Friday, January 30, 2009

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


The G Sharp Aeolian no 4 diminished 5 Scale. Altered, subtracted and left with only one quarter-tone to separate it from scales that can be realized in standard equal temperament.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

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


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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scale of the Day: G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian no 4


The G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian no 4 Scale. Missing only the utonal 4/3 member - this subtractive scale still contains three more utonal members (16/9, 32/27 and 128/81).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Scale of the Day: A Phrygian no 4


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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Phrygian no 4 major 6


The E Phrygian no 4 major 6 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Scale of the Day: C Locrian no 4


The C Locrian no 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Flat Whole-tone no 2 mapped to the Triative


The E Flat Whole-tone no 2 mapped to the Triative Scale. This is the first pentatonic scale in triative space so far in the "scale of the day" installments.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Flat Whole-tone no 2 (4 - 1) mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The E Flat Whole-tone no 2 (4 - 1) mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. Note the solitary quarter-tone in an otherwise equal-temperament friendly scale.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Scale of the Day: C Octotonic-1 no 2 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The C Octotonic-1 no 2 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. The subtractive variant on this Octotonic leaves an almost Dorian-esque symmetry of two quarter-tones on either side of the tonic. However, this symmetry is broken up by the 150-cent gap between the first and second degrees when compared to the 50-cent leading tone ascending toward the root.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Honest Noises

Billy Bang: Vietnam: The Aftermath. 2001. Justin Time Records: Just 165-2.

Billy Bang: violin
Ted Daniel: trumpet
Frank Lowe: tenor saxophone
Sonny Fortune: flute
John Hicks: piano
Curtis Lundy: bass
Ron Brown: percussion
Michael Carvin: drums
Butch Morris: guest conductor

A great jazz album - and tremendous act of self expression - in every sense. Profoundly introspective compositions that draw upon both personal experience and a mingling of traditions and sounds of North American Jazz with East Asian influences unified by the soul of this violinist. Added to this emotionally and aesthetically powerful mix is the band enlisted by Sargent Bang. Transcendent and compelling music that swings. This is one recording session that should endure for all the different ways it appeals to the mind and heart.

Laurie Anderson: Life On A String. 2001. Nonesuch: 79539-2.

Laurie Anderson: vocals, keyboards, violins, gongs
with various (small) combinations of:
Elena Barere: concert master - Joey Baron: drums, percussion - Martin Brumback: percussion arrangement - Vinicius Cantuaria: percussion - Mino Cinelu: percussion - Timothy Cobb: bass - Greg Cohen: acoustic bass - Jill Dell'Abate: orchestra conductor - Enrico DiCecco: violin - Jonathan Dinklage: violin - Karen Dreyfus: viola - Barry Finclair: violin - Danny Frankel: percussion, hand claps, "box-o-toys" - Eric Friedlander: cello - Bill Frisell: guitar - Jean Ingram: violin - Mitchell Froom: keyboards, claviola, mellotron, wurlitzer - Liheng: baritone banhu - Vincent Lionti: viola - Eyvind Kang: violin - John Kelly: background vocals - Ann Leathers: violin - Jeanne LeBlanc: cello - Dwight Mikkelsen: copyist - Heidi Modr: violin - Jan Mullen: violin - Tom Nelis: vocals - Van Dyke Parks: string arrangements, conductor, keyboards - Ellen Payne: violin - Joel Pitchon: violin - Sue Pray: viola - Lou Reed: guitar - Ben Rubin: bells - Peter Scherer: keyboards, percussion - Jamshied Sharifi: additional keyboards, strings - Ricky Sortomme: violin - Skuli Sverrisson: bass, little organ, percussion programming, high bass, sounds, bowed guitars, keyboards - Chris Speed: saxophone - Cuong Vu: trumpet - Carol Webb: violin - Judith Willmer: viola - Hal Willner: turntables, samples - Mocean Worker: beats, keyboards - Fredrick Zlotkin: cello

A collection of songs for the "downtown" set. Not just a collaboration with a cross-section of so many of downtown NYC's most impressive talents, but an adaptation of Laurie Anderson's approach to song that folds in so much of that constantly emerging aesthetic. Many of the turns of verbal phrase would collapse if not for Anderson's odd consistency. A few of the opening lines come close to reinforcing Anderson-esque cliche (songs that open with a question that are answered in the following line or sideways references to the Old Testament come to mind). But again, there is this sense that no other songwriter could pull off such quirks with so much conviction. The result is gem that reflects light in unexpected directions.

