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The AMARANTH is a twenty-four stringed instrument designed and built by Gayle Young in 1980.

The main section of each string is one meter in length.
The strings are tuned by guitar tuning mechanisms as well as by moveable wooden bridges placed under the strings. These operate as if they were moveable frets on a guitar, by altering the vibrating length of string to determine its pitch.
The instrument can be played with finger picks, percussion mallets, or with bows. It has a curved top to allow one note to be bowed at a time.

The instrument uses design elements of several pre-existing instruments, such as a monocord built by Lou Harrison and oriental string instruments such as the Chinese chaing and the Japanese koto.
It was designed in order to facilitate composition and performance with unusual tuning systems.

Young's previous instrument, the Columbine, is a metal percussion instrument with a fixed tuning of 23 pitches per octave.
The Amaranth can be tuned to any set of pitches.







"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." —Bart Hopkin, Experimental Music Instruments.


Go to the Columbine page



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