Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Scale of the Day: C Octotonic-1 (2 - 1) mapped to the Triative


The C Octotonic-1 (2 - 1) mapped to the Triative Scale. The altered second degree makes for an interesting contour on this scale as it leaves a 158.50-cent interval on either side of the tonic.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Protégés of Nadia Boulanger Are Still With Us

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra @ The Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD
Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yan Pascal Tortelier: conductor

Richard Yardumian: Armenian Suite
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, op. 10
Yuja Wang: piano
Hector Berlioz: Symphony fantastique, op. 14

With a list of students that includes Quincy Jones, Philip Glass, Roy Harris, Aaron Copeland and Virgil Thomson the influence of composer and conductor Nadia Boulanger has enormous reach. Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier was also tutored in general music studies with Boulanger and her indelible bias could be clearly felt from the podium, from the selection of works on the program and even within the prose of the program notes provided at the concert.

The music of Richard Yardumian is exactly the aesthetic flavor that Nadia Boulanger would have championed given her well documented hostility toward atonal movements. The following passage from Janet E. Bedall's program notes neatly channels Boulanger's opinions:
"Because his music was rather conservative and tonally (or modally) oriented in a period when twelve-tone serialism was dominant, Yardumian never really caught on in the larger worlds of New York and Europe. But in our post-serial, neo-Romantic era, he seems ready for rediscovery."
Post-serial, definitely. But I'd argue that this current era is post-neo-Romantic as well. While the beautifully tonal music of Richard Yardumian, Benjamin Britten, Jean Sibelius and many others were under appreciated and arguably suppressed under the intolerant attitudes associated with the serialist movement, the "post-serial" and "neo-Romantic" movements suggest supplanting one dogma with another as overcompensation. The unprecedented plurality of musics in an age of downloads that opens up a world of sound that crosses all boundaries of genre, culture and time suggests that this is in fact a post-dogmatic era. One that exposes the trunk of classical music that grew from Bach to Beethoven to Ives as but a single branch - a niche - within a vast interlocking network of great music. It is a good niche, worthy of celebrating. Even the warhorses. But the contemporary ear understands that a single concert season from any orchestra is only a grain of sand within a vast repertoire. It is good to rediscover the music Richard Yardumian. But let's not stop with timid forays into the early twentieth century and discover music composed just 50, 20 or even 2 years ago.

The Symphony fantastique lives up to its name with its breathtaking, sprawling programmatic form and inventive orchestrations. Hector Berlioz allowed his intuition to override formal structure and realized an intensely creative work. He was particularly adept at contrasting passages of quiet, thin beauty with moments of full orchestral strength noise. Yan Pascal Tortelier was an energetic force at the podium as he coaxed the most from each extreme from this score. Toward the end of the final movement he even appeared to be weathering the forceful storms of the fantastique's dramatic conclusion.

Yuja Wang was impressive at the ivories for the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1. This early work is thick with virtuosic passages that show off Wang's considerable chops and blur of octave-grabbing fingers. Tortelier provided an excellent sense of balance between the soloist and symphony that allowed the musical ideas share the stage as an equal to the pianism on display.

Stranger than Friction

Jack Wright/Katsura Kan & TROCKENEIS @ The Carriage House, Baltimore, MD
Friday, April 25, 2008

Audrey Chen: electronics, voice, frictions
Catherine Pancake: dry ice, percussion
Dan Breen: electronics, tools, rake
Andy Hayleck: percussion, frictions
Paul Neidhardt: laptop, percussion

Jack Wright: saxophones
Katsura Kan: Butoh dance

What does dry ice sound like? The on stage visual qualities have been well plumbed, but the sonic potential rests squarely in the hands of Catherine Pancake, possibly the closest thing to a dry ice virtuoso to come along in any generation. Making music with extremes in temperatures necessitates a good set of oven mitts as she takes heated cymbals from a portable heating element and applies hot metal to a slab of dry ice. At times the sounds unleashed are startling in their loudness, a dynamic range controlled by the amount of pressure applied between parts. Pancake also explores the more subtle frictions of spoons and forks along the ice and fills out her sound set with hand held gongs and bowed cymbals.

