Past Bach

14May10

In the times of baroque music, many instruments did not have a very wide dynamic range, emotion was expressed through the contrapuntal textures of the music and the notes themselves. Later, more expressive instruments were produced. When this happened, emotions were expressed though tone and dynamics. Some time after that, there was rubato, where emotion was expressed though varying the tempo slightly. Now, my friend was asking me the other day, “What dimension haven’t we covered?” This question had me thinking for a while as I mused about abstract music, music that’s currently popular (Hannah Montana anyone?? NOOOOO!!!), and things like that. But a few days ago, while reading some blogs, I think I found my answer in something interesting. The Eigenharp.

The Eigenharp is a curious instrument that is made of two parts, a strange looking thing with a breath controller, a lot of keys, and touch strips on the side connected to a Mac running EigenD. The thing, in its primary incarnation, looks like a bassoon. Anyway, what I find interesting is that with slight pressure, the keys can rock side to side and up and down, causing the produced pitch to bend. So, in all technicality it can produce any pitch the player wants, even notes off our 12-tone equally-tempered scale. Also, it is able to play many notes at one time, and each note can be individually bent, so I can start out with a D major chord and bend all the notes individually to produce chords no one has ever heard of before (D slightly minor quarter augmented anyone?). The touch strip things allow the player to bend notes even more, so I could slide smoothly from a C major to G major chord perhaps. Of course people have played with pitch bending and quarter sharps and quarter flats and stuff like that before, but this instrument allows so much more ease and freedom to do this than was previously possible. To top it off, the keys are not note-specific, so you could tell it to play scales that don’t exist yet, or invent your own bizarre scale (All my music shall, for now on, be played in the 17-note bunny slightly major, slightly minor scale on three Eigenharps, one set for tromboeuphonitimpanium, the other set for violoclaritar, and the final voice set for saxolutocornettoflute). And of course, as with many electronic instruments, you can breed instruments to make various mythological hybrids.

I think this, not Justin Bieber or Hannah Montana, should hold the future of music. We could even invent new rules for theory and tonality, or discover something that sounds nice yet is radically different from what we have today.

Enjoy the music!!

Bramble

P.S. If you want to know solfeggi syllables for the bunny slightly major slightly minor scale, the syllables are as follows: Ya Di Yum Da Dum La Hum Ha Si Hoo Na Lum Ye Pa Ga Ie Ta. Music is to be written on the grand hare staff, with three different clefs: great big bunny, medium bunny, and tiny squeaky bunny. Medium bunny clef is a movable clef that is divided into supermedium bunny and submedium bunny. There is also a clef called super hyper bunny, but it’s only used for notes that are so high that they are above the tiny squeaky bunny clef. And since I do not have an Eigenharp, you will all have to sight sing my music in the solfeggi provided.

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