Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp

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Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp is a summer camp for microtonal composition and performance, started in 2011 by Jacob Barton and friends.



Microtonality/xenharmonics is a retroactive correction on music; if it is to take hold, it must touch every aspect of music as we knew it.

So that microtonality/xenharmonics become a premise and no longer a proposal, a new body of resources must be accumulated: compositions, dedicated performers, redesigned instruments, educational methods.

It turns out that face-to-face conversation and live ensemble activity are irreplaceable parts of building a new musical tradition, yet our 'we' is spread out and already-committed to different places and times all over.

Thus, Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp becomes a place and time for musicians with an interest in xenharmonics/microtonality to experience a temporary but/and recurrent community, with the primary shared purpose of creating and reflecting on a microtonal/xenharmonic corpus together.

It is in the summer so that people on the academic calendar are more likely to be able to participate. It is to happen every year around the same time so that the same people can come back repeatedly.

Past Camps Traces

XPSC 2012

The second camp took place 3-11 August, 2012 at the Gesundheit! Institute. Details and application is available at http://untwelve.org/summer_camp.html

Materials in preparation for camp collected on page XPSC 2012 Resources.

XPSC 2011

The first camp took place at the Gesundheit! Institute in Hillsboro, West Virginia, from July 25 through August 5, 2011. It hosted 18 participants.

Mornings began with JI Praxis Choir, in which Just Intonation theory was combined with created attempts to sing the things we were talking about. By the end, we had made it up to the 11 limit, sung some rounds in harmonic series scales, grokked lattices and common tone modulations, and touched the tiniest bit on Combination Product Sets and the broader art of Scalesmithery. We used a combination of Andrew Heathwaite's extended solfege and Sagittal notation to bridge traditional and microtonal theories.

Before lunch, Elizabeth Adams presented a compositional concept and a related assignment. Warmup assignments led into each participant designing their own assignment for the second week. See XPSC 2011 Assignments.

In the afternoon, participants divided into small ensembles, where each person had the option to compose for that ensemble, urged on by the assignments. The mid-session concert represented the accumulation of this work, after which we regrouped into an acoustic ensemble (AcousCous) and an attempted laptop ensemble (the Scale Tree Orchestra).

In the evenings, we exchanged microtonal music and stories, as well as presentations:

  • Steven Kandow on developing a microtonal music survey class
  • Johnny Reinhard on Charles Ives' Universe Symphony
  • members of An Exciting Event sharing virtuosic rounds
  • Ralph Lewis sharing the music of Peter Andriaanz
  • Jacob Barton on commissioning new microtonal music
  • Toby Twining on his extended JI compositions (Eurydice, Chrysalid Requiem, Schoenberg Dreaming)
  • Angelos Quetzalcoatl on Julian Carrillo and el Sonido 13

Thanks to Chris Vaisvil, Dan Sedgwick, and Denny Genovese for recording the two concerts. These are available in video and audio.

Some of the scores composed during the camp will be compiled into a Sagittal Singalong Songbook, forthcoming.