Thursday, July 31, 2008

Scale of the Day: D Chromatic no 1


The D Chromatic no 1 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Lydian perfect 5 & augmented 5


The E Flat Lydian perfect 5 & augmented 5 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scale of the Day: A Lydian


The A Lydian Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

This completes another cycle of scales for the "Scale of the Day" sequence. The next cycle begins with an additive Lydian. It will also feature the first audio sample of the Chromatic Scale and a 5-limit tuning of the Mixolydian Scale.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Black Earth in Velvet

Nicole Mitchell/Black Earth Ensemble @ The Velvet Lounge, Chicago, IL
July 26, 2008

Nicole Mitchell: flute, voice
David Boykin: tenor saxophone, percussion
Renee Baker: violin, viola, percussion
Mankwe Ndosi: voice, dance
Marcus Evans: drums
Avreeayl Ra: percussion
(unknown, I missed the name): bass

A hush gently fell upon the Velvet Lounge as Nicole Mitchell and the members of her Black Earth Ensemble joined hands for a pre-performance meditation circle.  The deliberate, silent gesture signaled the elevated plane that this group draws upon.

With his first solo of the evening, David Boykin established himself as a centered, creative force to be reckoned with.  Beginning with long, sustained tones as he crafted a well formed, intense improvisation with a tone ranging from a soft attack that nearly matches Nicole Mitchell's flute sound to a growling, raspy tenor.  Over the course of the evening Boykin tapped into a reservoir of inspired playing that calmly asserted a compelling and exciting presence in the jazz tradition that is new to these ears.  

David Boykin was hardly an exception in the Black Earth Ensemble.  Renee Baker offered soul drenched prayers on the violin and viola as she built upward with powerful verve.  And as band leader and composer, Nicole Mitchell was not outdone by her band mates in the creative expression department.  Her unusual vocalization technique combined with the blur of notes from her flute was polished and well adapted for the different moods of her music.  Solos from the members of the rhythm section were also operating from the same plane of soul-filled humanity. 

Added to this sound was the rich, earthy vocals of Mankwe Ndosi.  With "Afrika Rising," a tune that serves as the Black Earth Ensemble anthem, one could feel the gravity of deep jazz tradition and African heritage pulsating in the drums, percussion and chant.  This connection was ever present even as the compositions ranged from meditative calm to frenetic exaltation.  

Before and between sets Nicole Mitchell was constantly in motion.  Dashing off set lists, scribbling out a transposed part, going over arrangement details with individual members of the band or even cheerfully selling her own CDs with a down to earth approachability and a calm smile.  Even within this music, she is generous and persistently determined toward each vibration offered up as a prayer of elevated creativity.  This dedication to craft and substance hits he soul as surely as any Mingus experience.  Nicole Mitchell has developed an ensemble and a sound that is well worth checking out and savoring as an exciting evolution of the jazz tradition.

Fear of a Flat Planet

Fareed Haque and Flat Planet Band @ The Green Mill, Chicago, IL
July 25, 2008

Fareed Haque: guitars
Willerm Delisfort: keyboards
Alex Austin: bass
Subrata Bhattacharya: tabla
Ernie Adams: drums

The Green Mill has a long, colorful history spanning the days when Al Jolsen headlined there, its days as a mobster hangout (Al Capone's henchman "Machinegun" Jack McGurn was once a stakeholder), its days as a speakeasy to its days when Frank Sinatra patronized the establishment.  

With its lovingly restored art deco interior, today's visitor of The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is met outside the front door by Al the bouncer.  After collecting the evening's cover, Al makes sure cell phones are turned off and every patron understands that talking ceases once the music starts.  

On this particular occasion, the silenced audience was treated to the phenomenal chops and creative fusion of Fareed Haque's Flat Planet Band.  The attentive silence allowed the funky, east-meets-west arrangements to wash over with rehearsed polish.  The intertwined rhythms of Subrata Bhattacharya's tablas with Ernie Adam's battery of drums provided a sturdy architecture for Haque's deft, melodically focused compositions.  With spare use of effects pedals to shape and alter the harmonic timbre of his hollow body electric guitar, Haque brought an ear for tone to compliment his creative arrangements and rock solid sense of time.  

