wii-controllers based on chords from organ designer Fokker, proved that the organ can now be controlled digitally.

The concert had a messy start, with a lack of synchronisation between both players and sometimes seemed to be too much in its experimental phase.

Numerous beautiful moments however point to an exciting future. Like Mean Monk, Weijters’s fantasy about jazz giant Thelonious Monk who would crawl behind an old church organ in meantone tuning, with a hilarious pedal solo by Janssen. In Downhome Blues, Weijters played a beautiful century old acoustic guitar from the Mississippidelta, with 10 retuned sympathetic strings.

* I actually played on a 31-tone guitar (MW)

Downhome Blues
Downhome Blues

MicroBlues Concert Announcement

I am happy to announce that I will be playing a concert at the Huygens-Fokker Foundation (Centre for Microtonal Music) on September 28 together with Guus Janssen.

The point of focus during the concert ‘MicroBlues’ is improvised music within the meantone and 31-tone tuning system.  Guus Janssen and Melle Weijters jointly explore what kind of new opportunities these systems offers for improvised music, especially the blues. As a regular performer on the Fokker organ musician and leading composer Guus Janssen has already ample experience with ‘light music’ on this 31-tone organ. Jazz Guitarist Melle Weijters dedicated many years to fretless and microtonal guitars and is a specialist in this field. The varied styles of improvisation and themes are supported by the use of the latest computer technologies that will lead to a surprising result.

http://www.huygens-fokker.org/activities/concerts/2014-09-28.html

http://www.muziekgebouw.nl/agenda/Concerten/3403/Guus+Janssen+%2B+Melle+Weijters/MicroBlues

Guus Janssen & Melle Weijters - MicroBlues
Guus Janssen & Melle Weijters – MicroBlues