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Verity Sharp with Unequal Temperaments

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of composer Lou Harrison, Verity Sharp plays a mix of music that uses unequal temperaments, or alternative tuning systems.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Lou Harrison, Verity plays a mix of music that uses unequal temperaments, or alternative tuning systems.

Born on the 14th of May 1917 in Portland, Oregon, Harrison's experiments with tuning challenged the musical establishment alongside his contemporaries and colleagues, including John Cage, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Leonard Bernstein. Harrison claimed that the "equal temperament" on which the Western musical tradition is built "deprives us of real beauty - it deprives us of things we are genetically wired for".

Today, musicians from Bang on a Can to Björk are indebted to the tuning experiments and musical hybrids that Harrison pioneered half a century ago. His explorations of new tonalities at a time when the rest of the avant-garde considered such interests heretical set the stage for minimalism and musical post-modernism.

Tonight, expect to hear echoes of Harrison in the work of Wendy Carlos, Ben Johnston, Duane Pitre, and many more.

Produced by Jack Howson for Reduced Listening.

1 hour, 30 minutes

Music Played

  • Ergo Phizmiz

    Fingerwings - Original Version

    • The Unreleased Ergo Phizmiz Volume One.
  • Lou Harrison

    Double Music

    Composer: John Cage. Ensemble: Percussionists of the California Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Barry Jekowsky.
    • Lou Harrison: A Portrait.
    • Decca.
  • Lou Harrison

    Serenade, "Serenade for Frank Wigglesworth"

    Performer: Karen Gottlieb.
    • Music for Harp.
    • Innova.
  • John Cage

    Raga 8

    Performer: Amelia Cuni.
    • Solo for Voice 58: 18 Microtonal Ragas.
    • Other Minds Records.
  • Arve Henriksen

    Towards Language

    • Towards Language.
    • Rune Grammofon.
  • The Kondi Band

    Titi Dem Too Service

    • Salone.
    • Strut.
  • Wendy Carlos

    C'est Afrique

    • Beauty In The Beast.
    • Audion Recording Co.
  • Duane Pitre

    Comprovisation For Justly Tuned Ukelin No.1

    Performer: Duane Pitre.
    • The Harmonic Series (A Compilation Of Musical Works In Just Intonation).
    • Important Records.
  • Lou Harrison

    La Koro Sutro: Strofo 4

    Choir: Chorus and Chamber Chorus of the University of California at Berkele. Ensemble: American Gamelan. Conductor: William Winant.
    • La Koro Sutro.
    • New Albion.
  • Lou Harrison

    Stampede, Allegro

    Performer: Joanna MacGregor.
    • Piano Concerto.
    • Sound Circus.
  • Georg Friedrich Haas

    Octet for 8 Trombones

    Ensemble: Trombone Unit Hannover.
    • Donaueschinger Musiktage 2015.
    • Neos.
  • Robert Johnson

    Drunken Hearted Man

    • The Complete Recordings.
    • Columbia.
  • Harry Partch

    Two Studies On Ancient Greek Scales

    Performer: John Schneider. Performer: Amy Shulman.
    • Just West Coast (Microtonal Music For Guitar And Harp).
    • Bridge Records.
  • Nicola Vicentino

    Musica Prisca Caput

    Performer: Johannes Keller.
  • Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

    Little Mammoth

    • Music for an Elliptical Orbit.
    • Diatribe Records.
  • Radiohead

    How To Disappear Completely (Live at Canal + Studios, Paris)

    • Kid A (Collector’s Edition).
    • Capitol Records.
  • Ben Johnston

    The Ascent, String Quartet No. 4, "Amazing Grace" (1973)

    Ensemble: Kronos Quartet.
    • Kronos Released, 1985-1995.
    • Nonesuch.

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