Row, Row, Row Your Boat in 31 E.T.


Row, Row, Row Your Boat is opened up to a wider tone field as we hop parallel universes of sound and illustrate the differences, similarities, and how they interact.

Stephen James Taylor is on a 31 Tone Vibraphone. E.T. stands for Equal Temperament.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat in 31 Equal Temperament Transcript

Okay, I’m going to explain what happens when we open ourselves up to a wider tone field, a broader palette of colors, a bigger spice rack, more notes. In this case, this instrument has 31 notes per octave instead of the regular 12. Most regular music we hear in the United States and Europe was created using these twelve notes. (Plays Scale on the Vibraphone). And every melody that we know and love can be played using those twelve notes. For example, here’s one we all know (Plays Row, Row, Row Your Boat on Vibraphone): Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

Now, imagine this, think of these notes as a set of relationships. So if this is a version of yourself, this is you, that’s your mother, your father, your sister, your brother (Plays Scale on the Vibraphone). Okay?

Now, in a parallel universe, you have another version of yourself, a clone, with the same mother, father, sister, brother, etc. except this version of yourself is one inch shorter. Everything else about your life is exactly the same. So you would never know had not heard this that if you go (Plays Row, Row, Row Your Boat on the Vibraphone again). It’s the same melody. It sounds completely normal.

Over here, another version of yourself in yet another parallel universe except this version is one inch taller. So it has the same self, mother, father, sister, brother, right? (Plays Row, Row, Row Your Boat on the Vibraphone again).

And by itself, you don’t hear anything different. There’s nothing unusual about that. And as long as these three versions of yourself, these three dimensions, are kept separate, but equal, completely sequestered, nobody knows anything is different until they start to play together and you get something like your normal self and the short version of yourself (Plays Vibraphone Row, Row, Row Your Boat two tunings simultaneously): It beats, it fights, it’s out of tune.

And god forbid if I could only play all three together, the normal version, the short version, and the tall version. (Plays Vibraphone Row, Row, Row Your Boat all three tunings simultaneously). It’s really our of tune.

So what would happen though if you wanted to integrate all three and in some sort of musical context actually make them work together: Do something that integrates. What would it sound like?

I’m going to play Mary Had a Little Lamb, not Marry Had a Little Lamb, Row, Row, Row Your Boat in a brand new way. And it’s going to be as if each of these clones of yourself start out speaking, but they finish each others sentences. It’ll sound like this. (Row, Row, Row Your Boat played on the Vibraphone, but hopping tunings).

Row, Row, Row Your Boat in a brand new way.

For more information on microtonality and the tuning work of Erv Wilson please continue to explore our site.

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Stephen James Taylor has had a full time career for the last 30 years writing music for film and TV as well as the concert hall. His style is an eclectic blend of many elements. He has been helping introduce Transcendent Tonality, (via the application of much of Ervin Wilson's material), into the lexicon of film music since the early 90's. He is just now getting around to releasing his first solo album in 2013.

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