Early in the first set, Fareed's young son worked his way to the front of the room and expressed a joy and pride this music inspires.  "That's my dad!" followed by spontaneous dance with a sense of time almost as solid as found on stage.  "He's really good!"  Yes he is.  The heady mix of world influences with layers of high standards of musicianship manages to be as direct as the familial enthusiasm so purely expressed.

Scale of the Day: E Octave Subdivided: 2 equal [2 equal/2 equal] 1% wide


The E Octave subdivided: 2 equal [2 equal/2 equal] 1% wide Scale. In practice, an equal tempered full diminished chord with intervals expanded to fit a stretched octave.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Triative subdivided: 2 equal [2 equal/2 equal]


The E Triative subdivided: 2 equal [2 equal/ 2 equal] Scale. In practice, this is the same as dividing the triative into four equal parts.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 9

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 9

The final installment in a series of improvisations using the tuning system from the first movement of Salt Tea.  The complete collection can be found here.

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


The E Square-root-of-2 subdivided: 2 equal [2 equal/2 equal] - inversion - Scale. Like most equal divisions of an interval, the inversion of this scale is identical to its non-inverted form.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Octave Subdivided: 2 just [2 just/2 just]


The E Octave Subdivided: 2 just [2 just/2 just] Scale. Take the octave, divide it into two just parts (that gives you the 3/2 just perfect fifth). Then divide the intervals on either side into two just parts. This gives you the 5/4 major third (to divide the 3/2 between the root and fifth) and the 7/4 minor seventh (the 7/6 of the 4/3 interval size found between the fifth and the octave). This scale happens to line up with the 4:5:6:7:8 of the overtone series - a supremely consonant seven chord.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Get Your Hybrid Groove On

Hybrid Groove Project @ Metro Gallery, Baltimore, MD
Sunday, July 20, 2008

Brian Sacawa: saxophones
DJ Dubble8: turntables, electronics

The Hybrid Groove Project brought its unlikely and deeply thought out pairing of modern composed music with a hip hop sense of the re-mix to the clean, modern lines of the bar-meets-art-gallery of the Metro for a luminous set of genre and pretense shattering music.  Fresh off the sensation of their "new music dis song" dropped onto the interwebs courtesy of Sounds Like Now HGP set to the work of bringing its own beef to the streets of Bmore.  

Philip Glass's Music in the Shape of a Square takes on new shapes as the raw materials of the classic minimalist work are refracted through the prismatic imaginings of two turntables and a saxophone.  The addition of a digital delay with the saxophone added a color to this sound that was promising - and reminiscent of Terry Riley's tape-delay saxophone marathon performances.  

As the set progressed, a relaxed, loose feel began to take hold as Sacawa and Spangler dug deeper into the grooves they crafted.  The long take on Spangler's Pastlife Laptops and Attic Instruments - a piece familiar to these ears - was the strongest interpretation I've heard.  There was an audible comfort level achieved with this performance that hints at where this Hybrid direction can go when the ideas and convictions of heady beats and compositions fall into place.

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: After Now

After Now: Nothing You've Heard Before @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

Five by Andrew Cole

Jamie Schneider: oboe
Matthew Taylor: saxophone
Cameron Raecke: viola
Nathan Bontrager: cello

Seven Sketches of Beginning by Mark A. Lackey

Jennifer Holbrook: soprano
Mark Edwards: guitar

Manifestation by Samuel Burt

Ariana Lamon-Anderson: clarinet
Justin Nurin: trumpet
Neil Feather: guitaint
Paul Neidhardt: percussion, friction
Domenica Romagni: cello

With the three pieces on this program the After Now collective offered its clearest vision of what "nothing you've heard before" sounds like as composers assemble the disparate components and local resources in the realization of a creative voice.  This was most effectively realized by Samuel Burt in Manifestation as he made use of an "audio score" to unify a mixed ensemble of players from different traditions.  Players wore headphones and responded to what they heard as the sounds of Neil Feather's invented instrument, Paul Neidhardt's friction-centric percussion blended with the more "classically-inclined" wind and string players.  Even as the quality of this performance hinged heavily upon the ear-hand coordination of the performers the overall form and sound bore many of the characteristic ideas and humor of Samuel Burt.

With Five Andrew Cole realized the mileage and sonic horizons that open up within an aesthetic of reduced materials.  A handful of notes and a sense of stasis allowed the texture to blossom organically.  A direction that almost anticipates his move to the remote wilds of Wisconsin later this year.

