Monday, March 31, 2008

Scale of the Day: F Sharp Mixolydian no 4 mapped to the Triative


The F Sharp Mixolydian no 4 mapped to the Triative Scale. With the expansion of all the scalar intervals to fill in the 3/1 triative the gap left by the subtracted fourth degree opens up into a 475.48-cent leap between adjacent scale members.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Branching Out

Jamie Branch/Marc Riordan Duo + Petter O Hanna @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, March 29, 2008

Petter O Hanna:
Petter Vagan: lapsteel and electronics
Hanna Gjermundrod: voice

Jamie Branch: trumpet
Marc Riordan: drums

Jamie Branch has serious chops. With a warm up routine that includes running through the angular, challenging intervals of Thelonious Monk tunes and ears finely tuned to each nuance Branch deftly explored an expansive territory of free improvisation thick with creative substance and inventive reverie. Marc Riordan balanced out this duo sound with a percussive approach to the drum set that settled into a dynamic range of skins muted by various percussive toys. The dialogue between these players was beautifully focused as pieces dribbled out in well measured portions. These are two talents to keep an ear on.

The duo of Petter O Hanna played the opening set with a long-form improvisation highlighting the restrained, responsive interaction between this pair from Norway. Hanna Gjermundrod's ability to respond and often match the texture of Petter Vagan's electronics was nearly as impressive as Vagan's ability to bend his twisted electric signals in response to Ghermundrod's voice. The meeting point between these two sound sources opened up delicate and engaging sonic vistas.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Mixolydian no 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The intervallic content of the E Flat Mixolydian no 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Cross-Genre Pollinating

Shonen Knife: Brand New Knife. 1997. MCA/Victor/Big Deal: 9035-2.

Naoko Yamano: vocals, guitar, melotron
Michie Nakatani: vocals, bass
Atsuko Yamano: vocals, drums, percussion

It's punk, with all the visceral pleasures and structural failings often associated with the genre. The additional layer of English-as-second language delivery with the strange phrasing and unusual accents on particular words makes this one disarmingly charming. The unpretentious poetry with its shifting focus on wide ranging - often trivial - subjects speaks toward an inclusive sense of humanity with its range of emotional motivation and twisted intentions.

Brian Sacawa: American Voices. 2007. Innova: 675.

Brian Sacawa: saxophones

Piece in the Shape of a Square - Philip Glass
Pre-Amnesia - Lee Hyla
Pastlife Laptops and Attic Instruments - Erik Spangler
with Erik Spangler: turntables, electronics
Netherland - Chris Theofanidis
with Wenli Zhou: piano
Bacchanalia Skiapodorum - Derek Hurst
Voice Within Voice - Keeril Makan
The Low Quartet - Michael Gordon

In its third pass through the HurdAudio rotation not only do I remain impressed with what these performances reveal about the familiar works of Philip Glass and Michael Gordon, but I also find more revelations in repeated listenings to these clear, clean renditions. In between these two gems of wind-instrument driven minimalism is a healthy, non-dogmatic territory of contemporary creativity. The almost "traditional," chamber virtuosity of Netherland by Chris Theofanidis stands out as a polished work rich with detail. Erik Spangler's Pastlife Laptops and Attic Instruments offers a much needed infusion of pulse and groove that meaningfully folds contemporary vernacular sonic materials into an evolving repertoire. Brian Sacawa brings a balance of thoughtful energy and honest interpretation that brings out flattering details of this living body of music.

Peggy Lee Band: Worlds Apart. 2004. Spool: SPL124.

