Our mission is to develop and promote the Kite Guitar and compatible 41-equal or continuous-pitch instruments. We provide related music education, support resources, and instrument production. This is a Free/Libre/Open (FLO) project because music should be accessible for everyone.
We are based in Portland, Oregon USA.
THE KITE TEAM
Kite Giedraitis invented the Kite Guitar in April 2019. Unlike most professional musicians, he didn't play any instrument until his mid-twenties. He clearly recalls being an adult non-musician, to which he credits his unique perspective on music and music teaching. He started with the bowed psaltery and moved to African marimba, mbira dzavadzimu and hand drums. He was first exposed to microtonal music while studying traditional African music, especially Hukwe Zawose. He fell in love with 7-limit just intonation instantly.
Kite is fascinated by microtonal notation, seeing it as the intersection of music, mathematics and language. He has devised several notations, including the Kite Guitar's ups and downs notation. He is a computer programmer and the creator of alt-tuner, microtonal midi tuning software. He has also written an ear trainer for 41-equal. A lyricist/composer/arranger/vocalist, he plays African marimba and mbira in his band Fools In Paradise. He also teaches and builds marimbas.
Aaron Wolf was working on his classical guitar degree at Eastern Michigan University in 2001, when a friend introduced him to barberhop harmony. After getting hooked on ringing chords by ear, he went mad trying to tune the chords on his 12-equal guitar, Chapman Stick, and synthesizers. Over the years, he played with several software options, read dozens of books on psychoacoustics and tuning etc, got a Tonal Plexus keyboard (41-equal × 5 = 205-equal!), tried fretless guitar… But he kept dreaming of a way to get locked barbershop chords and other tuning subtleties with the expression of playing on real strings.
Aaron met Kite in 2013, and he was present for the initial sparks that led to the Kite Guitar. He assisted with the initial development of the language, standards, and resources. He teaches private guitar lessons with his own creative approach (see wolftune.com) and is slowly evangelizing the Kite Guitar to his regular guitar students (the first full convert being Athan Spathas).
Athan Spathas is an innovator of many mediums. He's been playing guitar since 6th grade and was in the Future Music Oregon program at U of Oregon, and dabbled in many forms of digital instrumentation. He wasn't much interested in microtonality until he was exposed to the Kite Guitar, which has totally altered the way he percieves and understands music. He wants more people to play the Kite Guitar and has become a luthier just to help get more of them out into the world. He develops and supports Free/Libre/Open (FLO) Source Techology wherever possible; teaching workshops and doing consultation and interface design. He met Timmy while teaching a workshop on Linux Audio in 2019: little did they know a year later they would both be avid Kite Guitarists.
Timmy Barnett is a professional multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and software engineer. He holds a master’s degree in violin performance from Ball State University. He has been involved with many school districts as a weekly sectional coach and private lesson teacher. He has played violin and viola for many orchestras including the Danville Symphony Orchestra, Muncie Symphony Orchestra, Kokomo Symphony Orchestra, and has served as concertmaster for the Hendricks Symphony Orchestra and Fishers Chamber Orchestra. He plays and teaches a wide variety of genres including classical, jazz, Irish, and rock. He plays violin with !mindparade.
CONSULTANTS, SUPPORTERS, ETC.
Matthew Autry is a guitarist and luthier in Olympia, Washington who pioneered the concept of omitting half of the frets (or two-thirds, three-fourths, etc.) of a large EDO (equal division of an octave). He has explored EDOs 53, 65, 72, 87, 118 and 130. He visited Kite and introduced him to the concept, even loaning him guitars that he had refretted. The Kite Guitar is directly inspired by Matthew's work, and we are all indebted to him!
Jim Snow is a Portland-based software developer and builder of microtonal instruments. He builds and adapts existing guitars to microtonal and just intonation scales, and has built an expressive just-intonation keyboard with pressure-sensitive keys. Jim laser-cut many of the early prototype fingerboards and provided some of the conversion guitars.
Mike Doolin is a luthier in Portland who has extensively researched the difficulties of achieving accurate intonation in guitars. He has graciously volunteered his time to train us in guitar conversion. Mike is currently retired from lutherie and is a full-time guitarist.
Richie Greene is a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist based in Portland, Oregon. He has written for the Oregon Symphony, 45ᵗʰ Parallel Chamber Orchestra and Eighth Blackbird, and has arranged music for the groups Y La Bamba, Blind Pilot and the Parenthetical Girls. His music has been mentioned by the New York Times, NPR, and the Washington Post. He has a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Portland State University.
Richie has spent years exploring a curiosity of acoustic spectral realism: can a collection of string instruments imitate a human voice and be both discernible and recognizable? This fascination led him to investigate functional harmony in extended just intonation as well as temperaments. Richie met Kite in late 2019, and is now the proud owner of a converted Russian 7-string Kite Guitar. He recently designed and built a 3-octave metallophone in 41-equal.
Devin Ulibarri is a Boston-based guitarist, instructor, and researcher. He has compositions published in Conceptions Southwest magazine, a range of teaching experience — from preschool to college-level — and has performed with artists such as Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. He currently teaches at MAP Family Learning Center.
He holds two degrees in music, a BM and MM in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of New Mexico and New England Conservatory. There, he studied under the tutelage of world-renowned musician Eliot Fisk, who he has continued to work closely with for the Boston GuitarFest (2010-present) and publication-assistance (SoundBoard Magazine).
Devin is co-creator of Music Blocks, a visual programming language for music, a Sugar Labs project. Music Blocks is free/libre (FLO) software, and has had numerous contributions from people as young as 13 years old. Music Blocks also has tools to help a user create their own temperament systems — even 41-equal! Music Blocks lessons may be found at MAPflc.com/lesson-plans/.
Robert Lopez-Hanshaw is a microtonal composer, choir conductor, researcher, and metalworker based in Tucson, Arizona. His articles on microtonal choral pedagogy have been featured on NewMusicBox, the International Choral Bulletin, and the University of Pittsburgh Microtonal Archive, and they have been translated into German, French, Spanish, and Russian. He has been commissioned to write microtonal music for choirs and large ensembles, and is currently (2021) researching evolutionary models of tuning systems and fretboard designs. He is also an amateur luthier with a focus on microtonal instruments and on creating DIY-accessible projects, inspired by Bart Hopkin and Dennis Havlena. He did much of the work converting his own Kite guitar.