The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium
First symposium on the Bohlen-Pierce scale, Boston, March 7 – 9, 2010
Walker: Songs

Love Song – 4:40

Elaine Walker, Sonome/voice
Richard Boulanger, Sonome/BP piano
Daniel Sedgwick, percussion
Marji Gere, Violin
Love Song
My mission since the early nineties has been to write microtonal music in the same style that I would otherwise use 12 tones for. I see no reason to treat microtonal scales, particularly equal tempered ones of a reasonable size, any differently than the 12 tone tuning, other than to get to know each for its unique “flavor”.  Since I normally write electronic pop of a strange brand, Love Song was a deliberate exercise to use more accessible parts than I normally do. I chose a familiar topic (love and heartache). I chose familiar sounds (piano, cello, flute). My intention in doing so was to allow the Bohlen-Pierce scale to stand on its own. Secondly, since the listener has familiarity to grasp onto, it was my hope that no one would even notice the strange, alien tuning.

Stick Men – 7:20

Elaine Walker, BP-tar
Richard Boulanger, BP classical guitar/Sonome/BP piano
Ron Sword, 9-string BP electric guitar
Stick Men
Stick Men was my first Bohlen-Pierce Scale composition. It was inspired by Dr. Boulanger’s early BP compositions. The piece portrays my initial unfamiliarity with BP, repeating simple lines over and over, letting them sink in, becoming more and more familiar, then gradually modulating and adding new motifs, while still feeling afraid to explore this new harmonic territory. I clearly remember the combination of absolute fear and awe that this tuning stirred in me. Gradually, minutes in, the music becomes more free with the tuning, embracing the dissonance along with its incredible tonality. Every BP composer must go through a similar process of noticing the “minor thirds”, then finally making the decision whether or not to embrace the “short octave” at some point, which I do to an extreme at the end.