An Open Intonation: The Fluid Piano

An Open Intonation: The Fluid Piano

There is a whole world of music out there and it comes to us through scales. For thousands of years, cultures have dialed into the endless variations that exist within pitch relationships. The series of notes in any given scale represent the sense of melody and harmony which permeate its overall temperament or tuning. Inherent to each scale are emotional evocations, unspeakable attributes that are uniquely contained in each separate tuning. It feels like the birthplace of each specific tuning speaks to an indigenous or self-evident truth held in the time and place from which that scale emerges.

Our fondness for music drives a never ending exploration and seeking of how to encapsulate more sonic opportunities in a single instrument. Since the mid 20th century until now, many of these instruments have been modern technological synthesizers that are electricity dependent. They are quite fun and do have nearly endless applications. Yet, as many a vinyl purists will agree, there is something in the richness of analog that cannot quite be reinterpreted through the circuitry of classic synths nor their more modern digital counterparts. And with that I share with you the creation of Geoffrey Smith, the Fluid Piano.

Visually similar to a common piano, yet through the addition of a slider on each string, the Fluid Piano allows for seamless modulation of every note which can be adjusted before or during performance. It is marvelous, unbound and opens the door to a world of tunings. I would love to spend a day or the rest of my life with one of these acoustic wonders as microtonal tuning is something I studied with unending delight as an undergrad. Each session could be a new tuning, a new set of musically emotional relationships my mind and body has yet to be exposed to or developed.

Much like in Ayurveda, when formulating a customized health regimen for someone, a customized scale could be created as a beautiful musical complement to the whole of that individual. This would revolutionize music healing and change the way we comprehend music’s infinite gifts. This is altogether inspiring and so without further ado, I hope these Fluid Piano pieces inspire you too. May these intervals tap into channels in your body yet to be opened and feel afresh what never was before.

Learn more here:

A Raga – classical Indian tuning

Musahabat-ı Musikiye & Rast Oyun Havası “Ondört” – traditional Turkish tuning

Ramin Zoufonoun – traditional Persian tunings

Original piece by Matthew Bourne

Geoffrey Smith introduces the Fluid Piano