Erv Wilson

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Ervin Wilson (b. 1928) was born in a remote area of northwest Chihuahua, Mexico, where he lived until the age of fifteen. His mother taught him to play the reed organ and to read musical notation. He began to compose at an early age, but immediately discovered that some of the sounds he was hearing mentally could not be reproduced by the conventional intervals of the organ. As a teenager he began to read books on Indian music, developing an interest in concepts of raga. While in the Air Force in Japan, a chance meeting with a stranger introduced him to musical harmonics, which changed the course of his life and work. Further influenced by Joseph Yasser, Wilson began to think of the musical scale as a living process, like a crystal or plant. He rediscovered base-2 logarithms and began to systematically explore equal divisions of the octave, coming up with scales of 17, 19, 22, and 31 tones that were especially pleasing. He has been mentor to many composers and instrument builders. The goal of his research is to make exotic scales musically accessible to the composer and listener. "I sculpt in the architecture of the scale. Other people come along and animate it".

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