I know of a couple of composers and theorists who have written why they prefer a given tuning or number of notes. But what I am looking for is someone who addresses typical analytical and compositional questions about melody and harmony, but generalized to non-12-tone scales. For instance, how would one determine whether a given chord progression represents an increase or decrease of tension? What would be considered smooth voice leading? Could one establish "functional" harmonic categories like tonic/dominant/subdominant? Has anyone addressed these questions?

(I hope this isn't closed as an "asking for resources" question - please let me know if I should rephrase).


2 Answers 2


There are a number of microtonal theorists who can and will answer questions about musical issues and problems concerning the actual use of microtonal materials.

Joe Monzo maintains a website that you would probably find helpful. http://tonalsoft.com/enc/encyclopedia.aspx

You should check out the Xenharmonic Wiki at https://en.xen.wiki/w/Main_Page Lots of information there, of all kinds.

There is a group on Facebook called the Xenharmonic Alliance that is full of helpful people. Among them find Paul Erlich, who is one of the primary architects of Regular Temperament Theory, and who has written extensively about the musical uses of 22 tone equal temperament, about the use of harmonic lattices to show harmonic structures in 7-limit tunings, and about regular temperaments. Paul is always very helpful to everyone interested in microtonal theory, from the rawest beginner to other very advanced thinkers in this realm. Here are his three primary papers. Start with tFot, the Forms of Tonality paper, then read the decatonic paper, about 22 tET, then read Middle Path. Go to the Facebook groups and ask him questions. He can clarify questions which the paper will raise.




Another person who can be very interesting and enlightening to talk to, especially about medieval music, and neo-medieval music, is Margo Schulter. She also spends a lot of time on the Xenharmonic Alliance facebook groups.

Hope this is helpful.


Robert Hasegawa writes on microtonality. A couple of examples:

Julia Werntz has written on the use of "functional" microtonality.

The "Forum: Microtonality today" referred to in Julia Werntz's title is a two-part collection of articles that can be found here:

  • Part 1: Perspectives of New Music 29/1 (Winter 1991), pp. 173-257.
  • Part 2: Perspectives of New Music 29/2 (Summer 1991), pp. 72-211.

Ben Johnston writes about the function of just-tuned triadic intervals in

The open access book Experimental Affinities in Music, includes a discussion of how "microtonality" was handled before "microtonality" existed.

And a few other articles dealing with specific pieces:

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