Intimate thoughts about music scales


The musical scales I use don’t have eternal values or legimitacy. Physically, they’re a finite set of frequency ratios respect to a base frequency. Which set of frequency ratios I choose to play or to reproduce, that’s up to myself. Often they just happen (in nature, in interaction with strings / pipes / skins / bells / machines or while talking / laughing and so on…) , and then I can add some other frequency ratios by experimenting. I can reproduce some of them again and again if I want, may it because they remind me of something or just because I like the way (or I feel excited / thrilled / charged by the way) my body resonates physically to the simultaneously emitted frequencies. This sensation can stimulate my curiosity when unknown and for sure my feeling of familiarity when known. That’s the way I give birth to my scales. Often they die the next moment. Which is not a pity. They can get reborn. I found out that the human capacity to remember and recognize them is incredibe, when sufficiently trained.

The simplest and most acknowledged standardisized way nowadays to define a scale (and thus make it a bit longer lasting and easier shareable) is by writing a text file in the scala scale format. The following link describes the formatting rules. Intersted folks can find there also a list of an extended scale collection. http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/scl_format.html

To experiment with frequency ratios, I first used to sing while taking a shower: I added my voice frequency to the frequency of the ventilator. I felt the vibration of the larynx. Others might agree with me that dissonant frequency ratios are uncomfortable on the larynx. Then I experimented (and still do experiment) with a #fretless #guitar and the #Haken #continuum #fingerboard. What is still waiting for me are the violin or the trombone. The interesting quality of these instruments to me is their flexibility: They allow adaptive frequency-changing note-playing.

It happens that I find certain frequency ratios more interesting than others and associate characters to them. I do not inevitably prefer always consonant over dissonant ratios because dissonance means agitation to me, which I sometimes find attractive, like entrophy.

Actually I’m in a state where I memorize some of the scales I discovered on my own, and try to let them evolve with changing mood/wheater/season/life age…

I’m looking forward to measure them and to write them down from the moment on when I will be able to use the #Santur with smoothly movable individual bridges which I’m building on my own. This instrument which will have (compared to the fretless guitar) more numerous #strings will allow me to tune it in a scale by coping each note of the scale with an open string. It will open my #research to #timbres more widely. I might post more about #tuning the fretless guitar and the Santur in the future.

Playing #music with #instruments is fun!
:)