Chameleons in the dark

(click on the picture to enlarge it)

Listen to
Chameleons in the dark

This piece is the first one I have composed playing my Opal Chameleon, arrived only one week ago. Considering that the serial number of mine is 001 it could be the first one ever composed using it!!!!
The Chameleon is an awesome midi controller hand built in the UK by Peter Davies (inventor and responsible for hardware design and construction) and Jim Wills (electronics engineer and software writer). Excellent job, guys!
This is also the first piece composed featuring the full Carlos Gamma tuning systems. All the previous ones using it (Adagio Gamma, Moonlight Gamma serenade, Gammalan, Bix in the sky with Gamma, An Irishman in Guangdong) were played on an Halberstadt keyboard and a mode of this tuning system.
Dealing with a new user interface means having to rethink everything I was accustomed to with the usual Halberstadt keyboard. Probably using it with 12tET would be easier than with Carlos Gamma but the only reason to get it, for me, was to use it for xenharmonic music, so, I will have to deal with it!
The Chameleon features 3 zones, 64 keys each, for a total of 192 keys. Each zone can be programmed independently from the other 2.


The picture shows the numeric version of key assignment for the standard layout, called Melodic Table (Original) or MTO.
Instead of having the 3 zones replicate exactly the same midi note assignment I decided to transpose zone 2 by +20 and zone 3 by +40 midi notes. Why? Because Carlos Gamma divides a perfect fifth (ratio 3/2) into 20 equal steps. So, the same key pattern sounds a perfect fifth apart if played on different zones. This piece is based on a single pattern with variations and they would not fit into the span of a single zone if it wasn’t for my transposition trick (the range of midi notes used for this piece is around 90).


One more problem: how to notate this pattern? I have created a pictorial representation of it. This picture helps me visualising the spatial distribution of notes on the keyboard but, of course, does not tell me much about interval relationships. Fortunately for me
LMSO has an invaluable feature called Dyadometer (quote from the manual: “A Dyad is an interval of two notes played at once, just as a triad is a chord containing three notes. The Dyadometer shows you the actual pitch in cents or ratios of what you are hearing and it tracks it as you play” ) so, I can always check out intervals while I am playing! Thanks Jeff!


Once I saved my performance I “orchestrated” it with
Spectrasonics Omnisphere using the same tonal palette previously featured on “Underwater Dreaming”.