Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Nature of Music is as much Inner as Outer

I really become more and more interested in what human beings can do musically. It is an inner reality than comes not from a mere imitating of environmental nature, yet is nothing but an expression of nature itself that we carry and comes out all by itself in a way we still do not understand.

What comes out of humans is such a wider variety than any one person or culture could ever imagine. Look at the different ways people make music, each with its own development, than often is compensatory to how it is used in other cultures. It becomes extremely difficult to reduce music to universal qualities that are common to all. At best we can find some that apply to most, yet in particular, these can vary to a degree that is equally complex.

I prefer to pursuit and defend a path which i see more as going  deeper 'into' the human as opposed to only 'outside' of it.   What is this 'musical nature" of human beings that some cast  as "inferior' to nature as if it has some original sin that must be suppressed. There is something 'puritanical' here.Might this definition of nature be one that only gives it masculine traits and characters, a suppression of all  the hidden and truly mysterious workings of nature in places outside the microscope. In the meanwhile music comes out of human beings like breath.

There is much in nature which is beautiful and listenable, and needs to be preserved. This though is as true inwardly than outwardly. The nature we find in the outer world though does not develop although it can be destroyed as is going on world wide [we all know that]. The inner nature though is one that grows and changes in unexpected ways , albeit slowly at times, but this requires a nourishment, more often in it being given expression more than it imitating an outer world. When it imitates it is more often than not  inclined toward the imitation of other humans. Even the interest in the environment, might be to big extent, imitating what others humans are doing. Within us too are the plants and varied species that we might water, the ones that grow inside of us and seem to potentially grow without limit. What nature implanted in us, might be so that in a way she might hear herself in a way she can't hear otherwise.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bali again

Some time back we went to a concert in Sydney of the Indonesian National Orchestra. The Orchestra is headed by the composer Franki Raden, who has taken on the almost impossible task of creating a music out of the diverse islands of Indonesia. I do think he has managed to do what  he has done without homogenizing the forces he is dealing with, and yes it is still a work in progress.

Indonesia i think is a brave country to try in general the combining of all these different islands into one nation. If the world did become one, hopefully not under the banking interest, but in the interest of more humanitarian cooperation, it might be a good testing ground. But at this concert they had a raffle and right before they picked i turned to my wife who had entered and said' i guess we are going to Bali again" and sure enough they called her name although she wasn't sure at first.

We met Franki Raden for the first time unrelated to this during intermission and found out about the festival he was putting together in Bali IMEX [Indonesian Music Expo] so we both felt it was some sign to go there at that time. As politics is what it is , there was pressure for the gov't sponsors to put on many acts they thought fit and it was probably the last night that best represented Raden's vision. There was a group from Sulawesi that performed and after they warmed up, one realized that one was dealing with ritual more than just music. It was over powering. Greg Schiemer composed a work for swinging i phones holding sustain pitches that seem to fit in an uncanny way and this group joined him and it had to be one of the greatest combination of opposite technologies i have seen.

Most of our time there was spent just outside Ubud in Sebali in the company of Gusti Ngurah Suaratana who lead us to ceremonies, some on the street,  and was responsible for having our marriage blessed in a ceremony and lead us to a remote rice field where he had built a small structure. While there, his wife appeared with coffee and pastries that surprised us that she even got there at the same time. Gusti spoke a little English and Japanese and much of our communication over many long hours involved gesture that really seem to work. He was an instant friend if not member of a family as he put it. He in turn was good friends with Kris, an artist and historical prince of Ubud, who partooked of our blessing in between his heavy schedule of mediating problems in the region, all without pay. He too was a greatly inspired person who had studied abroad in order to understand his own culture and had even lived with an aboriginal family for 6 months eating everything thing but the large worms which ws just beyond of what he might do.

From Kris we learned that there is a law that every rice farmer in Bali has a equal right and access to water and that there are people put in charge to see this is in fact what happens. Being in the single rice field we were in was already a lesson on just how complex this can be and still i cannot imagine how it was done, much less on an island wide level. Bali seemed more civilized than elsewhere.

Here is a recording next door to where Kris lives of some hocketing frogs in the rain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Resonator Mystery

Over the years i have always been amazed by what we don't know , especially in an area where it seems we have advanced so far beyond, it would have be long figured out long ago.
 No such luck in many cases.
 While they are figuring out what they did wrong at CERN with their faster than light results, i have stumbled into something that should have long ago been dealt with.

While in the process of tuning up some instruments in a new tuning, i had some tubes that are to become resonators that i decided to play with a bit  on a set of reeds tuned to the same tuning. Terumi suggested playing with open resonators so i took the caps off and found i could augment the sound of a reed and use my hand to open and close to play with the sound. The problem was that the resonators were resonating a pitch a whole tone or more lower than what all the the theoretical measurements have been telling me.

