Just Intonation / Microtuning / Xenharmonics in Hardcore Techno tracks and related genres

How many different notes / tones / pitches are there in one octave? C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B? 12?
Wrong. There is an infinite amount of different pitches. It was only around the turn of the 20th century that Western scales and tunings were standardized into what is called the "12 Tone Equal Temperament". The one I mentioned at the beginning of the text with C C# D D#... that is used in almost all songs and tracks in Pop, Techno, Electronica and so on.

The equal temperament tuning means that between each half note, there is the same "distance", the same interval... C to C# is the same half tone step as D to D# in equal temperament. Before our "modern times", this was not the case. In traditional tunings, such as meantone tunings, the intervals between half tones varied, and D# was not always the same note as Eb, or F# the same as Gb.
Now let's get back to our current days. While the 12 TET is the standard tuning by now in Western music, there were always people who tried to break out of this rigid system, rebelled against it and tried to explore the "forbidden" tones and tunings inbetween the "normal" scales' notes.

One such attempt is Just Intonation. Traditionally, tunings were based on intervals with whole number frequency ratios... a traditional perfect fifth meant a ratio of 2/3, or a perfect third a ratio of 4/5, and so on. This is lost in the 12 TET tuning. Almost all intervals are detuned in modern music on the radio and elsewhere, with only the octave and unison remeaning "Just", and the perfect fifth, perfect fourth and second remeaining at least somewhat close to a whole number frequency ratio.
Both major and minor thirds, for example, are way off compared to their traditional values.
Just Intonation tries to fix this problem, and uses scales that are closer to whole number ratios regarding intervals.

Another concept is Microtuning. The idea here is to employ steps that are "smaller" than half tone steps, like quarter tones, or even smaller intervals.

Xenharmonic is a term sometimes used for the "alien" feel of music not based on the standardized scales in Western music.

Once I started producing music, I quickly came accross the problems of the equal temperament tuning, and the possibilites in music once you go outside it. I experimented with Microtuning and Just Intonation, and similar or more experimental approaches; writing down which systems and concepts I used would be too much for this text, maybe this is something for the future.

Essentially, 99% of tracks I produced between 1997-2004 were not in the normal Western scales. These were tracks in genres such as Doomcore, Breakcore, Speedcore, Acid, Dark Ambient...

So here is a mix that features some of them, to showcase examples of how non-standard scales and tunings can be used even in Electronic and Hardcore music.
It starts with Broken Industrial Hardecore, moves to Breakcore and Speedcore, to end with Acidcore and Doomcore.

Recently, I moved a bit away of all this, and my music got into a field that I sometimes call "Post Intonation", but that is a wholly different topic altogether.


  1. A Link To Another Universe
  2. Daark
  3. Don't Let Our Dreams Die
  4. Desire
  5. None Of This Is Real
  6. Melodic
  7. Symphony Of Creative Destruction
  8. Angels And Devils
  9. I am God
  10. Disharmonic
  11. Dark Speedcore
  12. Fast
  13. Urban Uprising
  14. Emerald Planet
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    • low_entropy@widerstand.org
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