Microtonal music  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Microtonal music is music using microtonesintervals of less than an equally spaced semitone. Microtonal music can also refer to music which uses intervals not found in the Western system of 12 equal intervals to the octave.


See also

Western microtonal pioneers

Pioneers of modern Western microtonal music include:

  • Henry Ward Poole (keyboard designs, 1825–1890)
  • Charles Ives (U.S.A., 1874–1954, quartertones)
  • Julián Carrillo (Mexico, 1875–1965) many different equal temperaments, look here or here (mostly Spanish but some English too)
  • Béla Bartók (Hungary, 1881–1945, rare uses of quartertones)
  • George Enescu (Romania, France, 1881–1955) (in Œdipe to suggest the enharmonic genus of ancient Greek music, and in the Third Violin Sonata, as inflections characteristic of Romanian folk music)
  • Karol Szymanowski (Poland, 1882–1937, used quartertones on the violin in Myths Op. 30, 1915)
  • Percy Grainger (Australia, 1882–1961, particularly works for his "free music machine")
  • Edgard Varèse (France, U.S.A., 1883–1965, quartertones)
  • Luigi Russolo (Italy, 1885–1947, used quartertones and eighth tones on the Intonarumori, noise instruments)
  • Mildred Couper (U.S.A., 1887–1974, quartertones)
  • Alois Hába (Czechoslovakia, 1893–1973, quartertones and other equal temperaments)
  • Ivan Wyschnegradsky (U.S.S.R. (Russia), France, 1893–1979, quartertones, twelfth tones and other equal temperaments)
  • Harry Partch (U.S.A., 1901–1974, just intonation)
  • Eivind Groven (Norway, 1901–1977, 53ET)
  • Henk Badings (The Netherlands, 1907–1987, 31ET)
  • Maurice Ohana (France, 1913–1992, third tones (18-equal) temperament and quarter tones (24ET) most particularly)
  • Giacinto Scelsi (Italy, 1905–1988, intuitive linear tone deviations, quartertones, eighth tones)
  • Lou Harrison (U.S.A., 1917–2003, just intonation)
  • Ivor Darreg (U.S.A., 1917–1994)
  • Jean-Etienne Marie (France, 1919–1989, many different equal temperaments: 18ET, 24ET, 30ET, 36ET, 48ET, 96ET most particularly and polymicrotonality)
  • Franz Richter Herf (Austria, 1920–1989, 72-equal temperament, "ekmelic" music)
  • Iannis Xenakis (Greece, France, 1922–2001, quarter and third tones most particularly, occasionally eighth tones)
  • György Ligeti (Hungary, 1923–2006, Ramifications in quartertone tuning, natural harmonics in his Horn Trio, later just intonation in his solo concertos)
  • Luigi Nono (Italy, 1924-1990, quartetones, eighth tones and 16th tones)
  • Claude Ballif (France, 1924-2004, quartertones)
  • Tui St. George Tucker (1924–2004)
  • Pierre Boulez (France, b. 1925) (first attempt of serial music with quartertones in his pieces Visage Nuptial and "Polyphonie X", but soon after abandoning microtonal elements)
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen (Germany, 1928–2007, in his electronic works many microtonal concepts, non-octaving scales in Studie II, just intonation in Gruppen and Stimmung, microtonal instrumental and vocal writing throughout Licht)
  • Ben Johnston (U.S.A., b. 1926, extended just intonation)
  • Ezra Sims (U.S.A., b. 1928, 72-tone equal temperament)
  • Erv Wilson (b. 1928)
  • Alvin Lucier (U.S.A., b. 1931)
  • Joel Mandelbaum (U.S.A., b. 1932)
  • Krzysztof Penderecki (Poland, b. 1933, quartertones)
  • Easley Blackwood (b. 1933)
  • Alain Bancquart(France, b.1934) (quarter tones and 16th tones)
  • James Tenney (U.S.A., 1934–2006, just intonation, 72-tone equal temperament)
  • Terry Riley (U.S.A., b. 1935, just intonation)
  • La Monte Young (U.S.A., b. 1935, just intonation)
  • Douglas Leedy (b. 1938, just intonation, meantone)
  • Wendy Carlos (U.S.A., b. 1939, non-octaving scales)
  • Bruce Mather (Canada, b.1939, different equal temperaments, following Wyschnegradsky)
  • Brian Ferneyhough (Great Britain, b. 1943, quartertones, 31ET in Unity Capsule for solo flute,1976)

Recent microtonal composers

Microtonal researchers

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