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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)
- Harry Partch ‘O Frabjous Day! (The Jobberwack)’ (3:08)
- Ralph David Hill ‘Malachite’ (1:12)
- Carola B. Anderson ‘Shibboleth’ (2:54)
- David Hykes ‘Opening Kyrie’ (5:17)
- Lou Harrison ‘A Phrase for Arion’s Leap’ (0:36)
- Jon Catler ‘Sleeping Beauty (excerpt) Queen of the Ogres’ (4:48)
- David Canright ‘Rosier Sands’ (3:14)
- David B. Doty ‘Fake Greek Music’ (3:35)
- John Bischoff, Jim Norton, Tim Perkis ‘The League of Automatic Music Composers’ (2:45)
- Ben Johnston ‘Tocatta for Violincello’ (5:05)
- Erling Wold ‘Tune for Lynn Murdock #2’ (0:59)
- Susan Norris ‘Medley: Untitled Irish Jig/Untitled Swedish Waltz (trad)’ (4:03)
- James Tenney ‘Septet for Electric Guitars’ (5:25)
- Larry Polansky ‘Movement for Andrea Smith (My Funny Valentine for Just String Quartet)’ (3:53)
- Alexis Alrich ‘Didymus Set (Tango)’ (2:15)
- Jody Diamond ‘In That Bright World’ (5:48)
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An 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.