Kathleen Schlesinger and Elsie Hamilton - Pioneers of ... - Naked Light
Kathleen Schlesinger and Elsie Hamilton - Pioneers of Just IntonationIntroductionIn Harry Partch’s “Genesis of a Music”(Da Capo Press 1979), there arereferences to a British musicologist bythe name of Kathleen Schlesinger(1862-1953) who had analysed flutes invarious museums around the world andcome up with what she considered to bea sort of Urstimmung, an original tuningsystem common to many differentcultures.This tuning system was similar toPartch’s in that it was a Utonality(undertone) system with a prime limit of13. Where as Partch’s 43 note to theoctave system combined bothUtonalities and Otonalities (based onundertones and overtones respectively)with a prime limit of 11. That the sameidea was appearing in two unrelatedplaces seemed like some sort ofZeitgeist at work.Elsie HamiltonIn her book “The Greek Aulos”, in Appendix III, Schlesinger refers to acomposer who was using this system of tuning, an Australian by the name ofElsie Hamilton (1880-1965). Schlesinger quotes a few brief bars fromHamilton’s compositions and that’s all we know about her.This reference has tantalised many who have ploughed through “The GreekAulos”. A composer who was using Just Intonation in Britain in the 1920s!The only clue I had was that Elsie Hamilton had been in the Anthroposophicalmovement. This movement was started by Rudolf Steiner (1861 -1925) as abreakaway from the Theosophical movement of Helena Blavatsky (1831 -1891).