The metaphorical island of Anaphoria is fertile territory for microtonal composer and sound artist Kraig Grady. One senses in his ringing, vibrating, just intonations, Native American chants, Indonesian gamelan orchestras, Japanese gagaku, African drumming down the spirits steeped in harmonic relations found in nature.
A rare visit to mainland Australia by representative of the Embassy of Anaphoria Kraig Grady, playing here with Chris Abrahams on micro-tonal organ, at the Don’t Look Gallery, Sydney, April 2009.
Anaphoria Island in Microtones
Kraig Grady is a US composer/sound artist who lives in Australia. He has composed and performed with an ensemble of microtonal instruments of his own design and also worked as a shadow puppeteer, tuning theorist, filmmaker, world music radio DJ and concert promoter.
Grady’s “visionary geography” came to being on the metaphorical island of Anaphoria. One senses in his ringing, vibrating, just intonations, Native American chants, Indonesian gamelan orchestras, Japanese gagaku, African drumming down the spirits steeped in harmonic relations found in nature. Dissonant, yet establishing patterns, consonant sensations of the psyche, like a gale force wind experienced looking off a vast peninsula into the abyss of the Pacific; a jaunt through the riot of a Sumatran forest, orangutans peeking from above, pythons and evil-spirit-guerrillas lurking in the tall ferns.
Kraig Grady Interview – Microtonal Composer on Erv Wilson
Since meeting tuning theorist Erv Wilson in 1975, he has composed and performed in alternative tunings based on Wilson’s theories, first in 31-tone equal temperament, and eventually in the just intonation resources of Wilson’s combination-product sets and meta-slendro.
Grady also creates ensemble Anaphorian-shadow-plays that connote spirit-imagination with pitches. They vibrate through self-designed and -constructed acoustic instruments, including metallophones, marimbas, hammer dulcimers, and reed organs tuned to microtonal just intonation scales. His instrument-creations include the Lake Aloe, a vibraphone-like 22-tone instrument that spans 2 1/3 octaves; or the Mt. Meru, 9-tone bass bars, metal plates suspended on four-foot wooden columns, named after a Tanzanian sacred mountain; and the Fifth Mesa, marimba-like, made out of Padouk wood at 3 1/3 octaves.
Composer Kraig Grady talks about his long association with Erv Wilson and explains some of his work including Moments of Symmetry, Combination Product Sets, the Scales of Mount Meru and the generalized keyboard. The film is by Stephen James Taylor. For more info on the Erv Wilson documentary “Surfing the Sonic Sky” please visit: http://www.thesonicsky.com/
Music of Anaphoria Island
Based in Australia but from Los Angeles, Grady has been quoted in the LA Weekly in 2000 explaining, “I’m trying to create hypnotic states, trance states, some environments that people don’t normally hear.”
In an interview with Brian Timothy Harlan, Grady said his discovery of Harry Partch’s microtonal masterpiece U.S. Highball, “Completely changed my course. When I saw it, I realized this was a whole other way of approaching music…more dramatic and the range of expression much wider. One of the things that made me disinterested in a lot of Avante Garde music was that the variety within it seemed limited. And here was music, and acting, and visuals, everything you could think of was right there.”
ENSEMBLE OFFSPRING in their Partch’s Bastards Program. The Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House, 2nd September 2011. Performers: Anna McMichael Tarhu | Claire Edwardes Centaur Vibraphone | Jason Noble Clarinis & Meru Bars | Diana Springford Clarinis & Meru Bars
Ensemble Offspring: “Akashic Torus” by Kraig Grady
Microtonality was originally put forward in the 1920s by the Czech Alois Hába and Charles Ives, but most compellingly advanced by Harry Partch. The latter, a California composer (1901-1974) and innovative theorist who re-imagined the centuries-old one-tuning system for all of Western music, creating his own 43-note scale, only played on instruments he also designed himself. Partch further created his own musical texts and dance-theater extravaganzas based on everything from Greek Mythology to his own experiences as a traveling drifter.
Without R&R, By Kraig Grady: A mad skirmish upon a specially made Hammer Dulcimer tuned to a segment of Erv Wilson’s Meta-Mavila tuning.
Updated 7 March 2023