 I checked my answers with others who concluded that what i had was in the the range of what they had. I asked on the reed organ list if anyone there had such a thing happen and one suggested that it was the cavity that held the reed that jointly made a lower resonator. This made total sense to me and assumed it was correct but i thought i could check it by trying it against the second set of reeds which has a much shallower cavity. the result was the same.
 One of the things i did to test was to play the pitch it should be along with the lower pitch.
 In all cases it is the lower pitch that sounded much louder.

It appears i am not the first to notice this. i got an message from Simon Buser,  a builder and Organist in Germany who said,

"The same system of reeds 2 semitones higher than the resonators I found in Organ Clarinets of Aeolian-Skinner. Seems to be the usual way to handle this phenomena: by experience, not by calculation, I suppose."

My own theory at the moments is that since they are suction reeds not blowing reeds that the suction lowers the air pressure. But still have to figure out a way to test this.
 Oh yes BTW with a vibraphone bar it works as expected.

Anyway one can have some musical fun with this as can be heard here. [Might take a minute to load]. The top pitch is the theoretical one and the lower is the one that works

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Akashic Torus

The title An Akashic Torus refers first to the Akashic records, that library found in the ether that contains all knowledge. The Torus is a donut shaped structure that somehow is a common representational mapping in our mind of many multi-dimensional patterns. Along with the intonation employed we have a looking back but not to some ‘Golden Age’ that never was, but as a door to view what been discarded as musical possibilities or even what have been spoiled.  The piece centers solely on pentatonics, an interest resurrected by my contact with Lou Harrison, who I envision as the present caretaker of pentatonic scales in the previously mentioned library. It is not unlike the room he had in his house of similar purpose.  Of much interest also is in the effect of long meters as a resistance to the short time thinking we all are subject to. Although the meter of this piece contracts or expands it remains centered on a meter of 101 beats long, making each bar about 55.5 seconds long. The striking of a Meru Bar most often marks this meter, but not always so I advise not counting.  The piece has only 11 bars to show yet it makes the piece exactly 1111 beats long.

For those interested and familiar with Moments of Symmetry patterns, here is also the final rhythmic breakdown of the piece based on secondary Moment of Symmetry patterns. The basic 101 was both subdivided by a 64 beat generator which was cycled around or another generator which resulted in 64 different subdivisions. from there the 101 pattern was both expanded  to a 138 beat pattern and contracted to both a 64 and 37 beat ones.

It was a quite difficult piece to write in that the Clarinis were limited to a range of a ninth and this coincided with only the lowest octave of the vibraphone. They also were only capable of playing diatonic scales of 7 notes each and two different ones were necessary for getting all 12 tones of the scale. I worried much about the whole concert sounding too high in pitch lacking bass instruments so this is one of the reasons i added the Meru bars. You need headphones to really hear it though. Care had to be taken also to cue the Pitches for the violin like Tahru as often the lines were melodically more than harmonically conceived making it a bit harder for any string player, much less one also being handed a new instrument.  Fortunately it was all recorded in the studio a few days later which should appear with the other fine works on the program which you can access the links from the youtube video.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Prepared" Intonation as opposed to "Tempered" Intonation

     Maybe the most common way tuning is thought of is to enable a series of harmonies or scales to be performed in as many different ways or in related ways depending on quite a varieties of approaches. Intonation regardless of the ‘school’ has given both melody and harmony new options as well as different stresses and pull even in sometimes the most familiar of material.

     These explorations have lead to sometime unforeseen musical situations that result in acoustical phenomenon not sought for but compelling when it appears sometimes out of nowhere. More than a few have sought these events exclusively by means that can be as simple as close pitches creating beat and beat patterns, or proportional triads or larger units as well as difference tones. It we pursue this path and construct tunings to do so, might the term ‘tempering” not be the best term we might use.

I think what is happening in many of these cases in pursuit of both sound and noise is closer to what Cage described and did with the term “prepared” in the case of the piano .
 The prepared piano was changed so that specific notes would be changed into specific sounds. In the field of intonation this shift goes from the noun of a singular pitch to the verb of the interaction of two or more, by interval. Being tied to ‘interval’ instead of a single atom of sound allows each individual tone to act potentially in a variety of roles that might be unique in its relationship and situations to the whole matrix of others. This places an overarching "political " framework by the roles each plays within its structure. It becomes capable of personality as well as identity. This approach calls for more investigation along these specific lines as these goals and desired will lead to new forms to have them realized. While we have new melodies and harmonies, we also have new sounds and even new noises and it is these four elements that promises much to the modern sound alchemist even via just  the one parameter of tone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another 14 tone scale [from a 2-3-7-11-13 Dekany]

As a prelude let me say not to worry. I will tell you what a Dekany is , and yes somehow I have come up with quite a few 14 tone scales, in fact more than any other number.