The other members of Trockeneis delve further into the frictional soundscapes as the collective drone of acoustic tectonic plates evolved into a pair of long-form improvisations. Each performer bringing a slightly different instinct to the elemental qualities of objects rubbing against each other. It is a sound filled with subtle detail and a deliberately blank foreground.

The duet of movement and saxophone that followed managed to heighten the other-worldliness of the evening. The pale form of Katsura Kan nearly blended into the wall in the dim light as the intensity of his movements and stark expressiveness was complimented by the air passing through saxophone as exhaled by Jack Wright. The austere, heavily restrained release of this duo shifted focus on details often overlooked in collaborative performance. The meditative quality of movement and music offering a gentle invitation to open one's thoughts and ears.

Scale of the Day: C Pythagorean Octotonic-1 - Lydian Mode - mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The C Pythagorean Octotonic-1 - Lydian Mode - mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. A Pythagorean twist on the quarter-tones of this scale's equal-tempered counterpart.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scale of the Day: C Pythagorean Octotonic-1 - Ionian Mode


The C Pythagorean Octotonic-1 - Ionian Mode - Scale. The 4/3 perfect fourth is the solitary utonal member in a sea of otonal pitches. Having 1-utonal member is the definition of the Ionian Mode in this particular context.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Scale of the Day: B Octotonic-2 1% wide


The B Octotonic-2 1% wide Scale. A slightly stretched variation on the equal tempered octotonic.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Scale of the Day: B Octotonic-2 mapped to the Triative


The B Octotonic-2 mapped to the Triative Scale. Alternating intervals of 158.50-cents and 316.99-cents to fill the 1901.96-cent triative with eight tones.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Scale of the Day: B Octotonic-2 (1+1) mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The B Octotonic-2 (1+1) mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. A trio of quarter-tones are used to squeeze eight notes into the space of a 600-cent "tritone."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Brötzmann's State of the Alto = LOUD!

Peter Brötzmann/Han Bennink Duo @ An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, April 19, 2008

For all the forceful, aggressive energy that fuels a Peter Brötzmann and Han Bennink collaboration there is the duality of the necessary Dionysian release of such a kinetic sound against the Apollonian subtleties that spring from the ongoing dialogue that has passed between these improvising giants for decades. The reputation for "sonic terror" that precedes Peter Brötzmann gives short shift to the deft manner in which he navigates quiet, introspective territory while still maintaining his considerable intensity. The balance and range of territory explored by this pair carves a wide path of sound delivered in large slabs pouring from Brötzmann's alto and Bennink's drum kit.

Peter Brötzmann's roots as a painter are evident in his approach toward improvisation. The rich sheets of sound pouring from the tarogato, clarinet and saxophones splash against the canvas of time with a deliberate abandon. Leaving behind a music that is at once thoughtful and freed from overly intellectualized constraints.

Han Bennink's sense of whimsy and energetic approach toward percussive textures makes this duo sound complete in its relentless probing. Unwilling to be contained by the kit, Bennink resorts to ad hoc re-arrangements that allow him to focus on exploring the percussive potential of the room. Drum sticks along the edge of the hardwood floor and carpet takes on an expressive focus. The sound of passing sirens outside the venue are folded into the performance as each instinctively pauses and reacts to the sounding reality. These performers tap into a creative wave that unleashes massive tidal forces containing small, detailed parts within its wake. The currents within this music holds considerable gravity for these ears.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Octotonic-2

Audio of the E Flat Octotonic-2 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

See also:
E Flat Octotonic-2 notated
E Flat Octotonic-2 interval analysis

Friday, April 18, 2008

Scale of the Day: C Sharp Octotonic-2 (1+1)


The intervallic content of the C Sharp Octotonic-2 (1+1) Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Scale of the Day: B Pythagorean Octotonic-2 - Lydian Mode


The B Pythagorean Octotonic-2 - Lydian Mode - Scale. An all otonal, 3-limit realization of this diminished scale.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Some Andrew Hill and A Couple of Plus One Ensembles

Wayne Horvitz/4+1 Ensemble: From A Window. 2001. Disk Union/Avan: 080.