X.0.4: Cataracts. 2008. Ecstatic Peace!: E#105d (LP)

Bill Nace: guitar
John Truscinski: guitar
Jake Meginsky: guitar

One of the things that impressed me about Bill Nace at the most recent High Zero Festival is how he mines noise without coming off sounding saturated or loud. His textures bear all the markings of "loud" without the decibels of pain. Within small and large ensembles he is a forceful presence that balances well the overall sound. With X.0.4 we have a trio of similarly distortion heavy, full on noise enthusiasts with restraint. The resulting sound is uncompromisingly ugly and beautiful. Drones, jagged edges and an electricity that never consumes the sound in amplification. This is a sculpted mass that is well worth hearing.

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


The intervallic content of the E Flat Octotonic-1 no 2 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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


The C Octotonic-1 no 2 (3 + 1) Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Scale of the Day: B Octotonic-2 no 1


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

Thursday, January 15, 2009

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


The E 7, Square-root-of-2 Construct #1, Lydian Mode - reflected into the first pool - Scale. The 113.36-cent is the "reflected" interval as its relative proportion to 368.83-cents is the same as 368.83-cents is to 1200.00-cents. This is a technique I explore on these synthetically created scales that have very few notes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Flat Chromatic no 1 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The E Flat no 1 mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. That's "no 1" as in the would-be 50-cent second-degree is subtracted from this quarter-tone scale.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Interval of the Day: Unisons and Octaves


The unison and octave. Two intervals that function as "harmonic equivalents" in 99.9% of the world's music. Intervals so cognitively similar that they share the same name (D-natural, in this particular example).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Lydian perfect 5 and augmented 5


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

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shades of Composed Improvisation

Thomas Helton/Carol Morgan & Janel Leppin/Anthony Pirog @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, January 10, 2009

Janel Leppin: cello, zither
Anthony Pirog: acoustic guitar
(unscheduled guest): trumpet, flugelhorn

Thomas Helton: bass
Carol Morgan: trumpet

Janel Leppin brings a haunting lyricism to the cello.  With Anthony Pirog supplying a thorny set of harmonic voicings on the acoustic guitar the duo - later a trio with the addition of a guest trumpet player - worked through a set of attractive materials with an understated and deeply rooted musicianship.  Musicianship that carried into the second set as Thomas Helton and Carol Morgan displayed their impressive chops for free improvisation.  This made for an evening of creative music approached from several angles with ears firmly rooted in the moment of realization.

Janel Leppin and Thomas Helton were featured improvisers at the High Zero Festival (in 2008 and 2007 respectively) willing to contribute to a wide range of sonic textures.  Their contrasting personalities and honest approach to creative improvisation leaves the ears more curious with each encounter.

Within Leppin's long-standing duo work with Anthony Pirog her music gravitates toward a harmonically sophisticated and melodically centered sensibility that offers a lush take on a range of Americana influences.  The musical instincts of this duo left plenty of space and neatly measured out portions of ideas as the melodic core of their music worked its soft edges without feeling overly calculated or smooth.  

Thomas Helton is an active musician in the Houston area with a deep understanding of jazz traditions.  His musical chemistry with the formerly Houston-based Carol Morgan lead to an easy dialogue between creative cohorts.  The active listening between this pair led to an improvised set that allowed for space and groove to develop between the two players.  The Philadelphia music scene has gained an impressive talent with Morgan's recent relocation to that vibrant city.  One can hope that Helton's appearances on the East Coast will be frequent in the years ahead as his ability as a bass player and composer are a particular fascination for these ears.  

