Five Quarter-Tone Etudes

Orff xylophone and computer

duration 18'00"

Five Quarter-Tone Etudes explores various ways of expanding the sonic possibilities of the diatonic Orff xylophone though the addition of quarter-tones. Throughout the piece, the xylophone and computer engage in an intricate call-and-response as the computer continuously “listens” for certain pitch patterns from the xylophone and outputs specific quarter-tone notes based what it hears. I consider the five pieces to be etudes for a number of reasons. For the performer, each piece is a study in the performance of intricate, interactive computer music and provides a number of unique challenges. They are also compositional etudes as they provided me with the opportunity to hone my computer programming skills using Max 7 software, to study new ways to incorporate electronics into live instrumental performance, and to explore various methods for incorporating quarter-tone melodies and harmonies into my musical language.

The etudes may be performed separately and in any order.

Technical Requirements:

• Computer running Max software

• Custom Max patch and quarter-tone audio samples available from the composer

• Two microphones with stands (preferably a matching pair of condenser microphones with a cardioid polar pattern)

• Audio interface

• Two speakers

• Cables

• Headphones (optional)


Five Quarter-Tone Etudes, IV. Lament. Recording by the composer.

Score Preview


Acquire the Score and Performance Materials

Contact the composer at to request the performance materials including the score, Max patch, and audio samples.