19.5 (Nineteen Point Five) is an instrumental work for 19-div trumpet and malletKAT (2012-14, rev 2018- 19). It is available on over 35 streaming platforms for listening and/or downloading (Spotify, iTunes etc etc) or you can listen on Bandcamp where you can also download high resolution files.

19.5 is in 12 movements, in 3 sections of 4 movements each and lasts for 57 minutes. It was commissioned by, and is performed by, duo Contour (Stephen Altoft, microtonal trumpet in 19 divisions of the octave, and Lee Ferguson, malletKAT). Performances of individual pieces or sections of the work have taken place at Forgotten Spaces (EMF2015), EMF 2017, Das Stimmt!!! (EMF2019) (Freiburg, Germany); Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Mannheim, Germany) and Beyond the Semitone and Tech Fest (both Aberdeen University, UK). It is published by Microtonal Projects Records.

Part 1: Modes

I. MAJ 01:51
II. MIN 01:59
III. HOLE 03:18
IV. MXN 02:13

Part 2: Poetry

V. Love You Hate You 03:10
VI. She Goes 07:59
VII. Life is about Life and Death and Death and Death and Death 04:16
VIII. Walk in Straight Lines 06:56

Part 3: Spirit

IX. all is not as it seems 04:09
X. shut your fat mouth 03:52
XI. what you believe will come true 10:41
XII. MAJI 06:56

Total Duration 57:20
Produced by Donald Bousted and Stephen Altoft
Tracks I. to VIII. recorded at Pott Row Studios, Norfolk, UK
Tracks IX. to XII. recorded at City Sound Studios, Freiburg, Germany

Mixed and edited by Donald Bousted at Pott Row Studios, Norfolk UK
© Donald Bousted 2021

Microtonal Projects MPR010


19.5 is a large work, nearly an hour in duration. The work is divided into three sections of four movements each. It is presented as a journey taken by the composer in his explorations of an ancient but contemporary tuning system; and the listener is invited to experience it in this way too. Although each movement can stand alone and has, indeed, been presented that way in recitals, the true nature of the piece can only be experienced from listening from beginning to end.

The first section is concerned with certain modes we are familiar with in ‘normal’ tuning (that of 12 notes to the octave, or 12-div); however, here these modes use the tuning of 19 pitches per octave (19-div); the major scale, minor scale and the whole-tone scale are explored separately and in combination.

The second section presents four narrative pieces which navigate different stylistic and tonal approaches to 19-div, exploring themes such as mental health, loss, socialisation and death.

The third group is a polymicrotonal development of 19-div, using just intonation scales in 10, 13, 19 and 26 divisions of the octave and non-octave and mirror scales. It plays with these new sonorities against the trumpet’s rather more fixed tuning (although the player is instructed to modify pitch by ear). These scales create a feeling similar to modulation in traditional music in that they create a sense of moving away or being taken to an extreme point. The theme of this last section is ‘spirituality’ which is suggested by the use of increasingly stark musical forms and the presentation of material against a backdrop of silence.

19.5 is written for a specially designed microtonal trumpet in 19 equal divisions of the octave and malletKAT, a MIDI mallet instrument. It was composed between 2011 and 2014 and since then it has been performed in part, substantially revised in 2018/19 and, finally, recorded and edited for this album over a two year period from 2019/21. The work was commissioned by duo Contour (Stephen Altoft, trumpet and Lee Ferguson, malletKAT) who have given all the performances. 19.5 explores 19 division tuning which is an extended version of third-comma meantone tuning, a system of tuning based on creating near-pure thirds during the 16th century through 19 pitches per octave as opposed to the usual 12.

The full score of the work together with charts which map the scales/tunings used is available free as part of the Microtonal Trumpet Resources Dropbox Folder which is available via Microtonal Projects.

Donald Bousted, May, 2021

19.5 is dedicated to duo Contour (Stephen Altoft and Lee Ferguson) who have worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition, and to Lewis Jones and Patrick Ozzard-Low, whose enthusiasm and knowledge about 19-division tuning inspired the project ‘The Microtonal Trumpet’ in 2000. Their pioneering work through The Centre for New Musical Instruments led directly to the development of the ideas and techniques which became The Microtonal Trumpet project and which ultimately made this work possible.

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