ABOUT US

Mission Statement

Our mission is to develop and promote the Kite Guitar along with compatible 41-equal and 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. Upon hearing 7-limit just intonation, he fell in love with it 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 is a musician and teacher with many varied interests. He first got into tuning concepts through barbershop harmony, and he spent years searching for how to practically incorporate that blended sound into other musical contexts. He played with software, got a Tonal Plexus keyboard (205 actual keys per octave = 41-equal × 5), and a fretless guitar. but he was not fully satisfied with any of those explorations.

In 2012, Aaron decided to forgo plans for an interdisciplinary musicology PhD in order to devote time to Snowdrift.coop, a fundraising platform for Free/Libre/Open public goods (still in development as of 2022). After moving from Michigan to Oregon, Aaron met Kite in 2014, and they became friends and collaborators.

From the earliest days of the Kite Guitar, Aaron has been a partner to Kite in developing the standards, language, music, marketing, and educational methods. He continues to teach lessons with emphasis on creative exploration, conscious music making, and now the Kite Guitar (see more at wolftune.com).

 

Athan Spathas is an innovator of many mediums. He was in the Future Music Oregon program at U of Oregon and has dabbled in many forms of both acoustic and digital instrumentation. In early 2016, he took some lessons with Aaron who inspired him to pursue FLO (Free/Libre/Open) music software and tech. He has since been developing projects for new FLO music performance hardware, teaching workshops, and doing consultation and interface design.

He wasn't all that interested in microtonality until Aaron showed him the Kite Guitar. It so altered the way he perceives and understands music that he got into guitar building and conversion to help get more Kite guitars out into the world.

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 worked 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.

In 2019, Timmy attended a workshop Athan was teaching on Linux Audio. They connected on mutual interests in FLO and music, and then Athan invited Timmy to join the Kite guitar meet ups. Timmy has since become a dedicated Kite guitarist and has used insights from Kite guitar to enhance his violin playing and teaching.

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.

COMMUNITY

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.

Praveen Venkataramana considers himself a Wilsonian in approach and has composed a variety of chamber, solo, and electronic pieces in various tuning systems. He is mostly self-taught in music but he studied cello with Rich Eckert, South Indian music with Neyveli Santhanagopalan and composition with Keeril Makan. He received a Philip Loew Memorial Award for creative accomplishment at MIT and his music has been performed by the ensembles Either/Or and Sound Icon.

Wilckerson Ganda is a Brazilian software developer and microtonal enthusiast based in Vancouver, Canada. He has collaborated with the Kite team to create innovative webapps like the Microtonal Tuner and the Kite Guitar WebPlayer. A knowledgeable and accomplished guitarist, he loves to explore and compose new music on the Kite guitar. He converted his 7-string guitar himself, with guidance from a local luthier.

Questioning why certain Eastern instruments like the Indian Sitar and the Turkish Bağlama have frets in different positions led him to discover the amazing world of microtonality. He was inspired to de-fret a nylon-string guitar and install moveable cable-tie frets. He found out about the Kite guitar via the Xenharmonic Wiki and contacted the Kite team through the Xenharmonic Alliance group on Facebook.

Travis Johnson holds Bachelor of Music Performance degree with Honors in Musicianship from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music Performance degree from The University of Texas at Austin. 

Since 2017, Travis has been teaching music lessons back home in Portland, Oregon. In 2021, he started to design and build an instrument support device that is now the AUX Instrument Support. Between his teaching practice and his new business, Travis enjoys songwriting, composing, and playing music with his friends. 

Jeff Brown makes tonal free-jazz using guitar-like and keyboard-like instruments. He also writes open-source software for exploring music theory, training the ear, and generating music. He got a Lumatone and a Kite Stick at the same time, and in three months has hardly touched the Lumatone because the Kite Stick is so great!

Jeff is a professor of economics and Chief Technology Officer for Javeriana University's Observatorio Fiscal in Bogotá, Colombia.

His music: soundcloud.com/jeffrey-benjamin-brown

His music code: https://github.com/JeffreyBenjaminBrown/montevideo
Programming languages: Haskell and TidalCycles

Celebrating Aaron Wolf's 41st birthday!

R to L: Brendon, Athan, Praveen on vidchat, Timmy, Jim, Kite, Joseph, Jonathan and Aaron
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