Thursday, May 31, 2007

Scale of the Day: E Phrygian no 4

EPhrygianNo4

The E Phrygian no 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. This one is a simple scale. On a standard piano it would be all the "white" notes with the exception of A and with E as the tonic.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scale of the Day: E 5, Square-root-of-2, Construct No. 1 - Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool

E5SquareRootOf2ConstructNo1LydianModeReflectedIntoTheFirstPool

The E 5, Square-root-of-2, Construct No.1 - Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool - Scale. The first construct of a 5, Square-root-of-2 Scale in Lydian mode (using all otonal members - if you can stretch the term to fit square-roots) yeilds a two-note scale within an octave with a single member at approximately a minor seventh (the 986.31 cent member pictured above). When "reflected into the first pool" that same minor seventh porportionality is then applied within that minor seventh and adds the "minor sixth" at 810.68 cents above. That is, 810.68 is to 986.31 as 986.31 is to 1200.00. It's an additive device I use to expand 2-note scales into 3-note scales.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Scale of the Day: D Sharp Locrian no 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2

DSharpLocrianNo4MappedToTheSquareRootOf2

The D Sharp Locrian no 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. With these subtractive diatonic scales in Square-root-of-2 space it becomes even more critical to treat the "tritones" as harmonic equivalents. Otherwise they might end up sounding like chromatic scales with some quarter-tone detunings thrown in. The missing fourth degree opens up a relatively wide interval of a whole-tone between the 150-cent and 350-cent scale members in this particular example.

Monday, May 28, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Blood, Scelsi and Eroica

James Blood Ulmer: Birthright. 2005. Hyena Records: TMF 9335.

James Blood Ulmer: vocals, guitar, flute

Ulmer brings his voice and his guitar while Vernon Reid records this deeply soulful, undiluted blues experience. There's plenty of jagged, rough edges in this sound and the world-weary tone makes for some uncompromising expression. Ulmer's blues persona speaks of hard fought truths, observations of imperfections and righteous words from one who knows the devil. The very sound seems to melt into a haze of emotional turmoil.

Giacinto Scelsi: 5 String Quartets/String Trio/Khoom. 1988. WDR/Salabert: MO-782156.

Giacinto Scelsi: composer
performances by:

Arditti String Quartet:
Irvine Arditti: violin
David Alberman: violin
Levine Andrade: viola
Rohan de Saram: cello

Michiko Hirayama: soprano
Frank Lloyd: horn
Maurizio Ben Omar: percussion
Aldo Brizzi: conductor

Here's another disc from my "essentials" list. Giacinto Scelsi is a composer I feel particularly close to and this collection of chamber music cuts a clear path through his progression as a creative force. The Arditti String Quartet, as usual, does an outstanding job with this cornerstone of 20th century string quartet literature.

Of particular interest in this collection is Scelsi's String Quartet no. 1 from 1944. It was written before he underwent his profound creative transformation that led to the austere sound that he is known for today. And it is fascinating to hear where he was as a composer before developing his unique sonic thumb print. String Quartet no. 1 is a substantial work that barely hints at the creative development in store for the works that follow. It is a non-tonal, contrapuntal work that ultimately transforms into a tonal language in the final moments of this 30-plus minute piece. This transition traces a parallel line of Scelsi's overall creative development from the "modernism" of his contemporaries into the focus on sound that would make him into an icon, and a major influence on my own generation of composers.

String Trio from 1958 is representative of Scelsi's focus on coloring single tones with exquisite detail. Listening to the chronological order of these pieces through string quartets 2 through 5 and Khoom for soprano and six players reveals a blossoming of that sound and meditative sensibility that took place in the 41 years that followed that first string quartet. This is beautiful, essential listening.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (op.55) "Eroica", performed in 1994 by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The International Music Company: 205297-305 (disc 2). Conducted by Guenther Herbig.

There are few warhorses as well worn (and beaten) as the "Eroica." And this performance is recorded with great clarity so one can drink in the totality of each familiar nuance. It's a luxury to hear it in its entirety given the way it is often fragmented and segmented in the numerous chance encounters one has with this work from the worlds of advertising and background music.

