David B. Doty

David B. Doty

Uncommon Practice

Syntonic

Long, long before the analog-vs-digital debate raged, we had just intonation-vs-equal temperament. Each model divides the musical scale — the twelve tones that make up most of western music — in differing proportions. On a physical basis, the contrasts between the two is mathematically easy to explain. On an emotional sense, it’s a thorny problem, similar to describing the difference in seeing through contacts and seeing through glasses?

The seven pieces here are performed using different kinds of just intonation, and the effect of the slightly shifted tones is quite noticeable. The opening “Dithyramb” feels simultaneously like a Japanese koto tune and a Beach Boys chorus. Other compositions on the album highlight similarly distinctive auras, things you can identify but not explain. It’s a challenging set of music, and meant to be so — you may never hear things quite the same.

Regardless of how adventurous you feel, the label’s website offers a lot of information on just intonation and is worth checking out.

Syntonic Records, 1039-L164 El Monte Ave., Mountain View, CA 94040; http://www.syntonic-rec.com

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