Other Recordings


Piano Improvisations in Modified Meantone tuning (updated 4/17/2013).

Recordings of several improv sessions on pianos tuned to Paul Bailey's Modified Meantone (name still under discussion) scale are available on CD upon request.

I have one CD (Stockton CA 9/3/2005) that is already edited at this point, and several hours of unedited material that is also available on request.

These recordings explore the facility of this tuning with Impressionist chord voicings--or are they jazz voicings? Jazz piano has roots in impressionism, although I think these are not often acknowledged. Both kinds of music are of course now commonly played in equal temperament (12et) and I have heard that some claim jazz in some sense "belongs" in equal temperament--perhaps for its abstracteness and lack of harmonic/tonal reference? In the case of Impressionist piano music, equal temperament was not in common use when the music was composed, and for quite a while after that equal temperament was not quite equal since the technology to create accurate equal temperament was not available. Furthermore earlier interpretations of equal temperament probably involved subtle "improvements" to the tuning of the "near" keys to make the result less objectionable to the ear.

To my ear, Paul's tuning does particularly wonderful things for Ravel piano works, even though it may be technically more akin to tunings probably used for earlier genres of music. My interest in this tuning on the piano tends to lean toward Impressionist and Jazz use.

I've been around some pianists who had the opportunity to play publicly on Paul's tuning and witnessed their discomfort with it. Everyone has become quite used to hearing the entire piano literature played in equal temperament, but maybe no one is so used to it as the pianists who have a job to do and a career to maintain. The audience has a somewhat lighter responsibility, and can perhaps hear things that are different without being stressed by them.

I should really describe the qualities of the tuning here, and say something about what I know of how it came to be created, and even give the full specifications for the intervals here. This is a little more than I can take on right now, so if you are interested please agitate for it. Meanwhile I think these recordings manage to represent the tuning pretty well, whatever limitations may be present in these, my improvisations of 8 years ago.

Briefly I can say that far keys may sound a little strange to some, maybe Ab and Ab minor unexpectedly so, although there is a rationale to it, and also in my opinion a rich and not at all unpleasant experience available in the entire range of keys. The near keys have very sweet majors, far better even than a well-temperament (never mind equal), and the tritones which in equal temperament lean toward being unpleasant in every key (and are expected to be so?) sound good in almost all keys in this tuning (but different in each key), and this in particular makes the tuning fascinating with Ravel works such as Mirroirs and Le Tombeau de Couperin. Recordings of such pieces in this tuning may be available for private use with some restrictions since there may be rights issues that would get in the way of general distribution.

Meanwhile maybe you will hear some Ravelesque elements on the 9/3/2005 improvisation CD, which for the time being is available for free, and from which 3 tracks are available for download right here.


Three sample tracks from the 9/3/2005 piano improv CD (mp3 format).

Stockton CA 9/3/2005 improvisations, Track 2 (23 MB)

Stockton CA 9/3/2005 improvisations, Track 3 (21 MB)

Stockton CA 9/3/2005 improvisations, Track 5 (6 MB)




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