Scale of the Day: D Sharp Locrian major 2 no 4

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The D Sharp Locrian major 2 no 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. The omitted fourth degree combined with the diminished fifth opens up a nice ambiguity with the enharmonic equivalence of equal temperament. The ear will puzzle over whether it is hearing an augmented fourth or a diminished fifth. The minor sixth is also suggestive of an augmented fifth degree as the lack of a perfect fifth has always been one of the more interesting, and challenging, features of the Locrian scale.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Scale of the Day: B Whole-tone no 2

BWholeToneNo2

The B Whole-tone no 2 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. This is only the second pentatonic "scale of the day" so far. And it's really only a transposition of the first one. It retains the overall "softness" of the whole-tone scale that it is a subtractive derivative of. "Soft" refers to the extremely mild dissonances available with this set of pitches.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wright Pocket, Red Room

The Jack Wright Trio @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD - May 26, 2007
Jack Wright: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
Toshi Makihara: drums
Evan Lipson: bass

This is one hot, creative trio with big ears and musicianship to burn. Each member performed as an equal part of the overall sonic painting. The linear explorations and responses/reactions to the other players occasionally coalescing into pockets of richly satisfying grooves before dissolving into a constantly shifting soundscape. The shifting textures and densities gave way to brief focal points on individual performers. But the overall emphasis was on the energy and free flowing ideas that formed a remarkably balanced cohesiveness. I hope somebody is documenting this group.

The extended techniques each player integrated into this evening's performance was striking. Each seemed to emerge as a natural part of the overall sound without drawing attention to the "non-standard" approach to playing. Wright took apart and then reassembled his soprano saxophone in the middle of the set's second piece. First playing without the mouthpiece, then using circular breathing to play the metal column like a small didgeridoo. Makihara explored all kinds of inventive sounds from his drum kit, using a wide variety of sticks, brushes, bare knuckles and elbows. At one point he picked up a thermos and found a nice percussive sound by rhythmically snapping it open and shut. And Lipson brought out the rich, resonant body of the acoustic bass into the sonic texture as he bowed the body of the instrument itself and played some beautiful col legno passages. He also used clothes pins to alter the vibrations of the open strings and fearlessly applied several aggressive Bartok pizzicato snaps. But what really impressed me was when Wright would drop out and one could hear a ghost-like sonic image of his lines and gestures being played on the bass - often matching his register.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Octotonic-1 no 2

EFlatOctotonic-1No2

The Octotonic-1 no 2 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. Between the equal temperament and the missing second degree there's a nice ambiguity with the minor third/augmented second leading into the perfect fourth/augmented third. The half-step that follows into the tritone combined with the lack of perfect fifth gives this scale an interesting color.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Scale of the Day: F Sharp Octave divided into 2 Equal Parts

FSharpOctaveDividedInto2EqualParts

The F Sharp Octave divided into 2 Equal Parts Scale. This one is simple division. Take an octave (1200-cents wide) and divide it right down the middle with an interval 600-cents wide (the equal tempered "tritone").
----------------------------------
This scale marks the end of a cycle of scales that began in January. I have now completed 19 cycles - each one longer than the last. In a couple of days cycle #20 will begin with a return to subtractive scales.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Scale of the Day: F Lydian 1% narrow

FLydian1PercentNarrow

The F Lydian 1% narrow Scale. This time things are deliberately de-tuned in the other direction, resulting in compressed octaves.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: 2 Victos and a Tzadik Tzunday

Elliott Sharp/Orchestra Carbon: Abstract Repressionism: 1990-1999. 1992. Victo: cd019.

Orchestra Carbon:
Elliott Sharp: composer, double-neck guitar/bass
Gregor Kitziz: violin
David Soldier: violin
Wendy Ultan: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Michelle Kinney: cello
Margaret Parkins: cello
Mary Wooten: cello
Lindsay Horner: acoustic bass
Joseph Trump: drums, percussion

As one of Elliott Sharp's finest large-scale works for a large string ensemble it's hard to keep this one from constant HurdAudio rotation. And nothing complements a lazy Sunday afternoon like "Heads Are Beaten Against Walls, Some Voluntarily." From the opening sonic barrage of "Unlockstep" to the teeming world of pizzicato and timpani that oozes out from behind that opening gesture this disc is an aggressive beauty that demands one's attention and rewards it with every listening.

Marc Ribot: Shoe String Symphonettes. 1997. Tzadik: TZ 7504.

