Sevish

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“Re-Tuned” demonstrates the aesthetic characteristics of musical tuning systems

I started a small project where I take existing Sevish tracks and adapt them to different musical tuning systems. It is called Re-Tuned and is available from my Bandcamp page to stream or as a free download. In this project, you’ll hear many tracks with altered tunings. Many of these are originally written as microtonal pieces that are re-tuned to standard 12 equal!

Why have I done this‽ The project originally started out as trolling youtube videos which rendered familiar microtonal tunes in 12edo. It turned out to be an effective demonstration that 12edo is just another tuning with its own character, and that this kind of retuning subtly or dramatically altered the feeling of the music. I then started to produce microtonal retunings, for example Desert Island Rain (originally in 313edo) is rendered in 24edo, 19edo, 14edo and 9edo.

My musical philosophy is that music is a fun craft to be involved with and I’m glad it exists. When expressing yourself through music there are various tools in the toolbox – for example dynamics, timbre, tempo, tuning – though tuning is often forgotten about. I hope Re-Tuned makes the case that deliberate use of tuning is one more powerfully expressive and aesthetic parameter that musicians can use to hone their craft further.

Cover artwork by Juha Penttinen.

A new original Sevish album is coming out next month…

Getting hard with scales

People working with musical scales have found various ways to categorise them. Recently I’ve heard of a new way of sorting scales depending on how big the difference is between the large and small step. This idea, the “step ratio spectrum” applies to moment of symmetry scales.

Reminder about moment of symmetry (MOS) scales: MOS scales have have exactly two step sizes: large and small, usually notated as L and s. One example is the major scale (LLsLLLs).

On the “soft” end of the spectrum, the large and small steps are almost equal in size. The melodic quality of these scales seems smoother to me.

As for the “hard” end, large steps are very exaggerated in how large they are in comparison to the razor-thin small steps. Melodically this sounds quite dramatic to me because of the obvious difference in the step sizes.

In the below video, you’ll hear one piece of music which explores various points on the hard side of this spectrum. The scale used is LsLsLsLsL, tuned to various equal temperaments:

EDO L:s ratio L (cents) s (cents) TAMNAMS name
313 53:12 203.2 46.0 Superhard
24 4:1 200 50 Superhard
19 3:1 189.5 63.2 Hard
14 2:1 171.4 85.7 Basic
9 1:1 133.3 133.3 Equalized

It’s because I only recently heard about scale hardness and found it an interesting perspective that I’m posting about the topic here. Maybe this could be a jumping off point for further reading and study about interesting tuning thingies.

Xenharmonic Wiki

List of Microtonal Software Plugins has been updated

The Xenharmonic Wiki is an online knowledge base relating to microtonal music and tuning theory. For a few years a bunch of us from the community have used the Xen Wiki to maintain a list of software plugins that you can use to make microtonal music in the DAW.

This week the list has been updated because of wonderful developments happening in the music technology world that will allow composers to more easily make microtonal music with a wide variety of synths and virtual instruments. That development is the widespread adoption of MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE). Widespread MPE support means that new tuning tools can be developed which systematically manage the tunings of various instruments at the same time. And indeed, such tools are already coming out this year, for example Oddsound MTS-ESP Suite and Infinitone DMT. A new section of the list has been added to catalogue these tools. An additional section about MPE synths in general was also added.

https://en.xen.wiki/w/List_of_Microtonal_Software_Plugins

Micro is Massive! Sevish live stream on Saturdays

Next Saturday (March 13th, 5pm UTC) I’ll stream from my home studio via Twitch. It’s a chance for me to demonstrate electronic music production and working with microtonal scales. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see then send your requests in Twitch chat – it’s an unscripted event where we hang out and nerd out over music.

From time to time I’ll also live stream impromptu sessions of me just working on tracks. These will be unscheduled as I make music whenever I feel like it. Those sessions will be less interactive but potentially of interest to folks who are following my music and want to see how I work.

