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Lewis Jones
19-tone equal temperament tenor recorder

Artefact

Royal Festival Hall
London

April 27, 2002

These two identical 19-tone equal temperament tenor recorders are the first woodwind instruments specifically designed to play in an equal division of the octave other than 12 (semitones) or 24 (quartertones). The instrument was designed by Jones (project leader and Director of the Centre for New Musical Instruments) in 2001, and two finished examples were made by Jones and David Armitage (internal) in 2001. Jones pioneered the playing of the instrument, and demonstrated it with Rachel Barnes in the first public performance at the Royal Festival Hall.

Unique features of the instruments, which are otherwise based on late renaissance recorders, are the use of five keys to cover five additional toneholes, and a unique tonehole lattice suited to the intervals of 19-tone equal temperament. The instrument thus offers to musicians a new pitch vocabulary, optimally available to the player, without compromise in tuning or tone quality.

Prototypes were made in order to arrive at a satisfactory tonehole lattice and disposition and design of the keywork. Two identical finished instruments were made so as to demonstrate two-part harmony and the intrinsic qualities of the intervals of the 19-tone division of the octave. Jones worked over a period of months with fellow recorder player Rachel Barnes and the composer Donald Bousted to explore the qualities and possibilities of the instruments.

The first public performance on the pair of recorders featured the premiere of Jones’s composition Verse for two 19-tone equal temperament recorders (a piece conceived to demonstrate the 19-tone scale and the two-part consonances and dissonances that arise form it) and other short compositions. Since this first use of the instrument, several other composers, including Donald Bousted, have composed works specially for the instrument.

The instruments were also presented at the 141st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Chicago, June 2001.

Acoustical Society of America, 141st meeting programme


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