Thirty-One | Volume 1 - Summer 2009

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Thirty-One_Volume 1 - Summer 2009


Thirty-One | Journal of the Huygens-Fokker Foundation | Volume 1 - Summer 2009

Editorial by Bob Gilmore

Micro-actualities by Sander Germanus

Micro-actualiteiten door Sander Germanus


Composition Forum

How I Became a Convert - Peter Adriaansz

The Dutch composer Peter Adriaansz writes about the intricate processes that led him to begin using an expanded pitch vocabulary in his music in recent years.

Some Thoughts on Linear Microtonality - Frank Denyer

The English composer Frank Denyer writes about his particular interest in melodic, rather than harmonic, uses of microtonality.

Key Eccentricity in Ben Johnston Suite for Microtonal Piano - Kyle Gann

The American composer and musicologist Kyle Gann offers an analysis of the Suite for
Microtonal Piano by his teacher Ben Johnston.


Theory Forum

The Huygens Comma _ Some Mathematics Concerning the 31-Cycle - Giorgio Dillon and Riccardo Musenich

This article offers an intriguing investigation into one aspect of 31-note equal temperament: the authors discuss three different methods to select an equal temperament that best approximates meantone temperament, in the last of which (involving chains of pure thirds) they find an analogue of the Pythagorean comma that they propose be named the Huygens comma.


Instrument Forum

Technische aspecten van het 31-toons orgel_1950-2009 - Cees van der Poel (in Dutch only)

Organ player and advisor Cees van der Poel describes work on the recently renovated Fokker organ, now again fully functional after several years of disuse.



Review of Patrizio Barbieri_Enharmonic Instruments and Music - Rudolf Rasch

Review of Bozzini Quartet_Arbor Vitae_James Tenney - Bob Gilmore


Notes on Contributors

PETER ADRIAANSZ is a Dutch composer based in The Hague. Recent works have been premiered by Sonsoles Alonso and Jorrit Tamminga, Compagnie Bischoff, Crash Ensemble (Dublin), Electric Guitar Quartet Catch, Ensemble Klang, the Ives Ensemble, LOOS Electric Acoustic Media Orchestra, Ensemble MAE, Percussion Group Den Haag, Trio Scordatura, and others. Adriaansz’ work can be characterized by a systematic, research-oriented approach towards music, in which sound, structure and audible mathematics constitute the main ingredients. In recent years an increasing interest in flexibility, variable forms and - especially - microtonal reflection can also be observed in his work.

FRANK DENYER is an English composer and pianist and is currently Professor of Composition at Dartington College of Arts in Devon. Portrait CDs of his music have appeared on the Etcetera, Tzadik, Another Timbre, and Mode labels. He is a founder member of the Barton Workshop, an Amsterdam-based ensemble that has performed and recorded extensively in the area of American experimental music.

GIORGIO DILLON, physicist, is Associate Professor of Quantum Mechanics at Genoa University, Italy. His main research interest is in theoretical nuclear and subnuclear physics. He plays harpsichord and recorder and is a fellow of MUSICOS, a multidisciplinary Research Center devoted to music, recently established at Genoa University (

KYLE GANN is an American composer and musicologist. He was new-music critic for the Village Voice from 1986 to 2005. Since 1997 he has taught music theory, history, and composition at Bard College in Annadale-on-Hudson. He is the author of The Music of Conlon Nancarrow (Cambridge, 1995), American Music in the 20th Century (Schirmer, 1997), Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice (University of California Press, 2006), and John Cage's 4'33" (Yale University Press, forthcoming). He studied composition with Ben Johnston, Morton Feldman, and Peter Gena, and his music is often microtonal. His rhythmic language, based on differing successive and simultaneous tempos, was developed from his study of Hopi, Zuni, and Pueblo Indian musics.

SANDER GERMANUS is a Dutch microtonal composer and director of the Huygens-Fokker Foundation. He studied saxophone at the Amsterdam Conservatory and composition in Rotterdam and Antwerp with Peter-Jan Wagemans and Luc Van Hove. In 1999 he undertook a study project at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent that explored future applications of quartertones in music. In May 2009 three of his ensemble works (Lunapark, Piccadilly Circus and Waldorf-Astoria) and his quintet Le Tourne-disque Antique were performed at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam by the Calefax Reed Quintet and the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw. He is chairman of the Dutch composer society Componisten 96 and teaches at the Lemmens Institute of Leuven.

BOB GILMORE is a musicologist and keyboard player born in Northern Ireland and presently living in Amsterdam. He is the author of many books and articles on new music, specifically on microtonal and spectral repertories, including the award-winning Harry Partch: a biography (Yale, 1998), a study of the American composer, theorist and instrument builder. He edited Maximum Clarity: selected writings on music by the American microtonalist Ben Johnston (University of Illinois Press, 2006). He teaches at Brunel University in London and is the director of Trio Scordatura, an Amsterdam-based ensemble specialising in microtonal music.

RICCARDO MUSENICH, doctor in Chemistry, is Senior Scientist with the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Genoa. His research activity concerns the application of superconductivity in devices for high energy physics. Moreover, he collaborates with the “Centro Musicos” of Genoa University. He studied cello and at present he sings in the choir of the ensemble Il Concento Ecclesiastico (

CEES VAN DER POEL studied organ and church music at the Amsterdam Conservatory and piano at the Maastricht Conservatory. He performs regularly as a soloist and ensemble player (most of the time with La Barca Leyden), and works also as an editor on organ building for the Dutch magazine Het Orgel and as an organ advisor for both the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches and independently as well. He advises on historical organs for the Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed (the Dutch National Agency for Cultural Heritage).

RUDOLF RASCH is a musicologist teaching at the University of Utrecht. He is an authority on the subject of tuning and temperament, and was for many years Director of the Huygens-Fokker Foundation. Among many other activities he organised a series of concerts of microtonal music at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, and initiated Diapason Press, which published both a Tuning and Temperament Library (reprints of classic texts on tuning by authors such as Werckmeister, Sauveur, Suppig, R.H.M. Bosanquet and Christiaan Huygens) and Corpus Microtonale, a series of printed editions of contemporary microtonal works.