The "Out of Tune" Hour

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What happens when composers abandon the traditional equal division of the octave into twelve parts? What happens when equal temperament is no longer sufficient to express the music the composer hears inside his head? Chaos? Beauty? Something in between?

Alternative tuning systems have been around much longer than there's been a 'right' way to tune a scale, and recently composers have begun to revive concepts like 'quarter comma mean tone' and 'just' intonation. Tuning ideas have also been expanded to encompass radically different divisions of the octave - even up to 17- or 72-parts!  

This week the Brothers explore some music that might be considered 'out of tune' by equal-tempered standards, but are in fact performed according to rigorous sonic ideas. Lou Harrison and Harry Partch are vintage mainstays of the alternative tuning movement, using self-created string instruments to create specifically pungent intervals; this pair is balanced by some electronic variations on a Mozart theme by the brash, young "microtonophile" Jacob Barton.

Rounding out the program is just-intonation piano music by Michael Harrison, a large orchestral work by the spectral composer Tristan Murail, and a few surprises. Tune in!