Fue Marrgarrel

This is an arrangement of a melody that I composed for the first conlang translation relay, the Starling's Song. Originally, I planned to use one of Paul Erlich's decatonic scales. (The final version actually only uses a subset of a decatonic scale; since not all notes are used, it could either be the Static Symmetrical Major or Alternate Pentachordal Major scale). Then a few days ago (today is November 22, 1999) I was playing around with 1/4-meantone and happened to play this melody in one of the distant keys, so that some of the intervals were "misspelled". Transposed to C major, the scale is C C# E E# G G# A#.

I realized that this scale would work well in just intonation, since it is built from major and minor thirds without any inconvenient ambiguous notes like the D (9/8 or 10/9?) in the traditional diatonic scale. So my next experiment used a just intonation scale: 1/1 25/24 5/4 125/96 3/2 25/16 125/72. But one of the things I liked about the meantone version was the good approximation of 7/4 in the C-A# interval. So I tried detuning the thirds slightly, and found a good compromise with a major third of 388 cents (1.7 cents sharp) and a minor third of 312 cents (3.6 cents flat). With these intervals, the perfect fifth ends up being 700 cents, just like the traditional 12-tone equal tempered scale (12-TET), and the augmented sixth (C-A#) is 964 cents (4.8 cents flat of a 7/4). This is a kind of scale that I haven't used before; I don't know if it has a technical name, but for now I'm calling it the "starling scale" after the Starling Song. This scale has a number of interesting "modes" in addition to the C C# E E# G G# A# used in this example: two that I've been experimenting with are (transposed to C major) C Db D# F G Ab Bb and C D E F G G# Bb. I'm sure I'll find some good uses for scales like this in future examples.

Tuning comparison

Here are MIDI files of the Starling's Song in various tunings for comparison. I may add more scales later. I used Graham Breed's useful Midiconv utility to add the pitch bends to the MIDI files.