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Sonata for Microtonal Piano (Ben Johnston)

Sonata for Microtonal Piano is a sonata for specifically microtonally tuned piano by Ben Johnston written in 1964 (see also just intonation). When the movements are played in an alternate order the piece is titled Grindlemusic.

The piece uses, "chains of just tuned (untempered) triadic intervals over the whole piano range," with very few, only seven, piano keys having octave equivalents, thus providing eighty-one different pitches (there are eighty-eight white and black keys total). "Effectively, for the listener, there are three main gradations of consonance/dissonance: (1) smooth untempered [ major and minor] thirds and fifths, which have the least amount of harshness caused by acoustical beats; (2) compounds of these...; and (3) chromatic or enharmonic intervals...which sound 'out of tune.'" [note the difference between 'keyboard distance' in this tuning and pitch or interval distance: for example a fifteenth, two keys with fifteen notes between them, on a normally tuned keyboard is a double octave, while in this tuning a fifteenth is slightly sharper than that]

"This suggested...the possibility of two opposite systems for the deployment of pitches: one that synchronized pitch choices with the layout of consonant and dissonant intervals on the keyboard [see: tonality], and a violently contrasting one in which the system for choosing pitches, a twelve-tone-row procedure derived largely from certain practices of Berg and late Schoenberg [see: twelve-tone technique], either ignores or flaunts the consonance/dissonance keyboard layout [see: atonality]. There are two contrasting movements of each of these types."

"This makes possible a Janus[two]-faced work, in which, with only the third movement similarly located in both versions, permutations of the placement of the other three movements creates an alter-ego relationship between the two versions, called respectively Sonata for Microtonal Piano and Grindlemusic. In the Sonata version, the movements correspond to the classical sonata scheme: the 'sonata-allegro,' the 'scherzo,' the songlike 'slow movement,' and the 'finale,' which is in this case a meditative adagio. All movements, however are cast in the common ballad mold, AABA, as is each of the two entire versions, the Sonata and Grindlemusic."

In the words of the composer:

"The Sonata, whether presented as beauty or as the beast, is a monstrous parody-enigma, allusive, referential, sometimes derisive, distorted, a tissue of familiarity in radically strange garb....Whatever the closing mood brings to mind, it is overlaid with irony and derision. The Sonata sequence poses the challenge: fast, faster, slow, slower. When, in the Sonata's finale, the knots are finally untied, will it be clear from what Houdini has escaped?"

"All tempos, all phrase and section lengths, and in certain parts of the 'finale' (which opens Grindlemusic, the sequence closing with the 'scherzo'), even note-to-note timings conform to a proportional scheme derived from a single pattern of changes in AABA form. This pattern is associated with two distinct motivic groups at different points in the work."

The piece has been recorded and released on:

  • Microtonal Piano by Ben Johnston (1997). Phillip Bush, piano. Koch International Classics 3-7369-2.

"Though the piece was recorded as the Sonata, and though Johnston and I both agree that a live performance of Grindlemusic would contain subtle alterations, the metric modulations between movements are nevertheless worked out to arrive at identical tempos in each version. Therefore I feel that a passable sense of Grindlemusic can be experienced by simply reprogramming the tracks on your compact disc player. To program the tracks for Grindlemusic, select the track order 9, 6, 8, 7." The Sonata being track order 6, 7, 8, 9. 8, being B, stays in the same place.

Contents

Sonata for Microtonal Piano

  1. Sonata-allegro
  2. Scherzo
  3. Slow movement
  4. Finale

Grindlemusic

  1. Premises
  2. Questions
  3. Soul Music
  4. Mood Music

Sonata-allegro = Questions, Scherzo = Mood Music, Slow movement = Soul Music, Finale = Premises.

  1. Johnston, Ben and Gilmore, Bob (2006). "Maximum Clarity" and Other Writings on Music, p.185. ISBN 978-0-252-03098-7.
  2. Liner notes for SOUND FORMS FOR PIANO, New World Records 80203, fetched from "Archived copy"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 2011-05-17. Retrieved2007-11-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Johnston and Gilmore (2006), p.186.
  4. Microtonal Piano by Ben Johnston (1997). Phillip Bush, piano. Koch International Classics 3-7369-2. Liner notes.
  • Gibbens, John Jeffrey. "Design in Ben Johnston's Sonata for Microtonal Piano". Interface, Vol. 18 (1989), pp. 161–194.

