・Project Description

・Artistic Results

・All the performances

・List of Works

・Project map

・Site map

these two works as the catalogue and the project log

with the links: works also as an appendix

the handwritten map I used when I was cleaning the thoughts

Project Map/Information 

・Preliminary overview of different ways of applying microtonality to the piano



・On each composer's name:


Here is the whole process and technical information about artistic results of mine.
Electronics involved: details on the use of electronics and film are not specified here, as this is less related to my project.

- Bio

- Technical Info

- Process

(where I could write short essay or explanation of the word/names/works which were mentioned in the main tech/info)

-     All the Techniques

-       Glossery of terms

-       Names

-       Works


- marsyas and apollo (2017)

Score, the length, the tuning, the preparation and so on 


- Intro (Bauck)

- Finding the sound (Harada)

- tostados en córdoba....(2019) (Bauck)

- Intro (Haugen)

- Musetta (Rawgabitting, Ness)

- Pedal (Rawgabitting, Ness)

- Including Microtonality (Haugen)

- Intro (Magalhaes)

- An openness in the score invites the listening (Magalhaes)

- Practical Experience (Magalhaes)

- Cairns (Ness)

- Not Perfect (Magalhaes)

Several years ago, I was visiting and reading the project site pianoharmonics.com constructed by the composers Martin Rane Bauck and Johan Svensson and the pianist Jonas Olsson. I found it interesting, so I asked Bauck if he would write a piece for my project. It was also convenient that we lived in the same city, and could have a close collaboration.

Martin showed me a piece called 'marsyas and apollo'[1], written as an etude for piano harmonics, and I was overwhelmed by how its powerful stinging harmonics all together created a very distinct sonic landscape. He said he would base the new work, written for piano quartet, on the material from the etude.

Martin Rane Baucks piano quartet 'tostados en córdoba en medio de la noche' was premiered in 2019, and revised in 2022.
I will now tell a bit about how I practically solved and mapped the piano harmonics.

After me and Harada visited prof. Hondo in Sendai, Japan, in December 2019, all our communication had to happen through email and video calls due to a covid pandemic. Our planned concert premiere had to be postponed several times, so we ended up recording the album before performing it live. We met again in a hotel lobby in Tokyo in the summer of 2022, right after finishing my Harada recording with Lawo in Oslo only 2 weeks before.
Our working process was not ideal, as we couldnt meet, but this is what we did: Harada sent a quite amusing list of sounds she needed for her piece, some explaining certian specific preparations, but mostly she described her preferred sounds with self-made onomatepoeia, and adding if it should be a high or low sound, wet or dry etc.
I sound-recorded and video-recorded something close to it, and uploaded it to my website, so that she could have a listen, and comment on it. We did several rounds of this process, and struggled for a while with poor sound quality.
Just days before the recording, I uploaded the run-through, and made adjustments based on her final comments.

(The correspondance we had regarding sound quality will soon be added to this page.)

Bjørn Erik Haugen gathered video extracts of Helen Keller's speech, and also extracts from an old biographical movie about her (The Miracle Worker).
He analyzed and transcribed her speech and sounds into pitch and rhythm, to make a "silent fim with talking piano".
In the film, there are also other sound than just the voice, such as stomping, throwing things on the floor, closing doors, etc...

He suggested that I should make use of all these "external" sounds by doing the same actions as in the film. Then I thought some of the sounds would be interesting to realize with microclusters.
By ear, we f.ex. tried to find the sound of throwing a silver spoon on the floor. The pitch was close to the highest G, but not completely, so I tuned down one of the strings in the course. It got more overtones and sounded much closer to the original clean sound.
As speech, also in the case of Helen Keller, often consist of lots of small glissandi, he asked me if it was possible to tune all the tones within the frame of an octave into a f.ex. the frame of a whole-tone. So we tried to tune a C4 into G3, and then make a micro-scale when moving upwards.
More details about the final tuning will come here.

I was very attracted to the very colourful piano sounds in Magalhães' composition 'In My Volcano Grows The Grass for prepared piano'(2017-2018). I asked her to write a solo piece for my project, and there came 3 pieces of various lengths.

From Magalhaes, I received sketches and a video demonstrating several of the very original techniques (Magalhaes is a pianist herself). I practised with the preparation objects I had available, and asked her to come to Oslo in May 2021 to have a workshop with me. She brought some equipment, and showed me how her sounds could be solved, but the rest was up to me. She had very a clear image of the sounds and character she wanted, but still gave me a lot of freedome; I could even choose completely different sounds, if I thought it would work better within the given character.
The score was therefore more like a guide; if a very good sound would appear, I could stay with that sound longer, and the piano preparations did not belong to specific pitches, but to certain flexible ranges (as a solution to the various piano beam constructions etc.). This forced me to listen with own ears to each instrument and prepare the sound where I and the instrument "wanted to speak".

