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In 1994, one year before leaving this world, the eminent Indianist and writer, Alain Daniélou, shared
his desire with Michel Geiss and Christian Braut to produce a digital instrument enabling the experience
of his just intonation system inspired from the Indian shrutis, the “Semantic”.
As a result of that team’s efforts, the first Semantic instrument was conceived a few years later. In 2007, it was given to Jacques Dudon, a just intonation composer, who used it in a series of compositions entitled “Semantic Works”. That Autumn, to commemorate Alain Danielou’s birth centenary, it was performed in concert by the Thoronet’s Microtonal Music Ensemble in the Abbey of Thoronet, as well as in Venise, Rome, and Paris.
The initial 36 tones per octave instrument was then reconceived with the same keyboard by Michel Geiss, while Jacques Dudon and Christian Braut designed the bases of a new software version compatible with any personal computer, allowing each user to discover and experiment the 53 tone system proposed by Alain Daniélou.
Thanks to the constant support of the Alain Daniélou Cultural Center and the Foundation for Indo-European New Dialogues (FIND), the “Semantic Danielou-53” was born. Its aim is to make the just intonation experience accessible to a broader number of people through the means of many pre-programmed modes springing from the global scale of the Semantic: Indian ragas, scales from various musical cultures, demonstrations of commas, schismatic, linear, and fractal temperaments related to the Semantic system.
The Semantic Daniélou-53 can make audible microtonalities, which are usually ignored by most western instruments. And, while allowing us to return to the fundamental sources of music, helps us to open our perceptions and develop a finer listening of chords and sounds, such as in their harmonic spectrality, cultural diversity, or psychoacoustic and musical applications. It enhances, for example, the semantic and emotional quality of intervals naturally generated from the 5th harmonic (pure major third, sixth, and seventh), which are physically absent in the Western equal temperament.
Jacques Dudon conceived of this instrument’s functionalities for the scientific and pedagogic aspects. The software was realized using the UVI Workstation developed by Univers-Sons, and achieved by Arnaud Sicard, under the coordination of Christian Braut, who is also in charge of the project’s communication.
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Special thanks for their precious help in the translation and corrections of this manual to :
Eugénie Ormsby, Elaine Walker, Graham Breed, Manuel Op de Coul.