The harmonics 2-3-7-11-13 as a set have raised some interest. George Secor and Margo Schulter, are just two important microtonal theorist who have seen interesting possibilities in them. While the former sees it as a bedrock for harmonic development and is interested in scales that can accommodate them as in this paper of his. The latter, Margo Schulter is interested in this set as the basis to explore her neo-renaissance/neo-gothic approach to music since these harmonics are the basis of the Persian scales of the time.

Margo had recently posed the question about how these harmonics might also be developed into scales that include the non-tonal centered harmonics structures of Erv Wilson's called Combination Product sets, or CPS for short. These structures provide a gateway into a somewhat 'atonal' or perhaps 'pantonal' environment while retaining relatively simple consonances. The interest is in adding to the language of this period before tonality would take such a strong hold.

The simplest CPS we can form of these is the 2 out of 5 Dekany. The Dekany is a 10 tone structure that takes the combination 2 out of 5 elements at a time and multiplies these together. [2*3, 2*7, 2*11, 2*13, 3*7, 3*11, 3*13, 7*11, 7*13, 11*13]. You can download the chart above or a larger one here to see how one can map it out on a lattice. Now while this give us a wonderful harmonic set, there is a great advantage in going one step further and trying to find what is called a Constant Structure. This is a structure where each times ratio occurs in such a scale, it will be have the same number of notes in between. [We find this property in the pentatonic scale on the black notes, in the diatonic and in the 12 tone scale for instance] Now this Dekany does not have this property on its own and the chart shows how I solved the problem and ended up with a 14 tone scale.

I preserved on the left half shows the steps it took to solve [in case one wishes to do so with any set that might interest one.]

First one arranges the main intervals from smallest to largest possible with the harmonics one is working with.  This coincides with the series one sees running down the right hand side in the left half of the chart.

While 14/13 were all one unit the 13/12  we can observe that one of the three occurrences  are two units to the other two being only one. Hence we need to add tones so that all the 13/12 are 2 units in size. This is designated with a circle with an arrow from side to side which is carried down and counted in determining the other intervals.

A rather odd thing happen though as when we reach down to 11/8, we can see that the 12 notes up to that point do form a constant structure,  but the 11/8 is only 4 units is much too small as the smaller 4/3 is 6 units. While one can have a bit of an overlap on range, we instead fix this oddity by adding two tones in the large gap to make it at least the same number of units as the 4/3. Since the idea was to have possible repeated tetrachords the pitches chosen to be added were ones that were a 3/2 above or below tones we had. There are other solutions one could pick.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Viggo Brun's Algorithm Applied to Rhythm and Long Meters Here is a short paper about to be added to The Journal of Anaphorian Music theory on how Viggo Brun's Algorithm can be used to generate long meters or metric patterns. These produce different variations than the ones i have worked out with Horogram Rhythms found in that journal.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Pentatonic Family pt. 1

This is a very elementary paper that i thought i would share.
It touches upon the use of Bi-level Moments of symmetry as well as chains with slight variations.
All is discussed in terms of an undefined 12 but the principle can be applied to any tuning. hope it is helpful.

It is like a third world application of Xenakis sieve method. but then again we might prefer to apply complex ideas in simple ways than simple ideas to complex ones.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Death of [blank] Music

It is not the death of new music, of contemporary music, of avant-garde music, of experimental music, of new music, of classical music, of rock music, of jazz music, of punk music, of free improv music, of indigenous music, of folk and traditional music, of electronic music, of conceptual music, of silent music, of professional music, of amateur music, of music on CDs or vinyl, of live music, or even anti-music, but it is the only the death of music that should concerns us. The healthy whole is made of many organs

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Music and Evolution

I keep not posting cause i don't have extended things to say , sometime only a line of two.
please forgive. But people talk about all musical innovation as being evolutionary,yet if we are basing this on nature, possibly we might be stricter and point out in nature there are all types of variations produced that don't always result in a forward progression of the species.
Many of these are sterile, so what really constitutes what is evolutionary is the ability of something to produce fertile offspring as opposed to sterile hybrids. Let history define where musical evolution is or what might be like the parallel to Monsanto. What good is it to go somewhere if once you get there there is no where to go but the way one comes in. Perhaps there are more Cul-de-Sacs than ever before, but perhaps history knows them as the commonest of lots.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dark Dissents at MOCA

I will be having a work premiered at this event of the above title in case you are in these environs.