When preparing the magnets, it is necessary to be careful because some strong magnets, they can fly into the piano beams with great force if one is not careful, leaving small marks. One should avoid the strongest magnets, but the point here is that of the placement of the magnets had to be adjusted for each instrument, as the angle of the beam differ from piano to piano. I also placed the blu-tack by relying on my own ears, based on the suggested character. Within this freedom I enjoyed going into the details, so if f.ex discovered that it would work well to place a stripe of blu-tac around a multiphonic with the a certain harmonic number included, I took notes of this in my score.
The workshop with Magalhaes was a unique approach for me, as we were not aiming for a 'finished product', but rather aiming for new sounds and discoveries for each instrument.

During the first workshop with Ness, when I had shared my overview of microtonal modes of playing and demonstrated some examples of 'Non-unison string course scordatura', he told me that it reminded him of 'musette', and the Parisian nostalgic, warm sound immediately came to my mind. He however used this mode of playing in the very high range of the instrument.

When I performed three of Michelle's solo works at the Ultima Festival in 2023, I had to move the magnets and blu-tacks meticulously between the pieces. The second piece is indeed very beautiful, but is very short, and it is inconvenient and unfortunate that it requires quite a lot of time for preparation (after the first piece). The third piece was not originally written for piano, but we chose to include it for this concert, and Magalhaes had instructed that I could play it simply using the preparation from the the piece before pieces, which I found both surprising but also innovative for me, as I chose to make a half-improvisatory version of it, that I felt fitted the context.

Ness told me that used some pentatonic scales from Ligeti's piano concerto (1st movement) and some of his etudes and, where different pentatonic scales in the low and high register together create something very dissonant, yet still has a feel of the pentatonic.
Ness was inspired by this, and created a pentaton scale including the 11th partial (a quartertone).

Ness used also the 'mode' 'Use of the una corda pedal'.
When I wanted to play with normal tuning in the above-mentioned range, I had to depress the una corda pedal to prevent the microtonal string on the left side from sounding. This had the disadvantage when I wanted to play fortissimo, as there were only two sounding strings, and I had to work very hard avoiding the piano sound to be swallowed up the orchestra. In addition, not all keys on all pianos are reliable in this matter (touching only one string less), so it was necessary to adjust the position of the dampers, millimetre by millimetre, with the help of the piano tuner.

Tech/ Facts 

・My initial motivation



・Microtonality, Identity and Minority

・My view/ A comment on the implementation of microtonality in the various works

・Background of the collaborations

・Analyze (reflection)

・Advice to pianists and composers



Reactions to the microtonal piano

Animation film "THE MICROTONE"

- Again and Again and Again (Buene)


(What worked and what didn't work in the various works.) Magalhaes' open way of thinking can also come here.

- Okinawan scales

(the main point here is: How my work/experience with microtones/intonation and microtonal sounds has influenced me as a pianist, and my way of working.)

2017 to 2023 (Ness Reflection)

glissando on the piano (Mæland: Boiling Web)

- Leaving options for the performer (Bauck)

Keiko Harada


Scientific aspects

When sound itself is of no importance


Grisey Bowie (Ness Rawgabitting)

Anni Albers (Magalhães)

Method regarding the music video version

(more generally: what works and what doesn't)

Magalhaes' open way can be recommended again here.

Piano safety also comes here.

A comment on the choice of microtonal pitches

- Ringo Sheena

- Very General about the context of this project

Listening on "Three Studies for microtonal piano"

The shape of the sound (Mæland reflection)

What to Listen to (Bauck)

Ma (Harada)

Interaction of Color (Magalhães)

(Thought this also applied more practically: Organisers' concerns/questions when programming. Does it fit in here, or does this come under "Advice"?)

Student reactions to different ways of including microtonality

An unpleasant sound


- This is what my aim was at this point.

Another journey: The Microtone as a Minority

- The following project - with Lasse Passage

Jun'ichirō Tanizaki: In Praise of Shadows

Merry X'mas Mr.Lawrence

- 'guin' (Harada)


Obstacles for microtonality

- Bauck

- Schubert on "Three Studies for microtonal piano"

(where I could write short essay or explanation of the word/names/works which were mentioned in the main reflection)

- Gamelan (Magalhães)

- Listening


As I mentioned in the former page (Haugen), our collaboration made me question the 'normal' within both 'language' and "musical language", and for a while, my project took a new direction.


Not 6th part tone..., the composer should preferably examine the instr himself + concert instr. etc etc.

Notation (microtonal), Tuning/ working with piano tuners

- Microtonality

- 3 works by Øyvind Mæland including microtonal piano

- Minority etc....

(thinking about this now, that this is a natural intro. What was I thinking before I started - the driving force. Something about this, even though it's mentioned in the project description)

(why I chose the partners I chose)

Vocalist David Sylvian and the Japanese musician Sakamoto (and his Yellow Magic Orchestra) inspired each other, and worked together several times, including on the soundtrack to the Japanese-British film "Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence".

The Japanese rock band L'Arc-en-ciel, who were among my heroes for a long time, were strongly inspired by JAPAN, and this can be heard/seen both in terms of singing style, the "sound", and the themes.


Link: Forbidden colours (David Sylvian) and Forbidden lover (L'Arc-en-ciel)


With all this in mind, we started thinking about the next piano concert. "Cairns" is less virtuoso, and for a smaller ensemble (premiered with Ensemble Ernst). The piano has many more of its strings microtonally de-tuned, but there is also more space to listen to these sounds.


