Joe Bates: A Noise So Loud (Live from MATA 2018) by MATA published on 2018-06-27T00:51:33Z Joe Bates: A Noise So Loud (2017) World Premiere Live from MATA Festival 2018 The Kitchen, New York April 10, 2018 Liminar The website of British composer Joe Bates describes A Noise So Loud as “a piano quartet that gets happier as it goes along” and that’s certainly true. At the core of Bates’s work is an effort to utilize an equal-tempered 24-tone scale – the twelve chromatic tones, plus the tones halfway between each of them – in a manner that is harmonically analogous to traditional tonality. Quarter-tone tonality differs from other uses of microtones in that it understands its pitches as part of the expanded harmonic practice of tonal music, rather than as expressive inflections of tones, elements of pure or alternate tuning systems, or parts of an assembled harmonic spectrum. What might be called ‘quarter-tone tonality’ has a long history: from the experiments of Ives to the groundbreaking work of the Mexican composer Julian Carillo. In many of these pieces, listeners hear music that sounds familiar, but whose harmonies are anything but. For Bates, the experience derives from his work creating electronic music – in addition to his work as a classical composer, Bates has played in all manner of bands, acted as a music director for a drag group, and been a singer-songwriter. Bates writes: “in electronic music, it’s common for synthesizer lines or individual oscillators to be lowered by a quarter-tone to give them bite or to produce hazy effects. I wanted to channel this sonority in music that also maintained some of the directional and structural qualities of tonal music.” To compose the piece, Bates used two digital keyboards simultaneously – one tuned a quarter-tone sharp, and the other tuned to standard equal-temperment. The result is something that is both seemingly alien and oddly familiar.