Wednesday, October 12, 2016

30 Days of Weird Instruments, Day 26 -- Microtones and the Microtonal Guitar

Today's post was one of my favorite to research. It is also the hardest one to write, because what Turkish classical guitarist Tolgahan Cogulu is exploring here is a little hard to understand.

Let's start with the scale most readers of this blog will be familiar with.

See the picture above? It shows the typical scale in American popular music, which consists of 12 notes/tones -- C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, and B. Each of these twelve notes, or tones, are an equal distance apart (this distance is often referred to as "one half step"). Anything outside of those tones is considered "out of tune".

So what if someone intentionally used the tones in between?

That's what microtones are. Imagine the note exactly halfway between G and G#, and you'll have an idea of what this means.

Which brings us to Tolgahan Coulu's microtonal guitars. He has adjustable and fixed models, with the former having movable frets and the latter having fixed frets. These are guitars he designed specifically to play compositions with microtonal "in between notes".

The below video gives a great example of his fixed fret microtonal guitars, and why a fretless guitar does not suffice for what he is trying to accomplish. It also includes some phenomenal playing by the man himself.

Tomorrow's instrument will change the way you see low notes.

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