If I may be allowed to let my thoughts spin a little further:

Harada said that several of the de-tuned tones sounded unclean on the piano, even we had tried to tune them very exact. Could it be that certain quartertones sound more dissonant within a piano spectrum than within other instrument spectra?

When I had listened to a recording of the just intonation pieces by Ben Johnston, where the piano is detuned, I especially reacted to the quartertone of the 11th harmonic sounding out of tune The 11th is very close to a quartertone, but I expected it to sound pleasing within this beautiful justly tuned context. What could be the reason?


“C: 1/1 C#: 17/16 (+4.9) D: 9/8 (+3.9) Eb: 19/16 (-2.5) E: 5/4 (-13.7) F: 21/16 (-29.2) F#: 11/8 (-48.7) G: 3/2 (+1.9) G#: 13/8 (+40.5) A: 27/16 (+5.9) Bb: 7/4 (-31.2) B: 15/8 (-11.7)”

Ben Johnston, “just intonation piece” (CD, ..2018),


Does it have to do with the tradition of piano tuning, where the outer ranges of the instrument are slightly stretched, or is it the construction?

In his concressence project, composer Lasse Thoresen discusses the colour of the sound – it may be the same E, but different nuances due to different overtones.

In order to find out, Harada and I went to the University of Tohoku (Sendai, Japan) in December 2019, to visit a physicist professor who specializes in sound. He has a grand piano in his office, and takes a special interest in contemporary music, so Keiko suggested that he can try to figure out or explain how one can avoid sounding “out of tune” considering the tuning method and construction of the piano.


We had two days with prof. Hondo, and we asked him about the physics of the piano strings in general, and the effect on neighbouring strings and resonance caused when changing the tuning of the piano. He proved to us that, from a scientific point of view, there was no effect. However, when we actually de-tuned the pianos in his laboratory and listened to the sound, it was clear that the sound had another character, which was more dark and "pointy". He said that science cannot prove anything about this and that it comes down to the human ear and how our brains process the information.

Though my starting point of the project was very technical/practical, my focus however shifted slightly, now focusing more on the concept of minority and some of its implications.


At the concert called "Schubert meets Helen Keller", I had the opportunity to play a piece by Bjørn Erik Haugen inspired by a documentary on Helen Keller, and through this project, I started questioning what "ordinary" means, and began reflecting on my own origin and situation.



Musical minority”: I myself am a non-western classically trained pianist playing western contemporary music on the microtonal piano.


Though there has mainly been a positive, engaging force throughout the project, I also have experienced negative barriers and resistance due to the "unusuality" . (F.ex. LAB experience).


When I have been in a position to judge something/someone, in a committee or sim., I’ve witnessed applicants not getting through the first round due to cultural differences, and it became clearer to me what I was wondering about - "minority”. I believe I understand why I unconsciously focused on microtonal music, which is a minority for the piano.


Focusing on this perspective, obviously leads into to minefields of ethics, and though I will not be able to go in depth into this matter in my research project, I still want to share these thoughts since I find it interesting to view my motivation and project from this angle as well.


The standardized way of sharing research is limiting. It is necessary to have a common language, and the research should be shared, and also refer to others and other research. And so, a simple but difficult question arises in my mind, as our research model is a result of Western culture, and researchers almost only refer to Western literature, at least within the field of artistic research: What happens to the “minorities” – f.ex the research being written in Japan in Japanese (or other languages), without the funding to let it be translated, etc.?


One might find a parallel hierarchy in music, where Western music culture and especially it’s tuning system (12tone equal temperament – 12TET) has colonized almost the entire planet. Almost all music (old folk songs, instruments etc) has been adjusted to the 12TET. Only some few individuals or obscure groups of “nerds” and ideologists will continue to maintain or further develop the their “minority tunings”. Of course, no one thinks this makes the non-western music less valuable. But whenever the minorities are to be researched, they must necessarily be compared with a standard, again the Western standard, in order to articulate how extraordinary they are.


I am a Japanese artistic research fellow within a Western system that I deeply admire, and try to learn from. At the same time, I would very much like to raise some awareness both to myself and others about this issue – both about the non-Western and the non-standardized – the minority – through my project.

At one point in our conversations during the Rawgabitting collaboration, I wondered how I should react when the composer gave me an album (the British band JAPAN's last album, from 1981) where the cover shows a white man with glasses eating rice with chopsticks in a room with a picture of Mao, and the band is called JAPAN..., but from the moment I played the CD, all sorts of thoughts came into my head.

When we talked about microtonality, we discussed that there is nothing special in itself with about microtonality. As an example, Michelle showed me a picture. It was a picture from a book about the interaction of colours, by Josef Albers, in fact the husband of Anni Albers, whom I wrote about on the previous page.

A colour is perceived very differently depending on the colour(s) around it, just as a microtone can be perceived completely differently depending on the surrounding sound environment.

