Ibrahim Maalouf plays a four-valve trumpet — most just have three. The extra valve, attached to the button a trumpeter pushes down, allows the Lebanese musician to play quarter-tones — the notes between notes that characterize Arabic “makams.”

"The makams are scales and modes with quarter-tones and three quarter-tones intervals," Maalouf says. "This is something that you cannot find in Occidental music."

Maalouf credits his father, the renowned Lebanese classical trumpeter Nassim Maalouf, with the innovation.

"This trumpet that he invented is really pure genius. He invented the only Arabic instrument in which you blow, that allows you to play all modes, all scales, in all the tonalities," Maalouf says. "This does not exist in Arabic music. It’s not only a trumpet that makes you play quarter-tones. He invented a way to blow in the instrument. He invented a new way to play the trumpet."…

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The Fluid Piano.

A piano with possible microtonal alterations at every key.

Here is a visual comparison of the ‘microtonal’ scale we have been using on our recordings. Our guitars have 16 tones tempered to the octave as opposed to the standard 12 tones in western music theory; allowing new tonal and harmonic possibilities.

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in case you were wondering how that ‘fluid piano’ sounds… Pam Chowhan plays “Post Mode-ernity” and holy crap how she do

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World’s first performance on the Fluid Piano & Fluid Dulcimer. Not sure what to make of this ‘piano’ 
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Sometimes I think there is no interest in microtonal music. It is true I love Bach’s work, but I don’t feel the necessity to question it.

However I do feel like trying out something new. That motivated me to create microtonal tunings. I have composed some pieces but today I ran into something brilliant.

This is “Microtonal Steam Machine” by Shleed, also known as Ashley Dolan from Dundalk, Ireland. Thank God it is not musique concrète!

If you feel like composing microtonal music with my tunings drop by:


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Last Sacrament - Emergence of Opposites

Maniacal Meditations now available for streaming and download

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Microtonal Guitar. Need I say more?

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On a similar note to Bruce Sterling’s post, I’m going to a performance of one of Harry Partch’s plays tonight; Delusion of the Fury. Partch’s music was almost never performed even in his lifetime because, aside from being against any kind of cultural institutions (He voluntarily spent 15 years as a hobo), his music was completely invented from scratch.

He designed his own tuning system, a 43-tone scale based on ratios and speech patterns, he built the musical instruments to play them, and insisted that musicians must perform with their whole bodies in a kind of primitivist physical theatre that he devised (not shown above). This whole process is only haphazardly documented, partly because he didn’t want to BECOME an establishment, and probably because he made loads of stuff up as he went along.

Delusion of the Fury has only been staged three times, once when he wrote it, once in 2007 by a Japanese company, and now. And even that is miraculous, given the work and research required to recreate it.

What is Mugham?

Mugham is meter free. There is no time signature in mugham. Freed from the constraints of an overt beat, the performer of mugham must learn how to ’place’ each note in the musical sequence composing a mugham melody. It is as if the very substrate of the fourth dimension Time has been alternately compressed and stretched according to an unknown law. Just as the specific pitch of a microtone must be intended in order to have its effect or otherwise just sound out of tune, the moment the note is actually played must be intended with great exactitude and care. This is the secret of mugham. It can only be played intentionally, and the more intent, the greater the effect.

The third feature is the unexpectedness of the sequence of the notes in a given scale. The performer of mugham must learn how to overcome his or her natural tendency to play the melodies made of notes in logical sequences. Just at the moment when one might expect a particular note to ’complete’ the phrase, something else takes place that grabs the attention, and then it happens again, and again, and again. The effect is to find one’s attention so involved in the act of following the flow of unexpected tones as the melody unfolds. That is what gives mugham its lift, and takes the listener airborne. For connoisseurs of mugham, the achievement of a master is in the sublety, the nuance and micronuance of the timing and placement of the unmetered notes. The musician must intuitively know how to set each note in a ’phrase’, and each ’phrase’ in a ’sentence’. He must know and at the same time intend. One of the demands of the convoluted melodic lines in mugham is that there really is no other way to play them; they must be played with great intent.

read more about the musical art of mugham from azerbaijan here and watch a short video here.


The Bell Tower

Idea, composition, conception : Christian Klinkenberg

Electronics: Centre Henri Pousseur

Choreographic implementation and dance : Compagnie Irène K.

Musicians : Ensemble 88

"The Belltower " is both a summary of long-standing disputes with interactive sound environments and on the other hand, an artistic exploration of historical monuments processed in the dimensions of meaning of our present body - spatial perception. The latter, in turn, gave the impulse for new technical solutions which are implemented by computer-aided motion analysis of the dancers, a resulting from this analysis the score for the musicians and the spatial, the events supporting by acoustic localization of speaker placement .

Seven bells of the belfry of the Aachen Cathedral has been analyzed spectrally in seven intensities. This included both the microtonal frequencies and the amplitudes of the partials. Based on the material of this analysis, the 49 sound clouds were for traditional musical instruments such as violins, clarinets, flutes … orchestrated .

Seven motion zones provide the inner circle of the stage. Every motion zone forms interactive virtual sound as well as a physical environment with corresponding digital motion computation by enhanced camera-motion-sensing  .

The basic elements of this concert performance are based on a clear arrangement of functions, space constellations and technical parameters. One can speak of a structured self test set obtained in the movements of the body impulses through the clouds of sound, the structure of these clouds of sound, however, influenced by the type of movement in this context. Thus, in a determined parameter range, the digital screen of the musicians is influenced in that process by the performance of the dancers.

Thus, one can speak of a dynamic composition : Each performance is unique in the truest sense of the word.

03/09/14 Cultura Nova , Heerlen
03/10/14 Ostbelgien Festival
Flagey Brussel