With Seven Sketches of Beginning Mark A. Lackey turned inward toward his faith to realize the challenge of setting a wordless setting about the creation for voice and guitar.  (Two of the most challenging instruments to write for, in my opinion).  Holbrook and Edwards clearly had a feel for both the subject and the musicality of this writing.  

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: Audrey Chen and Takuro Mizuta Lippit

Audrey Chen and Takuro Mizuta Lippit (DJ Sniff) @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

Audrey Chen: cello, voice, devices
Takuro Mizuta Lippit: turntables, electronics

Two passionate improvisers that bring the noise.  A rich, intoxicating noise slathered into every sonic crevice with gleeful abandon with ears for color and intensity.  

Audrey Chen's sonic vocabulary is by now a familiar part of the Baltimore experimental music landscape.  As familiar as her technique, extended technique and forceful lungs are, it's her collaborative prowess with different players that is so impressive as she matches and drives the intensity of any spontaneous creation.  

With this set she was well paired with Amsterdam-based turntablist DJ Sniff.  The balance between these two souls with fluctuating volume levels and focused manipulation of unstable sounds made for a dense texture of detailed sound.  The mesh of acoustic and electronic timbres ground into a singular sensibility.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 2% wide


The E Flat Ionian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 2% wide Scale.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: The Peabody Consort

The Peabody Consort @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

In a short set of Renaissance music for a quartet of string instruments (treble and bass viol de gamba, lute and pre-nineteenth century guitar) and voice the Peabody Consort gave polished performances of melodic, and often harmonically cyclical early works.  The vocalist was particularly stunning with her nearly improbable dead-on intonation.  The informal introductions of these pieces stood in sharp contrast to the rehearsed precision of the music itself.  The largely Italian and English works selected for this set suggests a wealth of varied pieces to be discovered from this era.  The degree of polish and attention to musical nuance offered by the Peabody Consort does enormous justice to these works that only encourages curiosity for both the instruments and compositions of this period.

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: The Bow Legged Gorilla

The Bow Legged Gorilla @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

Bringing an urban slant to the one-man band, the Bow Legged Gorilla brings his considerable beatboxing chops into a mix that includes acoustic guitar, foot operated accordion, singing and song writing.  The interplay of words and vocal percussion adds a dimension to his groove-laden sound that allows occasional glimpses of poetry to emerge between the cracks.  The restless creative energy keeps things fresh as he stubbornly avoids folding the beats or the guitar parts into a supporting role.  Such restlessness occasionally lapsed into unfocused playing, but the hint of focus behind this sound showed enormous promise as the Gorilla hits his stride.  This was a good set that felt like an early glimpse of an emerging phenomenon.

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: Michael Formanek Ensemble

Michael Formanek Ensemble @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

Michael Formanek: bass
John Dierker: reeds
Dave Ballou: trumpet
Marc Redman: drums
Marc Miller: guitar

Billed as "post-jazz improvised music," Michael Formanek merged the always excellent Microkingdom and 3081 groups for an expanded ensemble free improvisation tinged interpretation of a one page score.  The unifying conceptual underpinnings leaving plenty of interpretive space for fluid duos and trios to form between these creative players.  I have yet to encounter a Michael Formanek experience - live or recorded - that disappoints.  Often, his efforts are at the opposite extreme.  This performance was no exception.  Fluid, fluctuating and mature improvisation in the service of a larger sonic canvas that comes off as more than the mere sum of these impressive performers.  It's a brave post-jazz world unfolding before these ears and they are left thirsty for more.

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 7

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 7

The latest installment in a series of improvisations featuring the tuning system from the first movement of Salt Tea.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian diminished 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 1% wide


The E Flat Ionian diminished 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 1% wide Scale. Diminished, squeezed into one half the intervallic space (equal temperamentally speaking) and stretched outward just a touch.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: Ric Royer

Ric Royer @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

Ric Royer: story teller, medium
Bonnie Jones: devices

+ others

With an impressive sense of theatre and one of the more humorous pretenses for a freak-out - one that lulls the unsuspecting audience into an acceptance of deliberate craziness - Ric Royer took on the role of a medium as he led a performance/seance that twisted together the odd forces of the supernatural with primal, experimental expression.   Wearing a mask, and not saying a word, Bonnie Jones' array of dissembled guitar pedals became a machine for collecting and communicating with souls from beyond the veil.  Ric Royer began with a reading of a ghost story to set the tone for the performance.  He then sought to channel a writer from the beyond so that he might transmit what they have to say.  Royer claimed to be tapping into the spirit of Cormac McCarthy.  The fact that McCarthy is still alive adding to the absurdity.  With the help of two "volunteers" from the audience Royer wailed and screamed as he scribbled along a long roll of paper.  The "volunteers" offered their own interpretation of the scribbles in the form of various theatrics.  The streaming roll of paper was eventually streamed through the audience so that they might glimpse this amazing story being seanced into existence.

