Xentonality explores the relationship between spectrum and tuning. Specially crafted timbres are used in unusual scales and modes. Listen to the "guitar" in Ten Fingers or the synth sounds in Circle of Thirds, which are tuned to a scale that divides the octave into 10 equally spaced intervals, instead of the familiar 12 equal divisions of the piano. The overall effect is weird, otherworldly, but it is not jarring, dissonant, or noisy.
Max Mathews, one of the founders of electronic music, says, "It's clear that inharmonic timbres are one of the richest sources of new sounds. At the same time they are a veritable jungle of possibilities so that some order has to be brought out of this rich chaos before it is to be musically useful."
Xentonality provides an organizing principle that helps to order this rich chaos. Tunes are performed in 10, 19, 17, and 13 equal divisions of the octave, as well as other scales specially designed to match natural and unnatural timbres.
The chords sounded smooth and nondissonant but strange and somewhat eerie. The effect was so different from the tempered scale that there was no tendency to judge in-tuneness or out-of-tuneness. It seemed like a peek into a new musical world, in which none of the old rules applied, and the new ones, if any, were undiscovered. -- F. H. Slaymaker
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