Perfect Sound Forever


The Xenharmonics composer remembered
by Eric Jones
(October 2022)

Pacific Bell had been the provider of phone service in California since 1906, so when everything went electronic they junked hundreds of tons of elctro-mechanical relay racks. Along came Ivor Darreg, who converted all things into musical instruments.

Sometime in the early 1970's, he filled his living room with relay racks and wired thousands of relays to an old electronic organ keyboard. This was a joy to play. I can't say it had any particular relationship to actual musical notes... all the tones seemed the same, there were just lots more crashing relays as one went up the keyboard.

There seemed some sort of logic to the thing, but what amazed me was that anyone could put a thing like that together at all.

I knew Ivor Darreg for several years from about 1973 to 1978 (or so). I first met him through little gatherings held by my friend Ed Gray who held what he called a Potluck Sunday Mensa Soire, every month or so. Ivor Darreg would always show up with several raw potatoes as his contribution.

I began talking to him about a wide variety of subjects. He was obviously dazzlingly brilliant. He told me about his invention of speaking mathematically with a series of clicks, moans, grunts, and pops to convey mathematical equations sans blackboard or paper. I always appreciated his enthusiasm and the glint in his eye. I could tell there was a joyously creative mind in there.

It because my duty to drive him home after these events and he would always invite me into his home (which was essentially all laboratory) to see his newest inventions.

One thing that fascinated me was his refretting of stringed instruments to unusual tone systems. Many of them were obviously Asian, Indian, or Mideastern... some were unidentifiable. He apparently was known for doing this and had many clients.

Ivor put me on his mailing list and monthly (or so) I would get a mimeographed short bulletin about Xenharmonics and the Mathematical Language Numaudo.

Amazing man.

Also see our 1997 article on Ivor Darreg

Bookmark and Share

Check out the rest of PERFECT SOUND FOREVER