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: Thank You

Thank You @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

Jeffrey McGrath

Michael Bouyaucas

Elke Wardlaw

The power noise trio of Thank You offered a groove-driven burst of kinetic release with odd touches and an ear for milking textural juice from the loud part of the sonic spectrum.  The result was rarely assaultive as the bed of anchoring drum beats holding together the multi-layered world of guitars, keyboards and voice was strangely pleasant in its details.  With a sound that was refreshingly unhinged from even a passing nod to song form this trio paints surrealist landscapes built outward from the raw sonic energy of post-punk detritus. 

Exotic Hypnotic 2008: Susan Alcorn

Susan Alcorn @ University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Part of the Exotic Hypnotic series - in conjunction with Artscape.

Susan Alcorn: pedal steel guitar

(photo credit: Alice Faye Love)

Susan Alcorn's extended technique and expanded vocabulary for the pedal steel guitar makes for an engaging listen as she roams through a territory of linear, melodic spaces punctuated by detours into joyful bursts of micro-noises through a wealth of timbres unique to this instrument.  The fretless intonation combined with a surprising volume of sound resulting from minimal physical movements led to a sound somewhere between Nashville and the sunken city of Atlantis.  The extended techniques were often extreme in their subtlety and surprising when gently coaxed into the foreground of the soundscape.  With a refined sense of pacing and formal development, this set-long improvisation made for an outstanding invocation to a day rich with experimental expression.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian 3% narrow


The E Flat Ionian 3% narrow Scale. An equal tempered "major" scale with a bit of intervallic compression.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 6

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 6

Continuing with another installment of improvisations on the tuning system used in the first movement of Salt Tea.


This has been a music rich weekend. Stay tuned while I get my thoughts together about the rich influx of live music around Baltimore this past weekend...

E Flat Ionian diminished 5 2% narrow


The E Flat Ionian diminished 5 2% narrow Scale. Featuring the sweet dissonance of the 24-cent flat octave as the interval of "harmonic equivalence."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 5

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 5

The fifth installment in a series of improvisations featuring the scale used in the first movement of Salt Tea. This particular improvisation is short, with the idea of focusing the ear on a small element of this harmonic pallet.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian 4% wide


The E Flat Ionian 4% wide Scale. An equal tempered "major" scale with enough extra width to pick up almost a full quarter-tone per octave.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian diminished 5 3% wide


The E Flat Ionian diminished 5 3% wide Scale. The push-pull aesthetic of the diminished fifth against the stretched interval space appeals to a sense of balance.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 4

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 4

Continuing with a series of improvisations using the tuning system used in the first movement of Salt Tea. The scored first movement from that work sounds completely unlike these piano samples plus effects chain performances offered here. There's a lot of potential in this octave-less harmonic system.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Pythagorean Ionian 2% wide


The E Flat Pythagorean Ionian 2% wide Scale. The otonal intervals grow increasingly wider under the additional 2% width, while the lone utonal perfect fourth is a modest +8.01 cents above the equal tempered version of itself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian augmented 5 1% wide


The E Flat Ionian augmented 5 1% wide Scale. Augmented fifth, augmented triad, stretched octave. Everything pulls outward with this scale.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 3

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 3

The third installment on a continuing series of improvisations using the intonation scheme from the first movement of my Salt Tea project.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian mapped to the Cube-root-of-2-squared


The E Flat Ionian mapped to the Cube-root-of-2-squared Scale. The equal tempered "major" scale packed into an equal tempered minor sixth.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bringing the Bisbee Deportation to the Red Room

Shelly Blake-Plock @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shelly Blake-Plock: guitars, voice, radical
John Dierker: bass clarinet
Amanda Vickers: clarinet
Dick Seabrook: guitar, autoharp

In 1917, more than 1,300 striking miners were rounded up, kidnapped from Bisbee, Arizona by vigilantes representing the mine owners and deported out of state to Hermanas, New Mexico. The United States v. Wheeler decision of the Supreme Court that followed in 1920 determined that the freedom of movement of U.S. citizens was not constitutionally protected. This became the precedent applied toward the internment of Japanese-Americans during the second world war.

