Monroe Golden | Incongruity

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Classical: New Music Ensemble Avant Garde: Microtonal Moods: Mood: Quirky
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by Monroe Golden

What do integer ratios, turkey calls, and Emily DIckinson have to do with a collection of works for cello, flute, piano, voice, and electronics? The answer lies in this third release by microtonal composer Monroe Golden.
Genre: Classical: New Music Ensemble
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  Song Share Time Download
1. 43 Commas (feat. Donnie Ashworth, flute & Adam Bowles, piano)
11:53 $1.99
2. Pinhoti (feat. Craig Hultgren, cello)
12:08 $1.99
3. Incongruity (feat. Adam Bowles, piano)
5:51 $0.99
4. Reform (feat. Donnie Ashworth, flute)
8:31 $0.99
5. Poems of Life and Bliss (feat. Donnie Ashworth, flute, Adam Bowles, piano, Craig Hultgren, cello & Janet Elizabeth Simpson, voice)
8:21 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“Monroe Golden's music stands 'in the cracks'… It resides in nether-regions of sound, concept and aesthetics where acoustics, mathematics and music meet.” – Michael Huebner, Birmingham News

“This music has a way of prying open hidden rooms in your listening, which you didn’t know even existed. Golden teaches you something about hearing and about sound.” – Ingvar Nordin, Sonoloco Record Reviews (Sweden)

“There is nothing about Golden's lovely, sumptuous, yet arcane music that fits snugly into any one category.” – Phillip Ratliff, Birmingham Weekly

“an intriguing and ultimately gripping experience for the listener with open ears, patience, and a taste for adventure.” – Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide

“A composer unjustly not exactly in the mainstream who writes beautiful, meaningful music, I look forward to his next CD.” – Andrew Violette, New Music Connoisseur



43 Commas was composed for Donnie Ashworth and Adam Bowles in 2009. The work is based on just-tuned chord progressions that – with each iteration – drift in pitch by the interval of a Syntonic Comma. The resulting tonic chord at the end of the piece is a major sixth lower than the (functionally) same chord at the beginning. The instrumental parts remain in 12 tone equal temperament, and are constrained to pitches that are proximate to partials related to the just-tuned chords (4:5:6, 10:12:15, and 6:7:9). A computer program determined paths of common-tone harmonic progressions in order to maximize the number of available equal-tempered pitches. The timbres of the soundfile were chosen to reference blown-pipe and struck-string families of instruments.

Pinhoti, for cello and soundfile, was written for Craig Hultgren in 2010. The title is a Muskogee word meaning "home of turkeys" and also the name of a hiking trail that traverses northeastern Alabama and northwestern Georgia. Structurally, the piece tracks an elevation profile of the trail from Flagg Mountain near Sylacauga to the Georgia state line, from data points compiled by Chris Johnson. Sound sources are cello open string samples performed by Hultgren, and turkey calls provided by Glenn Howard. Cello sounds are detuned to a pitch collection representing the 6th through 27th partials of the overtone series. Turkey sounds (putt, cutt, cackle, kee-kee, purr, yelp, rattle, gobble, scratch, hush, and drum) are only transformed temporally, if at all.

Incongruity refers to the meshing of two seemingly incommensurate systems: extended just intonation, represented by fixed media, and equal temperament, represented by the piano part. The sound file presents just-tuned, common-tone chord progressions that shift - with each iteration - by the interval of a Syntonic Comma. The functional tonic at the end of the piece is a sharp minor third higher than at the beginning. Piano notes are proximate to higher harmonic relationships, relative to the fundamental of each chord. Divisions of time at phrase and section are proportional to underlying fundamental frequencies. Incongruity was completed in December 2010, specifically for the UnTwelve 2010 Composition Competition (, and awarded first prize.

Reform was created for flutist Donnie Ashworth in 2004, and named so because an recording of a performance by him served as the source for the soundfile. The process of composition was to slice a score, page by page with scissors, into short phrases -- then reform the corresponding audio clips with methods sometimes arbitrary and more often intuitive. Source material included harmonics, multiphonics, and qurter-tone tetrachords.

