The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium
First symposium on the Bohlen-Pierce scale, Boston, March 7 – 9, 2010
Roads: On Purity


This talk presents an overview of the composition Purity (1994), one of three movements in the composition Clang-tint, commissioned by the Japanese Ministry of Culture and the Kunitachi College of Music, Tokyo. The pitch structure of Purity is based on the Bohlen-Pierce (BP) scale. I chose the full chromatic BP scale because of its intriguing sound. With its combination of intervals that were both sweeter and more sour than 12-note equal temperament, I saw strong potential for expressive melodic and harmonic structures. The ear is the most sophisticated sound analyzer we know, and it was by ear that I mastered the BP scale, a process that took many months. In Purity, the BP scale is embedded in a context of broader pitch strategy involving freely flowing glissandi and echo effects.

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