HurdAudio Rotation: Downtown Past and Present

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost box set [disc 1]. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

Herbert Katz Quintet - June 30, 1962, Helsinki, Finland
Herbert Katz: guitar
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Teuvo Suojarvi: piano
Heikki Annala: bass
Martti Aijanen: drums

Cecil Taylor Quartet - November 16, 1962, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cecil Taylor: piano
Jimmy Lyons: alto saxophone
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Sunny Murray: drums

Albert Ayler Trio - June 14, 1964 - Cellar Cafe, New York City
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Gary Peacock: bass
Sunny Murray: drums

The first disc from the excellent Holy Ghost box set is a frequent aural companion in the rotation. One that unfolds the great Ayler narrative as a mild mannered tenor saxophone player treading in hotel lounge territory before finding his own voice as a fire-breathing, free improviser with the forces of Sunny Murray and Gary Peacock to back him up. Along the way is this curious and unbelievably compelling stint with Cecil Taylor. Clearly, the world lost Ayler much too soon. What documentation we have makes a sustained case for unflinching honesty in honing a uniquely personal sound.

Doctor Nerve: Armed Observation/Out To Bomb Fresh Kings. 1987/1984: Cuneiform Rune: 38X.

Nick Didkovsky: guitar, composer, tiple
Samm Bennett: percussion
Doug Brown: electric bass
Anne Brudevold: violin
Lucian Burg: saxophone
Brian Carter: drums
Don Davis: tenor saxophone
Dave Douglas: trumpet, piano
Yves Duboin: soprano saxophone
Brian Farmer: drums
Mike Leslie: electric bass
Bill Lippencott: saxophone
Joachim Litty: saxophone
Michael Lytle: bass clarinet
Steve MacLean: electric bass
James Mussen: drums
Kyle Sims: electric bass
Marc Wagnon: vibraphone
Chuck Verstraeten: trombone

Nick Didkovsky -- and by extension his long-running Doctor Nerve -- are a necessary part of the "Downtown" ecosystem. A band that explores the excesses and mathematically jagged-yet-pure sonic pulse of progressive rock that draws upon the fertile talents of New York's avant jazz music scene. In other words: exquisite. This re-issue of Doctor Nerve's early efforts is essential listening for any ears tracking the New York sound over the past few decades. It's also fiercely kinetic and rewarding listening.

How is it that uncompromisingly angular lines and aggressively odd meters is regarded as a formula for alienating listeners? With Nick Didkovsky leading the way, his push toward algorithmic structure and thorny rhythms never comes close to antiseptic in its realization of a music that rocks with plenty of feel around every odd bend and turn. The thick texture of math and substance is delicious ear and brain candy.

Sylvie Courvoisier: Signs and Epigrams. 2007. Tzadik: TZ 8033.

Sylvie Courvoisier: piano

The presence and deliberate approach to the piano that marks a live Sylvie Courvoisier experience is evident in this solo recording. Each tangling within the innards of the piano, struck keys or articulated line bears that aggressive force that makes up Courvoisier's sound. The chance to hear her improvisations and crafted compositional ideas in this documented presentation is a welcome splash against the ears. Even the shortest pieces on this disc display the intensity of concentration and focus upon the form and overall sound. A fascinating pianist that turns up surprises with each listening and each sonic encounter.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Ionian diminished 5 and Perfect 5


The E Flat Ionian diminished 5 and perfect 5 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. The doubling up of "fifth degrees" suggests some interesting leading tones for linear development.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

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


The A Flat Lydian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale. The standard Lydian proportionality cut in half to fill a 600-cent "tritone."

This completes another cycle of scales - the 23rd such cycle since the "Scale of the Day" began. Tomorrow the next cycle begins with an additive Ionian Scale. Included in the cycle ahead will be the first audio example of a subtractive scale, a 5, 3 Dorian, a 'Construct #2' within the Pythagorean system as well as a slight increase in the number of audio examples per cycle.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Scale of the Day: G Lydian


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

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Scale of the Day: A Flat Lydian augmented 5


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

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Five Pieces Known by Opus Number

Anthony Braxton: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 [disc 4]. 2006: 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 4 = Composition 353 - dedicated to the composer Butch Morris

The longing to live within a Ghost Trance world builds as the ears soak within the structured, conducted and improvised long-forms of this large ensemble composition.
Sonic environments are rarely as expansive and inviting as this. The meshing of pulse structures along a sensibility of ritual (and open embrace of so many creative sides of music of the past and present) adds another layer to an already deep appreciation for the sonic universe of Anthony Braxton's creation. To experience Composition 353 is to find resonance within the sonic and social dynamics of the thirteen improvisers assembled for this live recording. This is currently my favorite of the 9 compositions on this box set.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 3]. Recorded in 1994 and 1995. The International Music Company: 205298-305.

Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major (op. 60)
Barry Wordsworth: conductor
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor (op.67)

Claire Gibault: conductor

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Yes, there is a reason to listen to - and occasionally obsess about - these symphonies. With each transition from "familiar" to "known" I find myself drawn more to the Fourth Symphony in appreciation of that first movement. The conclusion of the final movement feels rushed (in the composed sense, not the performance), which is an unusual quality for a composer who could milk V-I cadences well beyond all traces of restraint. (The conclusion of the final movement of the Fifth Symphony offering a perfect example of cadential excess). There is the sensation of thematic sequences that are set in motion to a logic that transcends most creative actions.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets [disc 2]. Recorded in 1989. Delos: DE 3032.

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

String Quartet in G Major op.18 no.2
String Quartet in B-Flat Major op.130

The Beethoven string quartets offer a concentrated dosage of what the symphonies deliver. The chamber medium affording the master significantly more maneuvering room that he took full advantage of. With the opus 18 set one can hear the outgrowth of Haydn-esque Classicism while opus 130 opens the ears to the early Romanticism that marked the course of musical development that followed. The stylistic change between early and late Beethoven is so astonishing - one can imagine the resistance to such dramatic change from his contemporaries. The introspective qualities that emerge with the abandonment of taut, four-movement forms along with the wider range of harmonic modulations into unexpected territories retains its sense as a catalyst and a challenge to composers taking up the medium.

Scale of the Day: E Ionian


The E Ionian Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. Also known as the "E Major Scale."

Monday, January 05, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct No. 1 - Lydian Mode - in Triative Space


The E Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1, Lydian Mode - in Triative-space - Scale. Stripped to just the bare essentials, this scale features only the root, the square-root-of-2 (also known as the 600-cent "tritone") and the triative - which functionally serves as harmonically equivalent to the tonic.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Three Uses for a Violin

Olivier Messiaen: Turangalila Symphony. Seiji Ozawa conducting the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 1967 (re-released in 2004). BMG Classics/RCA: 82876-59418-2.

Seiji Ozawa: conductor
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Yvonne Loriod: piano
Jeanne Loriod: ondes Martenot

A grand aural greeting to the ambitious optimism of a new year. The sprawling, large-scale orchestral plunge through 20th century "modernism's" waters is all the more impressive in this outstanding performance featuring the Loriod sisters (Yvonne being Messiaen's second wife) on piano and ondes Martenot. Not to mention the exquisitely crafted textures of cascading piano, searing ondes Martenot and enormous orchestra. This was a commission where Messiaen decided to stretch as many boundaries imaginable. The result is intoxicatingly expansive and well worth waking up the neighbors with its explosive glory.

Jenny Scheinman: 12 Songs. 2005. Cryptogramophone: CG125.

Jenny Scheinman: violin
Ron Miles: cornet
Doug Wieselman: clarinets
Bill Frisell: guitar
Rachelle Garniez: accordion, piano, claviola
Tim Luntzel: bass
Dan Rieser: drums

The textures are familiar for anyone who has spent time listening to the individual performers in this band. The Bill Frisell tones hang in the air like a welcome acquaintance in the service of these Scheinman compositions. The melding of Ron Miles with the Frisell sound is itself a familiar component. 12 songs of pleasant - and deceptively simple - beauty with a strange bend toward miss-spellings or puns in most of the titles: "The Frog Threw His Head Back and Laughed," "The Buoy Song" or "Satelite." The effortless and playful quality of these charts draw the ears in as a curiosity touching upon an Americana sound.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Bach Edition [disc 1-1]. 2006. Brilliant Classics: 93102/1.