Wayne Horvitz: piano, prepared piano, hammond B-3, pump organ, synthesizers, toy piano
Eyvind Kang: violin, viola
Tucker Martine: live electronic processing, drum machine
Julian Priester: trombone
Reggie Watts: keyboards, vocals, live drum machine, piano
special guest -
Skerik: baritone saxophone

Understated. Brittle melodies, grooves that bubble to the surface with deceptive simplicity and hook-like qualities that linger on after the final track has played. This is a good example of the Wayne Horvitz arrangement technique and sound that runs within my own veins. Lurking just beneath the surface of these quiet, reserved pieces is some impressive improvisational talent. Julian Priester's trombone work in particular is a steady creative force within this ensemble.

Andrew Hill: A Beautiful Day. 2002. Palmetto Records: PM 2085.

Andrew Hill: piano
Scott Colley: bass
Nasheet Waits: drums
Aaron Stewart: tenor saxophone
John Savage: alto saxophone, flute
Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute
Greg Tardy: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
J.D. Parron: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Ron Horton: trumpet
Dave Ballou: trumpet
Laurie Frinck: trumpet
Bruce Staalens: trumpet
Charlie Gordon: trombone
Joe Fiedler: trombone
Mike Fahn: trombone
Jose D'Avila: tuba

A Beautiful Day. Beauty is one word for it. Sounds that vary in thickness and intensity, yet always in the service of musical ideas that allow plenty of room for the individual improvising talents to come through. A Beautiful Day is actually taken from three beautiful nights at New York's Birdland late in Andrew Hill's recording and composing career. The ensemble is world class and this recording documents just how fluid Hill's musical ideas have been over a span of decades. A Beautiful Day. Beautiful arrangements. Beautiful sound.

Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 5. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.

Recorded live: March 18, 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 5 = Composition 354 - dedicated to the composer Charles Wuorinen

Other than beginning and ending within a span of approximately an hour, these ghost trance pieces seem to suspend time - or at least warp the passage of minutes into a smear of pulse and carefully interwoven group improvisation. At a cross roads of jazz history, avant garde traditions from both sides of the Atlantic and ritualistic traditions that speaks to both transcendence and the human condition Anthony Braxton explores an elastic territory that redefines what large ensemble improvisation can be. The guitar textures of Mary Halvorson that rise to the surface of this sound are a startling and welcome thread within this sonic fabric. One of many bright shades found upon this substantial canvas.

Scale of the Day: C Chromatic mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The C Chromatic mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. A blur of 50-cent quarter-tones filling in a 600-cent "tritone."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scale of the Day: C Sharp Chromatic


The intervallic content of the C Sharp Chromatic Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Interval of the Day: Major Sixth


The equal tempered major sixth.

I like the phrase "interval of the day." The day itself is its own interval of time, a slice measured out between sleeping. "Scale of the day" has its own connotation of the 24-hour cycle as it's own sense of time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Lydian no 5


The G Lydian no 5 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Thinking, Dancing, Dreaming

Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar. 2006. Sound Grammar: SG 11593.

Ornette Coleman: saxophone, violin, trumpet
Denardo Coleman: drums, percussion
Gregory Cohen: bass
Tony Falanga: bass

Ornette Coleman remains the creative force he's always been. The shape of jazz past, present and things yet to come. He's honed his harmolodic instincts into a molten sound that takes on resounding hues with the quartet assembled for this date. The arco bass, pizzicato bass and ragged drumming of Denardo forms an ideal rhythm section for melodic turns of breath taking angularity. At its core, this music is about bringing players together and drawing out from within. And when it works, which it does completely on this recording, it makes for a sound that is intensely human and at ease within its own shifting restlessness.

Tom Ze: Fabrication Defect: Com Defeito De Fabricacao. 1998. Luka Bop, Inc/Warner Bros.: 946953-2.