The English words culture and cultivate both derive from the Latin word "colore", which means to cultivate the earth. To follow up on Harada's concern, many types of keyboard instruments have certainly been created and tested in Europe, and the fruits of their efforts have become today's pianos, which are used worldwide. Even today, piano technicians and piano tuners are preserving the piano tradition and tuning. Though I try to expand my instrument's possibilities, I also have a deep respect for the centuries of work of research and craftmanship to perfect the instrument.

Regarding cultivation, this is something I heard from a Noh musician I spoke to in December 2023 (Noh being a Japanese art form highly concerned with preservation, though they also do modern plays) : I have watched and been taught what many people have danced and played before me. Then, later I will use what I think is good, make it my own, and bring it on to the next generation." The same applies to Amami and Okinawan shimauta (Island song) and the traditional performing arts of various regions. Of course, there is no right answer, so I must bear this in mind and pay the utmost respect to the piano as an instrument.

Shortly after the Haugen project, I started to think more about identity through the project with Passage. I was singing lyrics that sounded Japanese, but made no sense (he had translated a text back and forth so many times that it eventually became nonsense) while playing a keyboard set to microtonal scales. We had created a little story for each of the 3 songs, mainly based on my free narrative interpretation of the music (not the lyrics), and these stories were told before each of the songs. It was to me a new experience; a completely different performance style (I suddenly became a singer-songwriter), with a completely different approach to the composition.

A recurring theme among many Japanese writers and other artists throughout the 20th century was the Western influence on traditional Japanese culture, whether for good or not.

The author Tanizaki writes about this in "In Praise of Shadows" (1933)[1], where comparisons between light and darkness are used to contrast Western and Asian cultures. The West, in its pursuit of progress, is portrayed as continuously searching for light and clarity, while Tanizaki believes the muted forms of East Asian art and literature value shadow and subtlety. He describes a collision between the magical semi-darkness of traditional Japanese buildings and the cold, white light of modernity.

This concert, which is by no means ostentatious, is for me a mix of different cultures, western and eastern. Here, different colours and histories exist side by side.

If you are in Kyoto and sit down in an engawa (a kind of "temple veranda" where you sit and look out into the garden), the idea is that the unchanging landscape changes depending on, for example, the sunlight, the shadows, or even your own mental state.

I think this piano concerto is such a work, with sounds and phrases that can be experienced in countless ways, depending on the background and musical references of the individual performer and listener. And there are many musical references here.

I couldn't help but think of Merry X'mas Mr.Lawrence, when I studied this piece. The film opens with a scene from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp on the Indonesian island of Java. The beginning of this concerto was, for me, the sounds of nature that I heard in the Indonesian jungle, and also the occasional sound of someone singing or playing an instrument in the background.

This concerto has five movements, each with its own title.

At the time of our piano concerto collaboration, I had not been very familiar with Ness. Through our conversations, we soon discovered that we had several interests in common, not only Gerard Grisey's music, but also more popular music.

In 2017, I happened to be asked to play the piano part on a concert tour with Ness' arrangement of several David Bowie songs, performed by Ensemble Ernst and Bård Bratlie. Having grown up watching my father's MTV and Grammy Awards show from a young age, I could almost not wait to play Bowie on my own instrument(!), and it was indeed a very enjoyable experience. Ness thought that the Vortex Temporum cadenza and the piano solo part of Bowie's Aladdin Sane have a lot in common, and there is a comparison clearly demonstrated in the last movement. Another reference we had in common, was the Miyazaki film "Spirited Away", which I had seen quite a few times. Realizing it was a favourite of his, I watched it even more, and one of the movements is named after "Haku", the dragon and wizard's apprentice, who is in fact a river deity. There is also included an interesting episode of Southpark as well.

Tecelagem (Weaving room) from 2022 is a composition inspired by the Albers' tapestry.


The “weavery” of 'Tecelagem (Weaving room)' was strongly inspired by Six Prayers - the tapestry Anni Albers made as a memorial for Holocaust (Jewish Museum, New York). It may be seen as an interpretation of the text and form of the Torah. It is a weavery of different materials and groups of threads, including silverthreads catching their reflection and becoming prominent, before disappearing as light shifts along the earthy surface over time.

Ever since the world premier of Three Studies for Microtonal Piano, I had imagined that some kind of visualization of this solo work could become very interesting.


As the Covid-19 situation resulted in a lot of cancellations and postponements, I decided to set aside some time to actually make it happen.


In August 2020, I recorded the work on the label of Lawo, and together with filmmaker and animator Audun Nedrelid, we started working on what would become a mix of a short movie and a contemporary music video.

We believed that an animated short film would be a good format for visualizing the associations, partly because it would give us an artistic freedom that would be much easier to realize with a low budget. We hope that the beauty vs brutality of the work, will create an exciting emotional journey also for an audience unaccustomed to contemporary music.

Nedrelid is inspired by the expressivity of Munch, where the artist not just scrapes the paint off, but scrapes into the canvas itself.


We are curious to see if an animated music video could be a way to present contemporary music to a broader audience. It will be published at several sites online (including youtube), and we also believe that it could be presented at f.ex short film festivals. The film will be released/published early Autumn 2021.

Gerard Grisey spent years finding the ideal tuning for his work Vortex Temporum. Probably because I suggested the composers in the project to look for practical solutions concerning tuning, in fact several of the composers chose to use the Vortex tuning.


