After Creation

After Creation is an entry into the Vox Novus 15 Minutes of Fame competition for flute and marimba duet. Unfortunately the entry was not accepted for performance but undeterred I present to you a performance of the score rendered by Garritan Personal Orchestra. There is a bit of a story behind this piece. As family matters had reduced my composing time I had two pieces due on the same day, one for classical guitar, and another for marimba or marimba & flute duet. Being a classical guitarist I devoted my limited time to that piece since I had a clear vision of what I wanted to create and was willing to skip the other entry if needed. What happened was that I finished the guitar piece 3 days early. And then I heard Norm Harris’ masterful percussion improvisation in 7/8 time called Groove for Shabbat. ( Play Groove for Shabbat ) Inspired by Norm’s composition I asked him if I could have a TUBS score of a portion of the piece to let me try to translate from an almost pure percussive realm into a harmonic and melodic realm. Norm kindly replied with the score you see above these words. Using this as a template I translated the several percussive lines into melodic voices with an eye to combining them harmonically. The result is playable and available for download below.

A word about the title. Norm’s original post explained ” (That in Cuba) The number 7 is a symbol for perfection or completeness: 7 colors in a rainbow, 7 musical notes in a scale, 7 days = a week, etc. and to that end Shabbat is the Jewish name for the 7th day of the week – a day of rest after God created the Universe.

Since I was writing for real performers with “common” 12 equal instruments writing microtonally was not a possibility. However, now with a computer rendering via Garritan Personal Orchestra I can use Kraig Grady’s Centaur A 7-Cap Just Intonation tuning shown below. A small note here – a requirement of entry into the composition was that the composition could not exceed 1 minute in length. This piece is about 53 seconds long.

After Creation
Score of After Creation for performance

! C:\Cakewalk\scales\CENTAUR A 7-CAP TUNING.scl
kraig grady CENTAUR A 7-CAP TUNING


3 Responses to “After Creation”

  1. Michael Kasper says:

    Dear Chris,

    Nice job! Enjoyed hearing your After Creation and Norm Harris’s Play Groove for Shabbat. Really great pieces!



  2. Robert Wendell says:

    I enjoyed After Creation very much. I found the tuning very satisfying to my ear. I teach voice and one of my pet peeves in the vocal world is the notoriously low standard for accurate intonation that prevails even in very high places. I teach my students to tune pure intervals, using only the octave and the perfect intervals and letting the voice fill in the blanks whenever they are not in unison with played pitches on an equal tempered electronic keyboard with no tremolo or decay. They learn to tune whole scales against drones with octaves and open fifths. All of my students learn to do this with utmost precision. Then, whenever they sing with an equal tempered keyboard, they tune very pure unisons. However, this training conditions them so they will spontaneously NOT violate a unison to tune a pure third unless that note is not in the accompaniment, in which case they sing the thirds purer than the keyboard would have supplied. I’m a string player and that’s how I play. I notice the de facto default for most world class string quartets is harmonically pure tuning over equal tempered roots. This results in minimum shift due to comma drift while allowing the slight adjustments necessary to achieve just vertical harmonic structures. It is precisely this form of adaptive JI that I teach my students, conveniently using a conventional electronic keyboard. You can play any music this way with tons of enharmonic modulations. Years of playing and teaching this way have made my ear aesthetically very sensitive to pure tunings, so it was fun to hear this piece. I have my master’s in choral conducting and a few decades of experience training choirs to sing high renaissance music this way. Although this may not make squeaky clean purists happy, since equal temperament didn’t exist in the renaissance, I think it’s the best synthesis of modern practice with the high purity of intonation I feel is historically justified to assume for the age. Í’ve seen all kinds of proposals for the best approach to JI for a cappella music, but I’ve never witnessed a decent practical implementation of such schemes so far. I’m not holding my breath. Most choirs don’t remotely approach anything pure enough to require any kind of adaptive JI scheme at all. Most of those discussing such schemes are living in ivory towers light years removed from their own musical reality when it comes to live performance of common practice music.

  3. admin says:

    Dear Robert – that is the most knowledgeable and through comment ever on my site. I am very much obliged that you took the time to write all of this down and to explain a very valuable technique. I shall point this out to the tuning list and also the facebook Xenharmonic Alliance. It is great to have your acquaintance! Sincerely, Chris

    You can hear Robert’s technique in action here:

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