Peggy Lee: cello
Brad Turner: trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn
Jeremy Berkman: trombone
Tony Wilson: electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Andre Lechance: electric bass, acoustic bass
Dylan van der Schyff: drums
& Ron Samworth (on 4 tracks): electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Inspired by Peggy Lee's warm-up routine prior to a New Orchestra Now performance, an audience member seated behind me commented that they wished to "be a female cello player in my next life." Hearing Peggy Lee perform inspires a similar awe for the life currently being lived and experienced aurally. The fact that she surrounds herself with so many players from Vancouver's vibrant improvisation scene just makes her music even more engaging. Worlds Apart documents a slice of that sonic beauty. The unusual coloration of cello with guitars, drums, bass and brass gives this sound an unusual hue. The composition "Spells" in particular is something special. The interplay of fretted and unfretted strings weaves any number of spells throughout this experience. This one leaves behind a thirst to hear more.

Scale of the Day: F Sharp Mixolydian no 4 diminished 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The F Sharp Mixolydian no 4 diminished 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. Subtractive, altered, compressed into the confines of the 600-cent "tritone" and sporting a single quarter-tone.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Mixolydian no 4 diminished 5


The intervallic content of the E Flat Mixolydian no 4 diminished 5 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Scale of the Day: F Sharp Pythagorean Mixolydian no 4


The F Sharp Pythagorean Mixolydian no 4 Scale. With the perfect fourth subtracted, the 16/9 minor seventh is the solitary utonal scale member.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Scale of the Day: B Dorian no 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The B Dorian no 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. Quarter-tones with a tasty gap between 150-cents and 350-cents, upsetting the symmetry normally associated with Dorian scales.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Dorian no 4


The intervallic content of the G Dorian no 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Scale of the Day: B Dorian no 4 diminished 5


The B Dorian no 4 diminished 5 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. The combination of subtraction and alteration places a consecutive sequence of 300-cent adjacent scale tones in the middle of this scale (between the minor third, diminished fifth and major sixth), which comes off sounding like a diminished triad within this equal tempered context.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Moments and Monuments

Don Byron: Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker. 2006. Blue Note Records: 0946 3 41094 2 0.

Don Byron: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
David Gilmore: guitar
George Colligan: hammond B-3 organ
Brad Jones: bass
Rodney Holmes: drums, tambourine
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Chris Thomas King: vocals, guitar
Dean Bowman: vocals

There are days when the music one puts on simply hits the target squarely and delivers a much needed jolt to the weary ears, mind and heart. Do The Boomerang is exactly that disc for today. The band is outstanding while the ever versatile Don Byron focuses upon and channels the incredible vibe of Junior Walker. Things have been running full tilt at HurdAudio and the sensibilities pouring out of this wonderful Blue Note is exactly the tonic for too many busy days. The ears even embrace the vocals of King and Bowman without any reluctance. The funky, blues-infected words carve the air and simply feel just right.

Available Jelly: Monuments. 1993. Ramboy: 07.

Eric Boeren: trumpet, alto horn
Jimmy Sernesky: trumpet
Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Tobias Delius: tenor saxophone
Gregg Moore: trombone, tuba, mandolin, electric bass
Alexei Levin: piano, accordion, organ
Eric Calmes: bass, bass guitar
Michael Vatcher: percussion

This one was long overdue for a repeat spin in the rotation. Reedsman Michael Moore (not to be confused with the film maker of the same name) has a knack for putting together ensembles, projects, compositions and arrangements that draw upon a balance of creative impulse and historical references that is completely irresistible to these ears. The elastic energy of Monuments that pivots between swinging themes, traditional anthems from Madagascar and collective improvisation makes this as enduring as any "monument." The accordion lines from Alexei Levin and percussive work of Michael Vatcher are a particular draw on this go around.

Wally Shoup/Toshi Makihara/Brent Arnold: Confluxus. 2004. Leo Records: 399.

Wally Shoup: alto saxophone
Toshi Makihara: drums
Brent Arnold: cello

Knowing each of these players individually from different contexts (and different coasts) allowed me to view this disc with a sensation of "wow, these guys would be great collaborators." Each instrumentalist in this trio is completely tuned into the moment of creation and this documentation of their overlapping paths still glows with the heat of their interactive fabric. The independent roles of saxophone, drums and cello are subsumed into a singular wash of sound as the form and substance of this music molds timbre into a singularity. These three players are great collaborators and Confluxus delivers both to the expectation and the curiosity with the moments shaped over time on this outing.

