MIDI keyboard controller
Augustine used the term “regio dissimilitudinis”, when considering the human figure in its defiguration and constant threat of decomposition. The term, a synonym for the dirt of Hades, came to him from Plato via Plotinus, but with Augustine it is interwoven with the concept of original sin—we want to know, but we are not allowed to do so. We can only take some staggering steps toward knowledge, but never reach it.
Let us imagine a composer’s wish to find a way by means of just intonation… If you deal with just intervals, you will have to limit yourself quite soon to a certain repertory, as Harry Partch did with his 43 pitches per octave. Or you come to infinite, unmanageable, numbers of pitches: families of just thirds, just fifths, just sevenths, etc. But even the limitation to 43 pitches is a monstrosity. Incredibly small steps arise, 14 hundredths, and all these pitches are completely asymmetrical and unintuitive. We definitely lose the aequiformitas of paradise.
What does Partota 8 try to do? It uses no definite set of pitches. Instead it multiplies the chords played on the Disklavier according to the so-called “cubic difference-tone” which arises in the inner ear while hearing an interval. Basically we could think of a primary interval like a major second (9/8 in just intonation proportion) and secondary pitches downward according to the cascade of the cubic difference-tone (which in fact is no single pitch!): 7, 6, 5… The farther away from the primary tones, the softer these added pitches sound. If you have more complex primary intervals like 19/16, you will get 13, 10, 7… I calculated 65 of these chords. Some sound very familiar to known chords, some very strange.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007