Colour Etude I


'Colour Etude I' is the first in a series of pieces exploring the strict application of certain spectral techniques influenced by the research of William Sethares, while keeping all parameters except for harmony very simple. These pieces function as a means to test harmonic concepts, and to create more accessible examples of microtonal and spectral music by leaving most aspects of the piece uncomplicated; the form of the piece is essentially theme and variation.

An 11-partial waveform was generated in Supercollider using random numbers for the partial frequencies and amplitudes, which were then tweaked to taste. The entire piece uses instances of waveforms with these same ratios between the frequencies of their 11 partials - i.e. exact transpositions of the same waveform. In a particular 'key', only notes whose fundamental frequencies occur in the spectrum of the 'tonic' can be used, leading to a series of 11-pitch sets which modulate between each other via common pitches.

'Colour Etude I' was written in Nigeria and the U.K. between September and October 2016, in Abuja, Lagos and London. It received its premiere in January 2017 at the Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, in a concert curated by the Sleeper Society.