Another appeal to consider 19-equal tuning

Kyle Jordan

Ace of Knaves
May 25, 2008
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Karakura Town
Didn’t know where to post this, but @bostjan @Winspear and other microtonal curious may want to check out the Atomic Heart soundtrack or game.


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likes pointy things
Feb 8, 2014
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I gave it a listen and could hear a few things that sounded like they had a different depth than what I am used to hearing.

I particularly liked the melodic staccato passage at 1:55 and the more droning notes near the 2:30 mark.


Dec 7, 2005
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St. Johnsbury, VT USA
Didn’t know where to post this, but @bostjan @Winspear and other microtonal curious may want to check out the Atomic Heart soundtrack or game.
I listened to some of it (4 songs) just now. Interesting stuff, but it just sounds normal/weird Russian to me so far. Did Mick Gordon say he played microtonal guitar on it?

There is a thread of microtonal metal that rarely gets bumped. Definitely some really cool stuff has been posted there. Sadly, most of those artists seem to pop up and then disappear a few weeks/months later without a trace. A few have been really active, though, like The Mercury Tree and Cryptic Ruse (who collaborated for a little while). But even M.A.N. who was supposed to be this sort of commercially accessible microtonal band has ended up disappearing almost entirely from the internet. I think when google music went down for good, probably all of their music went away with it, not that anyone seemed to have even noticed. They probably still have 1 or 2 songs on youtube somewhere, but maybe the fact that their band name is impossible to search is a big part of the reason they sparked and quickly fizzled out. Or the fact that they were doing nümetal about ten-fifteen years too late. :lol:

I guess a lot of microtonal metal tends to prick the interest of "oh, this should sound different," and then it doesn't sound anything like it did in your head - either too weird, not weird enough, too heavy, not heavy enough, etc. One of my releases got into the hands of The Metal Observer, who hated it enough to give it a scathing review.

And, well, if you think about it, microtonal music isn't really even a thing, it's only defined by what it's not, seeing as how anything that doesn't fit into 12-edo standard tuning is generally called "microtonal." Most of what I'm trying to do with 19-edo is to play stuff that sounds "normal, but...", that is, that it sounds like the normal music I would write, except for one or two little things here or there that take advantage of the tuning. Like a key change that sounds impossible, or a chord progression that goes through a weird change to make it sound like it changed keys when it didn't. I've only written a couple songs that are in scales that are nonexistent in western music, and they tend to sound really off-putting. I guess not as jarring as most people would expect, just... Well, I guess why not post an example:

Skip to 2:22 to hear the melody

But, to be fair 19-edo tuning lends itself to "normal" sounding stuff, and when you use it to try to push out of that box, you either end up with "normal, but..." or you end up with the above, where it's just kind of mildly unsettling and sounds like your tuner is broken. There are plenty of other tunings that do a better job of sounding cleanly weird, or sounding arabic, or sounding zany, or whatever you want, I guess. When I started doing all of this, I got a lot of pushback from other microtonal musicians because 19-edo is sort of looked down on for being too normal and not really getting you outside of the box.

But I don't think that the box is all that bad. In fact, that's kind of the point, from my perspective. 19-edo just makes the box bigger and maybe adds a couple small rooms around it. 24-edo, on the other hand, which seems to be where a lot of people default, gives you exactly the same box, but with another separate box for putting arabic-sounding stuff or going totally zany. But I'd argue that most people who go from 12-edo to 24-edo tend to play the extra notes *more* like a novelty thing; I know for sure that's what I did, and, from hearing several recordings from other people, that seems to be the default case. I'd love to sit down and talk with Jute Gyte, who makes amazing music with 24-edo.

But, having played around with a handful of tunings (24edo, 17edo, 14edo, harmonic series, Platonic JI, my own JI, etc.), they all seem just as different from each other as they are from 12edo. The more classical versions of just intonation are easily approached exactly the same way as 12-edo, and, if you get lazy, 24-edo can be done the same way. I think, with 19-edo, you have to put in a little more effort to make it exactly like 12-edo, so it makes innovating something new and sticking to old ideas equally as much an adjustment. And it's nice to have something familiar, unlike jumping head-first into Bohlen-Pierce non-octave equal temperament or something crazy.

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