Quarter-Tone Dissertation

Introduction to Quarter-Tone Music

This chapter lays the groundwork for the chapters that follow. I found I couldn't say anything coherent about quarter-tone music without having some idea of how quarter tones affect such basic musical constructs as pitch names, accidentals, intervals, chords, sets, and scales. In this chapter, I go through the whole business of sorting out the basics of quarter tones so that the rest of the dissertation makes some kind of sense. I end the chapter with a brief discussion of sketch notation, because in my analyses I rely heavily on sketches to illustrate my observations.

Contents of Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Introduction to Quarter-Tone Music
The published version of this chapter, saved as a PDF.
Example 1.1
Charles Ives's original piano duet scoring of Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. II, Allegro, mm. 3-6.
Example 1.2
Ernest Bloch, Quintet for Piano and Strings, Mvt. I, Agitato, mm. 1-3.
Example 1.3
Béla Bartók, Sonata for Solo Violin, Mvt. IV, Presto, mm. 206-211.
Example 1.5
Jack Behrens, Quarter-Tone Quartet, mm. 1-2. Violin I and Viola sound one quarter tone higher than written.
Example 1.6b
J. S. Bach, Invention No. 13, transcribed into Julián Carrillo's integer notation.
Example 1.7
Julián Carrillo, Horizontes, harp part, 5 measuers after rehearsal letter E (Misterioso). The harp is written in 96-note equal temperament, although this passage exploits only 48 divisions of the octave.
Example 1.9
Alois Hába's String Quartet No. 3, 'cello, mm. 7-14, notated five different ways to compare different approaches to quarter-tone notation.
Example 1.10
The excerpt in Example 1.1, transcribed using my preferred accidentals.
Example 1.11
A variety of major thirds, some spelled with conventional accidentals, some with quarter-tone accidentals.
Example 1.12
Comparison of major, minor, and neutral intervals: thirds, sixths, seconds, and sevenths.
Example 1.13
A demonstration of Wyschnegradsky's major fourth and minor fifth intervals.
Example 1.16
A demonstration of neutral triads. The audio clips in this one are fun to play with.
Example 1.18
Alois Hába, Suite für vier Posaunen im Vierteltonsystem, Mvt. V, Allegro risoluto, mm. 1-3.
Example 1.21
Alois Hába's String Quartet No. 3, mm. 7-14. The melody of this excerpt appears as Example 1.9 above.