Poems of Life and Bliss was written in 2005 for The BAMA Players. The work is in extended just intonation, with some concessions for the piano part. Following the passing of a remarkably sensitive and gentle creature named Bliss, and his keeper’s suggestion of a tribute piece, I did some cursory keyword searches on public domain poetry. The word bliss appeared most frequently in Emily Dickinson’s body of work. From her collection entitled Life, I selected three poems for setting. Dickinson’s playful syllabic line lengths suggested odd time signature patterns, and the traditional flow of her poetry inspired strophic forms that I typically eschew.


Mixing and mastering by Tucker Robison at Robison Productions, Baton Rouge, LA (
Reform recorded by Tucker Robison in the living room of the old house.
43 Commas and Poems of Life and Bliss recorded by Brian Moon at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham.
Pinhoti recorded by Brian Moon in his home studio.
Incongruity recorded by Brian Moon somewhere in Birmingham.
Editing by Monroe Golden and Tucker Robison.



Monroe Golden is a composer from rural Alabama whose works often explore microtonal systems. Critics have described his compositions as "delightfully disorienting," "lovely, sumptuous, yet arcane,” and "irresistible music, full of wit and beauty.” He graduated from the University of Montevallo and earned a doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Illinois. There are two complete CDs of his music, A Still Subtler Spirit (Living Artist Recordings, 2003) and Alabama Places (innova Recordings, 2007).

Flutist and composer Donnie Ashworth is a strong advocate of new music and other innovative art forms. Specializing in improvisation and mixed-media collaborations, his compositions have been performed throughout the United States. He has commissioned and premiered many new works for flute – solo and in ensemble – and introduced a large body of music by living composers to the Birmingham community. Ashworth implemented the first Birmingham Art Music Alliance outreach and touring programs and founded the resident ensemble The BAMA Players. He has performed at nationally recognized music conventions and festivals and is recorded on the Living Artists CD series.

Pianist Adam Bowles is a dedicated performer of newly composed art music who remains an active and passionate interpreter of established classical piano repertoire and chamber music. Dr. Bowles frequently performs throughout the country with the Luna Nova ensemble – of which he is a founding member – and with the Birmingham Art Music Alliance, participating in formal concerts, master classes, and educational outreach programs.. He holds degrees from Eastman School of Music (BM) and New England Conservatory (MM), and received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Bowles is currently on faculty at the Birmingham Southern College Conservatory and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he frequently performs solo and collaborative recitals – in addition to teaching piano, keyboard harmony, theory, and accompanying. He is recorded on the Living Artists label and was featured on a CD of music by Argentinian composer Valdo Sciammerella, “Rosas de Pulpa Rosas de Cal.”

For several decades, cellist Craig Hultgren has been a fixture on the scenes for new music, the newly creative arts, and the avant-garde. In recent years, he has performed solo concerts and chamber music in Rome, Boston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, Denver, Memphis and San Antonio. A recipient of two Artist Fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, he was a member for many years of Thámyris, a contemporary chamber music ensemble in Atlanta. A cellist in the Alabama Symphony, he also plays in Luna Nova, a new music ensemble with a large repertoire of performances available as podcast downloads on iTunes. Hultgren is featured in three solo CD recordings including The Electro-Acoustic Cello Book on Living Artist Recordings. In 2004, the Birmingham Sidewalk Film Festival 48-Hour Scramble cited him for the best soundtrack creation for the film The Silent Treatment.

Janet Elizabeth Simpson holds a Bachelor's Degree in Piano Pedagogy from the University of Montevallo. She has participated in the local Birmingham music scene in classical and new art music, folk, jazz, traditional Irish, ancient chant, and rock and roll,. Janet is also a writer and was the owner and editor-in-chief of Pavo Magazine (2009-2010), an online arts and culture magazine for Birmingham. Currently, Janet fronts two Birmingham bands, Delicate Cutters (Skybucket Records) and Teen Getaway, and teaches piano at her home in Roebuck Springs.



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