Music in just intonation

by Wandering Artist

Building (C) 03:18
Torch (E) 02:26
March (D) 03:30
Water (G) 02:23


Just intonation is a particular musical tuning in which the relationships between the notes is defined by simple whole numbers (like 2:3, 4:3 and so on). That is not the case with the usual tuning we all use (equal temperament) in which the relationship between each note of the scale is defined by an irrational number, the 12th root of 2. Nowadays we are all accustomed to this tuning, but the use of such irrational number caused some imperfections when playing some intervals together, causing them to be less pure. I think the main reason why we accepted this compromise was the fact the you can change key effectively using the same tuning (well-tempered), while in just intonation you have to retune every interval every time you change key. This of course was a problem with real instruments but with electronic instruments that’s not the case, we can change tuning on the go, and have pure intervals in every key.

Showcasing pure intervals from the start was not easy. I wanted the sound to be almost synthetic, the piece starts with just a few fifths to set the tone while other instruments are played in reverse to focus on the sustain instead of the attack. A more dynamic middle section features classical instruments trying to to interact with the reversed instruments and then the piece ends with a reprise of the first section.

With this album I wanted to focus more on harmonies and textures rather than melodies and themes. This piece and Ambient are the first ones I did for this project.

This was heavily inspired by Spyro The Dragon OST, especially the music you hear in the home worlds.

This piece continues the "ambient" idea of the album introducing a melodic sparkle played by the clarinet, flickering and disappearing like the flame of a torch. The whole idea though, is still based on textures rather than melodies. The second part, in slower tempo, is like a remix of the first section.

The inspiration for this came from baroque music and from the composer Jean Baptiste Lully. The pulsing beat you hear through the piece is a recreation of the so called "tactus", used at that time by the conductor to mark the tempo. Of course it turned out into something completely different...

Just Waltz
This waltz started as a minimalistic approach to the waltz form. You have the rhythmic core of the piece played by a vibraphone and 2 xylophones (left and right) and then the orchestra comes in and out with short rhetorical gestures.

Recreating the feeling of water through music has always been hard. In this piece I tried to evoke the flow and the playfulness of splashing water, you can hear this especially in the piano part (which plays solo at the end) and the "sparkly" percussions playing in the background.

Four Pianos
The instrumentation for this was inspired by various works by Steve Reich, and the use of piano(s) is of course reminiscent of minimalistic artists such as John Adams and Michael Harrison. I guess you can hear the "out-of-tune" effect of just intonation a lot more on the piano, which is the most used well-tempered instrument.

Memories of green
Unlike the other songs this one was composed during night, the theme used in this one is none other than the main theme of Ponytown OST just played backward. Also, there is another famous piece with the same title...

When you see the wind
This is the most melodic song in the album, it started as a test to see how guitar would sound in just intonation, and then, by adding strings I realized that they mix very well with wind sounds. The music becomes gradually more "windy" till the end of the piece where you can't even tell what's wind and what's instrument.

The idea for this piece is the same idea present in Arnold Schoenberg's "Farben" ("colors" in german), a piece for orchestra in which a single chord is held during the whole movement while changing the instruments are playing it. Likewise, in my piece you have a simple sequence of 2 chords repeated over and over while changing orchestration (color).

A constant ticking sound is going in and out through the whole piece, dictating its form and harmony.


released August 28, 2017

artwork by deeraw




Wandering Artist Italy

"All those who wander are lost, but that's not a bad thing"

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