....Still, I’m questioning the choice of microtonal pitches in these works:


Did they skip some of the inventive listening process that Grisey so thoroughly went through, simply for the benefit of more practical concert programming?


I am also questioning the postmodern (and later) tradition - however historically necessary it may have been, or still may be - of borrowing material that I suspect many composers of lacking any deep experience with, and thus not letting the work reach it’s full potential. As a performer, I sometimes, rather unconsciously, wonder whether develoing an “own” material was too time-consuming or not for the composer…

-       Gamelan

-       Musetta

-       Noh

-       Okinawa

-       Pitch and Timbre

-       Tuning

-       12TET

-       Albers, Anni

-       Albers, Josef

-       Keller, Hellen

-       Banshee

-       Vortex Temporum


Some years ago, when I was working at a music high school in Oslo, Eivind Buene once visited the school to give a lecture to the students where he talked about his compositional motivation, how he composes and so on. Then I got to know his works Blue Mountain (2014) and Schubert Lounge, where both works are inspired by existing works; respectively by Gustav Mahler and by Franz Schubert.

Listening to Buene's works and himself demonstrating music historical references/quotes as an origin for several of his compositions, and the following compositional processes, was for me yet another eye-opener. It made me view and appreciate classical music in ways that were new to me. Furthermore, all this got intertwined, through Buene's sound world, with my continuously growing interest in contemporary music and its richness in timbre.


Maybe, I thought, this was similar to my first listening experience of Grisey's Vortex Temporum: Though not very obvious, Grisey’s intertwines material derived from a few extracts of Ravel with his own timbre-oriented structures and language.


I see Grisey as one of few composers fully capable of efficiently integrating microtonality in their works; Grisey using both harmonic and disharmonic spectra without focusing on drones or scales. Furthermore, Vorex Temporum is a work that demands a very attentive listening, as if there are many dimensions within the sound itself. The 2nd bell-like movement also has some of the depictive nostalgia I admittedly have a soft spot for, which one can trace in Buene’s work.


I later got to know about Buene’s research project, 'Again and Again and Again: Music as site, situation and repetition'[1] and also that the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra were planning to perform Buene’s work Standing Stones (2010) which contains musical materials and samples (from the last 80 years) from various recordings of Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 2. The piano of the orchestra pianist is required to have two of its pitches lowered by a quartertone, and as I was fascinated by Buene's music, and also just had started my research fellowship on microtonal piano, I asked if I could play that part.


So on May 3rd in 2018 I performed the part in the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (and also tuned/tuned back the two pitches) at the concert in Oslo Concert Hall, conducted by Eivind Aadland, where Standing Stones was programmed together with Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 2 and also another work by Buene.

In the beginning of September 2019, I had very intensive workshops with the Japanese composer Keiko Harada in Oslo.

We talked a lot about the construction of the instrument, and she was very concerned with the very details of the instrument, such as: Why does the shape of the dampers’ change from a certian range, and so on. We visited the piano tuners’ section at academy, and asked all the questions we had.

After the visit, Harada, who often uses microtones in other instruments, and is used to other tuning systems through her research on folk music of Japanese ethnic minorities, suddenly said: “We should pay respect to the instrument, as it has a long history and probably a good reason why it has become the way it is today»

It was both interesting and disappointing to hear this from Keiko, a Japanese composer, who seemingly had adopted the Western idea of the 12TET-piano as an “eternal truth”.

In Herzkino, Bjørn Erik Haugen is questioning both our language and the Western 12-tone equal-temperament when he is writing a work for the microtonal piano, drawing inspiration from the blind and deaf Helen Keller, who learned her language in a very alternative way, as she needed to communicate with the sense of touch, and had to feel the vibrations and movements of the throat and face.

“I am a Japanese artistic research fellow within a Western system that I deeply admire, and try to learn from. At the same time, I think I might bring something valuable to the project through my experience as Japanese/non-Westerner. I would very much like to raise some awareness both to myself and others about this issue – both about the non-Western and the non-standardized – the minority - through my project.” (2019)

In correspondence with Harada, I heard that the 'trigger' for composing --  (BAI-BAI-BAI) was to express a short glissando or vibrato sound called 'guin', a very peculiar technique of the folk singers from the Amami region. I then listened to several songs from the Amami region and read about the music history of both Amami and Okinawan music, islands in the very south of Japan. I had already heard quite a lot of Okinawan music, and had taken an interest in the history of Okinawa in general.

I myself was born and raised in Hokkaido, in the very north, and was fortunate to occasionally also experience the indigenous Ainu culture and their music from a young age.

Before making any film, I first intuitively wrote down the visions that I imagined in the different short sections of the work. I wrote my own chronological list of rather spontaneous associations - with events/atmospheres in the work that I imagine could be treated visually, in a mimetic/commenting or contrasting relation to the music.


