This is completely different than wendy/walter carlos switched on bach series. Some consider this CD as a classic in microtonal or alternate tuning compositions. It has been very hard to find for several years due to the original record label going bankrupt but has recently been re-issued
in an enhanced edition CD which you can buy at most music stores such as amazon etc.....
Wendy Carlos [aka walter carlos]
Beauty In The Beast
Beauty In The Beast (3:57)
Poem For Bali (17:40)
Just Imaginings (12:07)
That's Just It (3:36)
C'est Afrique (6:13)
A Woman's Song (4:09)
About the Music
1: Incantation -- In Himalayan monasteries monks gather in solemn dignity to bestow upon God a sound so awesome that no mere mortal can be left unmoved. In this fantasy, prayer-wheels and Tibetan bells are combined with subharmonic voices and an orchestra of drums, cymbals, hand bells. shawms, and several kinds of horns, all in the tritone rich authentic scales from Bhutan and Tibet.
2: Beauty In The Beast -- The title cut of the album, this compact piece whimsically blends two quasi grotesque ideas with a romantic theme in best "Ballet Russe" style. The new scales used for all of this are quite odd the first heard called Beta, splits the perfect fourth into two equal parts (actually eight equal steps of nearly 64 cents each ), the second, Alpha, does the same to the minor third (four equal steps for 78 c. each). While both scales have nearly perfect triads two remarkable coincidences!), neither can build a standard diatonic scale, and so the melodic motion is strange and exotic. The two forces, beast and beauty, shift back and forth, and things are never quite what they seem.
3: Poem For Bali -- While in Bali in 1983 (chasing a total solar eclipse) I fell in love with this island, its culture and people and their love of the arts. (Note that the cover painting is from Bali. ) I still cannot get the sound of its music from my ears. "Poem for Bali" is an homage written to express these emotions. The ten-section continuous work is composed wholly in the Pelog and Slendro tunings of their rich gamelan tradition, but filtered through my decidedly western point of view. Section four is based on the Barong dance; I performed it on a close replica of their Gamelan ensemble. Section nine is really a mini-concerto for such an ensemble, accompanied by a western symphonic orchestra (sadly this can't be done in the acoustic world due to tuning conflicts). The rest paints an impressionistic canvas of moods amenable to this magical island.
4: Just Imaginings -- How exciting that the computer controlled digital synthesizer age has arrived. We can finally "have our cake and eat it, too!" In the past we had to choose between perfect tuning (a just intonation), or totally free modulations (an equal-step temperament), and most of us chose the latter. This composition is all perfectly tuned in a "Super-Just" scale I call the Harmonic Scale, which continues past the 5th harmonic of just, all the way to the (prime) 19th harmonic! But then, in a 144 notes per octave slight of hand, it modulates all over, including two circles of fifths, at the main climaxes to section one (Kaleidoscope) and three (Dreams). Section two (Chroma) combines polytonal clusters of "super-just" chords with a busier foreground. This contrasts with the more upbeat first, and stream of consciousness third sections, both etudes in contrast and surprise.
5: That's Just It and 6: Yusae-Aisae -- These two closely-related pieces, written immediately before "Just Imaginings," are also in the Harmonic Scale. They are my studies in learning how to control the Harmonic Scale, before I began to modulate with it. Both also explore some of the more unusual melodic intervals of this scale, which while more acoustically satisfying to the human ear than the arbitrary intervals of equal temperament, have remained difficult to obtain up until now, and so are seldom heard. That's too bad, because we've really been deprived of all the gorgeous exotic modes and harmonies of tuning in the natural way, instead of the mathematical way we've been tied to these past 300 years, since Papa Bach adopted it as the best available compromise.
The point of departure for "That's Just It" is an imaginary jazz sextet, with solo trumpet and tenor sax. "Yusae-Aisae" conjures a Hollywoodesque Mid-Eastern marketplace. While both pieces use exactly the same tuning, to western ears the slithery arabesques of "That's Just It" may sound peculiar, but the latter quite authentic. I suspect that an arab musician would hold the opposite opinion: the Harmonic Scale is no more an arabic tuning than Chow Mein is from China!
7: C'est Afrique -- I've lucky to visit Africa several times, and find the many cultures and musics of the African people every bit as captivating as those of Bali. This piece is my first attempt to suggest a (tiny) portion of their art. It has four short sections, all in the authentic tunings, which are not too different from our own. There can't be any more rhythmically sophisticated music than African, and that's what these four sections, with their quasi-realistic timbres and extrapolations, are about. (As with the Gamelan sections of "Poem For Bali," they were surprisingly tricky, but also a lot of fun to play!)
8: A Woman's Song -- By combining ideas from several regions we arrive at the elegant final work of BitB. The melody, based on a song by a Bulgarian Shepherdess (the woman of the title), is titled: "Izel je Delyo Hajdutin." To that long-flowing melisma I've added the tambura and dilruba from India (replacing the Bulgarian bagpipes), and an appropriate raga tuning. Western horns and crotales, plus several hybrid timbres round out the orchestration. While no synthesizer is yet any match for Valya Balkanska's electric mezzo soprano (whose performance was included on the Voyager records), the instrumental version here forms an appropriately haunting conclusion for all of our beastly beauties.