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Microtone Pianos

Discussion in 'The Piano' started by PJF, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I found only one manufacturer of microtone pianos. Sauter makes a 16th-tone piano with 97 keys that spans exactly one octave. http://www.sauter-pianos.de/english/pia ... otone.html

    Does anybody know of recordings of or composers/compositions for microtone piano? I did find a recording of a 1/4 tone piano; it was nearly unrecognizeable as what I conceive to be music. The interval in between a major and minor third was most bizzare. The 1/16 tone piano must sound as though from another dimension! It's such a departure from the norm, its uses must be limited. I'm intrigued.

    Pete
     
  2. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    so whats the difference between this piano and a normal piano?
     
  3. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    On a normal piano, the octave is divided into twelve half-step tones, c, c#,d, d#, e, f, f#, g, g#, a, a# and b. On a microtone piano, the octave is divided into more than twelve tones.

    The quarter-tone piano divides the octave into 24 quarter-step tones, so that the tones in between the usual twelve tones are produced. c, c half-sharp, c#, d half-flat, d, d half-sharp, d sharp, e half-flat, e, f half-flat, f, f half-sharp, f sharp, g half-flat, g, g half-sharp, et cetera. This is not so unusual.

    The 16th-tone piano divides the octave into 96 tones, so the 97-keyed Sauter microtone piano covers only one octave from its lowest key to its highest. The effect must be very foreign.

    I'm not sure whether this piano is anything beyond a novelty. Maybe Chris can shed some light here.

    Pete

    This very strange piece uses microtonality. The pianos are not quarter-toned but you get a hint as to what microtonality is all about.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY4UwgwV4RY
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That was a strange piece of music. Kind of like dream, no, nightmare music.
     
  5. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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  6. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    The Arabics use microtones in the Maqamat tone system. In the Arabic Maqamat, the octave is divided into 24 equally spaced Quarter-Tones and there are many works from Arabic classical composers who make use of it. But I do not believe they play on pianos but rather string instruments. Could be wrong there of course.
     
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Call me old-fashioned, but I'm very skeptical about all this "experimental" music, if you can even call it music. Let's be honest, it's awful! :evil: I'd prefer something by Bach or Chopin with a melody. Now THAT'S real music.
     
  8. toki

    toki New Member

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    When it comes to this junk, I used to follow the same train of thought as you, but the fact is that you just have to look at this music from a different angle. It's still music, but it chooses to go in a direction that's completely different from music as we know it traditionally. The music becomes a lot more scientific than it does artistic, with the underlying principle being that music doesn't have to follow any rules, period.

    I worked for five years as a recording engineer at UC San Diego, where their music program focused primarily on what they called "new music." Over my years there with the music department, I learned to understand a lot of what new music was all about.

    Even so, I never really learned to like it. Very rarely did I encounter a piece that I thought was really cool and deserved credit for being more than just some bizarre science experiment in sound. But I guess this kind of music isn't necessarily about the listener, and testament to that fact is the number of recording sessions I just cringed my way through... :wink:

    I'm not even sure a lot of the performers really liked this music all too much, either, to tell you the truth. While there were definitely some fruitcakes that were way into it, I think a lot of the performers participated in the new music thing only because they were expected to do so as members of the staff/faculty, perhaps just to please their superiors. What's really amazing is that most of them came from some serious musical backgrounds, nearly all of them classically trained to the concert performing level. I recorded a lot of piano concerts where they'd play this kinda shit for a half hour, then turn around and play a whole set of Rachmaninoff preludes flawlessly. Kinda weird to see the two musical worlds juxtaposed like that, but hey, it's a university, I guess they've got to do some sort of "research" somehow.

    I guess you just gotta be into it to enjoy it. I never was able to do that, myself, but I don't think that necessarily makes it "bad" music. It's just different. Probably way too different for most peoples' tastes.
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It is difficult to say where what we conveniently call 'music' crosses over into intellectual mindboggling or scientific experiment. Obviously one should not try to measure such music by the yardstick of conventional music like Bach and Chopin. It probably calls for another part of the brain, to perform as well as appreciate it. I have the utmost repect for musicians who not only can play this kind of music but are also committed to it. Even if you may not like the results, for want of a melody or lacf emotion, the results can still be interesting and certainly a microtone piano can produce the weirdest fascinating sounds. It may even be beautiful once the ear (mind) gets itself attuned to it.
     
  10. Joffrey

    Joffrey New Member Piano Society Artist

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    A friend (Henk Hupkes, for those that know him :wink: ) had the questionable honour of listening to a real live performance on the Sauter microtone piano. When asked about how his impressions were all he replied was: "Well... Um... Waterfalls?".

    :?
     
  11. Anonymous

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    Hmm, maybe I am being a bit narrow minded. (I was kind of in a bad mood when I wrote the last comment!! :evil: :lol: :lol: ) But still I feel that music is about the expression of emotions. As one of my teachers once said, "Music is the purest language." I don't think there's much room for a scientific approach to music. Emotions (and human beings themselves) are not totally logical. But I respect experimental musicians for their commitment.

    But still, John Cage's four and a half minutes of silence is just too much. :lol:
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Music does not have to be all about emotion. I think that is narrowing the definition a bit too much. There are many examples to be found of music which almost or totally devoid of emotion, and yet profoundly beautiful and/or utterly fascinating.

    Having said that, I refuse to label rap or hiphop as music, prefer to call it noise. Probably also narrow-minded :roll:

    True. But that is just a daft attention-seeking joke which has nothing to do with music. Like his new organ piece which is to last 600 years or so.
     
  13. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I personally cannot imagine of emotionless played music which deserves the label "beautiful". As soon as the heart is not involved it will sound so - bloodless, cold, boring. I never could find beauty nor fascination in this playing style.
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    When you listen to music, and you desribe it as beautiful or fascinating, isn't that an emotion?
     
  15. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, of course! It would be also an emotion if I would describe it as terrible for instance. Just another kind of emotion :lol:

    What I liked to put is that if a piece of music is played emotionless this will be transferred, and I cannot imagine that I would find it beautiful or fascinating, if played in that manner.
     
  16. Anonymous

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    Interesting fact: Bartok used quarter tones in his second violin concerto. Just another useless piece of info that you can amaze your friends with! :lol:
     
  17. Joffrey

    Joffrey New Member Piano Society Artist

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    OT: Somehow I don't think my friends will be amazed by that information :(
     
  18. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    What kind of friends are those :shock: ???
     
  19. Joffrey

    Joffrey New Member Piano Society Artist

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    The ones that think classical music is mainly used during funerals or dramatic scenes in the lord of the rings movies. (most of them)

    back on topic;

    http://www.sauter-pianos.de/english/pia ... otone.html

    I think the microtone piano at the moment has no real use at the moment. It is an expensive and prestigious instrument with no real music composed for it, and as far as I know no musicians that have mastered it to a point where they can play it like they would play a normal piano in any form of ensemble or solo,

    (In holland we would say "brandhout". google translate it if you want)

    Although it might be useless now maybe the future will bring exciting music where microtonality will play an important role. Music since recorded history has been evolving and maybe microtonality is the next logical step. Be that as it may I Personally don't think that the large public is ready for it, or capable of enjoying it.
     
  20. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Unconventional music can activate an entirely different set of emotions than classical. The point of it is to be very different; alien. I love it.

    PF
     

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