Microtonalists' critical reaction to a recovering microtonalist's critical reaction to Why Microtonality?

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This page is a reaction to the following:

A recovering microtonalist's critical reaction to Why Microtonality

Mike's reaction to the above

There's only one reason you should ever pursue microtonality: IF YOU THINK IT SOUNDS GOOD

If you don't like the way it sounds, and you don't think it'll grow on you after spending enough time with it, DON'T PURSUE MICROTONALITY.

I, personally, love it so much that I'm driven to keep exploring and finding more and more new sounds. Who cares about the rest of this discussion?

Mike adds:

6. It sounds good

Keenan adds:

7. You're interested in "Western historical tunings and non-Western traditional tunings" in the context of progressive or fusion music, but not the kind that homogenizes everything by forcing it into a 12edo framework.

Mike S adds:

8. You play a xenharmonic chord of similar consonance, particularly in some formal rating system (e.g. Paul Erlich's 2HE Harmonic Entropy), to a leading consonant chord in 12EDO and think

  • ) The new chord sounds virtually as consonant as the original 12EDO chord
  • ) The new chord sounds extremely original and can inspire very original music. Personally I think having factors of 7 or 11 (the main ones virtually absent in 12EDO) is extremely important
  • ) IMO it helps it your test chord is large and thus allows you to play fairly detailed melodies within it without sounding off or hitting neighboring tones.

I'd recommend at least a 5 note chord (pentad) so clean-sounding pentatonic-style solos, like those frequently done by lead guitarists, can be accomplished.

For example, play a 12:14:16:18:21 chord tempered in 22EDO alongside a CDEGB major 9th chord in 12EDO and compare the sound.

Once you've found a chord plug the prime factors involved in the chord into SCALA (e.g. 2.3.7 for the above chord) and make a tonality diamond. Then temper out a comma or two to reduce the number of notes in the scale via Graham's Temperament finder. Then try to find a near-matching EDO that almost perfectly fits those notes/results and start playing. Consult the Xenharmonic Alliance - Mathematical Theory group on Facebook if you get lose.

So you can build/find an entire system to play in around a/this new Xenharmonic chord you love in much the same way 12EDO was "built around" (formulated to optimize) linked standard major chords.

Ultimately, as Mike (B) added, what ultimately matters is that you think it sounds good.

Unfortunately when most people get a first impression of Xen it is of either highly dissonant music, music in dead simple scales with little flexibility, or music that sounds so much like 12EDO music it does not qualify as original.

I highly recommend these videos to give you an idea where the limits of "good sounding" lie in Xenharmony





I also personally recommend Semaphore and Superpyth (especially the Archy subset) as leading "very different but still very consonant" systems