Here It Is, Your Moment of Zen

New piece: The Unnameable. 12:10

UPDATE: For many years I have been trying to compose using the harmonic series, and in a series of studies for my three-Disklavier piece, including this one, I’ve finally figured out how to do it. The harmonic series in its natural pitch order (high harmonics on top) is a rather thin thing to work with, creating wan parallels. But if in one chord you use the 13th harmonic near the bottom and the 5th on top, and in the next chord you have the 11th on the bottom and the 9th on top, and so on, one can create a wonderful range of variously clear and obscure chords that all make sense, but give subtle tension-and-release patterns analogous to regular tonal harmony, with extremely parsimonious voice-leading. The chords can be almost motionless as the implied tonic zips all over the place. And to do that, I’ve become increasingly reliant on the 13th harmonic; without it, the gap between the 3rd and 7th harmonics made it difficult to keep the melodic intervals consistently small. I suppose it’s the just-intonation version of what beboppers do with the flat and sharp 9, sharp 11, and flat 13. So after years of 11-limit pieces, I’m finding myself ensconced in a 13-limit world, and I can finally really hear that 13th harmonic and anticipate its effects. Don’t know why I’m so obsessed with this paradigm of emotionally fulfilling music that barely moves, it’s just my thing.



  1. Eric Grunin says

    Very beautiful. And very zen indeed the way the parts collide, approach resolution, and then retreat from it.

    (PS There’s a digital glitch around 11:18.)

    KG replies: Aww, it was just the beta version, sharp-ears. Fixed.

  2. says

    What a wonderful piece. I’ve listened to all the microtonal pieces you’ve put up over the years, trying to figure out what you’re up to, so maybe all that listening prepared my ear, but this one really pulled me in and is the first time my ear accepted the harmonies and just listened to the music. It’s amazing to listen to that long a piece of music and not have a single stock response, with everything fresh and unknown. Thanks very much for making it available.

    KG replies: Thanks for the great response, Lyle. I wish fresh and unknown were in style.

  3. says

    It’s really really beautiful. My. I agree with Mr. Sanford. I clicked on the link just to get a taste before rushing off to rehearsal and then just sat listening and listening.