World of Sound: Microtonal Innovations

“Art-parking” Center for New Technology in the Arts
International conference
World of Sound: Microtonal Innovations
St Petersburg, 5-15 October 2012

The “World of Sound” project will examine different approaches of contemporary music to sound. Contemporary composers are investigating the structure of sound, revealing its hidden potential and tapping its previously unknown timbral resources. The 20th century opened up the possibilities of changing sound’s structure. Now sound, with all its many possibilities, has become a key tool for composers.
The Microtonal Festival will take place from 5th to 15th October in St Petersburg, Russia. It will bring together various fields – contemporary classical music, jazz, and live electronics. The wide range of genres and styles covered by this project will allow us to show how distinct processes are united by the concept of sound division. Microtonal music is rarely performed in Russia. The Festival will be a first step towards introducing the musical ideas of Russian composers of different generations and their Western colleagues from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Authoritative ensembles and soloists specializing in contemporary music have been invited, including the world famous Arditti Quartet (England), Nadar Ensemble (Belgium), Ensemble SCALA (Huygens-Fokker Stiftung, Amsterdam, Holland), Moscow Ensemble for Contemporary Music (MASM), State Chamber Orchestra of the Court Capella (St Petersburg), pianist Martine Joste (France), extreme singer Natalia Pschenichnikova (Russia-Germany), bassoonist Johnny Reinhard (USA), and composer Pascale Criton (France).
As well as concerts, masterclasses and open discussions with the Festival participants, a conference will be held from 6th-7th October 2012. One of the main topics to be discussed will be the methods of sound development in the late 19th – early 21st centuries, the analytical concepts of Western composers and musicologists, in particular those studying sound and microtonal music.

Major themes:
1. Towards an understanding of ‘microtonal music’, its limitations, possibilities, and terminology;
2. Aesthetics: the background of composers and academics researching sound structure; why microtones started appearing in compositions in the early 1900s and the invention of new systems;
3. “From utopia to practice” – theoretical concepts put forward by composers, academics, physicists and acousticians, and their practical use;
4. Methods of analysing microtonal music; and
5. Perceptions of microtonal music by professional and amateur audiences.

One of the composers most dedicated to developing microtonal systems was Ivan Wyschnegradsky, a Russian emigré who spent most of his life in Paris. A conference session dedicated to his oeuvre will aim to revive his forgotten music, establish which Russian colleagues he worked with, and look at the creative and practical sound systems he created. A round table is planned for this session, attended by leading specialists in Wyschnegradsky’s music, including Martine Joste, President of the Ivan Wyschnegradsky Association, and Pascale Criton, author of books on the composer’s life and work.

The working languages of the conference will be Russian and English. The time limit for papers is 20 minutes, plus discussion time of 10 minutes. Please submit proposals for panel sessions or abstracts for papers of between 200 and 300 words, together with a short CV of 100 words, by e-mail to Lidia Ader ( The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 15th May 2012. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by the end of June 2012 at the latest. Please note the Center will not able to cover participants’ expenses.
Please contact Lidia Ader about abstract submissions or with any general questions (, +79117657640
General information about the project will be available online at