John H. Chalmers

Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Rancho Santa Fe, California

My digital graphics are based on the transformations that harmonic musical scales undergo as the tuning of their constituent triads is varied over the span of the octave. In general, the resolution is 2 cents (there are 1200 cents in an octave), so the computer generates a data set of 360,000 items for each of the scales. From these data various functions such as Rothenberg propriety interval profile, number of interval differences, heteromorphic profiles ( N. Carey) , numbers of ambiguous or contradictory intervals, etc., and combinations thereof are calculated and plotted. The colors of the various regions are selected from a preset palette as each of the regions is computed, so there is an element of visual unpredictability in an otherwise deterministic procedure. Technical details of the computation and music theory are available upon request.

Triptych-The 14-tone Union Scale Flanked by the Harmonic Minor.
Triptych-The 14-tone Union Scale Flanked by the Harmonic Minor.
12 x 24 inches
Digital print

This artwork grew out of a research project on developing and analyzing new musical scales. The approach I employ is to vary tunings over the span of an octave and study the resulting transformations of the scales. These graphical depictions arose out of attempts to make the large amounts of data generated by the computer more accessible than tabular or aural formats.