Reflections on the Pitch Continuum as a musical paradigm, encompassing any scale derivation method (pitch collection, pitch-color palette). Micropitch collections are an exponential expansion of the various scale and modal configurations within our current monochromatic musical system.
Initially, we utilized the metaphor of an extra dimension of discrete spectral pitch colors applied to the chromatic pitch system. This is only the beginning of a process of conceptual and perceptual evolution in music.
Moving from this expanded awareness and understanding of discrete pitch-color, we can pursue a further, deepening awareness of sound, pitch and music within new interactive contexts. This process uses increasing pitch-resolution collections with an effort toward reaching closer approximations of infinite scales contained within the pitch continuum. This exploration allows us to gain a sense of pitch and sound as an interrelated and evolving process, with expressive potentials and creative implications far beyond the limits of conventional, unquestioned perspectives.
Viewing discrete spectral temperaments (pitch palettes) as only an intermediate simplification of a deeper understanding of the pitch continuum, suggests an unending journey and exploration beyond our current levels of auditory awareness and musical constructs/models.
The Pitch Continuum paradigm encompasses at least 3 spatiotemporal dimensions:
1° dimension – metapitch (arbitrary letter delineation, ‘horizontal’)
2° dimension – micropitch (arbitrary color delineation, ‘vertical’)
3° dimension – embedded harmonics (‘depth, density’)
a. perceptual recognition
b. spectral varieties
c. harmonic combinations/interactions
All of these dimensions are temporally related by virtue of the inherent frequency basis of pitch in cycles per second (Hz).
More broadly, the continuum is an all-encompassing conceptual perspective characterized by ambiguous (difficult to measure and express in language) relativistic (dynamic, contextually dependent) elements and processes.
Conceptual processes involved in the pursuit of knowledge efficiently create discrete categories and recognize patterned approximations (‘laws’) leading toward the formation and perpetuation of self-consistent models.
Models reify selected and decontextualized aspects of the continuum into discrete (independent), simplified explanatory/descriptive mental constructs which are then substituted for the continuum (interdependent unity) as the essential elements of knowledge and analysis.
Incommensurable models, theories, observations and facts have an underlying comprehensive continuous reality which is essential to, yet beyond all models and paradigmatic constructs. In a sense, the models can be viewed as a single perspective, or dimension of awareness of a multidimensional process.
Discrete categorizations and absolute laws are only transient ‘tools’ in an ongoing
process of expanding awareness and conscious evolution; one should be receptively aware
of this historical flow and the unending process of pursuit of alternative perspectives (dimensions of awareness).
The acquisition of knowledge relative to the continuum seems analogous to that of water, escaping the more firmly that one grasps it; in attempts to localize, define and confine discrete elements in finite categorical boxes which are themselves constrained within limiting conceptual theories and models. We seem to gain insights in one dimension and
yet lose them in another.
Within music, there is the opportunity for an intuitive approaches toward
developing awareness and reintegration of discrete pitch systems with the sense of an infinite continuum; as creative potentiality; The continuum (qualitative, gestalt) as a complementary frame of reference, somehow interrelated and inseparable from discrete (measurable) reality constructs.
Why 106 EDO (equal divisions of the octave)?
The traditional approach to an application of various Western temperament systems seems top-down (cart before the horse) in the sense that predefined, mathematically derived (as opposed to perceptually derived) fixed pitch/interval values are superimposed on the fixed mathematical pitch-space called an octave; rather than the ear and auditory intuition guiding the development of new pitch systems which then can be secondarily analyzed to understand how the pitch systems and musical relationships were derived.
By convention, composers and musicians work within an analytically based paradigm which is itself derived from a mathematical aesthetic (i.e. privileged numeric sequences, simple ratios etc.). The resulting possibilities for musical expression are then limited by the tacit assumptions within the model of absolute/static pitch and interval definitions.
I utilize a bottom-up approach in the sense that I begin with the pitch continuum and seek the highest pitch-resolution possible (via equal divisions of the octave) within technical constraints of an instrument design. Then I empirically explore pitch/interval relationships which are bounded in aural perception and contextually determined (dynamic, non-fixed).
Even the octave, as defined for pitch division purposes, becomes dynamic within the perceptually based musical context; octave equivalence applies to linear systems while hearing processes are nonlinear.
This approach utilizes, as a starting point, the traditional chromatic pitch language (as metapitches), as used in standard music notation, and exponentially expands this linguistic concept by utilizing color to conceptually establish newly perceived micro-pitches. This visual approach intuitively encompasses new auditory colors as conceptually unique pitch elements, instead of using a growing number of incompatible symbolic pitch-modifiers applied to a absolute monochromatic metapitches.