The Old Guitar Ensemble School

Web Pages from times gone by - April 2002

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This page is from April 2002

Decimal Intervals - the 2002 April Fool

The Setup...

Living in the UK, I'm one of those people who regards myself as European when it suits me, and British when it doesn't.

I was sitting up just past midnight last night, surfing the Internet, trying to research my family tree, since a woman at work has a relative sharing the same surname as me (Hasted) and we are to exchange family trees.

I digress.

As always, some of the search engine results really aren't at all relevant, but I came across one which was thrown up because it was written by a namesake of mine. It brings together recent correspondence on the list about micro-tonality, and the terrible bureaucracy that can be the EC.

Already, of course, Britain has given up its currency - the 12 pence to the shilling was a wonderful concept, the shilling being divisible by 2,3,4 and 6. And the foot is on the way out, again divisible by 2,3,4 and 6 - replaced by the division of a metre into 100 pieces...

But the latest suggestion from Brussels really takes the biscuit. There is a suggestion that 12-tone music could similarly be "harmonised" (forgive the pun) into the EC way of doing things, and there is to be an investigation into 10-tone music. Initially, of course, the investigation will centre around the violin family, which is able to make such notes without modification. Evidently the sixth degree of the ten-tone scale is very close to the perfect fifth (the seventh degree of the normal equi-tempered scale), so that primitive harmonies can still exist. Other chords, though, will have a richer and more vibrant sound, due to the presence of a whole family of difference tones at different frequencies.

Has anyone ANY IDEA why this sort of thing has to come from Brussels? Surely this sort of innovative experimentation can be done by individuals, not thrust upon the musical community simply to make every darn thing that comes out of Europe divisible by ten.

The Punchline...

Postscript - the above April Fool caught one or two people, but my composer friend Mark Gould has risen to the challenge and produced this interesting piece - I was going to say "quite delightful", but that really would be stretching the point - using my April Fool 10-tone scale.

Play the music (311Kb)

Visit Mark Gould's website