Welcome to the contents-section of my website. Use the category list on the side to browse through all posts I have written over the years about all the musical things that interest me. Why not start with ‘Instruments‘, to get acquainted with my unique collection of microtonal guitars? And ‘Audio‘ takes you right to heart of my musical being, enjoy!
The 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!
Still reverberating after last sunday’s concert, courtesy of Teo Joling!
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’!
In 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
Read more about the wonderful meantone organ here or watch the video below:
I’m glad to announce that I will be joining the Bohlen-Pierce Clarinet Project for a concert on sunday February 15, 2015 in Hamburg, Germany.
The Bohlen-Pierce scale uses the twelfth (octave plus fifth) as its harmonic frame, dividing it into 13 steps, according to various mathematical considerations. The result is an alternative harmonic system that opens new possibilities to contemporary and futuristic music.
The 41-tone system is a very good match to the BP scale as its perfect twelfth (spanning 65 steps) is also divisible by 13: a single BP step equals 5 frets on this guitar. It even provides ‘microtonal inflections’ from the strict BP pitches by shifting one or two frets up/down.
The following text is from their Facebookpage.
Here comes the Bohlen-Pierce Clarinet Project with quite a bunch of brandnew works! The BP family keeps growing, and we are proud to present an ensemble of nine BP musicians, including three BP clarinets.
Nora-Louisa Müller, Akos Hoffmann and Carola Schaal – BP clarinets
Andrej Koroliov – BP keys
Melle Weijters – 41-tone guitar
Manfred Stahnke – BP/JI viola
Yu-Ching Chao – BP alto recorder
Lin Chen – BP kalimba
Tair Turganov – double bass.
Todd Harrop, Benjamin Helmer, Georg Hajdu, Mandfred Stahnke, Goran Lazarevic, Nora-Louisa Müller, Akos Hoffmann
New to this scale? Read the Very Short Introduction to the Bohlen-Pierce Clarinet below!
The Bohlen Pierce Clarinet – a Very Short Introduction
The Bohlen-Pierce clarinet project was initialised by prof. Georg Hajdu at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg. The Bohlen-Pierce clarinet (BP clarinet) uses an alternative harmonic scale and was first built in 2007 by the Canadian clarinetist and woodwind maker Stephen Fox, Toronto.
The Bohlen-Pierce scale (BP scale) was discovered in the 1970s and 1980s by three persons independently from each other. The first one to investigate the scale was the German microwave and communication engineer Heinz Bohlen in Hamburg. Several years later, another microwave and communication electronics engineer, John Robinson Pierce, found the same scale in California, USA. Also, the Dutch software engineer Kees van Prooijen worked on the same stuff.
In difference to the traditional western music scale which is based on the octave, divided into 12 more or less even steps, the Bohlen-Pierce scale uses the duodecime as its returning interval, dividing it into 13 steps, according to various mathematical considerations. The result is an alternative harmonic system that opens new possibilities to contemporary and futuristic music.
In March 2008, the Bohlen Pierce clarinet was premiered by Stephen Fox and Tilly Kooyman (Ensemble tranSpectra) in Guelph, Canada. The pieces „Wanderer“ and „Calypso“ for two BP clarinets were performed.
The very first concert in Europe presenting Bohlen-Pierce clarinets, with a program containing works by Hamburg composers, took place on 13th June 2008 in Hamburg Germany. The interpreters were, amongst others, the clarinetists Anna Bardeli and Nora-Louise Müller. Pieces were by Hajdu, Hamel, Lemke, Stahnke, Schwenk).
Please visit these websites to learn more about this fascinating scale!
It’s exactly three months after MicroBlues and it feels about time to share a track from that memorable concert. It took a while before I dared to listen back to this concert because it can be confrontational: what if the recording is not inline with my feeling about the concert? But this week, between Christmas and the New Year, it was time to not only look back but also to listen back to my most significant concert of 2014!
I am happy to present my solo arrangement of the piece Nuages by Django Reinhardt in extended meantone, played on my 31-tone guitar.
Weijters took charge of the bellows with, first, a MIDI guitar controller then, later, a pair of Wii game controllers as he and Janssen acted out a game of table tennis, their gestures being interpreted by computer to play the organ pipes.
Read more from Todd Harrop’s MicroBlues concert impression here!