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"Tuning" Mix by Koenraad Ecker

Digitalis Recordings on October 22, 2013 21:10

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Koenraad Ecker's debut solo LP, "Ill Fares The Land," will be out late this year on Digitalis.
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I wanted to make a mix that features a wide range of music (acoustic, electronic, recent, very old and from all over the world) which share one important characteristic : none of this music is tuned in so-called "Equal Temperament Tuning".

Equal temperament tuning (for ex. the modern tuning of a piano, or standard MIDI tuning) basically means dividing the octave into 12 equal parts. It is a very recent invention that became the orthodox tuning in modern western music. How to divide the octave into 12 parts was open to so much discussion and interpretation that it took until 1917 for the western music world to agree on how we would exactly tune western music. Nearly all of western music, from Bach to Beyoncé, is today performed in this tuning.

The funny thing is that, growing up in the western world, you assume that the way music is tuned is a natural occurrence and that it has been the same forever. That is, until you learn that "our" tuning system is a very recent, scientific invention that went through a gradual evolution, and that 95% of the world's traditional musics do not use this tuning system. In the time of Bach (for example) it was very common for each region in Europe to use slightly different tuning systems, each with their nuances, advantages and shortcomings.

One of the basic ideas behind Equal Temperament Tuning has been the search to find a tuning that completely avoids one of the things I like the most in music : oscillation and resonance between frequencies. There is something magical about frequencies colliding and resonating in such a way that they start having a life of their own and influence one another, creating extra harmonics and resonances. To my ears, most of this differently-tuned music sounds much richer and alive than music tuned in equal temperament.

The artists in this mix range from modern classical composers (Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Eliane Radigue,...) to electronic music composers (Bernard Parmegiani, Mika Vainio,...), improvised music and traditional music from non-western cultures. The many ways in which they approach tuning are very different from one another , ranging from highly systematically to very intuitively, using either acoustic or electronic instruments.

Thank you for listening & I hope you enjoy it.

Incidences/Resonances // Bernard Parmegiani // De Natura Sonorum (INA-GRM)
Spheres (7th movement) // Keith Jarrett // Spheres (ECM)
Naldjorlak (excerpt) // Eliane Radigue (cello : Charles Curtis) // Naldjorlak (Shiiin)
L'émanation // Dans Les Arbres // Canopée (ECM)
Land's End // Terry Riley // The Harp of New Albion (Celestial Harmonies)
Generator 6 // Keith Fullerton Whitman // Generators (Editions Mego)
Lux Aeterna // György Ligeti (London Sinfonietta Voices) // Ligeti : A cappella choral works (Sony Classical)
The Well-tuned piano (disc 3) // La Monte Young // The Well-tuned Piano (Gramavision)
Wadi Rum // Koenraad Ecker // unreleased
Chant for Dya Ling and Dung Chen // Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery (Fortuna Records)
Nazif // Koenraad Ecker // unreleased
Pas à pass...é // Par4Chemins // 1RDR (Cristal Records)
Anksiolyytti // Mika Vainio // Heijastuva (Sahko Recordings)

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