Dawson Berry, otherwise known by the pseudonym "Aura", is a composer and partially self-taught music theorist who got his start in microtonality in the year 2014, with the song "Folly of a Drunk" and got started with his concept of "Treble Down Tonality" a year earlier in the year 2013. Although he is in many respects classical-minded for a microtonal composer, he is a pioneer in the realm of Microtonality who likes to to explore intervals and temperaments where few have explored before, and to find the beauty in intervals that other music theorists have overlooked, ignored, or dismissed.
In line with this, he is an advocate for the usage of 27/16 as the major sixth above the Tonic in Just 5-limit diatonic scales in place of 5/3 on account of his belief that while intervals with small rational ratios between the right two notes can establish tonal stability, intervals with small rational ratios between the wrong two notes in a scale can destroy a sense of tonal stability. Perhaps notoriously, he is also an advocate for the deliberate usage of the 40/27 grave fifth in composition when not working with Meantone, as he would argue that it is a distinct interval in its own right with its own distinct role and properties as opposed to simply being a mere poor-quality knock-off of the more well-known 3/2 perfect fifth. In addition, he seeks both acoustic and mathematical bases for the familiar diatonic scale, and is convinced on some level that Ionian, Dorian, Phygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian should all be separated into their own distinct scales with their own modes due to each having different tunings in which they best exhibit tonal stability. On the other hand, Aura has significant interest in 159edo, which he uses for composition due to its near-perfect approximation of the 2.3.11 subgroup, and is currently pioneering large chunks of Alpharabian tuning- the JI tuning for this particular subgroup.
Aura has been influenced by some aspects of the music theory of Harry Partch, but would cite the little he knows of the works of Hugo Riemann as a more significant influence, as the influence of Riemann's concept of Harmonic Duality on his work with Treble-Down Tonality is strongly connected to his finding out that Ancient Greek modes were built from the Treble downwards, and how when the Ancient Romans borrowed the Greek terminology, they evidently made the mistake of assuming that the Greek note names were built from the Bass upwards, resulting in a disconnect between the Ancient Greek musical system and Modern Western Music Theory. In light of this information, and in light of the development of Western Music Theory since the time of the Romans, Aura proposes that Riemann's concept of harmonic duality- as well as Partch's argument that the Overtone Series and the Undertone Series are equally fundamental- should be taken much more seriously, and that there should be new innovations that build on the more historically accurate version of the Ancient Greek modes and Treble-Down Tonality in general to the same extent as has been done for Bass-Up Tonality. However, he is aware that doing this involves discarding the commonly-held dogmatic assumption in Modern Western Music Theory that all music is built from the Bass Upwards, and thus, has proposed terminology for renaming some of the diatonic functions encountered in Modern Western Music Theory to be better accommodating to the existence of Treble-Down Tonality.
Aura has named seven commas just within the span of time between his joining the Xenharmonic Wiki and the end of the year 2020, these commas being:
- The Quartisma (117440512/117406179)
- The Nexus comma (1771561/1769472)
- The Alpharabian comma (131769/131072)
- The Betarabian comma (264627/262144)
- The Symbiotic comma (19712/19683)
- The Liganellus comma (6250/6237)
- The Ainos comma (936/935)
Aura has named additional commas since the start of 2021, so far, these commas are:
In addition to this, Aura is also largely responsible for the concept of telicity as it is referred to here on this Wiki, though others, such as Flora Canou, have contributed to refining the concept, and it is likely that still others have come up with similar concepts independently.
He is currently working with Sergey A Kryukov, mainly in the capacity of lending his ideas to the creation of virtual instruments.