Listen to Qablitum

Qablitum is a piece inspired by listening to this lecture of February 1971 by Lou Harrison: The Tuning of the Babylonian Harp, see also this thread at

I chose a scale called "Qablitum" (filed under Ancient Mesopotamian Scales, from
LMSO scale library) an heptatonic scale, repeating at the octave, whose interval ratios from the fundamental note are:
1/1,256/243,32/27,4/3,1024/729,128/81,16/9 (a mode of the more common scale: 1/1,9/8,81/64,4/3,3/2,27/16,16/9).
Each large step is 9/8 and each small one is 256/243, a pythagorean scale more than 1000 years older than Pythagoras himself!!!. He simply brought the Babylonian knowledge to the Greek world.


I set up an 8 note polyphonic instrument (using an harp sound) with
Reason and started improvising, recording everything with Logic Pro (thru ReWire).


I extracted a melody, from what I had previously played, assigning it to an ethnic violin sound (from
MOTU Ethno library). I edited and doubled, it with a Clavia G2 pad sound.


All instruments were retuned with


The picture of the Sumerian tablet, on the top of this page, comes from Marcelle Duchesne-Guillemin's "
The Discovery of Mesopotamian Music". Lou Harrison mentions her studies as the source of his talk.

X. J. Scott commented:
A wonderful piece.