Sunday, January 05, 2003


Musicologist and complex microtonal composer Kyle Gann has a wonderful site (drawn to NFE’s attention by containing links to his books – American Music in the Twentieth Century and The Music of Conlon Nancarrow – as well as articles, audio files, upcoming events, biography and information on his new CD, ‘Custer’s Ghost’. He also includes an essay on internet freedom and a quote from US dissident Noam Chomsky. [See also Nancarrow here.]

“Gann's music uses complex but hard-driving and drum-driven tempo structures developed from his study of Hopi, Zuni, and Pueblo Indian music, as well as from his analysis of the complete works of Conlon Nancarrow. Through his work as a critic, author, and teacher, he has worked to redefine the premises of an American classical music quite distinct from, and unindebted to, European tradition. He is the leading authority on the musics of Nancarrow, La Monte Young, and many younger American composers.”

Gann is also a leading source on alternative tuning. The site includes a beginner’s crash course to ‘just tuning’, a historical essay and the ‘anatomy of an octave’, a reference chart of over 700 intervals within an octave, defined by ratios and cents.

[As an aside – and on a somewhat different musical octave - I discovered a reference to Frippertronics and alternative (New Standard) tuning in one of Gann’s Village Voice pieces. In fact, I discover, Guitar Craft is still going strong and therefore merits a future feature in NFE. Gann’s V.V. columns are noted on his page too]

Unfortunately kgann links page is very out of date (though there are still a few valuables there). But there is no doubt that the man is an absolute treasure, and one of the most important figures on the contemporary music scene.

No comments: