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Monroe Golden

Pell City, AL   

Monroe Golden is a composer from rural Alabama whose works often explore microtonal systems. Critics have described his compositions as delightfully disorienting, lovely, sumptuous, yet arcane, and irresistible music, full of wit and beauty. He graduated from the University of Montevallo and earned a doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Illinois. There are three complete CDs of his music: A Still Subtler Spirit (Living Artist Recordings, 2003), Alabama Places (innova Recordings, 2007), and Incongruity (self-published, 2011).


Incongruity refers to the meshing of seemingly incommensurate systems of extended just intonation and equal temperament. The sound file presents just-tuned, common-tone chord progressions that shift – with each iteration – by the interval of a Syntonic Comma. Piano notes are proximate to higher harmonic relationships, relative to the fundamental of each chord. Divisions of time at phrase/section are proportional to underlying fundamental frequencies. Incongruity was composed for the UnTwelve 2010 Composition Competition and awarded first prize.

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Iron Road

The “Iron Road” is a trail at Tannehill Ironworks State Park. During the 1800s, it was the road leading from the facility to a stagecoach road, which ended at the railroad at Montevallo. While hiking there, I wondered what the sounds of 19th century industry might be like for the people traveling on the path. An imaginary landscape of alternating strokes, realized with piano and keyboard (plucked string patch), formed the basis of the composition. The pitch of the keyboard is lowered by 28 cents.

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