Kyle Gann: Fugitive Objects (2007)

Recording here
PDF score here
CAUTION: Score is meaningless as to pitch without retuning

Fugitive Objects (2007) was the first microtonal electronic piece I wrote after acquiring the software programs Kontakt and Lil Miss Scale Oven, programs which enabled me to play microtonal music through my laptop. I was a "Master Artist" at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in February, and I needed to write a work to perform at the residency's closing concert. Music with many more than 12 pitches to the octave can be difficult to play on a conventional keyboard, for if there are 30 pitches within an octave spread across two and a half octaves of keyboard space, one might be able to play intervals no larger than a major third with one hand. For a long time I had been thinking about obviating this difficulty by assigning keys on the MIDI keyboard nonlinearly - that is, put all the notes in a desired chord within reach of one hand, even if this means that contiguous pitches are scattered quasi-randomly around the keyboard. Fugitive Objects was my first experiment in this project. The various musical objects which make up the piece are scattered where they will be easy to reach, not where they would make musical sense. Thus, "fugitive objects."

I also wanted, for the first time, to write a single-timbre microtonal piece I could play entirely on a keyboard with no accompanying CD or soundfile.

The 13-limit tuning ends up using the following 21 pitches:

Pitch:ABb77Bb7Bb13- BBL-B^-C7CC^- C#
Ratio:1/149/4821/2013/12 9/88/755/487/66/5 11/95/4
Cents:035.784.5138.6 203.9231.2235.7266.9315.6 347.4386.3

D7D^-Eb7Ev EE^L-F13G7G^-G#^L-
21/1611/87/516/11 3/211/713/87/411/6 55/28

(If you don't have enough experience with just intonation to make sense of this chart, try reading the step-by-step Just Intonation Explained section.) In Johnston's notation, + raises a pitch by 81/80, - lowers it by 80/81, # raises it by 25/24, b lowers it by 24/25, 7 lowers it by 35/36, L raises it by 36/35, ^ raises it by 33/32, v lowers it by 32/33, 13 raises it by 65/64, and F-A-C, C-E-G, and G-B-D are all perfectly tuned 4:5:6 major triads.

However, these pitches are scattered around the keyboard as follows:

If you follow the recording with the score, you'll see that some of the highest pitches are played by the left hand down in the bass clef.

Enough information is given here to facilitate a performance - kindly contact the composer at if this is contemplated. The piece is performable on a five-octave keyboard.

March 9, 2007, by Kyle Gann at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Florida (world premiere)

MP3 recording by the composer

PDF performing score

Kyle Gann

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