Scale of the Day: F Sharp Aeolian no 4


The F Sharp Aeolian no 4 as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Scale of the Day: D Sharp Phrygian no 4 mapped to the Triative


The D Sharp Phrygian no 4 mapped to the Triative Scale. Wide, 1901.96-cent expanses filled in with uneven divisions such as this subtractive scale make for interesting harmonic contours.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Scale of the Day: D Sharp Pythagorean Phrygian no 4


The D Sharp Pythagorean Phrygian no 4 Scale. Mind the Pythagorean Major Third - 81/64 (407.82-cent) - gap opened up between the minor third and perfect fifth by the subtractive process.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

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


The A Sharp Locrian no 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. This one is a nice fist full of quarter-tones leading out of the tonic.

Monday, March 17, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Quartet, Solo, Trio

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets - Volume I. Recorded in 1989. Delos: CD 3031.

String Quartet in F Major op.18 no.1
String Quartet in E-Flat Major op. 127

The Orford String Quartet:
Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

Opus 18 is closer to the Hayden-esque Beethoven while opus 127 flexes considerable expressive range and expansive portions. These are straight ahead 4-movement works suitable for polite company with considerable substance for the curious and attentive ear. This disc has had a few rounds in the rotation and it's that second movement of the F Major quartet that's drawing me in.

Aaron Dugan: {ten improvisations}. 2006. Jungulous: 001.

Aaron Dugan: electric guitar

This is a winding journey through the range of noises one craves from the electric guitar once it gets plugged in and routed through a healthy set of effects processors, delays and amplification. The creative energy and capable fingers of Aaron Dugan takes this set through a range of ugly, dirty, lyrical and aurally beautiful. The direct link between the ideas and their immediate realization makes for an impressive sound. The brevity of these ten, isolated bursts makes for introspective, urban poetry.

Ornette Coleman Trio: At The "Golden Circle," Stockholm - volume one. 1965 (Rudy Van Gelder Edition released in 2002). Blue Note Records: 7243 5 35518 2 7.

Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone
David Izenzon: bass
Charles Moffett: drums

An outstanding set clearly worthy of the immortality of this Rudy Van Gelder re-mastering. There's a pristine, clear sound quality of a live trio locked into that intoxicatingly Coleman-esque improvisational zone. There are also two takes on the fascinating "European Echoes." A relatively simple piece by Ornette Coleman's melodic standards that opens up to all kinds of possibilities in the hands of these three players.

Scale of the Day: D Sharp Locrian no 4


The intervallic content of the D Sharp Locrian no 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

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


The A Sharp Locrian major 2 no 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Whole-tone no 2


The G Whole-tone no 2 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. Pentatonic.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Scale of the Day: E 5, 3, Square-root-of-2, Construct No. 1 - Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool


The E 5, 3, Square-root-of-2, Construct #1, Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool - Scale. Reflecting into pools is a technique for expanding these early "construct" scales that often have minimal harmonic material on their own.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Octotonic-1 no 2 (3 + 1)


The E Flat Octotonic-1 no 2 (3 + 1) Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. The subtractive process leaves an "oct"-otonic scale with just seven notes and the altered (3 + 1) gives this traditionally diminished scale a nice major third just above the tonic.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Scale of the Day: C Sharp Octotonic-2 no 1


The C Sharp Octotonic-2 no 1 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Chromatic no 1


The E Flat Chromatic no 1 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. This one essentially includes every note at the piano keyboard with the exception of all e-naturals.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Standards, Ghost Trance and Eroica

Anthony Braxton: Piano Quartet, Yoshi's 1994 [disc 4]. 1996. Music & Arts: CD 849.