All notes were in my mother tongue, Japanese - I realized it was easier to both reflect on and express myself more intuitively by doing so. I asked Nedrelid to create a storyboard based on the rather spontaneous associations I go through when performing the work. Quite soon, I thought it seemed to be successful as a visual music video because the general flow of the story had already been completed. (Example 2)


After a while, I noticed that several of my associations probably had been colored by my increasing awareness the last year of the general conflict of majority vs minority - the microtone being one of many metaphors for minority. These ideas now became the driving force of the “plot” in our little film.


However, as I read my “list of associations” over and over, and watched the film several times, I thought something important was missing. In the autumn 2020, we all realized that my free imagination didn’t really take dramaturgy into account, and even though we always imagined some surrealism, we had reached a dead end: There were too many elements that couldn’t be united, and that became more confusing and disturbing, so we ended up inviting the theatre director Eliot Moleba, to guide us back on track. This proved to be very helpful, and he managed to structure the minority concept in a much more coherent way.

The original list of associations is however still influencing the ending result, as it creates and colors events on a more detailed level, and it will later be interesting to compare these first spontaneous ideas to the finished work.

When discussing the minority concept with Eliot Moleba (director of the animation film "The Microtone"), he asked me to make a list of the “obstacles for microtonality”, as this could offer him some parameters to work on when structuring the plot. Though the list I sent him, might seem simple and banal, I choose to show it as this turned out to be an important step forward for our project:

·       Most people are not used to it, and even don’t get a chance to experience it and know about it. (Today, almost everywhere)

·       The minority is laughed at (regarded as “dirty”, “out of tune!”), even before it’s really listened to. (Today, almost everywhere)

·       It is not included in mass production. (Mass production of pianos (and also most other instruments) in Europe, the States, ever since the 19th century…and later also in Japan, Korea, China.)

·       “Standardization is safe” (Not time/space specific, I suppose, but this interestingly very much describing the time we’re living in, too. Standardization is, I suppose, also a result of the Industrial revolution)

·       The majority ignoring sensitivity/nuances. (Not time/space specific, I suppose)

·       Colonialism – powerful countries rule. In music, ancient and non-western scales have been squeezed out, forgotten, or made insignificant. (Europeans in the 19th century brought their tuning system to cultures in f.ex East-Asia. Music conservatories (for western classical music) appeared in many cities. Of course, this is not a bad thing in itself, but it started to dominate almost all music genres. But this in fact also happened to European folk music, not least in f.ex. Norway.

In order to be free, I generally memorised most of the parts, especially the almost-solo parts. I was conscious of the fact that the same strings with the same 11th harmonics could produce slightly different tones depending on where they were held down, and I practised the differences sufficiently on the piano in the actual concert hall so that I was prepared to be free while listening in the performance. To do this, it was sometimes necessary to change the corresponding key, or the same strings but in different nodes from those written in the score, so that the body every time would learn the new movements required.

The word "ma" was often mentioned in Harada's comments. It is difficult to express in words what it may mean, but I believe several of the works (including Bauck's) have a "ma" esthetic; with its accents with an invisible continuous line between them. Ma is a Japanese concept of negative space, and Wikipedia informs that "In modern interpretations of traditional Japanese arts and culture, ma is taken to refer to an artistic interpretation of an empty space, often holding as much importance as the rest of an artwork and focusing the viewer on the intention of negative space in an art piece."

In terms of artistic reflection, this work also opened up to lots of new thoughts.


What is normal, was a key question that rose from our discussion. We were reminded of that the abnormal or the less normal may still be a highly valid alternative, and when we experience it, it is possibly something we learn even more from. Such as in the case with art, which per se is "artificial", and thus not "normal".

In the environment I grew up in, and I suppose also in more or less all societies, there was a strong sense of that "what people normally do" equals "normal" and that the rest is not normal.

When working with 'Herzkino', I had my perhaps first serious confrontation with this idea of 'normality', as we questioned the 'normal' regarding 'language' and also the '12TET', indeed a symbol of Western culture. (ref.: Koizumi, Fumio?). My project was still occasionally met with scepticism, but who was actually entitled to claim what should be the standard, or "the normal" to me? The concept of microtonality as a minority started taking shape, as an emotional yet fruitful sidetrack to my project.

Several projects made me confront my own identity. This led me to look back at things and people who helped shaping who I am today, and to analyse and think more deeply about how it/they had affected me.

I think it is relevant to this project that my formative years (until I had past 20) were spent in Japan.

By analysing and unravelling, and through my work with Harada and others, my interest in Japanese culture has admittedly increased, such as with the "ma" in Noh theatre, and the minorities of the north and south of Japan; the Ainu and the Ryukyu/Amami culture.


The reflection concerned with minority and identity undoubtedly became very important to me, but after a while, I decided that this had to be a sidetrack in my project. I am however very sure of one thing: Moving forward, these thoughts will be affecting and resulting in lots of interesting commissions and collaborations.

The 3 works by Ness mark both the beginning, the middle part and the final phase of my project, and I find it therefore relevant to mention a few words about it.

When I performed Níþkræft in 2017, I listened to these microtones as popping out as non-coordinated sounds, and this is also how I intended to play them. Ness himself told me that, since he was using the same de-tuning as in Grisey's Vortex Temporum, he was conscious about including them in an opposite way of Grisey: Rather than creating richspectral harmonies, he wanted the micorotones to stand out, as he was seeking a distorting out-of-tune quality. This was my first project commission, and could it perhaps be that we were both eager at that time to show the microtones to the audience, so that no one could avoid hearing them?