Film scores by Marc Ribot:
Death by Unnatural Causes (1991) - directed by Karen Bellone and Lisa Rinzler
Marc Ribot: guitar, sampler
Greg Cohen: bass
Jill Jaffe: violin, viola

Landlord Blues (1987) - directed by Jacob Burkhardt
Marc Ribot: trumpet, banjo, guitar
Brad Jones: bass
Bill Ware: vibes
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Jim Nolet: violin
Roy Nathanson: saxophone
EJ Rodriguez: drums, percussion
Gregory Ribot: flute

Aelita Queen of Mars (1928) - directed by Yakov Protazanov
Marc Ribot: guitar
Paul Clarvis: drums, percussion
Dave Meric: keyboards
Phil Boyden: violin
Helen Thomas: cello
Mike Kearsey: trombone

Pieces From An Incomplete Project (1995 - 1996) - directed by Joe Brewster
Dave Douglas: trumpet
Vicki Bodner: oboe
Charlie Giordano: piano, keyboards
Mauro Refosco: percussion
Jill Jaffe: violin, viola
Maxine Neuman: cello
Tony Garnier: bass

Summer Salt (1993) - directed by Charlie Levi
Marc Ribot: guitar, e-flat horn
John Zorn: saxophone
Andy Haas: saxophone
Cyro Baptista: drums

I can only imagine if these films are as good as the scores written to accompany them. In their disembodied form, Shoe String Symphonettes is a wide-ranging, often moody collection of short pieces featuring some exciting players from the late-80s/early-90s New York improvised music scene. The shortness of these works feels constraining given the caliber of some of these players. But at the same time the these tight arrangements open up wide vistas and showcases Ribot's versatility as a composer.

Paul Plimley Trio: Safe-Crackers. 1999. Victo: cd066.

Paul Plimley: piano
Lislie Ellis: acoustic bass
Scott Amendola: drums

Making a return spin in the HurdAudio rotation, Safe-Crackers satisfies the Paul Plimley craving with an extremely well-recorded documentation of this outstanding piano trio.

Ripped and Berned at the Clef Club

Philadelphia Clef Club - Saturday, May 19, 2007
David Torn/Prezens
David Torn: guitar, live sampling, electronics, gobs of effects, processing
Tim Berne: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
Michael Formanek: acoustic bass
Craig Taborn: Rhodes electric piano, synth, gobs of effects, bent circuits
Tom Rainey: drums

Michael Formanek/Tim Berne Duo
Michael Formanek: acoustic bass
Tim Berne: baritone saxophone

HurdAudio took a special field trip up to the city of brotherly love to check out the Tim Berne/David Torn scene at the Philadelphia Clef Club - a venue that seemingly sits just beyond the reach of the gentrifying forces of the 4-star hotels, national steak house chains and theaters just a few blocks north on the Avenue of the Arts. Music from the fringe never seemed more literal.

The Michael Formanek/Tim Berne Duo opened the evening with a set-long performance of "The Offbeat Manifesto." This is an epic, through-composed work for acoustic bass and baritone saxophone that explores extended linear lines for each instrument. There's a lot going on in this composition and I was completely engaged throughout. The middle section had some nice interplay between the bowed bass of Formanek against a texture of multiphonics from Berne.

The second set featured the big sound of David Torn/Prezens. Lurking in the center of the stage - in the center of Prezens - was an acoustic trio of saxophone, bass and drums flanked on either side by the electronics emanating from Torn and Taborn. And the compositional and improvisational leadership was coming from David Torn at stage left as he sculpted large soundscapes from his effects, live sampling, and occasionally his electric guitar. The quintet was often working with multiple layers of sound of varying thickness as they navigated a healthy range of drone-based sonic textures.

Improvising with live electronics - and especially live sampling - can be a mixed bag. And Prezens would hit moments of great sonic beauty sandwiched between stretches of meandering awkwardness. The high points would come when the players would either lock into a resonance with the electronic sounds as the players would build upon the sound as a collaborative whole or they would give in to a steady groove and ride a wave of pulse and tempo. At other times, the acoustic trio seemed to be caught in the middle and swimming upstream against the amplified tides. The difficulty with improvising with live sampling is that it often comes across as a one-way conversation between a player and something they played just moments earlier. It can be useful for constructing some intense sonic textures. But it can also be relentlessly non-responsive - leaving the "live human" performer with a larger burden in improvised contexts. It can also lead to a predictable pattern of sample-then-improvise - a pattern that Prezens deftly avoided most of the time.

