Composer | Instrument Designer | Performer | Writer



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Amaranth | Columbine


My instruments are accidents of technological history: if computers had been affordable and able to play in tune at the time, I would have chosen electronic media. Having them around the house has led to a lot more play, and playing, than I would do if I were using a computer, and I've found that the playful attitude leads me in unexpected directions.
There's no wrong way to play my instruments, so I explore lots of uses for bows and percussion mallets. Though I built them to work with alternative tunings, sometimes they work just fine as sound-makers with no tuning at all.
______ Gayle Young.

The Amaranth and the Columbine were designed and built by Gayle Young. They are named after plants native to North America—alternatives to more technical terms such as “Multi-intonational Metallophone.”


Columbine is a a metal percussion instrument using 23 pitches per octave in an expanded just intonation tuning system.

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"In Motion uses two pre-recorded Columbines and one played live. The pre-recorded Columbines both play the same slow melody at very slightly different tempos. The live one responds to the interaction of the other two. A lovely piece; Young's chosen tuning is very warm and comes through unhindered here. On this recording (MUSICWORKS No. 31) the sound of a flowing stream is superimposed."
óBart Hopkin in Experimental Music Instruments








Amaranth is a twenty-four stringed instrument with a flexible tuning system.

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"Study in 'eleven over nine' (1986) for Amaranth (excerpt published on the cassette for MUSICWORKS 37 [is a] … fascinating work by this important Canadian composer, instrument builder, author and editor of Musicworks Magazine" —"Blue" Gene Tyranny, All Music Guide, 1997


"Gayle Young's Amaranth is a koto-like bowed or plucked zither with multiple moveable mid-string bridges... ('Study in eleven over nine' centers on the interval 11/9 which is a "neutral third" (347 cents; midway between a major and minor third in 12-equal temperament), and has further implications for Young in that it is almost exactly half of a perfect fifth." óBart Hopkin, Experimental Music Instruments.





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