With blindfolds on, Shelly Blake-Plock, John Dierker and Amanda Vickers explored restricted freedom of movement with a sensory deprived approach toward free improvisation. As an experiment, I experienced this music with the willful decision to close my own eyes to occupy the same head-space as the performers.

This was followed by some arrangements of Union songs from the era, and a peculiarly effective "audience participation" piece set as accompaniment to an archival home movie documenting one Japanese-American family's internment in Topaz, Utah.

The intermingling of free improvisation with folk tunes and audience participation continued into the second set, culminating in a free improvisation take on a game of musical chairs that added a new performer from the audience each time someone was left without a chair. The tension of getting a group of free improvisers to "stop" playing growing more tenuous as the number of players grew.

The mix of labor history and its associated politics, free improvisation, folk song and social participation achieved a remarkable balance of reverent whimsy. Proving that deep ideas and serious intent can also be fun and unpretentious. Shelly Blake-Plock flashed an unassuming, comfortable stage presence not often found at the Red Room. And as he astutely observed, he also brought the most complete set of "songs" ever performed in that space. It was his sense of temporal proportions (keeping things short) and responsive improvisational flair that ultimately led to a compelling collection of disparate impulses.

HurdAudio Rotation: Songs of Liberty and Bohemians

Terry Riley & Michael McClure: I Like Your Eyes Liberty. 2004. Sri Moonshine: 002.

Terry Riley: music
Michael McClure: poetry

The colorful rantings and mix of verbal words and noises of Michael McClure's poetry reading strike the ears like a lunatic banging on the walls of the asylum. Terry Riley's improvised responsiveness to this poetry transforms the experience from insanity to a charming lunacy. Rich with so many of the qualities that make Terry Riley's music compelling, this one takes on the twin demons of words and collaboration with mixed results. The ears are both drawn in and put off at the same time. The poetry is good. The music is inviting. In the end it feels more like a curiosity than anything else.

Charlie Haden: The Ballad of the Fallen. 1982. ECM: 1248 811 546-2.

Charlie Haden: bass
Carla Bley: arrangements, piano, glockenspiel
Don Cherry: pocket trumpet
Sharon Freeman: french horn
Mick Goodrick: guitar
Jack Jeffers: tuba
Michael Mantler: trumpet
Paul Motion: drums, percussion
Jim Pepper: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Dewey Redman: tenor saxophone
Steve Slagle: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, flute
Gary Valente: trombone

Carla Bley arrangements. An inspiring humanitarian message. Music of defiance and hope. These Liberation Music Orchestra recordings bring the ears to a deeper understanding of love and hope through a veil of tears. One of the great jazz recordings of all time. But what Haden/Bley collaboration isn't? The short arrangement of "The People United Will Never Be Defeated" is incredible and the contributions of each one of these players adds up to a rare level of inspired.

Art Blakey/The Jazz Messengers: The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia Volume 1 & 2. 1955 (Rudy Van Gelder edition released in 2001). Blue Note Records: 7243 5 32148 2 1 & 7243 5 3249 2 0.

Art Blakey: drums
Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone
Horace Silver: piano
Doug Watkins: bass

Ideal for those who need a little bop with their Sunday morning coffee. For monophonic source tapes these disc sound amazing. From a era when covering show tunes was neither an ironic gesture or an obligation to the standards repertoire, these wonderful Kenny Dorham arrangements are drenched within the deep, soul-filled wells that show off the vibrancy and life these tunes had before they were embalmed by generations long since removed from the days when Cole Porter was a contemporary pop icon. It's still possible to play great performances of the standards, but the conservative practice of treating them as museum relics rarely attains the gritty panache achieved at Cafe Bohemia in 1955 by these cats. The irresistible gravity of the feeling these players bring makes Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers an enduring fascination with these ears. Then there's that phenomenal presence of Horace Silver at the keys turning in great solo after great solo on the same stage with the great Hank Mobley.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian diminished 5 mapped to the Cube-root-of-2


The E Flat Ionian diminished 5 mapped to the Cube-root-of-2 Scale. I find it interesting how the "augmented second" that opens up between the diminished fifth and major sixth translates into the adjacent equal tempered "major second" and "minor third" intervals when the scale is compacted down into an equal tempered major third.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 2

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 2

Here is the second installment of a set of improvisations using the Salt Tea scale from the first movement. These are tuned piano samples that are then fed through an effects chain.

