Scordatura Ensemble started as Trio Scordatura. Therefore you can find the group under both names, for example on  CD’s.   Founder of the group was the musicologist and keyboard player Bob Gilmore (1961- 2015). After his passing away the other two original members Alfrun Schmid (voice) and Elisabeth Smalt (viola) changed the name to Scordatura Ensemble. This was a wish that Bob already had expressed,  in order to explore repertoire beyond the trio formation. Scordatura  still performs sometimes as Trio Scordatura (and loosely calls itself Scordatura).

Here is a text by Bob Gilmore about the meaning of the word Scordatura.


Scordatura Ensemble is based in Amsterdam. Since its inception in spring 2006, the ensemble has presented exploratory music by a range of contemporary composers and sound artists that look toward new tuning systems and microtonality as a way of expanding the harmonic vocabulary of music. The basic sound world of female voice, viola and MIDI keyboard is expanded by other sonorities depending on musical context. Their concerts feature “classics” from the worlds of microtonal and spectral music together with new commissions. Sometimes this crosses over into work in multimedia, involving text, video, dance, and light.

Scordatura grew initially from a project to perform the works for Intoning Voice, Adapted Viola and Chromelodeon by the American composer Harry Partch. This music, composed in the early 1930s, involves voice and two instruments – a viola and a harmonium – that were adapted by Partch in order to play music in his elaborate microtonal scale. Scordatura uses an exact copy of Partch’s Adapted Viola, built in 2001 and authorised by the Harry Partch Foundation.  After that, other new copies of Partch instruments were made: the Chromelodeon, Kithara,  Diamond Marimba, Harmonic Canon, and Bass Marimba. Scordatura’s research and performances , as ‘The Amsterdam Partch Project’ were presented with several tours: ‘The Truth about Tune’,  ‘Rose Petal Jam’ and at present ‘Tonality Flux’.

Scordatura has performed all over the world, such as in the Sonorities Festival in Belfast, UK Microfest in Surrey, KlankKleurFestival in Amsterdam, Musica Sacra in Maastricht, Roulette in New York, Logos Foundation in Ghent, TRANSIT Festival in Leuven, Dag in De Branding in The Hague, Ergodos Festival in Dublin, Microfest in Los Angeles and Amsterdam, BEAM Festival in London, Blurred Edges in Hamburg,  Café Oto and Colourscape Festival in London, James Joyce Festival in Amsterdam and the Arena Festival in Riga.

Scordatura has premiered new commissions from Christopher Fox, Yannis Kyriakides, Anne La Berge, Anton Lukoszevieze, Ned McGowan, Scott McLaughlin, Kate Moore, Harald Muenz, Marc Sabat, Lisa Illean, Chris Rainier, Chris Smalt, Miranda Driessen, Anna Mikhailova, Aart Strootman, Santa Ratniece, Evija Skuke, Merijn Bisschops, Guy de Bièvre,  and many more. The ensemble has given several performances with the American composer and filmmaker Phill Niblock, in collaboration with leading contemporary ensembles such as the Crash Ensemble from Ireland, Ensemble Klang from Holland, and Nelly Boyd from Germany. Educational projects took place in collaboration with the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, as well as workshops on Trinity College in London. In collaboration with Dublin’s Ergodos, Scordatura  commissioned young Irish composers to write new works: the CD  dubh was released by Ergodos Records in Dublin in July 2010.  Music by Phill Niblock was released on DVD by Mode Records New York. A portrait disc of music by Christopher Fox was released by Divine Art/Métier in 2011, and a collaboration with the artist If, Bwana resulted in  E (and sometimes why), on Pogus Records, 2012. Peter Adriaansz’s Enclosures appeared on Ergodos in 2008. Harmonium with premiere recordings of works by James Tenney appeared on New World Records in 2018. Melodies, a consistent work by Frank Denyer, will appear this year on Another Timbre.


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Amsterdam-based ensemble performing music using new tuning systems and microtonality

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