I am trying to tune my ears to microtones, specifically Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek which divides tones in nine commas. The example sheet music I have found only has melodies. I suspect that the system might be good to learn to play chords in harmony as well but I don't know how many commas would be used in the intervals for e.g. a minor chord or a major chord. Has anyone tried it out and have more information?

  • Related question: Release and tension in micro-harmony.
    – Aaron
    Aug 4, 2022 at 21:19
  • I've played a share of Arabic music and I've wondered about harmonizing that, but somehow it doesn't work. You can put a drone under it. The only arabic music that works with harmonization is when it uses the western 12 tones, so Hijaz and Saba. Aug 4, 2022 at 23:56
  • I managed to match a lot of tones when I chose pythagorean d minor and just intonation g major in my tuning app but haven't gotten farther than that yet.
    – Emil
    Aug 5, 2022 at 3:15
  • Also just D major, E minor, B minor. But I have only looked at an audiofile with the 24 used in turkish music, maybe there are more okay matches if I had looked at all 53. Also not looked at all pythagorean yet.
    – Emil
    Aug 5, 2022 at 3:44
  • I will add a little table with my findings when I am at a computer next time.
    – Emil
    Aug 5, 2022 at 4:24

1 Answer 1


Chords are generally speaking a blend of notes - certain pitches which fit together sonically. Melodies are far more often than not made up from notes which match those of the underling chords, or complement them well.

So, it's going to be seldom that notes from microtones will match 'diatonic' chords, and chords which sound good to our ears emanating from microtones. You may be lucky on some occasions, but most of the time there will be so many mismatches, our ears will consider what they hear as out of tune.

A drone, as mentioned in comments, is a far safer bet, but a drone, being one note - or sometimes a note and its octave - will be far more acceptable. Even so, that drone will contain overtones - harmonics - depending on which instrument provides it, and clashes will still occur. I'm well aware that music is about tension and release, but there won't be a lot of release to be had ! It took a long time for even the chromatic set of notes to become the norm (for Western ears at least), and it'll take even longer for microtonal notes to sound acceptable, in my opinion. Not decrying microtonal music at all, just considering how even jazz is deemed 'out of tune' to many music lovers. That, and there are obviously not many instruments which can actually play microtonal music - although I seem to play with some who can ..!

  • Since I got very good matches for just intonation (in 53tET) which I have understood as the "way to go" when playing chords on violin I think it will only sound bad to very sensitive ears.
    – Emil
    Aug 5, 2022 at 10:56
  • Are those arpeggiated chords, or dyads? Dyads will bring the clashes down rather like using drones.
    – Tim
    Aug 5, 2022 at 11:19
  • I think the rule of thumb is pythagorean for melody and just for simultaneous ones. But I have no experience with these kind of things I can barely play in tune (why microtones peaked my interest as a way to improve my pitch perception).
    – Emil
    Aug 5, 2022 at 16:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.