Christopher Otto & Jack Quartet — rag'sma

The third release from Greyfade label, curated by Joseph Branciforte, is a full-length debut album by Christopher Otto, composer and violinist, founding member of Jack Quartet. This group of young musicians playing string instruments and based in New York City, is highly acclaimed and respected internationally. The important mission of Jack Quartet is performing music of new and unknown composers, working in the field of modern classical, experimental and innovative music. Of course, rag’sma by Otto has been performed and recorded by the quartet, but in a special way. The idea of the album is a combination of mathematical approach or method with so called “just intonation” (JI), which is the practice of tuning musical intervals to whole number ratios, in contrast to twelve-tone Western chromatic scale. Rag’sma is inspired by a complex interval known as a ragisma, a ratio of 4375:4374. The size of this interval is very small and it’s almost impossible to be perceived by the human ear, but for Otto it’s not a problem to create an interesting and rather unique music universe. Rag’sma is designed in the way of mixing three quarters: Q1 and Q2 are pre-recorded and Q3 is performed live. It’s a bit too long to detail how all those microtonal pitch discrepancies are corresponding to each other, but at the end we get beautiful and elegant music, which reminds me a bit of Indian raga or music by Phil Niblock, the famous American experimental composer. In conclusion I’d like to say that the mathematical method in combination with art of classical music gave us another great album, highly recommended not only to specialists, but to everybody who is looking for something new and radical!



Author: Alexei Borisov