Anthony Braxton: piano
Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet
Joe Fonda: bass
Arthur Fuller: percussion

There are many aspects to Anthony Braxton, and his relative position to "traditional" jazz - which is at its most direct trajectory in his take on the hallowed standards - is a significant part of the larger brilliant output of one of this era's most impressive composer, thinker and practitioner. This particular manifestation is full of challenges, both to the traditional expectations of "straight ahead" jazz as well as to the ears with Braxton's piano-as-non-native-instrument technique. Yet I find it hard to leave this set alone given the sonic gems these found just beneath the rough exterior. This fourth disc may be the strongest of the set with long stretches of brilliant playing from the quartet that is marred slightly by some suspect production choices. The artificial fade-out at the end of "Body and Soul" and the off-mic sound of Marty Ehrlich going into "Just Friends" being the most unfortunate. In between these gaffs (and the heavy-handed piano solos) there is a wealth of outstanding, creative playing.

Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 3. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 17, 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 3 = Composition 352 - dedicated to the composer Sofia Gabaidulina
There is something beautiful about the sublimation of a large pool of creative improvisers toward a collective sonic fabric. With a combination of deeply thought structures built out of trance, pulse and a level social dynamic these "third species" Ghost Trance musics are hour-long beads of near-utopian brilliance. This take on Composition 352 in particular takes a meandering path through a vast musical territory with surprising transitions and textures around each temporal bend.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 2 - Symphony No. 3 in E Flat major (op. 55) "Eroica"]. Recorded in 1994. The International Music Company: 205297-305.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Guenther Herbig: conductor

Spending time with ears focused on the Beethoven symphonies is the music literature equivalent of reading Shakespeare. The broad forms and outlines are extremely familiar, yet the details remain vivid and startling when revisited. The "Eroica" symphony is perhaps the equivalent of re-reading Julius Caesar. The second movement in particular is perhaps one of Beethoven's best examples of formal development that hints at the early Romanticism yet to come.

Three Times After Now

After Now: Nothing you've heard before @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, March 8, 2008

Medium - Mark A. Lackey
Mark A. Lackey: voice

embodied - Mark A. Lackey
Duo Mare + boom box
Jee Young Rachel Choe: flute
Akiko Sumi: guitar

Sacred Words In Dead Languages - Mark A. Lackey
Catherine Wong: clarinet
Devin Adams: alto saxophone
Daniel Miller: trumpet
David DeDionisio: guitar
Iain Roush: guitar
Mark A. Lackey: electric guitar
Doug Perry: vibraphone

Accretion - Samuel Burt
Jamie Schneider: oboe
Sally Sarles: viola
Cameron Raecke: viola
Nathan Bontrager: cello

[im] possibilities - C. R. Kasprzyk
Shodekeh: human beatboxer
Jeremiah Baker: soprano saxophone
C.R. Kasprzyk: laptop

Staring At The Sun - Andrew Cole
pre-rendered 4-channel fixed media

Nearo - Andrew Cole
Kristin Bacchiocchi-Stewart: flute
Jamie Schneider: oboe
Marc Edwards: guitar
Sally Sarles: viola
Domenica Romagni: cello

Housed within Normal's Books and Records, the pre-concert atmosphere outside the Red Room was colored by live chamber ensembles working in some last-minute rehearsal in the odd spaces between book shelves and magazine racks. I was just thinking that the Normal's sound system was sounding much better than I'd remembered it before rounding the corner of the fiction stacks to find my pathway blocked by violists and guitarists. The heady, languid harmonies being a perfect compliment in a jungle of ideas one could easily imagine a Henry Brant spatial composition filling every corner of a bookstore with such music.