I was particularly impressed with the drumming of Tom Rainey throughout the second set. He changed the sound he was getting from the drum kit over the course of these long pieces by focusing on a narrow range at any given time. At times just playing the snare, or just the cymbals, or just the rims of the toms, or just the high-hat. Yet he would always cut through the overall sound with what he was doing and he often seemed to be the instigator for some of the most satisfying waves of sound from the evening.

Scale of the Day: F Lydian 2% wide

FLydian2PercentWide

The F Lydian 2% wide Scale. At 2%, the octave is now stretched to nearly 1/8th-tone - which makes for a noticeable dissonance at the interval of harmonic equivalence.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Climbing Hills, Doing the Math and Bangin' on Cans

Nels Cline: New Monastery - a view into the music of Andrew Hill. 2006. Cryptogramophone: 130.

Nels Cline: guitar, effects
Bobby Bradford: cornet
Andrea Parkins: accordion, effects
Devin Hoff: contrabass
Scott Amendola: drumset, percussion
Alex Cline: percussion (on two tracks)

This one is an homage to the music of Andrew Hill played with joy and an ear for the spirit of these great compositions. Cline's arrangement of Dedication is just spot on. After spending some time recently with the original Hill recordings of many of these pieces lately it's a pleasure to hear them refracted through this piano-less ensemble. There's no question that this body of music will live on and inspire many who are part of this living tradition. This is just one view into the music of Andrew Hill.

The Bad Plus: Suspicious Activity? 2005. Columbia: CK 94740.

Reid Anderson: bass
Ethan Iverson: piano
David King: drums

"Anthem for the Earnest" has one of the hookiest of hooks ever found in the piano trio medium. I find it irresistible and deeply pleasant. The Bad Plus can groove, rock and keep the brain engaged as well. This disc is insanely cool.

Bang on a Can & Don Byron: A Ballad For Many. 2006. Cantaloupe Music: CA21036.

Don Byron: composer, clarinet
Bang on a Can All-stars:
Robert Black: bass
David Cossin: drum set, percussion
Lisa Moore: piano
Mark Stewart: guitars
Wendy Sutter: cello
Evan Ziporyn: clarinets

The Don Byron sound refracted through the aggressive-progressive lens of the Bang on a Can All-stars. The focus here is Don Byron the composer as this 6-piece chamber ensemble interprets two film scores and a handful of other pieces written by the intensely creative and wide-ranging clarinetist. To my ears, this is a rare meeting of two of the most vibrant New York music scenes. And it's not surprising that Don Byron would be a pivotal figure linking the "totalist" new music camp of Lang, Wolf, Gordon and company to the downtown improvised music scene. Nor is it surprising that Byron's musical ideas would display the same qualities as chamber works that one hears in his touring jazz ensembles.

Scale of the Day: E Lydian 1% wide

ELydian1PercentWide-interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Lydian 1% wide Scale. Here's another example of the stretched octave at work.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Scale of the Day: F Ionian augmented 5 1% wide

FLydianAugmented5-1PercentWide

The F Lydian augmented 5 1% wide Scale. Stretched octaves and a hand full of 202-cent major seconds leading up to the augmented fifth. This one has the feeling of a puzzle that has been dropped - jarring all the pieces just a bit off from where they used to be.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Scale of the Day: F Lydian mapped to the 3/2

FLydianMappedToThe3-2

The F Lydian mapped to the 3/2 Scale. The octave-based version of the Lydian Scale has a perfect fifth 1.96-cents shy of the just 3/2. This scale gets around that discrepancy by shrinking the entire scale to fit within the 3/2. That 3/2 becomes the new harmonic equivalent (and octaves cease to exist in the form we're most familiar with). And the sound takes on something completely different from the standard Lydian-ness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Wordless Poetry, Varese and Ritualistic Creative Music

Erik Friedlander: Maldoror. 2002. Brassland: HWY-005.

Erik Friedlander: cello

The conversion of text-to-improvisation as ten dark, surreal poems of Isidore Ducasse are wordlessly interpreted by Erik Friedlander. It's hard to say what carries over from the original French texts. But the English translations make for intense reading and the solo cello music is exquisite. This one has been getting some extra time in the rotation.

