Kyle Gann

Music Department Colloquium: Kyle Gann—“How to Make Microtones Fun”

Thursday, November 2, 2023 at 4:30pm
Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall, Room 003 (Daltry Room), 60 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown


Microtonality has had a difficult time gaining a foothold in the general music world because the theory applied to it is often needlessly complex and unrelated to the way people listen. To work its way into the public's good graces, microtonal music can't replace the kinds of harmonies music already uses with exotic ones, but must include the familiar harmonies and build on them in a clearly logical manner. My three-and-a-half-hour piece for three retuned Disklaviers, Hyperchromatica, offers a range of attempted solutions. 

Kyle Gann is a composer and the author of seven books on American music, including books on microtonality, Charles Ives's Concord Sonata, John Cage's 4'33", Conlon Nancarrow, and Robert Ashley. He studied composition with Ben Johnston, Morton Feldman, and Peter Gena, and about a fourth of his music is microtonal. His major works include two piano concertos, a symphony, Transcendental Sonnets for chorus and orchestra, the microtonal music theater piece Custer and Sitting BullThe Planets for mixed octet, and Hyperchromatica for three retuned, computer-driven pianos. His music is available on the New Albion, New World, Cold Blue, Lovely Music, Mode, Other Minds, Meyer Media, Innova, New Tone, Microfest, Vous Ne Revez Pas Encore, Brilliant Classics, and Monroe Street labels.