The concerto Rawgabitting from 2021 gives a similar non-coordinated impression, yet more narrative, and there is more colouration of the sound, perhaps as Ness is a very skilled orchestrator. The microtones are utilised in characteristic ways, and when the concerto was performed in 2021, I focused on colour and character of the sound while blending more with all the other instruments, and balancing the microtones rather than always making them stand out.

When I played the concerto Cairns in 2023, I expected the increased number of de-tuned pitches would result in a more distorted and disparate expression, but what I heard was rather fresh new colours and characters, and a piece allowing us listen to them for even longer. I experienced the microtones were a natural part of the music, and that the boundary between microtones and normal tuning had disappeared.

Even though the piano model may be the same, each piano produces overtones differently. Some have newer strings, some have old ones, etc. I went to the concert venue several times to find the most ideal sound on that instrument. As the composer had told me what his ideal sound character was, I had some freedom and choice in what I listened to and how I wanted it to sound within that framework. This meant that I could always concentrate on 'listening', both in performance and during the rehearsals.

I will comment on what I actually was listening to in the reflection video.

At the time of this collaboration with Haugen, my research was focused on 'exploring new timbral possibilities for the piano through microtonality', so I was somewhat reluctant to spend a lot of time working on a rather radical tuning suggested by a composer who was telling me that the sound in his piece was of no importance at all.

I think the mentioned reluctance had something to do with the way I was listening when I was performing the piece. Since the pitches were originally chosen through the sound analysis of Keller's speech, they were not actually intended to resonate as music, nor to create certain reactions between overtones, so there is offered no richness or clear character to the sound.

As explained here, Haugen had used pitches of Keller's voice, and transcribed the voice for the piano. In terms of performance, I was at first struggling to find out how I could contribute to the piece, as the composer had already meticulously worked out the "Keller-based scale" and the rhythms.

The practice then became to listen carefully to Keller's speech, and see how I could mimic the actual speech in terms of timing and intensity.

I offered the composer some sound-related possibilities, a few of which he made use of (such as f.ex. the spoon sound mentioned in the Process chapter). After the premier, I wondered if he (himself being an artistic research fellow at the academy), would consider making a pure instrumental version of the work, that I could record on CD, but this was not an option, he said. Quite understandably, since he, as mentioned earlier in this chapter, had claimed that sound was of less importance to this work. I was for a while slightly disappointed, mostly because I had hoped to offer him some microtonal alternatives that he would find relevant to his piece. Though I of course knew about his background from the fine arts, and his video and sound installations, I had still expected that we together would work more with timbre, and not just implementing a scale that his computer had served us, as he was going to write for my microtonal piano project. I however soon realized a couple of things: Perhaps was this my standard or my "normal" way of thinking and collaborating, which in fact could have created unfruitful limitations to his work, if I had insisted on doing it "my way". We had also agreed to help each other; he was to write for my project, but my performance was also a part of his project work. When all is said and done, I believe our art eventually met somewhere in the middle, and Herzkino has become a valuable piece in my microtonal piano repertoar list.

I had a wish from the very beginning, in my project, to commission works coming from different esthetics, and to work with composers having different backgrounds. The piece was really very well received, and I was happy that my project also could include a more conceptual work such as this, where the use of microtonality had a clear raison d'être.

Several harmonics can be performed different places on the string, and sometimes also on other strings, so I made the system that worked best for me. A taller pianist would probably do it differently...

We also made sure to test it on the same model as the concert instrument (something one always should do, when writing for or playing inside the instrument). We worked like this in several rounds; me sending recordings, or we met in my office, and I defenately believe that such a close collaboration during the process benefited the work and the performance.

I have performed Schubert's Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin (though not the complete cycles), and I’m deeply fascinated with both the music and the world view of the text. I’ve always felt that Schubert's music is something one should wait to play until one gets more mature/older, which in fact is ironic, as Schubert composed them at a young age, and died before reaching 31. So, although I knew Schubert's three late sonatas, the works quoted in this work by Buene, I had never played them.


Through the collaboration with Buene this time, though the quoted parts are less than one bar, I could touch upon Schubert's late sonata. At the workshop with Buene; the moment I played the first note of these less-than-a-bar short quotes, I noticed that I intuitively recognized it as "the sound of Schubert", and it made me feel nostalgic. I believe this strong attachment both shows that Schubert is a great composer, but also that I’ve grown up in musical world of Western classics.


There is a very melodic and nostalgic part (the 2nd mv) in Three Studies using no microtones at all. This is the part sounding most familiar to our ears, and it was immediately easier to “shape” it. But later, when I studied this work and thought about the meaning of microtonality in this music, this part became a metaphor for the apple of Adam and Eve. The 12-tone equal temperament is the most accessible to us, and sounds comfortable in our ears. However, because we ate it (got to know about this), we can no longer return to the ancient scale. (Ref:Ladakh?) In the piece, this part is followed by a long heavy section that reminds of a slow march, as a symbol of something that never stops: There is no turning back.