Edgard Varese: The Complete Works. 1998. Decca Recording Company, London: 289 460 208-2.

Performed by: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, ASKO Ensemble
Conductor: Riccardo Chailly

In a more enlightened age there would be so many Varese Festivals in every major city that people would be whistling Density 21.5 on their way to work, DJ's would be spinning re-mixes of Poeme Electronique and Ameriques would be the standard accompaniment to 4th of July fireworks spectacles. Until that glorious day arrives, we have these definitive and energetic performances overseen by the baton of Riccardo Chailly.

Tuning Up
strikes me as more of a curiosity than a solid part of the Varese canon. It was reconstructed by Chou Wen-chung from notes and sketches left behind by Varese. One can hear the Varese sonic vocabulary at work and it comes close to sounding like a "new" work from this significant composer. The desire to add to the Varese repertoire is understandable - but the creative voice just isn't the same even when the vocabulary is so closely matched.

The "complete-ness" of The Complete Works is filled out with an orchestration by Antony Beaumont of Un grand sommeil noir and a revised and completed version of Nocturnal by Chou Wen-chung. Both are Varese compositions I'm less familiar with. Nocturnal is a knockout riddled with inspired moments of pure sonic bliss.

But it's works like Octandre, Deserts and Ameriques that make this collection such an important touch stone for my listening habits and a necessary part of my collection. There's so much in these pieces that having summer Varese festivals seems completely reasonable.

Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 1. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 16, 2006 at Iridium Jazz Club, New York City.

The Anthony Braxton 12+1tet
Anthony Braxton: composer, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, clarinet and Eb contalto clarinet
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn, trumpbone, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, shell
Andrew Raffo Dewar: soprano saxophone, c-melody saxophone, clarinet
James Fei: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Mary Halvorson: electric guitar
Stephen H. Lehman: alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone
Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo, voice
Jessica Pavone: viola, violin
Reut Regev: trombone, flugelbone
Jay Rozen: tuba, euphonium
Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon, suona
Aaron Siegel: percussion, vibraphone
Carl Testa: acoustic bass, bass clarinet

Disc 1 = Composition 350 - dedicated to the artist Emilio Cruz
Composition 350 - along with all the compositions included in this box set - belongs to the "third species" of Braxton's "Ghost Trance Musics" composed between 1995 and 2001. They represent a creative burst partially inspired by Braxton's study of Native American Ghost Dance rituals of the late 19th century. They mark a cohesive evolution and synthesis of Braxton's incredible musical language. It's also the most sophisticated group improvisation I've ever heard - built upon the solid roots of George Lewis's Shadowgraph pieces and Butch Morris's Conductions along with modular beauty of the more than 300 compositions that preceded the third species of Ghost Trance Musics.

Scale of the Day: E Lydian mapped to the Triative

ELydianMappedToTheTriative-interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Lydian mapped to the Triative Scale. The brightness of the Lydian scale takes on a strange hue under the wide expanse of the triative interval.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Scale of the Day: F Lydian augmented 5 mapped to the Triative

FLydianAugmented5MappedToTheTriative

The F Lydian augmented 5 mapped to the Triative Scale. The expanded size of the triative re-mapping brings out the asymmetrical proportions of this scale as an ascending sequence of four 316.99-cent (stretched minor-thirds) upward from the root comes up against a descending sequence of two 316.99-cent intervals with just 158.50-cents between the two blocks of "stretched minor-thirds." Here, that 158.50-cent interval is notated as an augmented unison -which strikes me as an unfortunate enharmonic spelling and an example of how standard notation practice begins to break down under triative-based harmonic systems.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Scale of the Day: E Flat Lydian mapped to the Square-root-of-2

The E Flat Lydian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale:

Audio

Notation

Interval Analysis

This is the first audio example "scale of the day" at HurdAudio to use quarter-tones (notes that are 50-cents flat relative to standard 12-tone equal temperament practice).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Guitars, Drums, Piano and Sax (and others)

Terry Riley: The Book of Abbeyozzud. 1999. New Albion: 106 CD.