E Flat Pythagorean Ionian mapped to the 3/2


The E Flat Pythagorean Ionian mapped to the 3/2 Scale. A scale built with just fourths and just fifths squeezed into the space of a just fifth.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian augmented 5 mapped to the Triative


The E Flat Ionian augmented 5 mapped to the Triative Scale. Note the interesting gap of 475.49-cents between the fourth and fifth degree as a contrast to the 158.49-cent gap between the third and fourth.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 1

Salt Tea Scale 1 - Improvisation 1

This a taste of something I've been working on lately. I have a composition called Salt Tea that uses a different tuning for each movement. While working on an alternate arrangement of the first movement, "Hot Snow," I tuned a set of Bösendorfer piano samples and started playing around with some effects. Have a listen.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Pythagorean Ionian diminished 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The Pythagorean Ionian diminished 5 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. Take a 3-limit "major" scale, alter the fifth and cut all the intervals in half.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Flat 5, 3 Ionian


The E Flat 5, 3 Ionian Scale. With its pristine 5/4 just major third, the profoundly consonant 4/5/6 just major triad at root position, and the 4/3 just perfect fourth as its only utonal member this 5-limit Ionian scale is possibly the ideal tuning of the classical "major" scale. A substantially significant scale and a good place to start exploring the sound of just intonation.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Scale of the Day: G Cube-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1 - in Square-root-of-2-space - Lydian Mode


The G Cube-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1 - in Square-root-of-2-space - Lydian Mode - Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Scale of the Day: E Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1, Lydian Mode


The intervallic content of the E Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1, Lydian Mode - Scale. The intervallic content is binary in this particular 2-note scale. Consisting of only the interval of harmonic equivalence (the unison/octave) and the 600-cent "tritone."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Commingling Creative Forces

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets, volume VII. Recorded in 1986/1985. Delos: DE 3037.

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

String Quartet in C Minor, Op 18, No. 4
String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132

Juxtaposing the early Beethoven against the late Beethoven like this is like a game of Hadyn seek. The Opus 18 offering a masterful take on the late Classical aesthetic as learned and absorbed from Beethoven's teacher Joseph Hadyn. The Opus 132 then offers a five-movement lesson in the early Romantic aesthetic of searching for expressive results from Beethoven's mature sensibilities as he allows his ideas and variations plenty of room to stretch out. Not only a glimpse of the Romantic Era just being ushered in by the great master, but in the long "Molto Adagio" movement one can catch an aural glimpse of the musical textures that would form in Beethoven's wake.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost (box set) [disc 6]. 2004. Revenant Records: RVN 213.

Albert Ayler Quintet - June 30/July 1, 1967 @ Freebody Park, Newport, Rhode Island
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, vocals
Don Ayler: trumpet
Michel Samson: violin
Bill Folwell: bass
Milford Graves: drums

Albert Ayler Quartet - July 21, 1967 @ John Coltrane's funeral, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, New York City
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, vocals
Don Ayler: trumpet
Richard Davis: bass
Milford Graves: drums

Pharoah Sanders Ensemble - January 21, 1968 @ Renaissance Ballroom, New York City
Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone
Chris Capers: trumpet
unknown: alto saxophone
Alber Ayler: tenor saxophone
unknown: tenor saxophone
Dave Burrell: piano
Sirone: bass
Roger Blank: drums

Albert Ayler studio sessions - late August, 1968, New York City
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, vocals, solo recitation
Call Cobbs: piano, rocksichord
Bill Folwell: electric bass
Bernard Purdie: drums
Mary Parks: vocals, tambourine
Vivian Bostic: vocals

Disc 6 from the Holy Ghost collection is a juxtaposition of odds and ends from Ayler's all too brief career. The quintet from the summer of 1967 in Freebody Park is burning with every vitality that makes Ayler's music and performances so intoxicating. The layer of Michel Samson on violin is particularly engaging and the production values for this incredible set is a gift to Ayler fans. The cavernous sounds of the quartet performance at John Coltrane's funeral does little to obscure the genuine sense of love and loss expressed for the sad, solemn occasion. The Pharoah Sanders material is a pleasant odyssey through many familiar Sander's compositions captured in a rough recording of a live performance. Then there are the demo takes from the Mary Parks collaborations from Ayler's New Grass era. The exuberant honesty that marks all of Ayler's music is no less in these blues and rock forays, it's just hard to love them as much as his fire breathing avant jazz material.

