Microtonal music…

split-notes is an online music label or ‘netlabel’ focusing on music using microtonal scales, alternative tuning systems, and xenharmonics.

Microtonal music is any music that uses a tuning system other than the Western 12-tone equal temperament system, and typically the step sizes are smaller than the standard 12-equal semitone (though they can be bigger).

Xenharmonic music refers to any music that sounds different to 12-equal, so it is a much more subjective term but signals that the music will sound a lot more alien.

Much traditional music around the world is considered microtonal by the above definition, and while there is great value in traditional intonations, there is also value in future tonalities offered by previously-untouched xenharmonic systems. Melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre are thought to be well-explored, but intonation and new tuning systems are a far lesser-explored territory.

…with a beat

Not only does split-notes release microtonal music, it specialises in music with a groove. Many styles of music are welcome here, though it just happens that much of our output has been electronic – perhaps a signal that it is easier to explore microtonal systems using electronics than it is with acoustic instruments – though this could always change in the future.

Head straight to the music archive to hear all this for yourself. If it sounds “out of tune”, challenge yourself to listening to microtonal music for an extended period and you will find that the immersion helps your perceptions to open up.

Is split-notes a label for copyleft music?

split-notes started with a mission to make its releases free (gratis) for people to download and stream, meaning that there was no barrier to entry for finding new microtonal music. Most releases have been released on a Creative Commons license (libre), while many others are pay-what-you-like releases on Bandcamp.

While there is great value in making this music free, we have at times had to turn down great music that artists wanted to release for sale. From 2019, you may start seeing some new releases that are not free as well as some that are. The decision was not taken lightly, and was made ultimately because there is value in letting artists be compensated for their work.

split-notes still remains a great place for anybody who is just discovering xenharmonic/microtonal music to HEAR many examples of it.

Who is behind split-notes?

Check out all the many artists who have released their work under our label.

split-notes was founded by Sevish in 2010. Due to time constraints we are no longer accepting demos.