Microtonal possibilities on other instruments.

Microtonal music is music using microtones - intervals of less than an equally spaced semitone, or as Charles Ives put it, the notes between the cracks of the piano.

Over the years there have been several attempts to make standard instruments with applications enabling them to play quartertones. I have collected some examples of instruments that I have come across.

The process (Norwegian)

The Quartertone trumpet played by Jan Fredrik Christiansen.

The quartertone trumpet by Spada music AG on Jan Fredrik Christiansens request. They modified the Bach Stradivarius trumpet with an extra valve lowering a quartertone. The valve can be operated with the thumb of either hand. The bell and lead pipe are interchangeable, and equipped with Amado water keys. Jan Frederik is very happy with the instrument, as a professional trumpet player. Jan Fredrik Christiansen plays with Breslmeyr mouthpiece, 1 1/4C rim, 1 cup and 1 back bore


Marcinkiewicz™ Rembrandt™ SC3FLUQ4™

(Patented) Ergonomic Four Valve Quarter tone Flügelhorn. Revolutionary in design, this instrument will definitely get your attention. The sound, intonation, flexibility, timbre and most of all, the ease of playing will surprise you.

“It's not like anything you've played before.” J.M .

From the web site of Marcinkiewicz

kingma flute

14K Gold Brannen-Cooper Kingma System Flute

The revolutionary Brannen-Cooper Kingma System flute is the result of extensive collaboration between the Dutch flutemaker, Eva Kingma, and Bickford Brannen, former President and current Director of Research and Development. This is the first C concert flute to offer a full quartertone scale, as well as complete multiphonic venting, for the modern flute repertoire. Moreover, flutists can also use this flute to play all of the traditional literature just as they would on any flute.

Link to the Brannen-Cooper Kingma System Flute

The quarter tone tuned "torader"

The Norwegian folk musician Tom Willy Rustad has tuned his accordion using some quartertones.

Possibilities for playing quartertones on wooden flutes and recorders.

It is possible to play most quartertones and other micro-intervals in an equally tempered scale by using various fingerings developed for this purpose. Practically all recorders and flutes without keys and "simple-system" (pre-Boehm) flutes can be used.

First image: B natural
Second image: quartertone flat B
Third image: B flat


The Quartertone Piano: two pianos tuned a quartertone apart.

Misha Alperin from the rehearsal for the Improvisation in November 2007

The same idea as used in the famous piece Three Quarter-Tone Pieces by Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954)
The Charles Ives web page

Geir Davidsen: the microtonal euphonium at Høgskolen i Tromsø.

Harry Partch inventor of uses the Just intonation system and a lot of microtonal instruments scores with a conventional system and define the instruments according to the normal 12 tone reading system.

A festival in New York with microtonal focus.

Huygens-Fokker Foundation

A Dutch site focusing on microtonality

The Norwegian microtonal pioneer Eivind Groven.


In 1936 Eivind Groven constructed a semi-automatic harmonium with 3 tones on each bar, as part of his approach to Norwegian folk music..

He made a mechanical-relay pipe organ with 36 pitches per octave in 1953 and in 1965 he constructed an electronic organ with 43 pitches per octave using transistor circuitry. In the 1970 he went back to the 36-tone system using a commercial electronic organ.

Please visit the web page of the Eivind Groven foundation for further information. (Click)

A computer-based piano version for Yamaha Disclavier by Dr. David Code (Click)

Notam about the electronic project in 2001

Understanding Temperaments by Pierre Lewis

Hába, Alois

Alois Haba (born 21.6.1893 in Vizovice, died 18.ll. 1973 in Prague), Czech composer, music theoretician, teacher and organizer, is one of the creators of new tonal systems on the basis of intervals of less than a half-tone (quarter-tone, fifth-tone and sixth-tone.



Comparison of Temperaments table by Andrew Purdam.

Below is a table comparing various temperaments, including Equal Temperament, Pythagorean, another "natural" tuning, two mean-tone tunings, several "Well" temperaments, two "Indian" tunings, two "Persian" tunings. The discussion is carried out using the key of C as example. (Click) about quartertones
Frequencies used to tune the Marimba: A3 = 442 Hertz
2 x1/y 12 = 1,0594
1,0594 x 442 = 468.25 halftone sharp
442 ¸ 1,0594 = 417.21 halftone flat2 x1/y24  = 1,0293
1,0293 x 442 = 454.95 quartertone sharp
442 ¸ 1.0293 = 429.41 quartertone flat2 x1/y48 =  1,0145
1,0145 x 442 = 448.41  1/8tone sharp
442 ¸ 1,0145 = 435.68  1/8tone flat
Ab3; 417.21 halftone flat
429.41 quartertone flat
435,68  1/8tone flat
448.41  1/8tone sharp
454.95 quartertone sharp
A#3; 468.25 halftone sharp

Copyright: Kjell Tore Innervik | February 7, 2008