Sunday, April 25, 2021

Ben Johnston: Suite for Microtonal Piano (with read-along score)

The "Blues" movement has a fun 13/15 groove in it.

The Etude has some motoric dissonant elements but unlike stuff from the New Complexity scene, Johnston's Etude has a groove.  I'm thinking that Johnston's more or less life-long love of Duke Ellington might have had something to do with that.

I like the whole thing or I wouldn't have posted it but for folks who have never heard of Ben Johnston and may have gotten the idea from some quarters of the internet that microtonal music or works in forms of just intonation don't have any "tunes" I think Johnston provides a counterexample.  I enjoy his work, complex as it gets in various places, more than the so-called New Complexity school.  I'll take Ben Johnston over Brian Ferneyhough, who is lionized by some but whose work for guitar duet used a bunch of extended techniques and more or less all of those were pioneered by African American and Native Hawaiian guitarists somewhere between 1890 and 1910 but, ah, folks in the new-music "zero hour" scene managed to take all those techniques and not have one single tune or groove in all of it.  If you're into "no time (at all", alright.

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