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(OT) non-octave scales (was Re: various infotaining natlang tidbits)

From:Jonathan Chang <zhang2323@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 14, 2000, 19:28
In a message dated 2000/06/14 12:17:34 PM, thorinn wrote:

>Are there actually intonation systems out there where you don't have >any pitches in a 2:1 ratio at all?
Yep, & for lack of a classification they are generally called "non-octave scale tuning systems.
>All the systems that I have seen >described repeated themselves after an octave, but that may be an >artifact of the descriptions --- and of course I haven't seen all >systems.
Quite a number of scale tuning systems in South East Asia, Oceania & parts of Africa have scales in which 2:1 ratios are not used - preferences tending to near-octave pitches or pitches beyond the octave by as much as a quartertone are fairly common. In recent years, fractal-based scale tunings have also added to the "non-octave" class of tunings - besides other mathematicallly-based scale tuning systems. Non-octave tunings tend to be unequal tunings & thus quite "spicy" or "alien" sounding. . . which should be inspirational to those of you who are into creating truly original concultures. Funny story: I met a musician who couldn't believe me when I said there are scale tuning systems with more than 12 pitches in an octave-range. I simply loaded up my JI-Calc (Just Intonation Calculator) program on my computer & demonstrated a random series of different scale systems - in example, 13-tone Equal Tempered scale (very alien sounding), 19-tone Equal Tempered scale (very aggressive sounding... imagine a weird mix of Wagner & Klingon), the Indian _sruti_ system of 22-pitches, Harry Partch's Monophonic Fabric with it's 43-tones, Mercator II's 53-pitch scale, etc.. (There is also a few scale tuning systems that have as many as several hundred pitches to an octave range, but these IMHO tend to be just "special effects" oddities.) His jaw dropped to the floor & ever since he has been a "tuning freak." At the other extreme, there are interesting scale tunings with less than 5-tones per octave range as well. These I find to be deceptively "simple" and "primitive." I personally find highly unequal pentatonic scale tunings to be highly rewarding in terms of various emotive modes (especially extremely dark, alien-sounding drone music as well as various "lighter" percussive music pieces using metallic instruments - including a "mutated"/prepared toy piano, *musical mad scientist gigglabytefit*). zHANg