Barber’s Adagio For Strings in 23ED2

Listen to Barber’s Adagio For Strings in 23ED2

This is the first piece I am retrieving from the hard disk of my
I really do not recall neither why I wrote the arrangement of this piece by
Samuel Barber nor when I did it.
The file I found on the hard disk was opened with Logic 2.5 (on the Atari), exported as
midifile on a floppy disk and imported to my Mac.
The original arrangement was then elaborated working on timbres, track volumes and tempo changes.
Particularly demanding was recreating the very wide dynamic range of the piece. Hopefully I have succeeded.

The picture above shows tempo changes (blue line on top) and volume changes for the various instruments.

The score says the playing time should be around 7-8 minutes, my version lasts 7:36 but I have heard much slower versions, beyond 10 minutes long.
The only sound source I used for this version is Spectrasonics
I like the ambiguities of this piece and I added more:
TONAL ambiguity: The basic tonality of the piece is “modern” F
phrygian mode (the key signature has 5 flats), nevertheless the piece quietly oscillates between F major and F minor.
RHYTHMIC ambiguity: the melodic shape is mostly ternary even though the
time signature is mostly binary.
PITCH ambiguity: to the already mentioned ambiguities, I added a different tuning system than the one originally intended by Barber. I chose a dodecatonic mode of 23ED2 (
Equal Division of ratio 2:1 into 23 steps of 52.174 cents each) using steps 0, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 starting on F.


By the way, my fascination with 23ED2 began when I first heard “
Twelve Microtonal Etudes for Electronic Music media” by Easley Blackwood.
The one in 23ED2 immediately stuck in my mind!