19 April 2009 Filed in: Music
Listen to Adagio Gamma
This piece is called Adagio Gamma because it is a slow piece using Carlos Gamma tuning system.
Actually this piece is based on a dodecatonic mode of Carlos Gamma devised by X.J.Scott. It means that the piece uses 12 of the available 20 equal divisions of a just perfect fifth following the pattern: 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2.
This arrangement looks good on a standard piano keyboard because an octave span equals an interval of a just perfect fifth with steps of 35.098 and 70.196 cents.
This is the first time I try out Gamma. I started out with a single melody that gets repeated a few times transposed by 12 midi steps, that in this case means up or down a just perfect fifth! I have also used a few other techniques like pitch and position inversion. The second part of the piece is harmonically thicker but mostly modal.
Wendy Carlos states:
"Gamma is also slightly smoother than Alpha or Beta, having no palpable difference from Just tuning in harmonies, which is saying a lot. You really have to go further, up to 53-step E.T., to find another nearly perfect equal division, yet Gamma is noticeably freer of beats than even that venerable tuning. Why was it overlooked for so long? You guessed it, it's not symmetrical about the octave, and so was excluded a priori from everybody's search."
Gamma is a nonoctave scale: its repeat ratio is a just perfect fifth, not an octave. The closest intervals to 1200 cents (an octave) are 1193.324 and 1228.421 cents.
I plan to compose more music using Gamma once I will get the right tool to play it....