Tellus #14 ‘Just Intonation’, 1986


. . . . . . . . . . . . .

What exactly is Just Intonation? Just Intonation is any tuning system in which all of the intervals can be represented by whole-number ratios, with a strong preference for simple ratios.

(From the Tellus #14 booklet)

Side A

  1. Harry Partch ‘O Frabjous Day! (The Jobberwack)’ (3:08)
  2. Ralph David Hill ‘Malachite’ (1:12)
  3. Carola B. Anderson ‘Shibboleth’ (2:54)
  4. David Hykes ‘Opening Kyrie’ (5:17)
  5. Lou Harrison ‘A Phrase for Arion’s Leap’ (0:36)
  6. Jon Catler ‘Sleeping Beauty (excerpt) Queen of the Ogres’ (4:48)
  7. David Canright ‘Rosier Sands’ (3:14)
  8. David B. Doty ‘Fake Greek Music’ (3:35)
  9. John Bischoff, Jim Norton, Tim Perkis ‘The League of Automatic Music Composers’ (2:45)

Side B

  1. Ben Johnston ‘Tocatta for Violincello’ (5:05)
  2. Erling Wold ‘Tune for Lynn Murdock #2’ (0:59)
  3. Susan Norris ‘Medley: Untitled Irish Jig/Untitled Swedish Waltz (trad)’ (4:03)
  4. James Tenney ‘Septet for Electric Guitars’ (5:25)
  5. Larry Polansky ‘Movement for Andrea Smith (My Funny Valentine for Just String Quartet)’ (3:53)
  6. Alexis Alrich ‘Didymus Set (Tango)’ (2:15)
  7. Jody Diamond ‘In That Bright World’ (5:48)


. . . . . . . . . . . . .

PartchAn audio cassette of Just Intonation music seems an awkward idea today, the cassette very unlikely the adequate medium for accurate pitch. I believe Tellus felt the need to pay tribute to some of their main influences when starting the series, say Harry Partch (right) and LaMonte Young. Besides, Carol Parkinson – who would be appointed executive director of Harvestworks, editor of Tellus, the following year (1987) – was formerly assistant to composer LaMonte Young. And so was Joseph Nechvatal, another Tellus founding member. Additionaly, composer Dean Drummond should be mentionned here, for he was key in defining Just Intonation music.

Anyway, this tape is still amazing, featuring a wonderful choice of artists in the field. As far as I can tell, the Harry Partch isn’t available on the CRI or Innova Partch reissue series – I believe this is an exclusive track, not to be found anywhere else. It sounds very much like the classic ‘US Highball’, revised 1955. Additionaly, David Canright uses Partch instruments for his ‘Rosier Sands’ and Lou Harisson’s track is in the Partch canon too. So that side A is pretty much a who’s who in the Harry Partch school of composers, circa 1986. Carola Anderson’ Shibboleth is a fine anthem-like instrumental, build from drums, deep bass guitar and glockenspiel – just intonation new-wave. Not to mention the amazing overtones of David Hykes singing a personnal version of a catholic mass (kyrie). Side B has absolutely exquisite tracks but pitch get uneven, mastering is at very high, enthusiastic level and flaws in the cassette might mar the pleasure of listening to it. As a compromise, I would advise to listen to the B side at low level.

Some release notes available here on a Just Intonation Network forum.

High resolution scan of the spread cover sheet (with detailed instrumentation and performers) included in the .rar file.

10 Responses to “Tellus #14 ‘Just Intonation’, 1986”

  1. 1 Lucky November 28, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    continuo – this is tremendous! a cassette featuring partch, harrison, johnston, tenney… WOW.

    thanks for ripping and sharing this.

    cheers, lucky

  2. 2 continuo November 28, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    This being fantastic music, I’m all the more ashamed of side B’s sound quality. Honestly, I tried my best. I’ll get a ‘new’ tape deck soon and give it a try one more time. Thanks for your comment M. Lucky.

  3. 3 vaubu April 7, 2008 at 12:57 am

    beautiful continuo! thank you!

  4. 5 continuo April 7, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Thank you. If you are interested I can make a new rip of this cassette with the above mentionned new tape deck – much better! Just let me kow.

  5. 6 vaubu April 19, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Ben Johnston’s Tocatta and the piece by Jody Diamond stand out as two of my favorites on the collection. If you think the listening would be enhanced by a reup then please do. As it stands, the tape hiss I enjoy as a charming idiosyncracy. Peace.

  6. 7 Acousmata June 24, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Brilliant! Worth it for the League of Automatic Composers Track alone, as far as I’m concerned.

  7. 8 continuo June 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  8. 9 David Parisi February 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    thanks so much for this. this is just great, so many wonderful works to hear!

  9. 10 Mel March 23, 2011 at 9:51 am

    WOW, talking ’bout the right time and moment to find this cassette. thanks!

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