Feb 052017

Recently got to see last year’s, The Girl On The Train (2016), a dark psychological crime thriller (starring Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans and Allison Janneyand) and was completely swept away by the great score by Danny Elfman.

I’m always keen to listen deeply for the microtones and nuances of pitch that are often a feature of his film scores, as in for example, A Simple Plan (1998), and in this new one, microtonal inflections are expertly and tastefully woven into the fabric of the film, deepening the sense of drama (and dread) of the story line.

Gorgeous orchestral, string and synth composition throughout; the intonational template – to these ears – featuring a foundation of ED2-12 with some microtonal-tuned parts (it would be interesting to know more about the specifics of the microtuning used in this film). The synth and sampling sound-design is amazing and I really appreciated the tasteful and compositional use of saturation in some of the timbres and textures.

Being one that always relishes the end credit music in films, it’s worth mentioning that here the music is truly spectacular and is also where even more microtonal textures unfold that encapsulate the emotion of all that came before. As the end credits roll by, one will notice that Elfman is also credited with playing synthesizer, which, as explained in the LA Times feature linked below, are clearly among the sound sources for the microtones featured throughout the film. Really impeccable work.

The Girl On The Train (2016) | Danny Elfman | OST On YouTube:


The Girl on the Train (2016)

LA Times feature with Danny Elfman about the score:

Danny Elfman on scoring ‘The Girl on the Train’: The darker it gets, the happier I get

 Posted by at 2:28 pm
Feb 042017


Georg Friedrich Haas


“I basically can hear the piece already. This work begins before the audience entrance. Each string player has a microtonally tuned second instrument. The musicians are on a gallery – or in the back of the hall or surrounding the audience – playing with their second instruments, open strings, harmonics. On stage at that moment: a harp player with 2 microtonal tuned harps and the conductor, leading the music by playing the piano. And the straight-tuned string instruments are placed on the musicians chairs – ready to be played. Once the audience has taken their chairs, the musicians start appearing on stage taking their own instruments, the conductor switches to the conductors desk. After another five minutes the situation has changed, the concert/piece has started. The piece is about breath. About spiritual experience. About the search for ecstasy.”

Georg Friedrich Haas (July 2015)

 Posted by at 2:20 pm
Feb 042017

Exciting music technology news came through the Xen-Network recently from Dubbhism

A xenharmonic pitch quantizer module for Eurorack modular synthesists is actively being developed by Tubbutec; a hardware developer that has already released microtonal mods for some Roland keyboards.

What makes this among the most interesting products of this nature, is its ability to load Scala SCL files from SD cards, and which would appear to accommodate full-keyboard microtunings.

Read the post on Dubbism and the fascinating thread with the developer on Muff Wiggler here:

Coming soon: a xen quantizer for eurorack

Monumental! I will greatly look forward to the music that will be created with this new module.


 Posted by at 2:05 pm
Jan 082017

Our longtime friend in all things Xen, Brian Ginsburg, has published his Hebdomad browser-based instrument, which enables playing a selection of heptatonic microtunings using the computer keyboard. Explore the project here:


Info about Hebdomad

Firefox and Chrome are suggested browsers for the program and I enjoyed exploring this fascinating instrument with the former. It works great and I look forward to more tools of this nature, and clearly this is a good concept for musicians who may be new to the field of alternative musical instrument intonation systems, and who are looking for a way to hear some basic microtunings without having to hassle with DAWs and plugins as a first step.

The potential and implications for browser-based instruments that feature microtuning functionality is huge; especially considering their utility and immediacy as educational tools. For these reasons, I look forward to more of this kind of creative coding for exploring and demonstrating the vast possibilities of alternative intonation systems.

Hebdomad also gets a mention in Web Audio Weekly newsletter:

Web Audio Weekly | Issue 73

 Posted by at 2:54 pm