Microtonal tuning pieces

Microtonal tuning pieces

A series of works for solo double bass in microtonal tunings

Bukkehornspolsen

 

2016

Hør en kråke

 

2016

Score to come...

Blått

 

2016

Score to come...

Leken hass Håkon

 

2016

Score to come...

Bukkehornspolsen is based on a tune for the ancient Norwegian instrument bukkehorn, in English often called "Billy Goat Horne". The tuning makes it possible to imitate the particular just intonation of thirds in Norwegian folk music; an interval which is intonated somewhere in between the major and minor third of equal (12-tone) temperament.

 

Tuning:

 

The 2.string (D-string in orchestra tuning) is detuned -31 cents (from equal temperament).

 

The 2.string is tuned in perfect unison to the 7.partial of the 4.string (E-string in orchestra tuning), and/or the 10.partial of the 2.string is tuned to the 13.partial on the 3.string.

The departure point for Hør en kråke was a symmetrical tuning of 5ths: Giss-Ciss-Giss-Ciss.

I altered the tuning to create a feeling of having slightly out-of-tune fifths, and by that I discovered that there were som very interesting combinations of interference tones creating 'beating patterns'. This is a sound effect which I have been particularly interested in since I discovered the music of Iannis Xenakis, and more recently in listening to music by microtonal and spectral composers.

The process of reaching the final tuning was based on trials with interference tones which had a beating-speed that could be combined with bow rhythms imitating the rhythm of the interference tones. As well as finding well functioning combinations of fingerings between the strings which could create interesting variations of the beating speed of the interference tones.

 

The piece shifts very abruply between highly contrasting sections, leaving little space for linear development of musical ideas. The pointilistic and percussive bouncing of the stick of the bow (col-legno richochet) which opens and closes the piece contrasts the sustained and loud sections of the interference tones. In a short middle section, I use a technique of creating glissandi moving opposite ways on the same string simultanously. The screw of the bow hits the string, hinting at the percussive sound of the col-legno, and in finding a rhythm (and later a melodic pattern inspired by the folk-tune "Kråkevisa") which is reminisent of the periodicity of the beating tones.

 

Tuning:

 

The piece uses eight note (1/8 note) tunings of strings 2, 3 and 4, with the 1.string tuned to G sharp.

 

1.string: G sharp (Giss)

2.string: C sharp (Ciss) -25 cents

3.string: G sharp (Giss) +50 cents

4.string: D -25 cents (or C sharp (Ciss) +75 cents)

 

Blått started out as a transcription of Den blå slåtten, as played by Hans W. Brimi, a famous fiddler from Lom in Gudbrandsdalen. Brimi wrote this tune as a listening tune, contrary to a tune accompanying dance, and it has has a free, repetitive, structure based on variation and ornamentation. In my final version of Blått I have developed my own ornamentation, rhythmical flow and timing.

 

Tuning:

 

The 2.string (D-string in orchestra tuning) is detuned -31 cents (from equal temperament).

The 2.string is tuned in perfect unison to the 7.partial of the 4.string (E-string in orchestra tuning), and/or the 10.partial of the 2.string is tuned to the 13.partial on the 3.string.

 

The 4.partial of the 1.string (G-string in orchestra tuning) is then tuned in unison with the 5.partial of the 2.string.

 

The 3. and 4.string (A and E-strings in orchestra tuning) are tuned as normal.

This piece was inspired by several fiddle tunes with asymmetrical triple meter, like springar and rørospols. The stressed (long) beat is here on the 2.beat of the 3/4. The title "Leken..." refers to a specific dance linked to local traditions or personal invention. So translated to english (or common Norwegian) the title would be "Håkon's dance".

Leken hass Håkon is based around three main ideas/sections: an improvisation on the rhythm of the rørospols (using tapping of the strings, hammer-ons and multiphonics), an ascending 16-step microtonal scale (which jumps back and forth in octaves) from E-E and an adaptation/rewriting of a transcription of fiddle tune in asymmetrical rhythm.

 

Tuning:

 

1.string: G -29 cents. The 7.partial is tuned in unison with the 6.partial on the 3.string (A-string).

2.string: D, normal tuning

3.string: A +28 cents.

4.string: D sharp +43 cents. The 7.partial is tuned in unison with the 5.partial on the 3.string (A-string).

 

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