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Jody Diamond

(b Bay Shore, NY, April 7, 1946). American composer, performer, instrument builder and ethnomusicologist. She received the BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and the MA and PhD from Wesleyan University, where she studied Indonesian and Indian music. She has performed with the ensembles of Philip Glass, Jon Gibson, Alvin Lucier, Philip Corner and Daniel Goode. In 1976 she co-founded, with Corner and Goode, the Gamelan Son of Lion, New York, a new music collective and repertory ensemble under her direction. In addition, she has built several Javanese-style iron gamelans, including the instruments used by the Gamelan Son of Lion and Gamelan Encantada, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Benary’s compositional output has been primarily in the areas of ensemble and chamber music, and music for the theatre. She has described herself as a ‘part-time minimalist who also likes to write melody’. Many of her works integrate world music forms, structures and instruments with traditional Western materials. Her works for gamelan ensemble, which number more than 30, have been performed internationally. ...

Article

Lyndesay G. Langwill

revised by Rosemary Williamson

(von Ahn)

(b Newcastle upon Tyne, May 19, 1878; d Great Missenden, Nov 2, 1958). English collector and historian of instruments and composer. He was educated in Hanover (1892) and as a Macfarren scholar at the Royal Academy of Music (1893–1902, ARAM 1902), where he studied composition with Corder. After serving as assistant music master at Winchester College (1909–22), he returned to the RAM in 1922 as professor of harmony and counterpoint, becoming a Fellow of the RAM in the same year; he held the professorship until 1940.

Carse’s early compositions include an orchestral prelude to Byron’s Manfred, a dramatic cantata, The Lay of the Brown Rosary and two symphonies; his later works, for student orchestras and beginners, are light, tuneful and individual, and ideally suited to their purpose as teaching material. His reputation, however, rests on his study of the history of instruments and the orchestra, and on his collection of some 350 old wind instruments, which he gave to the Horniman Museum, London, in ...

Article

John Chalmers and Brian McLaren

[O'Hara, Kenneth Vincent Gerard]

(b Portland, OR, May 5, 1917; d San Diego, CA, Feb 13, 1994). American composer, instrument inventor and theorist. He studied the cello, the piano and wind instruments at an early age. A composition student of Charles Wakefield Cadman, he began to compose using quarter-tones and just intonation during the 1930s. Although ill health prevented him from attending college, he taught himself electrical engineering and invented pioneering electro-acoustical instruments, including the microtonal keyboard oboe (1936), the amplifying clavichord (1940), the amplified cello (1941) and the electric keyboard drum (around 1945). During the 1960s he designed and built a 60-tone electronic organ with an ‘elastic tuning’ system that automatically justified traditional musical intervals.

In 1962 M. Joel Mandelbaum’s 19-tone compositions and Ervin Wilson’s microtonal instrument patents introduced Darreg to new tuning systems. He began an intensive programme of musical exploration and discovered that all equal temperaments have uniquely valuable musical properties (‘moods’). To hear these scales, he refretted guitars to 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 24 and 31 notes per octave and constructed metallophones with 5, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24 and 53 notes per octave. During the 1970s he created justly-tuned Megalyra and Kosmolyra amplified steel-guitar-like instruments, the sound of which has been described as ‘tuned thunder’. His last compositions use retunable MIDI synthesizers....

Article

Paul R. West

(b Jackson, MI, Oct 8, 1950). American composer, theorist, author, and instrument inventor. He began his career in composition and instrument design in 1970, having received little formal composition training. Interested in just intonation, he founded the performing ensemble Other Music in 1975 with classmates Dale Soules and Henry Rosenthal at the New College of California in San Francisco. The trio originally improvised and also performed from written scores. Inspired by studying intonation with lou Harrison , Doty began working with various metallophones, exploring their justly tuned capabilities. These investigations led to the creation of an American gamelan, which consisted of a set of metallophones, wooden marimbas, bells, and synthesizers that were built or adapted by Doty and four other group members. The instruments were tuned in seven-limit just intonation encompassing a 14-tone-to-the-octave scale developed by Doty and Soules. The Other Music ensemble began to perform on the American gamelan by ...

Article

Richard Kassel

(b Oakland, CA, June 24, 1901; d San Diego, Sept 3, 1974). American composer, theorist, instrument maker and performer. He dedicated most of his life to implementing an alternative to equal temperament, which he found incapable of the true consonance his ear and essentially tonal aesthetic demanded. He invented an approach to just intonation he called ‘monophony’; realizing that traditional instruments and performers would be inimical to his system, he designed and constructed new and adapted instruments, developed notational systems, and trained performing groups wherever he was living and working. By the 1940s he had transformed a profound antipathy to the European concert tradition into the idea of ‘corporeality’, emphasizing a physical and communal quality in his music.

Growing up in the American Southwest, Partch had piano lessons and played well enough to accompany silent films in Albuquerque. By 1920 he had returned to California, where he spent the next 13 years as a proofreader, piano teacher and violist. During this period he began to research intonation, sparked by his discovery of Helmholtz's ...