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Seventeen Equal Divisions of the Octave (as opposed to the usual 12) is a microtonal/xenharmonic scale with no shortage of musical potential, but a scale in which very little music has been written. The Seventeen Tone Piano Project was initiated in Houston in 2006 when two of Rice University's surplus pianos were tuned to the 17-EDO scale. Since then, four concerts or 'phases' have been organized with this name, which featured new 17-tone music by Rice composers as well as microtonalists around the world. For recordings and more information about the project, visit http://xenharmonic.wikispaces.com/SeventeenTonePianoProject.

Phase Four of the project began with a CALL FOR MICROTONAL SONGS and culminated in (1) a sing-along/sharing on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at the Bonnie Brae house, and (2) a presentation of songs on Thursday, May 1, 2008 at Hirsch Orchestra Rehearsal Hall, Rice University, Houston, TX.

17 Tone Piano Project Phase 4 Program and Recordings

Paul Kotheimer: Three Short Poems (5- and 7-limit JI) ~ micro choir

K.: Needs A Title (17-edo) ~ Dan Sedgwick & Lembit Beecher, pianos

Ian Dicke: These Things Don't Happen Here (24-edo) ~ Ian Dicke, guitar

Dan Stearns: Cirrus and Pileus (17-edo) ~ Ryan Stickney, mezzo-soprano; Dan Sedgwick & Jacob Barton, pianos

Jacob Barton: Multiverse (17-edo) ~ An Exciting Event, autoharp, violin, udderbot, voices

Chris Bailey: Lost and Found Things, #2 (17-edo) ~ micro choir

Paul Kotheimer: One Dollar (13-limit JI) ~ micro choir

Paul Rapoport: "Goodbye (Apple)" and "Bananas" from Songs of Fruits and Vegetables (31-edo) (unreleased) ~ micro choir

Andrew Heathwaite: Two Sinner (17-edo) ~ Jacob Barton, sharps piano

Travis Weller: Dirt, dust, and pollen, paralleled by signal bells (In two parts because of file size restrictions) (JI) ~ Travis Weller, owl

Nathan Brock: Song (24-edo) ~ Meghan Tarkington, soprano; Hilary Abigana, flute; Marjorie Gere, violin

Elaine Walker: Love Song (BP) ~ Jacob Barton, voice; Lembit Beecher & Dan Sedgwick, keyboards; Shawn Conley, double bass; Ben Grow, beatboxing

Tommy Scheurich: Confrontation and Finale from Story Worth Telling (17-edo) ~ Meghan Jacob Ben Dan Lembit

micro choir:
Marjorie Gere & Meghan Tarkington, soprano
Angelique Poteat & Ryan Stickney, alto
Jacob Barton & Dan Sedgwick, tenor
Benjamin Grow & Brian Nelson, bass

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*) NB: due to an organizational error this was not presented as an official Shepherd School of Music "concert", but instead an independently produced "showcase".

The call for songs

'MICROTONAL': intentionally deviating from the (Western-music) norm of 12 tones per octave, AND not restricted to 17 tones per octave either.

'SONGS': anything unashamed to call itself a 'song' is welcome. Some suggestions: art songs; madrigals; ballads; rounds (naïve and/or virtuosic); canons; "children's music"; singalongs; campfire songs; musical games; pedagogical ditties and mnemonic devices; spirituals from another planet. The line between 'professional' and 'amateur' is blurred.

INSTRUMENTATION: Preference will be given to songs with at least one vocal part. Up to 6 voices (SSATTB) are available, but there is a maximum of 6 performers total, including the use of any combination of these instruments:

  • the Seventeen Tone Pianos (see below for details)
  • grand piano (in 12-EDO)
  • freely sliding instruments: fretless strings, trombone & slide trumpet, udderbot
  • standard woodwinds, brass, percussion, WITH the necessary attention paid to the rendering of the needed microtones (i.e. fingerings for woodwinds)
  • a variety of software and hardware synthesizers, capable of any tuning system imaginable, with various MIDI controller devices. Inquire for details.

Some performers can sing and play multiple instruments as well—inquire for details.

LENGTH: maximum five minutes for each submission.

REQUIREMENTS for submission: Send a score, recording, or even both. Include a clear description of the required tuning (and notation, if unconventional). Mockup recordings at learning tempo for rehearsal purposes are much appreciated! Send submissions by APRIL 1, 2008. Let us know your intentions before then, if possible.

Inquiries and submissions go to eptadecaphonic@gmail.com, or

Seventeen Tone Piano Project
c/o Dan Sedgwick
1618 Bonnie Brae
Houston, TX 77006

VISIT: Let us know if you plan to attend. You may bring your own performers, or yourself as a performer, if you'd like. The sing-along will be an informal opportunity to share, teach, and learn music. The concert will be audio-recorded at the very least.

PIANOS: the Seventeen Tone Pianos are two pianos tuned to overlapping 12-out-of-17-EDO scales. Following the circle-of-fifths naming system for 17, the white keys of both pianos are tuned identically, to the (notated) C major scale (C D E F G A B). The piano called "flat" has black keys tuned to (Db Eb Gb Ab Bb); the one called "sharp" has (C# D# F# G# A#). Remember, C# is HIGHER than Db! In scores with separate staves for each piano, it is not necessary to spell chords with these distinctions; notating intervals in their most common appearance is recommended for quick readability, e.g. Eb-C in the sharp piano part, rather than D#-C.