Co-Melakatas: Pentatonic Shadows of Carnatic Scales

Regular readers will know that whenever I study almost any resource, I take an interest in whatever isn't in it. I guess this is a habit I picked up early, when somebody pointed out that not only are the white notes on a piano the major scale but the black notes -- all the ones that aren't in the major scale -- form a major pentatonic. Switching between a scale, chord or whatever and its complement is something I find very musically useful. So I was surprised to realise I've never studied melakatas this way. What do their complements look like?

Melakata Tunings

So I had this weird idea of taking the Carnatic melakatas, which are 7-note scales, and mapping them onto the white keys of a piano keyboard. Then tuning each black note to be exactly between the white notes either side of it. By this method we get 12-note subsets of 24-EDO that are maybe interesting or fun to play with? I don't know.

Third-Tone Tunings

After a bit of exploration into quarter-tones I thought I'd add to my collection of EDO-based 12-note tunings by exploring third-tones, which split the gap between (say) C and D into three equal parts rather than the usual two. The EDO made entirely of this interval is 18-EDO, which we can think of as three equally-spaced whole-tone scales.

Semi-Regular Quarter-Tone Scales

In Manual of Quarter-Tone Harmony, Wyshnegradsky describes a "semi-regular" scale as a scale that divides the octave into equal parts, then divides each of those in the same way. Quarter tones are very practical on an unmodified guitar (using a slide), at least for melodies, and they can be coaxed out of many other instruments too so this may be a bit more friendly than the 30-EDO stuff I've been playing with over the last year. In this post we explore the 12-note semi-regular scales that form nicely symmetrical ways to impose a subset of 24-EDO onto a standard keyboard.

Code for exploring scales / microtonal tunings is now on GitHub

That's it really -- the link is at the top of the page (in the row of buttons above the banner). The code itself is a bit primitive and not as nice as my old Java code but it might be useful to someone. More importantly, perhaps, you'll find Scala files for all the microtonal tunings I create for this blog in convenient folder there. No more clunky Dropbox links that expire without warning!

Learning a Far-Out Scale from John Foulds

Maud MacCarthy lived a storied life. She was born in Tipperary but spent some of her childhood in Sydney, Australia. in the 1890s she moved to London to train as a violinist at the Royal College of Music, at the same the time embracing the then-fashionable ideas of theosophy. When her career was cut short by an injury she travelled to India with Annie Besant, where she spent several years studying music and mysticism. She and composer John Foulds met when they were both already married but, scandalously for the time, moved in together (they did get married, much later). Foulds was deeply influenced by MacCarthy's studies in Indian music, as we hear in some of his music.

Bluebird OST now available to stream / buy on bandcamp

The Bluebird original soundtrack album is now up on Bandcamp and will make its way to all the other platforms in due course. Here I'll say a few nerdy things about it.

The Bluebird is released!

The audio drama I co-wrote and did the soundtrack for is now out to buy. Kickstarter backers have all been fulfilled and it's on various platforms, or you can buy it more or less directly from us on Authors Direct. We're very proud of how it turned out. For my part, learning to master an audio drama was quite the experience and soundtracks are always an interesting challenge -- I think we made some difficult but good choices about sound overall, and it has a bit of a sonic identity of its own. The performers are all great. A soundtrack album is in the works that should be out maybe in November; I'll post an update here when it drops.

Highly Symmetrical 12-Note Scales from 30-EDO

...in which I sift through 1,073,741,824 possibilities to find 12 interesting ones for the good of humanity. Results and some Scala tuning files inside.

Bluebird, an Audio Drama with Music

The latest Minimum Labyrinth project is Bluebird, a ten-part audio drama with music by me. After about a year of exploring the ideas and then polishing and testing the script we're running a Kickstarter campaign so we can hire a studio and, you know, pay the actors and engineer a fair price for their labour. It went live today and ends on 8 April 2021 -- the project won't happen without backers, so if you're inclined to help make it happen please do. Some music nerd stuff follows below the fold.