'Dark Dissents' is for a retuned Hungarian Cymbolum played by Cory Beers
(It is quite unusual to have someone else perform my work)
Exploring the thresholds of where private dissents slowly transforms into public ones.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Rainy Season/Nuilagi

I am extremely happy to announce the release of my new CD.
The first in over 4 years and it marks my first since immigrating to Australia.
Our Rainy Season involved two Australia's finest improvisers, and Nuilagi, involved two of some of the finest i had worked with in the US.
I am honored to have it released on such a fine label as and/Oar's related label Either /Oar.
more info here

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bundanon again, with Ensemble Offspring

Terumi and I once again found ourselves at Bundanon. Our last time involved our participation in the Ten Trenches project and performance previously pictured on this blog here. This time we were here to lay the groundwork for just intonation works to be performed in Sept. by Ensemble Offspring, one of the leading New Music ensembles in Australia. Co- Director [w Claire Edwardes] Damien Ricketson and composer Amanda Cole will be the other two composers writing compositions with instruments the ensemble has commissioned. While we were there, Peter Garrett [former Arts Minister of Australia] stopped by as having a great interest in what happens there and Damien was able to entice him with our goings on while i accompanied him with the sounds of my vibraphone the ensemble will be using. [Photos by Terumi Narushima]

All the works will be based on a scale of mine i call Centaur.
which is a rare honor all its own. The instruments commissioned are 2 sets of 4 Clarini's [made by Linsey Pollack] to play subsets of the Centaur scale and a violin like instrument with 7 sympathetic strings called the Tarhui [made by Peter Biffin]. My 3 Octave Centaur Vibraphone will complete the tuned instruments. It is an exciting and wonderful opportunity to join with other talented composers exploring compositionally this newly created ensemble of instruments with its unique tuning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flying through the expanded Magic Squares.

Etienne Deleflie is a composer working at the University of Wollongong on compositions dealing with the perception and simulation of spatial orientation of sound. He originally asked for help in how to map Patch’s Scale onto a matrix that lead to a deeper and deeper joint exploration of some other intonational possibilities.

It quickly became apparent that he envisioned a just intonational matrix in which one could 'fly' through, as a space where nearby harmonies would have some relation to each other yet still retain a special identity in the overall field to aid in the sense of movement. This reawakened my own interest in parallel ideas of unifying space and pitch.

Those familiar with lambdomas [of which Partch’s diamond is an example] would recognize this as a logical choice, but these result with everything higher on one end. Thus the results are rather unbalanced and also lack a harmonic variety we sought for.

The situation instead seemed ripe for other types of intonational possibilities and I thought that some of the simpler recurrent sequences would work well.

So with a bit of experimenting I found that 'magic squares' placed in the middle provided good seeds for making different series running in four directions . Nearby tones would retain various difference tone reinforcements yet over ‘space’ one would move away or toward where one started harmonically in a significant yet varied way. Yet there was something musically appealing to having certain harmonics stand out and even be repeated yet then diverge in different directions from there.

After going into the anechoic chamber where Deleflie has his speakers set up and listening to some of the results, we found it warranted pursuing an actual installation with small speakers in a space where people can walk through. We are working toward this at the moment.

While this idea continues to develop further, this diagram shows some of the ways I am constructing my matrices. This one serves as a good illustration in that it includes more than one series embedded into it. [Click to enlarge.]

The numbers refer to harmonics (that in turn have to be multiplied to get them in the hearing range). First I started with a magic square made of numbers 4-12 that one can see in the outlined box in the near middle. From here I construct recurrent sequences for each direction of two varieties.

I illustrate.

Take a number, say 5, in the box and call this A with B and C being the numbers above it. Now if we create a sequence such as A + C = D we take 5 + 9 =14 which is the number above 9. Now if we move the sequence up we add 10 + 14 = 24 and we continue this pattern. Next the same formula is applied moving to the right where 5 + 7 = 12 and 12 + 12 = 24 etc. For the other two directions I used a different recurrent sequence. This one is A + B = D. So in this case we add 7 + 12 = 19 and 12 + 5 = 17 in the case of the bottom row moving left or in the case of moving down 9 +10 = 19 and 10 + 5 =15 etc. These two sequences I learned from Erv Wilson who uses them to create his Meta-Pelog and Meta-Slendro scales. He might be the first to have found them embedded in Pascal's Triangle or Meru Prastara, as it was known centuries earlier . His papers on this can be seen here.

You will notice that being a magic square the number 24 comes out being the sum of the row or columns in the box, and if one follows any of the lines in either direction where one has three 24s in a row you might notice we get simple harmonics of this 24. Quickly each quadrant deverges in its own unique way on either side of these rows. The corners become the highest notes with the center the lowest, which is a useful balanced arc. Yet it is possible to treat this whole series as a subharmonic series where the corners become the lowest and the center the highest.

Etienne has realized this using SuperCollider. Sound examples can be heard on Etienne’s page, which should give one the idea of the area we are exploring. Much more to come.