Cristian Amigo: Kingdom of Jones. 2007. Innova: 671.

Cristian Amigo: acoustic guitars, electric guitars, lap steel, prepared tiple, pianos, synthesizers, beats, loops, processes, programming, soda cans and miscellaneous percussion, soundscapes, voice, lyrics
Guillermo Cardenas: percussion
Alain Berge: drums
Randy Woolf: turntable
Guy Kaye: synthesizer, filters
Wojciech Kosma: samples
Philip Blackburn: samples
Jeff Schwartz: bass
David Martinelli: drums
Andy Connell: clarinet
Robert Reigle: alto saxophone
Jonathan Grasse: electric guitar
Manoocher Sadeghi: santur
Nikos Brisco: guitar, Tibetan prayer bowl
Michael John Garces: lyrics

Like Beethoven and Ayler, Amigo is another composer displaying contrasting impulses on a single disc. This time it's by design. In the 21st century it's less of a sin to pull from eclectic influences and arrive at multiple destinations. Amigo even goes so far as to advocate listening to this disc as three discreet parts as opposed to a single sitting. Having just taken this music in via the discouraged "single sitting" method I hear these three parts as an arc of commingling forces. The middle "war" material provides a much appreciated release when contrasted against the taut, beautiful playing of the first and third sections.

Scale of the Day: G Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1 - Lydian Inversion


The G Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1 - Lydian Inversion - Scale. As an equal tempered division of the octave (into two parts) this scale is its own inversion.

Friday, July 04, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Real Frisell, Real McCoy, Real Li Po

Bill Frisell: Floratone. 2007. Blue Note Records: 0946 3 93879 2 2.

Bill Frisell: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, loops, vocals
Matt Chamberlain: drums, percussion, loops
Tucker Martine: recording, post-processing, production
Lee Townsend: recording, post-processing, production
Viktor Krauss: acoustic bass, electric bass
Ron Miles: cornet
Eyvind Kang: viola

There hasn't been a Lee Townsend produced Bill Frisell recording that hasn't glazed these ears over with a fine mist of pure joy. And this one is even better than most. With Matt Chamberlain and Bill Frisell improvising some initial tracks/layers as raw materials for Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend to play with (working with Frisell improvisations is a bit like cooking with obscenely fresh ingredients) along with additional material recorded once the initial layers were assembled, Floratone brings a sophisticated re-mix/studio mentality without obscuring the sublime flavors or spontenaity of the initial source material. This is an unmistakable Frisell sound, complete with all the twists and turns this master guitarist is known for, presented with a slightly altered perspective. The result may be one of his best recordings yet.

McCoy Tyner: The Real McCoy. 1967 (Rudy Van Gelder edition from 1999). Blue Note Records: 7243 4 97807 2 9.

McCoy Tyner: piano
Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Ron Carter: bass
Elvin Jones: drums

One of the classic piano quartet recordings of all time. Each of the five Tyner compositions has its own hook that sinks deep into the ear drums with the most infectious syncopation and melodic turns imaginable. Even the ballad, "Search for Peace" has that great bass part at the onset as Ron Carter bends the notes, leaving a deep impression on the soul in the process. Then there is the playing. McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones... if each of these figures doesn't individually tug at your jazz loving heart then you haven't been paying attention.

Harry Partch: 17 Lyrics of Li Po. 1995. Tzadik: TZ 7012.

Stephen Kalm: intoning voice
Ted Mook: tenor violin

With an attentive ear tuned to the harmonies of spoken voice and its natural rhythms, Harry Partch found a troubadour voice that allows the poetry to emerge unscathed by musical treatment. These pieces form a substantial touchstone in the HurdAudio psyche as spinning this eerily perfect performances (Stephen Kalm practically channels an exact vocal match of Partch's own intoning sound) adds more layers of appreciation to these early works.