The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium
First symposium on the Bohlen-Pierce scale, Boston, March 7 – 9, 2010
Pierce/Mathews: Sea Songs Phasered

Sea Songs Phasered - composed by John R. Pierce & Max Mathews 1963 and 2010

Performed by Max Mathews

  • Movement 1: Original sound file
  • Movement 2: Phaser filtered sound file

In 1963 John Pierce wrote the piece “Sea Songs” and synthesized the piece at Bell Telephone Laboratories using my Music 3 program. He used the then new random-noise unit generator to make band-pass noise some with low frequency sounds and other with narrow band melodic sounds. In the 1980′s at CCRMA Pierce made his version of the Bohlen-Pierce scale, a scale which has no octave but rather is based on a trite (3:1) frequency ratio. Its chromatic 1/2 step is the 13th root of 3.

Sea Songs Phasered first movement is the original Pierce sinus file. The second movement is the sound file filtered with a bank of 19 high Q phaser filters. The filters in the band are tuned to the chromatic 1/2 of the Bohlen-Pierce scale. In the performance the sinus file will be filtered in real-time on my MacBook Pro laptop. The entire filter band will be transposed up or down Bohlen-Pierce chromatic 1/2 steps controlled from the computer keyboard.