Consider following my Twitch channel if you want to get the alert when I go live: twitch.tv/sevishmusic

Until then, check the below vod of last Saturday’s stream. It starts out with me refining a work in progress and then viewers suggest topics for the rest of the session:

I learned a few things from chat last Saturday, for example x.iso encouraged me to try MPE polyphonic pitch bend in Bitwig on VST instruments that already have microtunings active. Turns out that it works! If you’re working in any equal tuning, you can set the pitch bend amount so that everything lines up perfectly. My mind was blown. I’ll definitely use that trick in the future.

Leimma & Apotome: two new web tools for microtonal music

Two new tools have just appeared that will interest folks working with microtonal scales and tunings: Leimma and Apotome. These tools were launched as part of CTM Festival 2021 and were created by Khyam Allami and Counterpoint.

Leimma

Leimma is a browser-based tool for exploring, creating, hearing, and playing microtonal tuning systems.

Apotome

Apotome is a browser-based generative music environment based on octave-repeating microtonal tuning systems and their subsets (scales/modes).

Koko – S​/​T

Eight mostly loop-based compositions for a Yamaha DX7ii FD synthesizer that was re-tuned to a microtonal scale. Released February 5, 2021.

Marcus Satellite – Heavenly Bodies

Marcus Satellite’s new album uses tunings based on Erv Wilson’s work.

STAFFcirc vol. 7 – Terra Octava

Terra Octava is a collaboration album from the collective at STAFFcirc.

Sounds of digital fusion, chiptune, jazz and electronic music in a variety of equal tempered tunings.

Featuring Cryptovolans, Reuben Gingrich, Jaq, Chimeratio, petet, manfish, STC_1001, STC_1002, STC_1003, STC_1004, Vince Kaichan, Hunter Van Brocklin, Tancla, Emelia K., Abd al-Mahdi, Themnotyou, Sintel, 0x70457465, limeboiler, clown core, b-knox, amimifafa, ordinate and Sevish.

The microtonal tunings include 34edo, 22edo, 19edo, 16edo, 10edo and others – but also the tiny ones like 6edo, 4edo, 3edo, 2edo, 1edo, 0edo!

My track Fuschiamarine in 7edo is on there.

I’m actually blown away by what everybody was able to achieve here. They’re all deep into their musical craft – and some of them are pros at tuning already – some are trying microtones for the first time. Hope you’ll enjoy the listen!

Bandcamp
Soundcloud

Scale Workshop 1.2 released

Screenshot of Scale Workshop 1.2

1.2 Changelog

New features

  • Approximate scale by harmonics of an arbitrary denominator
  • Approximate scale by subharmonics of an arbitrary numerator
  • Approximate scale to equal divisions

Bug fixes

  • ‘Stretch/compress’ now works as it should
  • ‘Tempo-sync beating’ now works as it should

Misc changes

  • ‘Clear scale’ function now moved into ‘New’ menu
  • ‘Mode’ renamed to ‘Subset’
  • Various updates to the user guide

Other recent additions

  • Scale Workshop now works with Harmor and Sytrus by Image-Line, via .fnv tuning file (thanks to Azorlogh).
  • The ‘Approximate by ratios’ option walks you through each step of your scale and proposes ratios that are approximately close.
  • Generate scales from an ‘Enumerate chord’ e.g. 4:5:6:7:8

Links

Launch Scale Workshop

Report issue on GitHub

Some micro sounds for the end of 2020

Here is some new microtonal music I heard recently.

Benyamind – Namoic

Zhea Erose – Eurybia

Gunerius & Verdensveven – Blå disko a lá türk

Abstract Type – Waves of Isidis

FAST-fast – Spaceman

Giorgi Mikadze – Georgian Microjamz

Xotla – Microtonal Funk Blues Vol. 2

Planet MicroJam Institute ft Yazhi Guo – Fung Wah Express

acreil – finished Pure Data IDM patch from lecture

Stephen Weigel – Ignoring Years of Hindsight

Jacob Collier – The Christmas Song

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – K.G.