Symphony in J flat: a new music


What prevents Bohlen-Pierce from becoming unpleasant, dissonant noise is the fact that is not merely an avant-garde musician taking a hacksaw to our current musical system for sheer destructive glee. In the same way that languages share certain principles, Bohlen-Pierce takes advantage of fundamental properties that make our own musical system work. It makes some different basic assumptions, most notably by not using the octave. But it also makes use of analogous ways of creating harmony and chords. The result is music that sounds different, but not bad. “A different tuning system is almost like a different language,” said Ross W. Duffin, a music professor at Case Western Reserve University and author of the book “How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (And Why You Should Care).” “There are other languages that sound completely different [from English] – that have different grammatical systems, that have different words for the same thing. And yet those things coexist, and it’s recognized there’s great beauty in a French poem, for example.”

more from Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Boston Globe here.