Performed by The Chromelodia Project: Chris Brown, composition, piano & electronics; Theresa Wong, cello & voice; Kyle Bruckmann, oboe. The ensemble blends Just Intonation, improvisation, and interactive computer music. Its name refers to Harry Partch’s Chromelodeon, a reed-organ he used to play and teach his 43-tone tuning system to musicians.

Artifact Recordings 3016

Occhio is a song cycle setting of the first poem in Erika Dagnino’s 2009 collection I Canti dell’ Occhio (ISongs of the Eye). Sound and imagery of the body and nature are synaesthetically fused in its language. Nature is reflected as a balance of light and dark, order and noise, life and death. Occhio was composed, performed, and recorded during the first year of the covid pandemic, as aloneness and isolation were contrasted by art collaborations that continued at a distance, and as place became everywhere and nowhere at once.

Occhio combines notated microtonal music with electronically generated rhythms that fuel extended improvisations. Each song is written using a different subset of the tuning of Harry Partch’s 43-tone Chromelodeon reed-organ. Melodies are colored by pitches tuned to the simple ratio relationships that we humans intuitively recognize as resonances. Modern equal temperament has only 12 pitches per octave, like black-and-white compared to Just Intonation which draws from an infinity of integer ratios, moving thru the harmonic series from simple (harmony) to complex (dissonance), each with its own unique color.

The mode of each song provides a palette, or recipe, of interval colors to embody the images of its poetry. Every mode contains pitches with both major and minor qualities, to render both light and darkness. Influenced by the inventor Leon Theremin and the composer Henry Cowell’s Rhythmicon, I programmed interactive software that automatically generates electronic polyrhythms from ratios that I play on the piano keyboard. The rhythms provide foils for improvisation by the players, while also being bound to the pitch relations of the music.
– Chris Brown

released February 1, 2023

Contact Kyle Bruckmann