This essay contextualizes my recent studio EP, Tender Carpenter, a cross-genre setting of an envelope poem by Emily Dickinson that uses electric guitar in 19-tone equal temperament, voice, and virtual instruments. I reflect on microtonality as a mode of Queer musicality and its personal significance in my own coming-out as bisexual in mid-life, drawing connections to the cultural and formal significance of Dickinson’s work. I situate my use of microtonal music theory within discourses of “purity” and “nature” inherited from just intonation, exploring temperament as a Queering gesture toward ambiguity that opens onto alternate paths, referencing Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology. I discuss the role of embodiment and the interactions between performer and altered instruments—the 19-tone guitar, the pitch- and formant-shifted voice—as tools of disorientation and play with musical relationships and gendered identities. And I reflect on the role-play involved in musical genre, referencing Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure.

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