Sonata for Microtonal Piano (Ben Johnston)
Sonata for Microtonal Piano Ben Johnston Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Sonata for Microtonal Piano Sonata for Microtonal Piano is a sonata for specifically microtonally tuned piano by Ben Johnston written in 1964 see also just intonation When the movements are played in an alternate order the piece is titled Grindlemusic The piece uses chains of just tuned untempered triadic intervals over the whole piano range with very few only seven piano keys having octave equivalents thus providing eighty one different pitches there are eighty eight white and black keys total 1 Effectively for the listener there are three main gradations of consonance dissonance 1 smooth untempered major and minor thirds and fifths which have the least amount of harshness caused by acoustical beats 2 compounds of these and 3 chromatic or enharmonic intervals which sound out of tune 1 note the difference between keyboard distance in this tuning and pitch or interval distance for example a fifteenth two keys with fifteen notes between them on a normally tuned keyboard is a double octave while in this tuning a fifteenth is slightly sharper than that 1 This suggested the possibility of two opposite systems for the deployment of pitches one that synchronized pitch choices with the layout of consonant and dissonant intervals on the keyboard see tonality and a violently contrasting one in which the system for choosing pitches a twelve tone row procedure derived largely from certain practices of Berg and late Schoenberg see twelve tone technique either ignores or flaunts the consonance dissonance keyboard layout see atonality There are two contrasting movements of each of these types 1 This makes possible a Janus two faced work in which with only the third movement similarly located in both versions permutations of the placement of the other three movements creates an alter ego relationship between the two versions called respectively Sonata for Microtonal Piano and Grindlemusic In the Sonata version the movements correspond to the classical sonata scheme the sonata allegro the scherzo the songlike slow movement and the finale which is in this case a meditative adagio All movements however are cast in the common ballad mold AABA as is each of the two entire versions the Sonata and Grindlemusic 1 In the words of the composer The Sonata whether presented as beauty or as the beast is a monstrous parody enigma allusive referential sometimes derisive distorted a tissue of familiarity in radically strange garb Whatever the closing mood brings to mind it is overlaid with irony and derision The Sonata sequence poses the challenge fast faster slow slower When in the Sonata s finale the knots are finally untied will it be clear from what Houdini has escaped 2 3 All tempos all phrase and section lengths and in certain parts of the finale which opens Grindlemusic the sequence closing with the scherzo even note to note timings conform to a proportional scheme derived from a single pattern of changes in AABA form This pattern is associated with two distinct motivic groups at different points in the work 3 The piece has been recorded and released on Microtonal Piano by Ben Johnston 1997 Phillip Bush piano Koch International Classics 3 7369 2 Though the piece was recorded as the Sonata and though Johnston and I both agree that a live performance of Grindlemusic would contain subtle alterations the metric modulations between movements are nevertheless worked out to arrive at identical tempos in each version Therefore I feel that a passable sense of Grindlemusic can be experienced by simply reprogramming the tracks on your compact disc player To program the tracks for Grindlemusic select the track order 9 6 8 7 4 The Sonata being track order 6 7 8 9 8 being B stays in the same place Contents 1 Movements 1 1 Sonata for Microtonal Piano 1 2 Grindlemusic 2 References 3 Further readingMovements EditSonata for Microtonal Piano Edit Sonata allegro Scherzo Slow movement FinaleGrindlemusic Edit Premises Questions Soul Music Mood Music Sonata allegro Questions Scherzo Mood Music Slow movement Soul Music Finale Premises References Edit a b c d e Johnston Ben and Gilmore Bob 2006 Maximum Clarity and Other Writings on Music p 185 ISBN 978 0 252 03098 7 Liner notes for SOUND FORMS FOR PIANO New World Records 80203 fetched from Archived copy PDF Archived from the original PDF on 2011 05 17 Retrieved 2007 11 13 CS1 maint archived copy as title link a b Johnston and Gilmore 2006 p 186 Microtonal Piano by Ben Johnston 1997 Phillip Bush piano Koch International Classics 3 7369 2 Liner notes Further reading EditGibbens John Jeffrey Design in Ben Johnston s Sonata for Microtonal Piano Interface Vol 18 1989 pp 161 194 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Sonata for Microtonal Piano Ben Johnston amp oldid 918474754, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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