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upcoming concert

The Art of 'Nauwluisterendheid' | January 14, 2018, 11.00 hours | Small Hall, Muziekgebouw
Ensemble SCALA is back this season with a concert full of microtonal sounds. The title of the program is partly derived from the 'Nauwluisterendheid Foundation', founded by Professor Adriaan Fokker in 1960 for 31-tone music, which changed its name to the Huygens-Fokker Foundation in 1967. With the strange term 'nauwluisterendheid' ('narrowlisteningness') Fokker pointed to the small pitches of the 31-tone system that had to be tuned very carefully. But it also referred to the ability to perceive these small intervals while listening to the music. That's an art in itself, that can be mastered by the audience by listening to Ensemble SCALA this morning.

about the ensemble

Ensemble SCALA is a group of seven musicians which is focused on microtonality and is initiated by the Huygens-Fokker Foundation (centre for microtonal music) in 2010 to experience microtones within a spectrum (scala) of tone colors. The fact that the famous Fokker organ has become a part of the ensemble is special. The instrumentation of Ensemble SCALA is flute, clarinet, viola, microtonal guitar, Fokker organ, keyboards/Carrillo piano and percussion. The musicians are all specialists in the field of microtonal music. Together they explore the borders of the colorful possibilities of microtonality. The ensemble focuses on major microtonal systems/tunings, like the 31-tone system, the 96-tone system and more.

special instruments

The ensemble uses several microtonal instruments, like the 31-tone organ (Fokker organ), the 96-tone piano (Carrillo piano) and different kind of microtonal guitars and keyboards. These instruments increase the possibilities to perform microtonal music in a qualitatively good way. However, the instruments do ask for additional and special practicing. Within the Ensemble SCALA, some conventional instruments are also used by three of the musicians, namely a flute, a clarinet and a viola, which complete the overall sound of the ensemble. On these instruments microtones will be performed by the use of alternative fingering, which demands special musical skills of the musicians. Together these musical instruments complement each other beautifully.  

microtonal music


"Microtonal music" includes all music composed in tuning systems that do not consist of twelve equal tuned tones. This applies, for example, to the 24-tone system (quarter-tones), the 19-tone system (third-tones), the 96-tone system (16th-tones) as well as to the meantone tuning (twelve unequal tones) from the Renaissance. So also the 31-tone system (fifth-tones), on which the 31-tone organ or Fokker organ is based and which is part of Ensemble SCALA. Another definition is "intervals that are smaller than the usual half tones". However, this description isn't always correct as there are also many intervals that are slightly larger than the usual intervals. It is true that microtonality today is in great interest to musicians and audiences, partly because this is a new way of expression for composers. Because the possibilities to produce microtones (with the advent of advanced software) have become much more extensive since the end of the past decade, the world of microtonal music has grown tremendously. Simultaneously with this new trend in the 21st century, Ensemble SCALA was established in 2010 and is focusing on microtonal music only.

Ensemble SCALA on SoundCloud