Planet MicroJam Institute

At the crossroads of new beats, microtonal harmonies, Eastern melodic inflections, and improvisation concepts, new musical ideas are on the horizon. Planet MicroJam collides sonic aesthetics from our increasingly connected global village to create music that sounds like a Gauguin painting—a raw, powerful, and extremely colorful mix of Eastern and Western elements.

Mission Statement 

We live in an increasingly connected global village where 75-80 percent of the world's music is microtonal. Since Berklee's strategic initiative demands new ideas, it's important that the college be at the leading edge of this evolving trend in music.

Under the direction of David Fiuczynski, the Planet MicroJam Institute aims to:

  • Introduce students to Western classical and non-Western microtonal sources, mix these in a new jazz/groove chord-scale context with new beats, and create new musical language.
  • Get students to think outside the box by introducing new concepts and perspectives that will help them organize their musical thoughts.
  • Empower students with the knowledge that they can innovate new musical ideas before they even leave school.
  • Encourage a better understanding of other musical cultures and foster an environment of mutual respect.
  • "Create the conditions under which some kind of miraculous, unpredictable creativity can occur," as Berklee President Roger H. Brown has said is "our ultimate purpose at Berklee."

Watch Fiuczynski and Planet MicroJam students perform at Berklee:

Microtonal Grooves (ENGB 401-001)

In this class we will experiment with microtonal arrangements of Western classical, Middle Eastern and other non-Western and jazz/fusion compositions. Joe Maneri's 72 equal temperament octave notation system will be explained. We will start with a selection from the following compositions: "Eclipse" (Mingus); "Madoka Blue" (Fiuczynski); Carrillo quarter-tone string quartets; H'aba quarter-tone etudes; Turkish, Arabic, and Chinese melodies; Beethoven fragments; "MoonRing" (3/4-tone diminished mode); and "Apprehension" (Fiuczynski). Students will have a working knowledge of notation, Western classical microtonal history, intonation, and ways of soloing and comping in a microtonal chord-scale context. We will also experiment with dance hall, drum 'n' bass, reggaeton, merengueton, house, 2-step, 32nd note hi-hat grooves, hip-hop, go-go, clipped and bounce beats, and new experimental beats created by students.

Read about David Fiuczynski's Guggenheim Fellowship, which encompasses the concept of the Planet Microjam Institute, and the concert premiering his Guggenheim composition

Read about the MicroJam concept in FUSION magazine