After this, the music turns into moments "nothingness" before the final movement leads the listener into an another dimension. I see Schubert's Winterreise in this final movement. Some interpret Winterreise as the “post-Müllerin dimension”: After the suicide of the main character's death (due to his lost love) in Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise represents a world after everything is over and gone.


In my opinion, Three Studies for Microtonal Piano is a strong work, that, in spite of its very neutral title, sparks the imagination, not just because of certain referances to Schubert’s last piano sonatas, but also through how the composer treats and includes the microtones, which in fact are quite few. Through this work by Buene, microtonal music (which is considered modern and novel in the history of piano music, but was actually forgotten by the appearance and mass production of the modern piano) and Schubert (which I myself had "forgot" about) and Buenes colorful sounds were contrasting elements that intertwined and spoke to me with thoughts and vision.


This experience made a strong impression, and it took me a step into the further unknown territory of the subsequent production of the short animation film.

Mæland's works has several times made use of Okinawan scale (Ad Undas - Solaris Korrigert, Dugong, etc.), or scales with a close resemblance to it.

This piece also uses the scale with some microtonal twists, so I experience them both as blue notes and as a part of the old scale.

From my practicing of "listening". I tried to write down what my association is, when I listen to certain sound from “Three Studies.”

In 'Boiling Web', my main focus was on the articulation and the colour of the sound, the parts where the music should sound improvisatory, frequent tempo changes, the distorted rhythms, and the quick switching between all these characters. In particular, I experience that "blue notes", the expressive microtones used in jazz and blues, are used effectively, and the pitch range they belong to has its strings prepared with a stripe of gaffer tape, which also makes the pitches sound just slightly lower.

I was looking for a rounded, nostalgic sound, which I easily found on my own instrument, and on the concert grand. I sounded however less satisfying on the instrument we used for the recording: I believe I would have needed just a minute or two to find the right sound, so it was frustrating that I couldn't make it, due to time limitation on that day of recording.

There are several types of glissandi in the piece that are used successfully, and in a different way than in Harada's work. I tried to give the styrofoam glissando an almost metallic, harsh and sharp shape.

In November 2019, I had a so-called LAB lecture for master students at NMH. They were all classically trained musicians, and none of them were pianists. Me and pianist Ellen Ugelvik played extracts from several composers’ pieces and some recordings from the concerts including Buene’s Three Studies for Microtonal Piano, and some of the string players reacted interestingly: They couldn’t stand listening to the de-tuned piano of Buene without thinking about making mistakes – as if unwillingly playing out of tune.


We then performed the work by Jonas Skaarud that uses 8 e-bows laying on the strings of the 2 pianos, and nothing else (no keys in use). Now, none of the 13 master students reacted to the fact that the piano was microtonal, even though there were 15 quarter tones in use in my piano part!


While a piano sound has an extremely clear attack with a rather complex harmonic spectrum, the ebow makes a sound that reminds of an electronic sine tone, without any clear attack at all, and with very few overtones, but could this alone be the reason why they suddenly accepted the microtones?

I introduced the different sounds in No verão, as noites, by Sheena Ringo to Mæland, and said I in particular liked;

1. the sound of the of piano and synthesiser playing simultaneously: the roundness of the sound and the character caused by tiny differences in tuning.

2. the timbre changes in the voice

3. the jazzy blue notes, and glissando produced by the singing and playing technique.

The context of the "Microtonal Piano" project is basically the clear majority of piano repertoire that is NOT microtonal (i.e. with 12-TET tuning). The context is also what exists of microtonal piano, which has mainly been written for full equal temperament (quarter-tone piano), or various attempts at just intonation. In addition, there are also works from the last 100 years that use techniques (preparations etc.) that often do not aim to target a specific microtone, but rather have a timbral focus, but which nevertheless undeniably consist of clearly perceivable microtones.

The 3 works are indeed very different. In Boiling web, the most ambitious work, both when it comes to the amount of microtonal modes of playing and the variation in timbre, Mæland writes a highly virtuosic solo piece, that is “ticking” rapidly from start to end.

“in earth” is a very unvirtuostic chamber work, with a highly limited amount of material.

Bound is more of a quick sketch, where he – when it comes to the use of the piano – was looking into the possibilities of legato or “bowing”.

Many places in 'In My Volcano Grows The Grass for prepared piano' (2017-2018) reminded me of gamelan music, and she later told me that she was inspired by gamelan, and especially the so-called male and female pair of instruments, where the musicians play the same music, but their instruments are tuned slightly differently (the female instrument being slightly larger and slightly lower in pitch), together creating the characteristic vibration and sound.

A childhood memory came back to me like a flashing light: I had heard the music of the Japanese band called THE BOOM, and had been captivated by the sound of the instruments they used (which I later realized was gamelan instruments). The internet was still not very developed at that time, but I managed to find out that the origin of this music was the Balinese gamelan. It was too far away, but in the end of 2022, I took the opportunity to go to Bali, and I could listen to lots of gamelan music, including taking lessons from a highly professional gamelan musician.


Cyclopedia and Myclopedia also as reference: explanation of each word, name, work...