Possible Worlds Volume Two continues Spectropol’s showcase of contemporary microtonal/xenharmonic music and sound art from around the world.
There are many approaches to pitch use outside non-12-tone equal temperament on display here, conveyed through a wide variety of musical styles. Artists in this collection, which include well-established experts in microtonal practice, explore just intonation, the harmonic series, free & mixed tunings, extended playing techniques, invented instruments, and an emphasis on various equal divisions of the octave.
Despite the variety of sound presented, the playlist is designed to be a compelling experience straight through, the exploration of xenharmonic pitch space serving as a common link among a group of tracks we consider excellent in any venue.
Released November 16, 2013
subversio ~ strictly next level sounds
Warning! This is xenharmonic music. An unusual sound, xenharmonic or micro-tonal music is about inventing fresh new harmonies using strange combinations of frequencies. Stuff that most ‘regular’ musical instruments can’t handle. That’s why this album was created using a very special synthesizer. It’s called FMTS, it was developed by Jacky Ligon (who’s also one of the artists) and it’s purple.
Next Xen is a compilation album that unshackles music from a 200 year old ball and chain. Western music theory says that there are 12 equal notes, and for some reason it’s a taboo to break out of this. But what if you want to hear 13? Or even 100 notes, all of different sizes? Such music would be called microtonal, xenharmonic, or just “xen.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the sound of microtonal music, then a good first step is to ask yourself “does this sound out of tune to me?” Out-of-tune-ness is a variable that xen musicians play with for creative and expressive effect. This isn’t a negative thing – xen music is often MORE in-tune than regular 12-tone music!
Next Xen explores microtonality while staying groove-based and accessible. So while you experience previously-unheard melodies and harmonies, the styles and forms will be familiar. Next Xen mixes psych rock, funk, hip hop beats, house, dub and drum & bass with the tuning systems of imaginary places. It’s a free download from the split-notes netlabel.
Download and Stream at Archive.org:
Some hard notes to crack.
IMAGINE a new musical instrument that can play any sound you like. Surely that would sound quite different from the stuff most musicians pump out routinely. But seriously: how about something REALLY new for a change, because that’s what this compilation is all about. Sounds you’ve never heard before. Call it ‘xenharmonic’ music (or if that’s too hard just call it ‘off key’).
The music on ‘Crack My Pitch Up’ has a unique feel to it because it doesn’t use the familiar Western 12-tone scale. When you crack your pitches up smaller and smaller, you find many more musical options to compose with. In other words there are many surprises down the cracks of the piano keys.
The 12-tone scale exploits one fact about how we humans appreciate music; pleasant or ‘consonant’ sounds are mathematically simple. For 2 or more different pitches being played at the same time, when the ratio of their frequencies uses simple low numbers, we hear a pure and blissful harmonious sound. The 12-tone scale has many of these ratios (and it’s simple to learn and play). This fact has made the 12-tone scale a common and universal kind of harmony.
But the 12-tone scale doesn’t have anything new to express today. Because most instruments are built for 12 notes (think guitars and pianos) musicians in the West have explored this and little else. After all for some time it was expensive to build xenharmonic instruments – but now anybody can do it with a synthesizer and some software! This is definitely a fun time to be a music fan or musician.
‘Crack My Pitch Up’ is xenharmonic because it uses non-12-tone scales. If not using the traditional scales of Africa, India, Ancient Greece, the Middle East, the Far East (and everywhere else) then with something else entirely new. This album, by the way, leans firmly towards “something else entirely new!” 😉
The musicians who contributed to the project are: Jacky Ligon, City of the Asleep, Scratchy Dubplate Crew, Carlo Serafini, Flao YG, Fature, Cameron Bobro, Paragon, Sevish and Microdub.
There are different kinds of harmonies. The 12-tone scale is just one kind and you are welcome to explore the rest with us.