CBGB at the Stereo Society
American Festival of Microtonal Music
The American Festival of Microtonal Music, Inc. (AFMM), was founded by Johnny Reinhard to showcase past and contemporary microtonal music and to introduce microtonality to the listening public. Through his direction of the AFMM and his other individual efforts, Reinhard has almost singlehandedly revived public awareness of microtonality in the 1990’s. The AFMM has become a leader in new music activity today.
Johnny Reinhard, born in 1956, formed the AFMM in 1981 while he was pursuing postgraduate studies. At this time, he conducted extensive research on microtonality. The philosophy Johnny Reinhard in 2014of microtonality contends that alternatives exist to the traditional Western 12-tone equal temperament system. Johnny Reinhard asserts that: “The number of pitches is infinite … just because more importance is placed on the Western system today does not mean it’s the best.” Furthermore, he believes that all music is microtonal. Reinhard is not alone in his beliefs; he derives his philosophy from the pioneering work of composers and musical theorists dating back to antiquity.
The AFMM produces concerts of Microtonal Music internationally. Microtonal Music is music which is generally not based on the 12-tone equally tempered scale which is so prevalent in western music. It is not constrained to any style or time period. Concerts have included traditional music, rarely performed pieces, lots of original pieces, theatrical pieces, audience participation, ensemble work, well-known classics in original tunings, microtonal rock, hoomi singing, music for homemade instruments, and of course lots and lots of bassoon music. Each concert has been digitally recorded and since 1985 or so, also videotaped. The AFMM maintains a loosely organized ensemble of virtuoso musicians who often perform in some combination or another in the concerts. The AFMM also puts together
Reinhard is the keeper of a huge collection of theoretical works, scores, recordings and papers on the subjects of Tuning. For the AFMM, he produces all the concerts, frequently playing virtuoso bassoon parts, intoning vocals and composing such works as Odysseus, Dune, and Raven.
In their Ivesian context, the microtones link the natural past with the spiritual, if not the commercial future. To chalk up the coincidence as another coup for the Great Anticipator might seem trivial, but it symbolizes in its way a more significant anticipation. Ives’s omnivorous Universe, at least as mediated by Mr. Reinhard, foreshadows today’s musical scene in all its polymorphous perversity, its rejection of stingy theorizing and its reopening to universal possibility.
Richard Taruskin THE NEW YORK TIMES 6/2/96
Classical composers began to explore spaces between and among tones of the Western scale early in this century. Saturday night, in the second of four concerts in the MicroFest Autumn series at New York University, the tenuous barrier between microtonal techniques and the parallel dialects of blues and jazz was broken.
Alex Ross THE NEW YORK TIMES 10/13/92
The tone-deft: the musicians under Johnny Reinhard’s direction are virtuoso players so that Julian Carrillo’s trailblazing Preludio a Cristobal sounded hauntingly beautiful. So did Bruno Bartolozzi’s Cantilena, Mayumi Reinhard’s Peach, Harry Partch’s striking Dark Brother, Lou Harrison’s At the Tomb of Charles Ives and the Three Quarter-tone Pieces by Ives himself. The 15-odd players proved to be exemplary musicians throughout.
Bill Zakariasen NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 9/22/92
MicroFest II: Sorry, Schönberg, in the 21st century they’re not going to have just 12 pitches anymore. If you want an early take on music’s future, hie thee to Johnny Reinhard’s eclectic festival. No longer unusual in rock, computer music, and improvisation, alternative tunings may unite today’s largest underground musical movement. At its center is Johnny Reinhard. Reinhard, revolutionizing music on a shoestring…music has exploded so far outward in this century that there’s no place left to go except back in, and Reinhard’s directing the implosion. Administratively, he’s got the country’s most potentially ear-opening festival in place.
Kyle Gann THE VILLAGE VOICE 5/6/89
It was indeed an education to move from a Sunday afternoon concert from a Renaissance and the Baroque directly into the jaws of the American Festival of Microtonal Music…The other pleasures were provided by Harry Parth, an American who has merged craft and eccentricity as perhaps no other. His Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales, played here by Mr. Reinhard and Mr. Catler, occupied a beautifully colored, static, almost incantatory world. Then there were Mr. Reinhard’s recitations – sometimes spoken, sometimes intoned – and Kenneth Edward’s smoothly played viola.
Bernard Holland THE NEW YORK TIMES 11/4/86
And at the mystical end, an almost full Alice Tully Hall rose at once for a standing ovation: a fitting tribute, not necessarily for this performance, but for Reinhard’s relentless sleuth work on Ives’s sketches and his 14 years of dedication in providing New York’s most finely tuned musical offerings.
Kyle Gann THE VILLAGE VOICE 6/25/96