Sunday Afternoon

Posted 9 April 2006, 15:06

For a complete change of pace, here is a little piece of chamber music, a miniature in E major for piano, flute, oboe and bassoon. I write it last year in Noteworthy Composer. Although I wrote in standard 12-ET (twelve-tone equal temperament), I decided that I wanted to hear it in a different tuning scheme. After some unsatisfying experimentation with Scala (not a reflection on Scala, but on my lack of skill with it), I decided to ask for help. So I posted to the Tuning list and the Making Microtonal Music list and offered the MIDI file to whoever would like to take on the challenge of retuning it and rendering it as a sound file.

So far, I have received versions from Jon Lyle Smith, Gene Ward Smith, and Charles Lucy. If I get more, I will update this page with the new additions. The versions are presented in the order in which I received them.

To the contributors: thanks so much for your time and effort!

Update: I have followed advice from Carl Lumma and used MP3Gain to give all the MP3s the same output level.

The original files

Jon Lyle Smith’s version

Jon chose just intonation. In his words:

It was rendered to WAV thru Orion Pro software studio, which also provided the samplers used in this rendition. The scale used:

1/1 16/15 9/8 6/5 5/4 4/3 45/32 3/2 8/5 5/3 16/9 15/8 2/1

Assuming E as the base pitch, I transposed the root and the composition upward one semitone to F, in order to brighten and clarify the tone colors only slightly. I used Scala to create the file, which was then copied into the Orion Pro’s tuning files.

I used the soundfonts Pianissimum for the piano, and Sinfonetta36 for the woodwinds. They were downloaded from the HammerSound SoundFont Library web-page.

Here is Jon’s soundfile: MP3

Gene Ward Smith’s version

Gene gave the piece a 31-ET (thirty-one tone equal temperament) meantone treatment. He rendered the MP3 with Timidity++ using the SGM-180v1.5.sf2 SoundFont. He describes the retuning (pre-rendering) process:

I took your midi file, and using Scala’s midi to seq file converter under the tools menu, converted it to a seq file with the note names option set. I then sent this through a sed script, which converted it into a form helpful for analysis, which I edited into a file Maple can read. This I then used to locate problem areas with the tuning, such as wolf fifths. I then edited the original seq file, which the sed script leaves untouched, by replacing some of the note names at selected locations with enharmonic equivalents.

Then I stuck the following lines into the edited seq file:

0 notation P31
0 equal 31

Then I ran it through Scala again, this time with seq to midi under tools, and with the pitch bend option set.

It’s not required to make this quite this complicated, however. The basics are discussed here:

Gene’s result: MP3

Charles Lucy’s version

Charles is the developer and leading proponent of LucyTuning. After some experimentation with different LT key signatures, Charles settled on 0b6s (no flats, six sharps), giving the notes C C# D D# E E# F# G G# A A# B. He also changed the tempo: “I have increased the tempo slightly to bring it to 103.13 b.p.m. (A=440Hz converted to tempo).” He continues:

All my renditions were produced on Mac G5 dual 2.0 MHz, 2 Gig of ram; using Tiger OSX 10.4.6 running Logic Pro 7.2.0 (924) which includes EXS24. Samples I used are from Vienna Symphonic Library for flute, oboe and bassoon. The piano is from 1923 Steinway Old Lady 24 bit. The LucyTuned tables are downloadable from

_I have shortened some of the notes in the midi files, to avoid looping delay problems, and adjusted some of the velocities.
The mix is in stereo as mp3’s from aif, panned as the original midifile. The volumes are constant for the wind instruments, and I have “ridden” the piano volumes to produce gentle crescendos. Effects I have used are only EQ, Mild compression, and various Space Designer settings to separate the instruments with different ambiances and frequency bands. All these effects are standard in Logic Pro 7._

Charles’ rendition: MP3


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