Terry Riley: composer
David Tanenbaum: guitar
Gyan Riley: guitar
Tracy Silverman: violin
William Winant: percussion

This disc is such an inspired concept: Spanish-influenced guitar music composed by Terry Riley. I come back for regular doses of this one.

Jim Black: Alasnoaxis. 2000. Winter & Winter: 910061-2.

Jim Black: drums
Hilmar Jensson: electric guitar
Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Skuli Sverrisson: electric bass

Jim Black is one of those drummers you want to sit as close to as possible when seeing him play live because it's fascinating to watch how he gets all those amazing sounds with the drum kit and the assorted bits of toys and percussive shenanigans he brings to the stage. AlasNoAxis is the first disc he recorded with this quartet as the group leader and composer and as a recording the frenetic energy he brings to a live show comes out as a scatter shot of compositional ideas for this quartet. The focus is much more on the ensemble than the drum kit on this recording and the result is deeply pleasant to listen to.

Matthew Shipp Duo with Roscoe Mitchell: 2-Z. 1996. Thirsty Ear: 21312.2

Matthew Shipp: piano
Roscoe Mitchell: alto and soprano saxophones

Both of these improvisers are a force that's hard to ignore. And this recording is as compelling a collision between forces as one could expect from a feature-length free improvisation. Roscoe Mitchell has a long and impressive history as one of the great figures of the Chicago AACM scene while Matthew Shipp was early in his impressive recording/performing career at the time of this encounter. These players know how to lay thick slabs of sonic texture. But they also know how to pull back to reveal thin, quiet lines as well. It's that range that makes this listening experience so engaging.

Scale of the Day: E Lydian augmented 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2

ELydianAugmented5MappedToTheSquareRootOf2-interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Lydian augmented 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. Note how that augmented fifth degree delays the first quarter-tone as one ascends the scale.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Resonating Strings - Myra Melford and Tanya Kalmanovitch at An Die Musik

Myra Melford: piano, harmonium
Tanya Kalmanovitch: viola, violin

Each time I've heard Myra Melford play live she manages to reach a state of improvisational Zen for a few moments where the attentive listener is rewarded with an amazing sequence of ideas and formal development that manages to be cohesive and unexpected at the same time. She hit that a couple of times in this set. And with Tanya Kalmanovitch on viola and violin she had a like-minded extension to her compositional/improvisational world.

This duo played a mix of free improvisations and Myra Melford compositions. They began with three short improvisations where one would begin playing solo and the other would enter by reflecting gestures at the other player as the performance would then evolve into an interaction between performers. Seeing this live, I was struck by all the arrested gestures - the decision at the last moment not to play the note or bow the string just before following through. Great care seemed to be taken not to add more to the sound than was needed.

One technique I hadn't seen Melford employ before was her "prepared piano on the fly" technique where she would add objects to the interior of the piano during a performance. Hearing her select just the right nodal point on the piano string to insert a stopper or plucking the strings inside the piano added a nice balance to the timbral depth of the viola and violin as it brought out the similarities of the string-ness of the piano.

Scale of the Day: F Pythagorean Lydian mapped to the Square-root-of-2

FPythagoreanLydianMappedToTheSquareRootOf2

The F Pythagorean Lydian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. All the intervals of the standard Pythagorean Lydian scale cut to one half their cent-values. The 45.11 cents between the seventh degree and the square-root-of-2 "tonic" gives that interval some strong gravity to resolve upward. Not unlike the major seventh degree in the octave-based version of this same scale.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Scale of the Day: E Flat Lydian augmented 5

E Flat Lydian augmented 5 Scale:

Audio

Notated

Interval Analysis

So far, this is the first altered "scale of the day" to be rendered in audio. That is, it's the first non-church mode to be synthesized. There will soon be a quarter-tone scale added to the audio page.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scale of the Day: E Pythagorean Lydian

EPythagoreanLydian-interval-analysis

The intervallic content of the E Pythagorean Lydian Scale. To my ears, this is the "brightest" of the diatonic Pythagorean scales.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Diggin' the Free Jazz and Noise

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost Box Set - disc 3. Released in 2004. Revenant Records
3 live sets recorded April 16 - 17, 1966 at La Cave in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Albert Ayler Quintet:
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Ayler: trumpet
Michel Samson: violin
Mutawef Shaheed (a.k.a. Clyde Shy at the time of this recording): bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums

This disc is a nice way to get that Albert Ayler sound into the ears. The chemistry between these players is there as they bring a focused energy to these Ayler compositions. I'd forgotten how well Ronals Shannon Jackson complements Ayler's sound. Samson's violin work is a big draw for the ears.

