Microtonal Ear Training and Composition

Course Number

Microtones—intervals from outside the Western system of equal temperament—are a powerful feature of music from many places; they can be heard in traditional music from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, in jazz and blues, and also in contemporary composed and improvised art music of the U.S. and Europe from the early 20th century to the present. They’re also part of the sound world around us—from birdcalls to car horns to overtones. How can you access these sounds and make them part of your own language? In this course, ear training drills and compositional exercises work hand in hand. Students practice identifying and singing/playing quarter-tones, sixth-tones, and even twelfth-tones (time permitting), exploring new modes of expression as they begin to hear in a different way. Along the way, we listen to a variety of examples of microtonal music from different styles and traditions, examining and transcribing small excerpts, and we conclude the semester with a final composition/performance project involving group collaboration among classmates.


ET-212 or ET-232
Required Of
Electable By
All B.M. and P.D. students
Semesters Offered
Course Chair
Gilson Schachnik
Taught By
Courses may not be offered at the listed locations or taught by the listed faculty for every semester. Consult my.berklee.edu to find course information for a specific semester.

Get More Information

By requesting information from Berklee, you will receive emails about our educational programs, student resources, facilities, and more based on your selections.