## Saturday, July 13, 2024

### Consonance and Dissonance

Here is a new algorithmic piece in 50edo. 50edo, the tuning system that divides octaves into 50 equal parts instead of the conventional 12 equal parts, is still a quite conservative tuning system. It is very close to 2/7-comma meantone, whose history goes back to the 16th Century. I was inspired to create this piece from some discussion about diminished chords, chords built by stacking minor thirds. In conventional 12edo, four minor thirds add up to an octave: each minor third is 3 steps of 12edo, and 4*3=12, the number of steps in an octave in 12edo. In 50edo, a minor third is 13 steps, so four minor thirds adds up to 52 steps, 2 steps sharper than an octave. In just intonation a minor third is a 6:5 frequency ratio, so four minor third combine to make 1296:625, sharper than an octave by 648:625. In this piece I wanted to explore what kind of rich chord structure is made available by the greater precision of 50edo.

This piece has five voices, enabling quite complex chords. I didn't want the chords to get too wild, so I constrained the structure of the chords. The diagram above has a green template imposed on a Tonnetz diagram for 50edo. Since 50edo is a meantone tuning, the conventional names for notes can be used; but note that with 50edo, e.g. C# and Db are distinct pitches.

The chords in this piece, the combinations of notes that are sounded at the same time, are constrained by the rule that there should be some positioning of the template that covers all the notes in the chord. In the position shown for the template, the notes of the C major chord C-E-G are all covered, so the C major chord is allowed. An Fb major chord Fb-Ab-Cb is not covered by the template in the position shown, but the template can be shifted down two rows to cover the Fb major chord, so a Fb major chord is allowed. The template defines the shapes of the allowed chords. If a shape is allowed, it is allowed however it might be transposed.

An example of a forbidden chord is a two semitone chord such as D#-E-F. There is no way to slide the template to cover these notes together. Some common tetrads are allowed, such as a major seventh and a dominant seventh. A diminished triad is allow, but a diminished tetrad is not. The question that inspired this piece was about diminished tetrads, so their exclusion here is a bit of a disappointment, but I wanted to keep the template reasonably bounded in hopes of creating some coherent music!