Brandenberg Concerto 1
Brandenberg Concerto 2
Brandenberg Concerto 3

Performed by:
Musica Amphion
Remy Baudet: leader
Frank de Bruine: oboe
Remy Baudet: piccolo violin, violin
Teunis van der Zwart: horn
Erwin Wieringa: horn
William Wroth: trumpet
Pieter-Jan Belder: recorder
Sayuri Yamagata: violin
Irmgard Schaller: violin
Staas Swierstra: viola
Marten Boeken: viola
Mariette Holtrop: viola
Rainer Zipperling: cello
Richte van der Meer: cello
Albert Bruggen: cello

A first immersion into a box set so overwhelming it takes a forklift to pick it up. Which is nearly an understatement of the overwhelming body of work - and the ocean of Western music history that flows from this singular head water. The first three Brandenberg Concertos are as good a point of entry as any with the music of J.S. Bach. A steady, pulsating reminder of a Baroque music at an apex. The performance on this disc is well recorded - offering a sonic clarity to a dense ensemble sound. And offering these ears a sense of gravity lurking within the rippling contours of this music.

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


The E Cube-root-of-2-axis, Construct #1 - Lydian Inversion - in Square-root-of-2-space Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. Continuing with a set of 2-note scales.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct No. 2, Lydian Mode


The E Square-root-of-2-axis, Construct No. 2, Lydian Mode Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument. A harmonic space that draws upon the square-root-of-2-axis within an octave-space is essentially binary. Construct number 2 produces the same scale as construct number 1, and each is self-inverting. This scale introduces the concept of the second construct into the "Scale of the Day" cycle - which will appear with more frequency in the days ahead.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Music of Summer, Flying Phoenix and Donuts

Guy Klucevsek: Stolen Memories. 1996. Tzadik: TZ 7018.

Guy Klucevsek and The Bantam Orchestra:
Guy Klucevsek: accordion, piano, melodica
Sara Parkins: violin
Margaret Parkins: cello, voice
Achim Tang: bass

Sprawling in the center of this set of compositions like a vine in full bloom is the melancholy and haunting "Tesknota." Using a notation that specifies only the sequence of notes, leaving the details of rhythm and group coordination to be improvised the languid phrases move between the four players like a solemn prayer uttered into a desolate landscape. An exquisitely beautiful piece framed nicely by the rhythmic, and sometimes whimsical compositions for this ensemble. "Donut Ask, Donut Tell" being a particular delight featuring the vocal work of Margaret Parkins breathing life into Klucevsek's poetry.

Fennesz: Endless Summer. 2001. Mego: 035.

Christian Fennesz: electronics

Textural studies built upon layers of discreet parts working cyclically like waves along the shore. There is consistently a layer of heavily processed electronics building up like sediment accompanying less obviously process instrument parts. Simple chord changes appear and fade away, washing along with the undertow of glitch electronics. Much of it walking a fine line between polish and grit. The tight, cyclical patterns calling to mind the flow of days that make up the season in the title.

Richard Stoltzman: Phoenix In Flight. 2008. Navona Records: NV5801.

Richard Stoltzman: clarinet
The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Kirk Trevor: conductor

Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in C Minor/E Flat Major J. 109 (op.26) by Carl Maria Von Weber

Duetto by Giovanni Bottesini
featuring Richard Fredrickson: double bass

Premiere Rhapsodie by Claude Debussy

Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E Flat Major (op. 74) by Carl Maria Von Weber

Herbstlied by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (arranged by Toru Takemitsu)

A rare balance of soloist virtuosity that allows the orchestral composition to come to the foreground. Richard Stoltzman applies his talents toward realizations of early to late Romantic works. The Duetto in particularly filled with subtle nuance within the dialogue between bass, clarinet and ensemble. Debussy's Premiere Rhapsodie is the centerpiece of this program. The softness of the materials is allowed to unfold under its own gentle momentum.

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


The E Flat Mixolydian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 2% wide Scale. The tweaked quarter-tone scale rings in the new year.