Five Moods for Bohlen-Pierce clarinet and 4-speaker audio (2010) · 5 min (in five movements)

for Bohlen-Pierce clarinet and 4-speaker audio

Bohlen-Pierce clarinet, fixed media (Mac laptop running Max/MSP)

Written for Amy Advocat

Program Note

Five Moods consists of five short movements, all one minute or less, based on samples of a clarinet designed specifically to the tuning system of the Bohlen-Pierce scale. These samples include several short attacks, long tones (soft and loud), and various special effects, and were all performed flawlessly by Amy Advocat at Northeastern University’s Shillman Hall recording studio; special thanks to Brian Dixon for overseeing the recording and editing process. Together we compiled a mini-library of samples that were later made available to the Bohlen-Pierce community. Five Moods was premiered at the Bohlen-Pierce Symposium and Concerts, the first ever conference dedicated to the Bohlen-Pierce scale, and held at Northeastern’s Fenway Center, on March 7-9, 2010.

The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium was the brainchild of composer Georg Hajdu, Professor of Multimedia Composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg. The Bohlen-Pierce scale offers an alternative to the octave-repeating scales typical in Western music, specifically the diatonic scale. That is, in classical music and Western music in general, the most common tuning system for the past few hundred years has been twelve-tone equal temperament, where the diatonic scale is based on the octave, which is double the frequency of a fundamental low note; the octave is then divided into 12 equal steps. The Bohlen-Pierce scale ends on a note that is triple, not double, the frequency of the low note. This tripled frequency is known as the “tritave” (as compared to the octave’s doubled frequency), and is divided into 13 equal steps. This new scale was independently described by Heinz Bohlen, Kees van Prooijen, and John R. Pierce in the 1970’s and 80’s. Pierce, who, with Max Mathews and others, published his discovery in 1984, renamed the Pierce 3579b scale the Bohlen-Pierce scale after learning of Bohlen’s earlier publication.


“one of the more successful works on the concert was Five Moods by Anthony De Ritis… I could hear the totality of the scale, and how it has some very consonant properties.” 

 – James Ricci, Deconstructing Jim (blog); March 8, 2010


The Bohlen-Pierce clarinet samples used in Five Moods were performed by Amy Advocat and recorded by Brian Dixon at Northeastern University’s Shillman Hall Recording Studio, Boston, MA, in March 2010; it was officially released by Albany Records (TROY1710) on Anthony Paul De Ritis: Electroacoustic Music – In Memoriam: David Wessel on April 1, 2018.

Concert Programs

Advocat, Amy. (2010, August). A New Tonal World: The Bohlen-Pierce Scale. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. McGill University, Montreal.


Müller, Nora-Louise. (2019, June). “The Bohlen-Pierce Clarinet: Exploring a New Tonality.” The Clarinet 46/3. International Clarinet Association. Retrieved on November 18, 2019 from


Müller, Nora-Louise. (2020, January 13). The Bohlen-Pierce Clarinet: Theoretical Aspects and Contemporary Applications. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.