Dave Douglas Quintet: Live at the Bimhuis. October 24, 2002. Greenleaf Music: GRE-P-011/GRE-P-012.

2 Sets recorded at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Dave Douglas: trumpet
Rick Margitza: tenor saxophone
Uri Caine: fender rhodes
James Genus: bass
Clarence Penn: drums

One of the many advantages of the Greenleaf "Paperback Series" of releases is the chance to hear the incredible chemistry at work between these players that extends well beyond their studio recordings. This double-disc edition kicks off with a beautiful, 24-minute take on "Penelope" (the studio version is just over 9-minutes on the quintet's debut release The Infinite). The creative energy never wanes as the sound of Caine's fender rhodes adds an irresistible color to the overall experience. There's also a nice cover of Beck's "Ramshackle" on the second disc.

Elliott Sharp and the Soldier String Quartet: Cryptid Fragments. 1993. Extreme: XCD 020.

Elliott Sharp: composition, computer processing/remixing, Buchla thunder
Sara Parkins: violin
Margaret Parkins: cello
Laura Seaton: violin
David Soldier: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Mary Wooten: cello
Michelle Kinney: cello

This is one disc I come back to periodically as Sharp's compositions for strings hold the most interest for me. The title work, "Cryptid Fragments" is a four-movement study of severely manipulated violin and cello samples that showcases Sharp's ear for abrasive textures. The "bowed string" quality is never lost, even after layers of severe digital manipulation. "Shapeshifters" and "Twistmap" are string quartet compositions, with the second one augmented by Sharp accompanying on the Buchla Thunder as he applies his sample manipulation to a live context. He's mining the same subterranean quality found in "Cryptid Fragments," but with a startlingly different sound drawn out by making these sonic alterations on the fly in "real time." "Umbra" concludes this disc somewhere in the middle ground between the title work and the string quartets with a duet for cello and Buchla Thunder.

Scale of the Day: F Lydian minor 2

FLydianMinor2

The F Lydian minor 2 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. The augmented second that opens up between the minor second and major third gives this scale its flavor - as well as a second with strong tonal gravity pulling toward the tonic.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

Scale of the Day: A Ionian mapped to the Triative

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The A Ionian mapped to the Triative Scale. The triative is the frequency ratio of 3/1 - an interval roughly the size of an octave plus a perfect fifth at 1901.96 cents wide. Here the standard, equal tempered "A major" scale is stretched to fill the larger interval space and the ear is surprisingly accepting of the 3/1 as a harmonic equivalent. Experimenting with the disorienting effect of playing familiar, diatonic melodies re-mapped to this harmonic terrain appeals to my subversive sensibilities.
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Blogging from the East Coast resumes with this post. It's good to be home.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Of Bebop and Form

Michael Moore Trio: Chicoutimi. 1993. Ramboy #06.

Michael Moore: clarinet
Fred Hersch: piano
Mark Helias: bass

Over a span of 16 exquisite pieces this trio ranges through a lot of different textures. The balance between composition and improvisation - and the seamlessness between the two - makes for a rewarding listen. There's a spare softness to this music that draws the ears to the surprising ripples that sweep across the surface.

Joe Henderson: Mode for Joe. 1966. Blue Note: CDP 7 84227 2.

Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Lee Morgan: trumpet
Curtis Fuller: trombone
Bobby Hutcherson: vibes
Cedar Walton: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Joe Chambers: bass

When you reach for a Blue Note recording from this era - and with this lineup of musicians - you know you're going to hear something solid and enduring. I like Mode for Joe in particular because it features some Joe Henderson original compositions like "A Shade of Jade," "Caribbean Fire Dance" and "Granted." So many of the same qualities that made Henderson such a great improviser are lurking within these compositions and this ensemble brings it out.

James Tenney: Postal Pieces. 2004. Performed by the Barton Workshop. New World Records: 80612-2.

Eleven performances of a series of compositions consisting of instructions or notations that fit within the confines of a single postcard. These are radically simple conceptions that reveal a great deal about sound, form and the act of listening.