Last weekend I put on a live stream about making microtonal music in Ableton Live. While there were a few technical issues, I did manage to get my head into a spacey improvisation in the Bohlen-Pierce scale. The improvisation was played with my AXiS-49 by C-Thru Music (a company which unfortunately went out of business recently).
The Bohlen-Pierce scale provides an exciting alternative to the Western 12-tone equal temperament. Instead of using major (4:5:6) and minor (10:12:15) triads as the basis of its harmony, it uses 3:5:7 and 5:7:9 “triads”. The ratios refer to the frequencies of the notes which form its harmony. To my ear, BP is spaced out, sparse and atmospheric. It sounds alien but it makes sense in its own weird way.
Actually the chords that are in the background of my improvisation don’t use the 3:5:7 or 5:7:9 chords, but to my ear they still capture that unmistakable BP sound. Definitely a great xenharmonic scale to go back to now and again.
If you want to hear more, you’ll find a plethora of Bohlen-Pierce recordings on YouTube.
For more reading, check out the Bohlen-Pierce site!
And just for good measure, here’s another Bohlen-Pierce track that I wrote way back in 2010.