The hidden world of the musical notes in between the notes of the piano.

21 10 2011

In many of my lectures I have talked about the notes we – living  in Western Culture – have lost. The notes that are “allowed” in Western music – the 12 notes of the piano, are very limited pallet of sounds. Actually, several hundreds years ago we still had more than the 12 piano notes even in Europe. But in the last 400 years the micro tones, or the notes in between the piano keys have vanished from the vocabulary of musicians and cultures in the West. We still have the micro tones – for example the notes in between C and D, or between Do and Re – we do still have them, in the Middle East and in Asia. I play some of these notes on my Oud, as it is a fretless instrument and one can slide on the strings and play any note beyond and above the limited 12 notes of the piano. You can hear it on the CD “Under the Olive Tree” in the song Walla Zaman, you can hear it on the CD “Oud Prayers on the Road to St. Jacque” in the track La Illah ( which was recently was included in a the soundtrack for the new up coming Mark Magidson film “Samsara”). My friend Steven Taylor explored this world of micro tunings through a very special teacher, most people never heard about. You can learn about this amazing man and his sonic world, in a new video and web site Stephan created with my friend Gary David and another fellow musician. This is not only a super cool video and a great service for the development of music composition and performance in the West and beyond, but also a spiritual cosmological perspective on music making.

The Sonic Sky: An Introduction
watch it here:
Composer Stephen James Taylor describes to the newcomer, the musical realm of Erv Wilson, and the vast universe of his musical structures.

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2 responses

1 12 2011

Thank you for sharing this Yuval,
I love the simple clear explanation, the idea of our own “blinds” and own “filters”, the concept of the endless possibilities of sounds, the idea of accepting that the rules as we know them are only part of the truth…
It allows my weirdness to be accepted and “in”…
I’ll share this

23 01 2012
Phil Kadidlo

Yuval. Again, what a pleasure to meet you in Stillwater. I know our paths will meet again.

I was in awe (and envy) as I listened to you play the oud (and as I listen to “Oud Prayers” right now) at the notes in the cracks that convey so much of the ‘human cry’ found in music. As a pianist and keyboardist who plays well-tuned instruments I have found my “in between” notes through my singing and through using electronics instruments which I program to allow subtle pitch adjustments and vibrato. As much as I love playing jazz on a perfectly tuned Steinway, there is always a longing to be able to breath and move through frequencies as the horn and string instruments in the ensemble.

Your music will inspire me to keep finding new voices in my own music. And thank you for steering me to the video by Steven Taylor. I found it fascinating. I am most intrigued by his 180-note MIDI controller! And I thought 120 buttons on my accordion was a lot to deal with!

Phil Kadidlo
Trinity Lutheran, Stillwater

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