The third presentation of the After Now collective turned toward a more introspective set of works in sharp contrast to the more dramatic-oriented experience of their second outing. This was particularly true of the quiet spaces plumbed by Mark Lackey's Sacred Words In Dead Languages and Samuel Burt's Accretion. Lackey's use of muting of the guitars, the plunger mute on the trumpet and the manual operation of the revolving discs within the vibraphone's resonant tubes provided an acute unity to Sacred Words while Burt explored a consistent set of intervals and dynamic timbral shifts with sustained tones for Accretion.

In Medium, Mark Lackey delivered a text on the use of lab mice to test the possible link between cell phone frequencies and cancer as he performed against a delay of his own voice channeled through a low-fidelity chain of cell phones. The appropriation of carrier networks as performance instrument managed to avoid a sense of gimmick through a combination of brevity and well-rehearsed, almost casual delivery.

Mark Lackey's embodied and C.R. Kasprzyk's [im]possibilities each explored the insertion point of crafted beats of contemporary commercial musics within classical traditions with mixed results. In embodied the bursts of groove and accompaniment emanating from the boom box managed to graft an unusual thread into the compositional logic of the piece. With [im]possibilities the beat boxer, soprano saxophone and laptop coexisted within a temporal space with few nods toward cohesive design or perceptible interplay between parts.

If there is a singular aesthetic quality to the wide-ranging After Now collective of composers it is a creative drive to shuffle the deck of tradition to place technology, chamber music and present-day vernacular musics in the age of portable, downloadable genre-mashing sensibilities into a sonic space that has yet to be discovered. I look forward to hearing what hand is dealt in their fourth concert.

International Ornette Coleman Day 2008

Have a Harmolodic Day!

Check out this hour-long interview with Ornette. Coleman can be a challenging interview subject with his wide ranging into meta-physical musings and cagey - even strikingly Cage-esque - rhetorical style.

I'm particularly struck by his intuitive harmonic grasp that a mere 12 fixed tones simply is not enough or even an accurate representation of what can be expressed. His discussion of the "tonic" as something independent of key or tonality speaks volumes about his consistent intervallic logic that has produced so much astonishing music for more than a half-century.

The vaguely defined - and often divined - harmolodic theory of Ornette Coleman has been a source of speculation for decades now. Coleman's own slippery and spiritually laden language has almost become an integral part of this difficult to describe, difficult to pin down theory. His detractors have doubted its existence and claimed it to be a musical MacGuffin. But the music of that dynamic quartet of Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins clearly had it. And one can hear it in his Skies of America, in Song X, in Dancing in Your Head, Three Women and clear into the more recent Sound Grammar. When James "Blood" Ulmer adapted harmolodic theory into his own playing one can hear that same sense of intervallic construction and disciplined freedom. Ornette Coleman's proximity to truth makes it difficult for him to convey what he knows with mere words. But his music is clear and speaks brilliantly to those who listen and experience it.

In this same interview Coleman returns frequently to the subject of love. The idea of it, the feeling of it and the desire to be loved. It is fitting that an artistic soul so devoted to improvisation grounded in truth should find this single, universal human element so significant. These ears find love for the incredible music Ornette Coleman has recorded over his career. It appeals directly to the mind and holds an immediacy for the heart.

Happy Ornette Coleman Day.

Scale of the Day: E Octave divided into 2 Equal Parts 1% wide


The E Octave divided into 2 Equal Parts 1% wide Scale. Simple division with a stretched octave.


This scales marks the completion of another cycle. That's 21 complete cycles now for the "Scale of the Day." The 22nd cycle will begin with our first subtractive chromatic scale, feature an audio sample of the Octotonic-2 scale, our first Pythagorean Whole-tone in Mixolydian mode and a 5-limit tuning of the Ionian (aka "major") scale.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Triative divided into 2 Equal Parts


The E Triative divided into 2 Equal Parts Scale. The simplest of the simple divisions applied to the 3/1.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Square-root-of-2 divided into 2 Equal Parts - inversion


The E Square-root-of-2 divided into 2 Equal Parts - inversion - Scale. Like many equal tempered simple divisions, this scale is its own inversion.