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Storms on the horizon…

January 25, 2013


The next Secret Archives of the Vatican release will be called Storms.

The tunes, although independent of each other, are based on a theme, the Turkish Storm Calendar. We first came across references to this in a most excellent (and highly recommended) science fiction book set in Istanbul in the near future. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald provides no details of the calendar, merely mentions it. We were intrigued but found very little information on the internet – three or four webpages with incomplete or hard to interpret listings of the weather changes through a Turkish year. The names of the storms are evocative, however, and we decided to record a set of tunes related to them.

We have, for a long time, been interested in the tuning systems used in Middle Eastern music, particularly Arabic music, but we decided to research the Turkish makamlar tradition which is similar but not identical. We found some good websites with details of the modes and scales used in Turkish music (makamlar). We then had to figure out how to make our synthesisers and samplers play the detuned notes that don’t exist in our usual tempered Western musical scales.

The makamlar tradition includes some melodic expectations and we were unable to find enough information to do justice to these, so our music is definitely not Turkish music and we haven’t tried to make it so. It is our music, influenced by Turkish music.

Not many people have used microtones in our world of electronica, so for many of our listeners, it will be their first exposure to music with a different tuning system. Many of the makamlar only have one or two notes that are detuned, so we think the music sounds natural and not hard for a Western audience to grasp. There are copious online sources of transcriptions of Middle Eastern hand drum rhythms, so we have used frame drums (which we love!) as well as drum kit sounds to programme our rhythms based on these and most, if not all, of the tracks on Storms are therefore not in common four-four time. Once again, we don’t believe this makes the tunes inaccessible – many of these uncommon time signatures are rooted in ancient forms of dance music after all. We also haven’t abandoned our flirtations with the Cronx’s indigenous folk music, dubstep, and there are bass electronica sounds supporting the orientalist melodies throughout.

We have a few tracks finished and some still in the pipeline so we don’t have a release date yet. However, we’ll be enthusiastically pimping Storms on all of our many online platforms in due course, so you’ll know when it’s out.

istanbul 1

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