Tom Ze: lead vocals, acoustic guitar, bochexaxado (cheek xaxado), rubber balloon on tooth
Dino Barioni: guitar
Marcos Di Santis: trombone
Gilberto Assis: bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin, vocals, rabe ca (Hill Billy violin), baixolao
Jarbas Mariz: percussion, 12-string guitar, mandolin, bottles, vocals
Marco Prado: bongo, 10-string guitar
Lauro Lellis: drums
Cristina Carneiro: vocal, keyboards, bottles
Luanda: vocals
Nilza Maria: vocals
+ many guest musicians

Where has this exquisite concept album been these past ten years and why isn't it a wide spread obsession? The "first world" is put on notice by the "third world" that the growing population outside our comfortable borders will continue to think, dance and dream. To quote from Ze: "In the eyes of the first world, we in the third world who think these things, and who explore our reality on the planet, are like 'androids' who are essentially defective. To have ideas, to compose, for instance, is to dare. In the dawn of history, the idea of gathering vegetable fibers and inventing the art of weaving took great courage. To think will always be considered an effrontery." The cultural insularity that this music and these ideas puncture makes Fabrication Defect a potent listening experience that speaks with authority on how the quality of arrangements and inspired ideas leads toward expressions of enormous cultural and human value. It rocks, it swings and it adds new wrinkles to the brain. It confronts the insipid marketing label of "world music" and its segregated inclusiveness and boldly mocks the imaginary safety of thinking, dancing and dreaming in any geography or socio-economic reality.

Giacinto Scelsi: Natura Renovatur. 2006. ECM: 1963.

Francis-Marie Uitti: solo cello
Munchener Kammerorchester
Muriel Cantoreggi, Max Peter Meis, Romuald Kozik, Clara Baek, Michaela Buchholz, Viktor Konjaev, Bernhard Jestl, Mary Mader: violins
Kelvin Hawthorne, Nancy Sullivan, Stefan Berg, Aidan Pendleton: violas
Peter Bachmann, Michael Weiss, Benedikt Jira, Claudia Weiss: cellos
Veronika Papai: bass
Christoph Poppen: conductor

Ohoi - for 16 strings (1966)
Ave Maria - for solo cello (1970)
Anagamin - for 11 strings (1965)
Ygghur - for solo cello (1961)
Natura renovatur - for 11 strings (1967)
Alleluja - for solo cello (1970)

Scelsi's reclusive intensity has particular resonance with his compositions for strings. The solo cello works - especially Ygghur written and dedicated specifically for Frances-Marie Uitti - are the primary attraction on this disc as the quiet solitude envelopes the single performer. The ensemble pieces are incredible compositions, offering a glimpse into the eccentric meditations of the Italian Barron. The conceptual attractiveness of the textures and forms have unusual gravity. But once Uitti's bow starts tracing the outline of Scelsi's Latin Prayers the exceptional access this performer had with this composer takes on a tangible quality that makes this listening experience something else.

Chen Music

Audrey Chen/Frederic Blondy @ An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
April 11, 2008

Audrey Chen: cello, voice, electronics
Frederic Blondy: piano

One of Baltimore's great sonic treasures is the improvised textures of Audrey Chen. At the concluding performance of an American tour with French pianist Frederic Blondy this duo brought a decidedly brooding, long-form performance to An Die Musik that rippled with hyper-extended detail.

Frederic Blondy's technique skirts along a territory between prepared and "unprepared" piano. With a congregation of chop sticks muting the high strings of the instrument and an instinct for finding the nodal points along the vibrations of the low strings with his fingers Blondy wove a timbral range from the piano into the intense drones and patterns coming from Chen's characteristic intensity. The collaborative sound unfolded along natural contours that suggested attentive meditation. Through this music it was possible to hear the ears of its performers.

Scale of the Day: F 7, 3, Square-root-of-2 Construct #1, Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool


The F 7, 3, Square-root-of-2 Construct #1, Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool - Scale. Spartan, with tight intervals leading by ascension into the tonic.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Square-root-of-2 subdivided: 2 equal [NULL/2 equal]


The E Square-root-of-2 subdivided: 2 equal [NULL/2 equal] Scale. The E diminished triad is again present in this scale, but this time that "tritone" is now the interval of harmonic equivalence. This means that the E natural and B flat are regarded as the same pitch-class in a true, square-root-of-2-space harmonic context.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Octave Subdivided: 2 equal [NULL, 2 equal] - inversion


The E Octave subdivided: 2 equal [NULL/2 equal] - Inversion - Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. This is essentially an equal tempered diminished triad on E.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Ears on the Reeds

Joe Lovano Ensemble: Streams of Expression. 2006. Blue Note Records: 946 3 41092 2.

Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, aulochrome
Gunther Schuller: conductor, arranger
Tim Hagans: trumpet
Barry Ries: trumpet
Larry Farrell: trombone
Steve Slagle: alto saxophone, flute
George Garzone: tenor saxophone
Ralph Lalama: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone
John Hicks: piano
Dennis Irwin: bass
Lewis Nash: drums
Charles Russo: clarinet, bass clarinet
Michael Parloff: flute
James Weidman: piano

Gunther Schuller is a rare talent who can directly reference the miraculous sound of the collaboration between Miles Davis and Gil Evans and produce an aural image thick with homage that still crackles with all the vitality and contemporary verve that made this body of music so electric more than a half century ago. He does more than emulate the sound of those brilliant Evans arrangements, he caresses an evolutionary sheen that reveals just how rich a large ensemble sound still is. With Joe Lovano as the focal point of these performances - and as composer for the works surrounding the Birth of the Cool Suite - Streams of Expression presents an experience not unlike encoutering Miles Ahead or Sketches of Spain for the first time. Lovano has a knack for drawing upon deep jazz roots and delivering the sound of a living history. There is no stench of conservative revivalism in this music. These are great arrangements combined with passionate performances that are more than worthy of any Blue Note recording of any era.

Anthony Braxton Sextet: (Victoriaville) 2005. 2005. Victo: cd098.

Anthony Braxton: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone
Taylor Ho Bynum: trumpet
Jay Rozen: tuba, electronics
Jessica Pavone: violin
Chris Dahlgren: bass
Aaron Siegel: drums, percussion, vibraphone

Musicologists will have an abundance of riches to sort through when studying the music of Anthony Braxton. The overwhelming substance of his theoretical underpinnings is backed up by an expansive recorded catalogue that could take several lifetimes to fully absorb. Somewhere in that ocean of Braxtonian bliss is this sampling of "second species ghost trance music" as performed by this sextet of brilliant improvisers. The near-meditative quality of this long-form composition ripples with the intense layering and sensitive contributions from the members of this group.

Ellery Eskelin: Vanishing Point. 2000. Hat Hut: hatOLOGY 577.

Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone
Mat Maneri: viola
Erik Friedlander: cello
Mark Dresser
: bass
Matt Moran: vibraphone

This could almost be thought of as Eskelin's "Tenor and strings (with vibraphone)" with the way this sound contrasts against the aural image of a lone reeds man soaring against a "lush" bed of strings. The reality of this recording is that this is a quintet of equals where no one plays "second fiddle." The sonic interaction between players and the complete spontaneity of these free improvisations is a showcase of real-time composition from five of New York's finest creative talents. The low to mid-range territory of this instrumentation is never clouded as the ears applied to these performances keeps the thickness of this sound well in check with startling contrasts and an intuitive grasp of form.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian no 5 mapped to the 3/2


The E Flat Ionian no 5 mapped to the 3/2 Scale. No "fifth," but the entire scale is compressed to fit within the 3/2 just perfect fifth.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian minor 2 no 5 mapped to the Triative


The E Flat Ionian minor 2 no 5 mapped to the Triative Scale. Somewhere between alteration, subtraction and stretching out into the 3/1 space this ends up sounding radically different from the standard "major" scale it is based upon.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Pythagorean Ionian no 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The E Flat Pythagorean Ionian no 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. This is a fine-tuning on a "quarter-tone" scale with a subtractive gap leaving 6 member pitches of a span of a 600-cent "tritone."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian augmented 2 no 5


The E Flat Ionian augmented 2 no 5 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1 - Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool


The G Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1 - Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool - Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. The "reflection" is severely simple in this example as 600-cents is one half of 1200-cents and the reflected interval of 300-cents is one half of 600-cents.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Scale of the Day: F Sharp Mixolydian no 4 1% wide


The F Sharp Mixolydian no 4 1% wide Scale. Stretched octave. Stretched 303-cent gap where the fourth used to be.